For most people, the phrase “Caribbean island” evokes images of white sand, endless beaches, and beautiful aquamarine water stretching to the horizon. While that’s all true, it would be a mistake to think of the Caribbean as one homogeneous whole with identical islands.
The truth is each island has its own personality. Some are lazy and laid back. Others have more of a party atmosphere, where things don’t slow down just because the sun goes down (or comes up).
If you want to put your toes in the sand someplace where you can party well, too, consider these options, known for the best nightlife in the Caribbean:
By day enjoy the sunshine, beaches, and water. But at night, get ready to party. There are no fewer than 12 casinos on Aruba, each with its own style and flavor. They offer everything you’d ask for — cabarets, comedy shows, dancing, live music, and sometimes free drinks while you are playing. Restaurants run the gamut from low-key to ritzy, and some offer beachside service. Party buses will take you from bar to bar, and every establishment has its own specials, such as welcome shots, two for the price of one, complimentary snacks, etc.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
You can party until dawn in this city, which creates a unique hybrid of nightlife from both American style and old Caribbean. Casinos are a-plenty, and they often feature some of the best entertainment in the Caribbean. If you need to take a break from the slots and card tables, you can enjoy cabaret shows, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops. People dress up to go to the casinos, so don’t go in your beachwear. And there is no drinking allowed at the tables. Throughout San Juan you can find plenty of great music, dancing, and, of course, rum.
St. Martin/St. Maarten
The nightlife here is found on the Dutch side, with 14 casinos and lots of beachside bars and restaurants. Nightclubs sometimes include a pool, and live music is everywhere, so you can party hard until the break of dawn.
There is a reason why Gloucester Avenue in Montenegro Bay is called the Hip Strip. Not only is it close to the beach, it is lined with bars and restaurants that feature shows, live music, and dancing. Beach hotels often put on shows that feature aspects of the island’s history and folklore. Music is an intrinsic part of Jamaican culture, so reggae and soca are found everywhere, from ritzy resorts to local dives. The music, dancing, and rum punch will keep your night going for as long as you can last.
Jost Van Dyke
The smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands, this is a hotspot for yachts to gather and people to throw down a few drinks. Great Harbor, White Bay, and Little Harbor are where the action is. Several bars and restaurants are located here, and if you find yourself in Jost Van Dyke on December 31, well, you won’t find a better place to ring in the New Year.