The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world. This makes it popular with tourists worldwide. Many people, however, have trouble deciding which island to visit. Although it may seem that every Caribbean island is equally desirable and perfect, the fact is there are significant differences among them. Let’s look at the top ten Caribbean islands and what type of traveler each is best suited for.
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a chain of 1,000 islands (200 are inhabited, and only 5 have any substantial population). The country is actually just a series of coral atolls that are barely above sea level. During the 2004 Tsunami, many of these islands were completely washed away. The government has built flood barriers to help lessen the impact of any future tsunamis.
Java, with a population of 140 million, makes its first appearance on this list. Celebrated for its ancient culture, breathtaking vistas, and UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Borobudur Temple Compounds, the island also offers the opportunity to indulge in modernity (five-star hotels abound). Waterfalls, volcanoes, protected parks, and white-sand beaches also allow visitors to get away from the thrum.

Culebra Island is beautiful. I just got back to Canada from Puerto Rico. I was there for a month. I loved Culebra so much I went back twice. On my second trip I spent two nights camping at Playa Flamenco. I paid $20 USD per night for a sweet little camping spot (section E). I saw turtles, amazing, colourful fish and met some wonderful people. The snorkelling was okay in terms of being able to see under water but the reefs are not healthy. There was plenty of coconut to pick to drink the water inside and eat the meat. I found passion fruit, mangoes (not ripe), almonds (not ripe) and another really weird looking fruit I don’t know the name of. While I didn’t enjoy the main island of Puerto Rico as much as I’d hoped, I would go back to Culebra if the opportunity ever arose. I made some friends (Perri and Hector–owners) at a little place in town called, “Aqui Me Quedo” who I will never forget their kindness and hospitality.
Barbados is a vibrant island with a great nightlight. Bridgetown is one of the nightlife capitals of the area, so if you’re looking to stay up until the wee hours then this might be the island for you! Like Bermuda, you’ll find amazing beaches and caving here. You’ll also find some world-class surfing. The food here is amazing, and you’ll be able to enjoy expensive, delicious meals alongside cheap local food.
Private jet is the best new way for VIPs to travel south: Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, now offers direct seaplane air service with Key West Seaplanes from Florida airports to the property’s private beach pier. Slightly farther north on Key Largo, Playa Largo Resort & Spa debuted last summer with signature Sunshine State coral reefs and sea glass, plus 144 rooms and suites, 10 secluded bungalows and a standalone luxury guesthouse.
This quiet island is waking up. Luxe boutique Zemi Beach House recently opened with classic details and a laid-back vibe that call to the local natural beauty of Shoal Bay East beach. On Merrywing Bay next to sister property CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, The Reef by CuisinArt recently unveiled 80 new suites. Here, farm-to-table fare means local fish and fresh produce from the on-site Hydroponic Farm. The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla took over the former Viceroy Anguilla with villas that overlook white-sand beaches and the rugged coral coastline.
Also, if there are any other suggestions you have in general for Athens and Santorini I would love to hear them. I would like to be able to leave Athens early morning on Day 3 so that we can have almost a full day on our first island. We would like to see as much as we can without feeling like we are running around from island to island the whole time.
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Nine weeks in Greece is a dream itinerary it certainly gives you lots of flexibility. As you seem to have Athens and the Peloponnese sorted, you just need to sort out your five weeks on the islands. What you need to realize, however, is that the islands are not all mutually interconnected, but rather they are ‘grouped’ – both administratively and from the point of view of transport routes. Here are the main groups.
To island-hop some of the most beautiful havens in the world, book a trip to Asia, which lays claim to six of this year’s top 15 destinations. But if you only have a week, you’ll hardly suffer. Each of the islands on this list is worth a visit on its own, from the perennial World’s Best list-makers Maui and the Galápagos to Portugal’s rising star, the Azores, with its friendly locals and awe-inspiring landscapes. 

