One of the biggest assumptions many travelers make when considering a Caribbean getaway is that the region is nothing but sand and sun. While there is no shortage of stunning beach options throughout the world, there’s also rich cultures, cuisines, and a sense of hospitality that makes the Caribbean worth visiting over and over again.
Every traveler has different needs, from relaxation to romance, but where to begin in a region made up of more than 7,000 (yes, you that’s right) individual islands? Deciding what speaks to your personality is a good place to start.
Here are a few places to get you inspired to pick your perfect island escape.
For those who love the ‘Turn Up,’ choose… TRINIDAD
If you’ve ever seen any photos of Trinidad in February during Carnival, then you already know that it epitomizes turn down for what.
This island is a country that embraces partying so much that they’ve even coined a word for it: limin.
If sleep matters very little to you and you find yourself asking “where are we going next?,” then head to Trinidad, especially during Carnival when you will never have a problem finding a place to take “ah wine” from sunup to sundown.
“Trinidad is the perfect party destination because feting, as it’s called there, is rooted in the culture. It’s part of the people. And Soca, the music that serves as the backdrop to Carnival and the majority of fetes on the island, runs through people’s veins; it’s what moves them,” says travel blogger and proud Trinidad & Tobago native Tara Donaldson. “With those two things in mind, it’s no wonder that the energy of the island is one that makes partying there an otherworldly experience.”
For those who love the finer things, choose… ST. BART’S
Step into the lap of luxury on this island filled with five star hotels, restaurants and a palpable air of sophistication. For many travelers here, incredible service is much more important than a price tag.
There are a number of lodging options to call home, including boutique hotels, private villas, and traditional resorts. No matter what you choose, you’ll be surrounded by stylish people who appreciate life’s luxuries. Head to Gustavia to see an ocean full of mega yachts, or pop a bottle at the famous Eden Roc hotel on St. Jean beach.
For those who can shop until they drop, choose… SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
While there are a number of reasons to visit Puerto Rico — the most important is to help rebuild the island post-hurricane— shopaholics can pitch in by picking this Caribbean island to get their fix.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, better known as JetSetSarah, says, “San Juan, Puerto Rico not only has the Caribbean’s largest mall (Plaza Las Americas, with 300 stores), but it’s historic quarter, Old San Juan, is a trove of independent boutiques selling original art, genuine Panama hats and clothing and accessories by independent designers.
In neighboring Condado, luxury-lovers can get their fix along Avenida Ashford, where Gucci, Cartier and Ferragamo reign. And the swanky Mall of San Juan is home to the region’s only Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.”
For those who can chill on any beach, choose… ANGUILLA
If your goal is to be a certified beach bum by spending every undisturbed moment on a pristine white-sandy beach, then Anguilla is for you.
Perhaps that’s why everyone from Beyonce and Jay-Z to Denzel Washington consider it a favorite.
“This is 35-square mile oasis has 33 Instagram-worthy white-sand beaches, many of which you can have all to yourself,” says Greaves-Gabbadon. “Factor in the dreamy shores on idyllic offshore islets such as Sandy Island, and beach lovers may find it hard to leave.”
Kristin Braswell is an award-winning travel journalist and founder of CrushGlobal Travel. Follow her adventures on Instagram, @crushglobal.