5 Caribbean Islands to Visit This Summer
Updated: May 16, 2021
As the world begins its gradual reopening, it’s only natural for us to want the feeling of long sunny days and outdoor bliss. Luckily, the neighboring islands of the Caribbean have begun opening their doors for visitors and are offering a responsible option to continue sunbathing on sunny sandy beaches and swimming in crystal waters. Start your summer by considering a visit to one of these Caribbean islands.
Disclaimer: Please note that each country featured has its Covid-19 preventative measures and travel requirements in place, which are subject to change frequently. We recommend doing additional research before booking your trip.
1 | ARUBA
Aruba – Dutch – pronounced Ah-ROO-bah - first of the ABC island set (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and most developed. Known for duty-free shopping, clean/safe/easy to get around by bus or car. Desert-like appearance with foliage growing on resorts only. Flat landscape (“pancake with a palm tree”). Sights include Butterfly Farm, Ostrich Farm, Aloe Factory and Museum, Donkey Sanctuary, Natural Bridge (original one collapsed; mini-one adjacent still in existence), Casibari Diorite Boulders, Arikok National Park, California Lighthouse (great views from here; the island's one golf course is adjacent and is extremely challenging due to the near-constant breezes/winds), Divi Trees (which are bent over pointing SW toward most of the resorts and the capital). There are various hotels here in both the "high-rise" and "low-rise" zones, ranging from modest inns to luxurious hotels. Since there are over 240 restaurants on the island, all-inclusives are in the minority here. Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are the two best-known and longest stretches of beach on the island. Aruba’s white-sand beaches and clear waters are some of the most beautiful and pristine in the world. With a variety of expansive beaches all over the island, you can find your perfect spot while also practicing safe social distancing.
2 | JAMAICA
Jamaica – British –pronounced Juh-MAY-kah - 3rd largest island in the Caribbean, offering the most variety of accommodations and activities for all ages/interests. Known for Reggae Music (Bob Marley, especially), Blue Mountain Coffee – among the best in the world, slow-river rafting on the Martha Brae River, Plantation tours, lush tropical foliage, Rose Hall historical estate, Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Rick’s Café in Negril – cliff diving, Dunn’s River Falls (famous for climbing the falls!-outside of Ocho Rios), YS Falls and Black River plus the Appleton Rum Estate (outside of Negril), Bob Marley Museum at Nine Mile (a hair-raising drive to get there from Ocho Rios/Runaway Bay or Montego Bay, but fascinating), Mystic Mountain-outside Ocho Rios and offering Bobsledding on a track (wild and fun!) plus a tram ride, excellent golf courses, ATV, zip-lining, river tubing, horseback riding on the beach, the 1992 Olympic Jamaican Bobsled Team, and more! Primarily an all-inclusive destination, Jamaica is home to the original “all-inclusive” resort. Still, there are a few fine hotels and resorts that are non-inclusive. From powdery white-sand beaches to rugged cliff edges and magical black-sand coastlines, you’ll find plenty of beach options. Or, go beyond and experience activities that speak to your interests while walking in step to the beat of the island. Will you climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls or hike the Blue Mountains at sunrise? Dive into some of the best Jamaican activities and explore the possibilities for yourself.
3 | PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico – Spanish – pronounced PWER-toe REE-koe - US Commonwealth – NO passport required; only valid Driver’s License or State ID. Most US tourists go to San Juan, so when they say Puerto Rico is their destination, they mean San Juan! Puerto Rico is a place where the Old World is mashed up with the new on an island small in size but offers an immense bounty of one-of-a-kind experiences. San Juan, a big cruise port located in the old town with narrow cobblestone streets, is known for quaint shops/restaurants, several coffee plantations, golf courses, three bioluminescent bays, and the well known Castillo de San Cristobal and Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, commonly just called “El Morro”-part of the largest Fort complex built by Spain in the Americas). Plan a soul-refreshing escape to an enchanted rainforest park and be immersed in nature with a visit to El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest in US territory. You can visit for a hike on one of its many trails, bathe in natural pools beneath waterfalls, or relax and enjoy the scenery. Puerto Rico claims to be the world’s largest rum producer, so a Bacardi Rum factory tour is a must. There is some excellent shopping. Since this is a US possession, there are no tax ramifications on anything brought home. Most hotels are in the city zone; a few are far outside and require either car rental or taxis. Luxury resorts are now springing up far from the city, as well. Puerto Rico has rich history and culture, exceptional food, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, relaxation, adventure — all packed into one sun-kissed Caribbean paradise.
4 | ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Antigua and Barbuda – British – pronounced Ann-TEE-gah and Bar-BUH-dah -double-island state, with Barbuda not really a tourist destination. With 365 beaches around Antigua and Barbuda (one for each day of the year), you will be sure to discover the best one to help you unwind and find your perfect space in the sun. Known for casinos, Nelson’s Dockyard historic area with well-preserved historic, Fort James, Fort Barrington, Betty’s Hope Sugar Estate. There are several excellent golf courses and many trails and tracks available for exploration. Most of the popular hikes lead to one or another of the island’s many hilltop fortifications such as Fort George or Fort Barrington, scenic views such as Signal Hill, or secluded beaches like Rendezvous Bay. Pick the hike that suits your needs and take to the hills for this incredible and uplifting experience. With a wide selection of markets, shops, and restaurants to tour while in Antigua, this island filled with rich colonial history offers plenty of activities away from the beach.
5 | Bermuda
BERMUDA (not in the Caribbean, but an island destination off the coast of S. Carolina) – British – pronounced Burr-MYU-dah- known for pristine pink-sand beaches, wide-open natural spaces, tennis, golf, no rental cars, getting around on rented scooters (dangerous), and afternoon tea. Yes, the men DO wear Bermuda shorts to/from work! Due to location, not a recommended destination from October through April. Excellent golf courses and tennis facilities. Walk lush forest trails, swim in idyllic turquoise grottoes, and explore subterranean caves in Blue Hole Park, a 12-acre East End nature reserve locally known as Tom Moore’s Jungle. Head to Miles Market for a basket filled with curried chicken salad sandwiches and cookies and then picnic in one of the many parks. The lush Botanical Gardens stars 36 acres of trees and blossoms with plenty of places to lounge – and dine – on the grass. Or, travel to the serene Bermuda Arboretum, offering 22 acres of gorgeous open space with shady trails, ornamental bridges, and peaceful meadows. Cricket is popular here, as are several excellent museums and the Royal Naval Dockyard for sightseeing. Savor everything from fresh ocean breezes to fresh island fare and get lost in the Bermuda way of life.
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