This French island group in the Caribbean has long stretches of beach and old sugarcane fields. Part of the charm of Guadeloupe is that it remains mostly undiscovered. But what does exist in terms of restaurants and hotels is less polished than on many islands — and far more authentic.
Known as the “nature island”, Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island with natural hot springs and tropical rainforests. Morne Trois Pitons National Park is home to the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake.
Bonaire, an island municipality of the Netherlands, lies off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean — near Aruba and Curaçao. Along with activities such as kite surfing, windsurfing and snorkeling, Bonaire is known as one of the top destinations in the world for sustainable tourism. It has long been recognized as the preeminent Shore Diving Destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic in Scuba Diving Magazine’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, and it was also voted number one for Macro Diving and Beginner Diving.
4/12 The Abacos
The Abaco Islands are a group of islands and barrier cays in the northern Bahamas. Known for boating and diving, visitors flock to Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, boasting underwater caves and colorful coral reefs. Farther north, turtles, eagle rays and sharks inhabit Walker’s Cay National Park.
Isla de Providencía is a Colombian-Caribbean island situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 140 miles off the coast of Nicaragua. The island hosts numerous ecosystems including mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass, dry forest and mountainous terrain.
Many might be deterred from visiting Montserrat as the least-visited island in the Caribbean, home to an active volcano and with limited transportation options. But hosting so few tourists means that this is an island where you can savor the Caribbean beauty in peace and tranquillity.
Mustique, a private island steeped in history and surrounded by intrigue, lies in the stream of islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — just a hundred miles west of Barbados. It’s known for its free-spirited vibe, unmanicured, white sand beaches and its native seabirds. In town you’ll find fresh fruit stalls and small shops.
Saba, a 12-minute flight from neighboring St. Marteen, is known as the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean”. You’ll find no franchises; Rather, eclectic bars and small restaurants will infuse your nightlife after hiking a mountain rainforest trail, dived at an acclaimed site or just lounged by a pool.
9/12 Guana Island
Guana Island is one of the many British Virgin Islands. What sets it apart is that it’s one of the few remaining privately owned islands in the Caribbean. Guana has seven white powder sand beaches and boasts a lush tropical forest and mountains. The island is mostly natural preserve and has a small resort.
10/12 Isla de la Juventud
Although the second largest island making up Cuba, La Isla de la Juventud is a little-visited corner of the country. For the lucky ones who do visit, it’s great for diving and rich in beauty and pirate tales.
Culebra is a small island and surrounding group of cays off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Flamenco Beach is a long crescent of white sand and turquoise water, while Tamarindo Beach boasts crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. The island’s stunning beaches and reefs are protected as part of a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge.
12/12 St. Eustatius
This quiet edge of the Dutch Caribbean, St. Eustatius (or “Statia”) is known for excellent diving, hiking and serenity. Quill National Park has hiking trails along the ocean and around the island’s volcano. The natural landscape features a rainforest and many species of orchid. Surrounding the island are narrow beaches of volcanic sand, while St. Eustatius National Marine Park’s offshore dive sites include coral reefs shipwrecks.
By Bridgette Langdon