Traveling to the Caribbean can be as simple as ABC – A direct flight, Beach, Cocktail… It’s usually possible to find flights from the UK and North America non-stop to larger destinations such as Cuba, St Lucia, Antigua and the Dominican Republic. If you’re traveling on to smaller islands, or on an island hopping vacation, short domestic flights are the easiest way to travel and by short, we mean short; Trinidad to Tobago, for instance, takes just 20 minutes. Ferries also connect many of the islands and once on land, it’s not usually necessary to hire a car. Organised tours will transport you between hotspots, or use local taxis.

1. Antigua

The largest of the Leeward Islands and part of the sovereign state of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua is a vision of tiny inlets and bays with white sand beaches and turquoise sea. Jeep tours reveal the island’s rolling interior and small villages, and there’s history at Nelson’s Dockyard, where the eponymous admiral lived during the 1870s, and the military lookout at Shirley Heights.

2. Bahamas

Technically in the Atlantic not the Caribbean Sea and tucked below Florida, the Bahamas is more than 700 islands, islets and cays, dotted with sleek resorts and celebrity homes. Sailing vacations give an overview of the islands, including Pig Island – where pigs swim out to meet boats. On Eleuthera and Harbour Island, the architecture is influenced by the British Loyalists who fled here after the American Revolution.

3. Cuba

Its beaches rival any in the Caribbean, but Cuba is so much more. Communism has stripped it of material wealth and its relative isolation means there’s a time capsule feel, with classic cars cruising Havana’s streets, but Cuba is culturally rich, with jazz, salsa, ballet, ancient Afro-Cuban religions and Revolution history. You can also enjoy trekking, cycling, farm visits, snorkelling and staying in locally owned casas.

4. Dominica

A nature lover’s dream, Dominica is a volcanic gem whose rivers, rainforests, black lava beaches and mountains don’t fit the Caribbean’s sea and sand stereotype. Its huge range of habitats support abundant bird life, and there’s diving, whale watching and hiking – including the long-distance Waitukubuli National Trail that zigzags through the island’s mountainous interior.
Dominican Republic

5. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation after Cuba and shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Its southeast corner has the highest concentration of all inclusive resorts in the world, but beyond lies unspoiled beauty: four mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, countless waterfalls and gorgeous beaches. For active breaks, head to the north coast, now developing as an outdoor activities hotspot.

6. Grenada

Friendly and picturesque, Grenada is a perfect little package of nature, history and beautiful beaches. Nicknamed the Spice Island, Grenada has nutmeg, cinnamon and clove farms, colonial architecture, former plantation houses, beautiful gardens and perhaps the prettiest town in the Caribbean in its capital St George’s. Good hiking trails thread through the national parks and there’s great reef snorkelling, too.

7. Haiti

A crime-troubled capital, earthquakes and aid scandals – Haiti hits the news for the wrong reasons. This miserable fog obscures the brilliance of Haiti; its exquisite beaches, pastel painted French-Caribbean architecture, fascinating history, UNESCO landmarks, artists’ communities and tumbling waterfalls. The bad rep also keeps tourists away, which means anyone who ventures here can enjoy these treats untroubled by crowds.

8. Montserrat

Montserrat is volcanic and a major eruption in 1997 killed 19 people and devastated the south of the island – visit the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory to learn more. The Georgian capital of Plymouth was smothered and today is a major attraction – it’s the only volcanic-buried town in the Americas. There are great rainforest hikes, unspoiled beaches and the birding is good, too, with 119 species to spot.
Saint Lucia

9. Saint Lucia

A gorgeous all-rounder, Saint Lucia caters for beach lovers, families, culture fans and anyone looking for an active break, with a vibrant Carib, African, French and English culture. It’s cloaked in rainforest, with beautiful beaches and the iconic twin Piton Mountains rising out of the Caribbean. It’s also a bird watching hotspot, thanks to its position on the migratory flight path of many species.
Trinidad & Tobago

10. Trinidad & Tobago

Lying just 11km off the coast of South America, these are the most southerly Caribbean islands, each with a unique landscape. Trinidad has tropical rainforests, wetlands, savannahs and exotic birds and wildlife, while Tobago is famed for its tranquil beaches, fishing villages and reefs. Trinidad’s cosmopolitan people and culture produced Carnival and Calypso, and both islands offer amazing food, art, music and fun-loving people.
Travel Team
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A rough idea of the travel times between the main attractions in the Caribbean.

Trinidad – Tobago: 20 mins by air Antigua – Montserrat: 20 mins by air Antigua – Dominica: 40 mins by air Saint Lucia – Grenada: 50 mins by air Saint Lucia – Dominica: 4.5hrs by ferry Havana – Viñales, Cuba: 3hrs by road Trinidad – Camagüey, Cuba: 6hrs by road
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: pshanson] [Antigua: Edgar El] [Bahamas: Ruben Gutierrez] [Cuba: Ban Yido] [Dominica: Martin Bartosch] [Dominican Republic: Studio Sarah Lou] [Grenada: Tony Hisgett] [Haiti: Daniele Febei] [Montserrat: Giggel] [Saint Lucia: Boris Kasimov] [Trindad and Tobago: Neiljs]