For the full throttle, utterly extravagant Las Vegas experience, it has to be the Strip. You’ll stay in a grown-up wonderland, in opulent, palatial surroundings, and there is nowhere else on earth with nightlife and entertainment like this. Plus, when it gets too much, you can simply retreat to your suite within a few minutes. If you’d like to be close to the action, but without the full force of the Strip’s frenetic nature, stay East or West of the Strip. Here, you’ll find some smaller boutique and budget hotels, and you’re still in easy reach of all the main attractions.
Of the above groups the Dodecanese probably constitute the best opportunity to mix islands between groups. You could, for example, take the Blue Star Ferries and map an island-hopping route that essentially heads in the same direction. In this way you could take in some of the Cyclades – Syros, Mykonos, Patmos, Naxos and some of the Dodecanese – Patmos, Leros, Kos, Chalki, and Rhodes – without any backtracking. Hellenic Seaways is another major ferry company whose routes you may want to explore.
Close to this island is a little island that provides excellent snorkeling opportunities. You may even spot a few reef sharks. Bathtub-warm water and fine sand beaches kept me here for over three weeks. It will do the same for you. Visit between November and March for the best weather and the fewest people. May through October sees a harsh monsoon season that shuts the island down. The best way to get there is by boat from Pak Bara.
While technically a subtropical island, the Azores make for a great getaway if you’re looking for something beyond the standard resort getaway. The islands boast tons of hiking and beautiful nature. Rent a car and explore the winding roads of the main island, São Miguel Island, taking it secluded beaches and picturesque waterfalls. Best of all, it’s close to both Europe and North America and makes for a great stopover point if you’re traveling between the two.

The next big island north is Corfu, the grandmother of all holiday packaged islands, but with plenty of other individualized retreats. Arguably the prettiest of all the islands, it is lush, green and clean though it can get a bit cluttered in high Summer. Pretty well all the options you want are on offer, but the best hikes and ramblings are to be had away from the central east coast. Author Gerald Durrell chose well in Corfu: his famous White House in the north-west of the island is at the little seaside village of Kalami.
The state appears on many travel hot lists for 2017, especially thanks to Georgia’s quirky, craggy coast that threads throughout a chain of barrier islands — the most idyllic of which may be at the private resort community of Sea Island, with its five-mile stretch of coastline. Historic Mediterranean-style hotel The Cloister recently added 63 rooms, making it the perfect home base for spa-going, golf and even seeing the sea turtles nest.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S., so citizens do not need a passport to visit this island. This is a bustling island full of activities. Cities such as San Juan and Ponce offer lots of historical sites as well as great food and nightlife. There are lots of different kinds of beaches, making it equally attractive for surfers, snorkelers or people who simply want to relax. Puerto Rico also has quite a few casinos both large and small.


Excellent choice of islands, though getting between them presents one or two challenges (they are not as conveniently connected like the Cycladic or Dodecanese islands so island hopping is not as popular in this island group). All three islands are served by airports with year-round connections to Athens and in the Summer with international charter flights from Europe. Let’s take the pros and cons of each island.

Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May 2017 as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated.


