Think the Caribbean is too overrun with tourists to find a secluded and remote spot on the map? Believe it or not, there are still hidden destinations where you can enjoy seclusion and maybe even a beach all to yourself.
Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos
Literally described as “the island time forgot,” Salt Cay is the second-largest island in Turks & Caicos, but largely overlooked in favor of Grand Turk. At about 2.6 square miles, its history of sea salt production from 1673 and original settlement of Balfour Town make it an attractive haven for history buffs and beach bums alike.
During the salt heyday in the 1700s and 1800s, the island had about 700 residents, but many of those families and their descendants moved on to other parts of Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas. Salt production remained the main source of income on the island until the 1930s.
Expect wild donkeys outnumbering cars, approximately 100 permanent residents, old windmills and historic architecture. Many tourists visit here for diving or whale watching during their trip to other Turks & Caicos islands, but they don’t stay.
If you do decide to stay, you’ll be in for a great (and private!) time. The island’s very difficult to access, with only a small plane or ferry from Providenciales transporting visitors. You’ll find small rental villas on the beaches and you can rent a golf cart for zipping around the island.
Even though the island is tiny, there are multiple beaches. North Bay is gorgeous and has a small reef perfect for snorkeling; Long Bay takes a bit more to get to and has rougher waters, but it’s great for beachcombing, as is South Point and South Bay; Balfour Town Beach is where you’ll find most of the beach-front villas; Northeast Point has low cliffs and whale watching; South District Beach has spectacular sunsets; and South Creek is off the wetlands with very shallow water.
Out Islands, the Bahamas
Yes, the Bahamas are one of the most jam-packed destinations in the Caribbean, but that’s not necessarily true for the Out Islands. They are made up of several different islands, each offering unique perks and perfectly secluded beaches. Plus, they’re delightfully unspoiled, resorts are small (no mega properties here) and amenities are sparse, but just enough.
On San Salvador, known for its immaculate and quiet beaches, you’ll find Grotto Beach at Sandy Point, isolated and intimate, with a small grotto. Andros Island offers several laid-back beaches with coconut trees and vegetation. Small Hope Bay Beach is one of the most relaxed and you can stay right on the sand at the Small Hope Bay Lodge.
Bimini is the smallest of the Out Islands, and if you venture out to the Bimini Cays, you’ll easily find a beach all to yourself. Cat Island is untouched by tourism for the most part and one of the local favorites there is New Bight Beach. If you want privacy, stay at Sammy T’s Beach Resort and enjoy the property’s secluded cove on the harbor.
Can’t pick just one? Hopping between the Out Islands is totally possible, thanks to private pilots who are more than ready to shuttle you to each island’s airstrip.
Bequia is the second-largest island in the Grenadines, but you probably haven’t heard of it. At seven square miles, it’s pretty small. With a name meaning, “Island of the Clouds,” you’re sure to find tranquil relaxation that’ll have you never wanting to leave.
Despite its small size, the island is home to more than 4,000 people, most of African, Caribbean or Scottish descent. It was once a favorite vacation spot for Princess Margaret and now it’s popular with yacht-traveling luxury tourists, but little else. Some come over from St. Vincent to scuba dive, but few stay. Accessing Bequia is possible via a small airstrip and ferries from Saint Vincent.
Of the beaches, Lower Bay is one of the best and some days you’ll have it all to yourself. Nearby accommodations include Belles Point Bequia, a popular rental villa with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and beautiful ocean views. The expansive property includes an open courtyard, spacious living areas, an infinity pool, garden and barbecue deck overlooking the cliffs.
Hope Bay requires a hike, but the secluded white-sand beach is well worth the effort. Just keep in mind that the rough waters are dangerous for weak swimmers and there are no provisions nearby. Because of the high level of privacy found here, it’s not uncommon for visitors to sunbathe nude.
Called the “best Caribbean island you’ve never heard of” and the “unspoiled queen of the Caribbean,” Saba is a small, Netherlands-governed island with a population just under 2,000 and you can travel here from the neighboring island of St. Maarten via small plane or ferry. Most of the island is made up of a potentially active volcano, which just so happens to be the highest point in the Netherlands.
First recorded during Christopher Columbus’s voyages in 1493, Saba has been Netherland-governed since 1816 and used for sugar, indigo and rum production, as well as lobster fishing at a later date. Saba lace production also became popular during the 1800s and 1900s. You can still find some of the earlier settlement remains from the 1600s on the west side of the island.
Saba only hosts about 25,000 tourists each year with its ecotourism and small selection of inns and hotels. It’s also known as the Caribbean island with no beaches. However, its rocky shoreline, with breathtaking views and high cliffs, delivers its own kind of awe.
If you really want to swim, head to Cove Bay where there’s a small stretch of sand and pebbles, a tidal pool and restrooms. It’s also located a little bit closer into town. If you’d rather stay away from town completely, choose Well’s Bay Beach—it has fantastic views, high cliffs and no amenities to speak of.