It’s no surprise that one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations is the Caribbean. Beaches of warm, soft sand stretching for miles. Crystal-clear water that shimmers like turquoise in the tropical sunshine. Dining and dancing under the stars to the rhythm of reggae or calypso music. What’s not to like?
That’s why thirty million tourists visit the Caribbean each year, and in the most popular places, such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica, mega-resorts have sprung up that cater to every want and whim. And a myriad attractions and excursions are there to keep the tourist crowd occupied.
But there are other places – with the same sea, sand, and sunshine – that don’t get their just due. And that may work to your advantage. If you’d like your island getaway to be just that, and you’d rather not be fighting for a space in the buffet line or a few square feet of room on the beach, then a less “popular” island may be more to your liking.
We’d like to suggest a few of the more underrated Caribbean destinations.
No, not the Dominican Republic. Dominica is a small island between Guadeloupe and Martinique. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise, with some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean, tropical rainforests, hot springs, a 200-foot waterfall, and a volcanically heated lake. Morne Tois Pitons National Park has numerous hiking trails leading through the jungle. Beautiful black sand beaches are the norm here. And some of the world’s top diving sites are off Dominica’s shores.
A Dutch municipality in the Lesser Antilles, the total area of Saba is only about five square miles, and approximately 1,800 people live in its four largest villages. So if you want to get away from it all, this is the place. No resorts or chain hotels dot the beaches here; it’s just the unspoiled Caribbean at its finest. You’ll have the pristine beaches and hiking trails practically to yourself. And Saba Marine Park offers some top diving locations.
Another Dutch island in the Lesser Antilles, Curaçao is often overshadowed by its neighbor Aruba. But this island has plenty to brag about. Thirty-five beaches, perfect year-round weather, and unspoiled coral reefs make this a great destination. Continuous winds make it a popular place for wind surfing. The capital city of Willemstad mixes colonial Dutch and Caribbean architecture for a colorful, charming ambience. And for those who fear that a hurricane might ruin their beach vacation, Curaçao is out of the hurricane belt.
Called the “Spice Island,” Grenada is one of the world’s leaders in nutmeg and mace production and exportation, and visitors often notice the soothing aromas carried throughout the island on ocean breezes. The most famous beach – Grand Anse Beach – is two unbroken miles of soft, white sand, with plenty of restaurants and bars. But there are other, more secluded beaches if that’s your preference. And the capital city of St. George’s is one of the most picturesque in all of the Caribbean. Colorful homes and buildings – including a healthy helping of Georgian architecture – overlook the harbor, and some of the earliest homes date to the 18th century. Sunbathe, swim, dive, and tour a rum distillery on this alluring isle.