Glad to see you mentioned the Cook Islands – my husband and I went to Rarotonga for a week in 2008 and fell in love with it – can’t wait to someday bring our kids back there – they would love it, too! Very few people have actually heard of the Cooks, or know where they are, and while I like the “secrecy” of it, I wish more people would visit! Currently there are only 1-2 flights/week from the US – makes planning trips there a bit tougher!We only took a day trip to Aitutaki because of time, but it was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Glad to see you agree!
Remote and unspoiled Crooked Island has little in the way of tourist facilities, but it does boast gorgeous beaches, bat caves and flamingos, and also serves as a turtle nesting spot. One of the four islands that form an atoll hugging the striking shallow waters of the Bight of Acklins, it hasn’t much changed since Columbus sailed down the leeward side through the narrow Crooked Island Passage. There are miles of untouched, white powdery sands, coral gardens, limestone caves and cliffs, remnants of slave and cotton plantations, ancient churches, fortifications and mangrove-lined waterways.
I am moving to Bali next month. I am currently on another Indo Island, less popular and not really paradise but has some pretty destinations (Batam Island). I must say I am so interested in visiting the other places well but if you are visiting Bali it is definitely a romantic experience. It’s the perfect place for a honeymoon and the best part is… it’s cheap! The most expensive thing will probably be the airfare unless you reside in South East Asia.
Unlike its luxurious Caribbean neighbors, here you’ll only find more budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Everything needs to come by ship or airplane, so it’s not super cheap. However, since no non-natives can own property there is no influx of overdevelopment, keeping the island simple but beautiful. For a more rustic, non-touristy getaway, this might be the island for you!
Kefallonia was severely shaken by an earthquake in 1953 and thereafter lost its quaint gloss. The picturesque northern port of Fiskardo however, escaped much of the destruction and remains to this day one of the main focal points for visitors to the island, so is a good spot for a stay of 2-3 days. Pretty, waterfront cafés and restaurants and a cosy, folksy feel predominate. Asos, between Fiskardo and Argostoli is a west coast ‘resort’ village that pulls in its fair share of visitors and the view down to Asos from the main island road is one of the most photographed spots on Kefallonia.
My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early April. We already plan to spend a few nights on Santorini, and are trying to choose one other island to pair with it (will have 3 nights on other island). We are in our late 20s and are more interested in outdoors (hiking, exploring, beaches, boat trips). I’d like to keep travel time to a minimum, so I have been looking at the closer islands – Milos, Paros, and Naxos. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts on a good island to pair with Santorini?

We are wanting to hit 3 islands and have narrowed it down to Corfu, Crete, and Santorini. I was feeling pretty good about this but I haven’t seen a lot of hype for Corfu. I was thinking it would be more unique as compared to the other 2 with its proximity to Italy and Turkey and Albania. Am I missing something, do you have any insight you could provide, please?
Chania is a great choice. A wonderful charming town. Elounda is great for a quiet laid back stop, Agios Nikolaos has a more interesting vibe and is more of a real town. Also very charming. I prefer Ag Nik but Elounda has more luxurious hotels. (Crete hotels.) Naxos has lots to see in the interior so if you didn’t explore then certainly consider that. Folegandros and Milos are both incredible. Folegandros is more suited to walking and relaxing (and has some top notch restaurants and hotels). On Milos you need to do a tour and get out and actively explore to do it justice. Geologically Milos is stunning. A little like Santorini but with better beaches.
Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.
Have just discovered your blog today and love it! I am a student from NZ and want to travel to somewhere fantastic next year for a few weeks to get away from the hussle and bussle of study and work. Originally thought Thailand would be fantastic, and I see you agree with me here so great! But I also did not realise Bali was also so cheap. For a first trip overseas for a poor student (apart from Aus), where would you recommend? Bali or Thailand?
The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world. This makes it popular with tourists worldwide. Many people, however, have trouble deciding which island to visit. Although it may seem that every Caribbean island is equally desirable and perfect, the fact is there are significant differences among them. Let’s look at the top ten Caribbean islands and what type of traveler each is best suited for.
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my Name is Julie. for those of view who have never visited tahiti you are seriously missing out. its beautiful and wild and the people are so nice and the weather is great. we got to eat a giant freshly caught tuna and had a big cook out wih tahitian dancers who tell a story about their islands and history. if your looking for paradise tahiti is it do not forget the passports though. you go out and watch the golden sun dance on the water as you watch it set for the night as it gently washes away the stress of busy cities that we live in. i can’t wait to go back what an adventure yahoo!
U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to explore this trio of Caribbean islands (St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix). While the 133-square-mile chain has history in spades — Christopher Columbus touched down in 1493 — 2017 marks a banner year as the USVI celebrates its Centennial, with special events (festivals, parades and presumably lots of rum cake) continuing throughout the year. Also historic, Caneel Bay, the 60-year-old, 170-acre escape in St. John’s Virgin Islands National Park founded by environmentalist and preservationist Laurance Rockefeller, just celebrated its diamond anniversary. The property is bringing back the original beauty of its pared-down, 1950s-inspired Scandinavian style.
Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)?
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