Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Caribbean island chain comprises more than 700 islands and cays. Each offers its unique blend of history, culture, cuisine, and natural beauty.
An estimated 13 million people visit the islands each year – with many choosing to spend their winter holidays in destinations such as Anguilla and The Bahamas. Some Caribbean islands are less crowded and more budget-friendly, making them ideal for travelers looking to escape the crowds and high prices of popular destinations.
From laid-back beach retreats to lively party destinations, here are 10 of the best Caribbean islands to visit in December.
Love the idea of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and colorful coral reefs? A trip to Aruba might be the perfect escape this winter! Thanks to its mild year-round temperatures and stunning natural scenery, Aruba is one of the most popular Caribbean islands nestled just off the coast of Venezuela. It is often touted as one of the best places in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. Visitors can also enjoy sailing and windsurfing, explore downtown Oranjestad, or relax on pristine beaches that offer some of the best views in the Caribbean.
9/10 Turks And Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos is a favorite American Caribbean Island for travelers looking for a combination of culture, great beaches, and fine dining. In addition to the wide range of activities like snorkeling and scuba diving, the islands are also known for their award-winning spas – some of which include treatments that often incorporate local ingredients like conch and coconut. No one surely wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Grace Bay Beach, which has been named one of the best beaches in the world.
Renowned for its unrivaled beauty and relaxed atmosphere, Barbados (known as “The Little England of the Caribbean”) is a Caribbean island that offers plenty of activities for travelers. Spend the day exploring nature reserves such as Harrison’s Cave and Hunte’s Garden, enjoy a game of golf at one of the island’s many championship-level courses, or dine at one of the many acclaimed restaurants serving fresh seafood and local flavors. Beaches like Crane Beach and Bathsheba are perfect for sunbathers and offer stunning views, while nightlife in Bridgetown’s St Lawrence Gap is ideal for those who enjoy a party.
Located in the Lesser Antilles, Dominica is a lush island with plenty of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Other attractions include Boiling Lake, a hot spring that can be reached by hiking or horseback, and Champagne Beach, a secluded spot perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Also, be sure to try some of the island’s delicious cuisine – from freshly caught seafood to local fruits and vegetables – Dominica has a lot to offer!
6/10 St Lucia
Not only is St Lucia a top honeymoon destination, but it is also one of the many cheap Caribbean Islands to visit as well. It is nestled in the Eastern Caribbean and is popularly known for its spectacular views of mountains and volcanoes. St Lucia’s scenery, including many waterfalls throughout the island, is an essential part of its identity and draws tons of visitors each year. The rainforest canopy walk in Pigeon Island National Park takes visitors through the treetops and offers stunning views of the rainforest – known as the “Helicopter Ride of the Trees.”
No list of the best Caribbean Islands would be complete without Anguilla, a popular island getaway for celebrities and travelers alike. It is home to 33 breathtaking and diverse beaches, so be sure to pack those swimsuits and sunscreen! Rendezvous Bay, Meads Bay, and Shoal Bay East are some of the beautiful beaches recommended to visit as they offer plenty of options for water activities. A trip to The Valley is also a must – this capital city has plenty of great restaurants and shops, as well as historic landmarks like the Wallblake House and Governor’s Beach.
Cuba is an amazing Caribbean Island for those looking for a taste of history and culture. Havana, the country’s capital, is home to many historical attractions like Old Havana and El Morro Castle. Traditional Cuban dishes are also a huge part of the country’s cultural heritage, and travelers won’t miss the chance to try traditional Cuban coffee and cigars. Vinales Valley is known for its tobacco plantations, making it a must-visit for history buffs who want to learn more about the country’s culture.
3/10 Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is known as a home of many different cultures, but its dynamic landscape makes it one of the best Caribbean Islands to spend a day or two with friends or families. With over 100 miles of beaches, the island has plenty to offer for sunbathers and beach-goers. Looking for something a bit more exciting? Try to visit El Yunque National Rainforest – home to the only tropical rainforest in United States territory. Hike and explore some of the island’s beautiful waterfalls!
2/10 The Bahamas
Looking for a more lively island experience? The Bahamas is one of the most popular Caribbean Islands to visit for the holidays, and it is easy to see why! It boasts a paradise of beaches, attractions, and fun. After days of lounging on the beach, enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Nassau and Cable Beach, or explore historical sights such as Fort Fincastle and Queen’s Staircase. There are also a variety of water activities – from kayaking and snorkeling to scuba diving and boating.
1/10 Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is the largest of three islands that make up the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands. With easy access to many Caribbean island activities like diving, snorkeling, and fishing, as well as a great selection of restaurants and exciting nightlife, it is a famous Caribbean Island for those looking to have fun in the sun. In addition to the beautiful beaches and clear waters, Grand Cayman is also well-known for its duty-free shopping, so make sure to bring plenty of extra cash for all those souvenirs!