The Caribbean is one of the world’s top vacation destinations, and rightfully so. Modern amenities cater to vacationers looking to get away from busy lives, sun worshippers frolicking in crystal-blue waters, and ecologically minded people who love to spend time in nature. Plus, it’s warm year-round.
There are plenty of well-known islands to visit, like The Bahamas’ all-inclusive resorts in Montego, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados, Aruba, and St. Lucia. All of these places are packed with things to do, places for pampering, world-class restaurants, and everything a family needs to relax.
What about off-the-beaten-path locations and hidden gems? Look at these five destinations when you genuinely want to get away from it all.
Monsterrat is unique among its Caribbean cohorts because of its volcanic activity. The Soufrière Hills volcano has been in a constant state of eruption since 1995. For those who want to explore the area’s geology more, stop by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. But don’t worry. Like Hawaii, Monsterrat has plenty to do there not related to the fiery cauldron from the deep.
Garibaldi Hill offers beautiful views (and the closest) views you can get of the Soufrière Hills volcano. There is an exclusion zone to keep people from getting closer. Olveston House in Salem provides the best meals on the island along with lush, manicured gardens on 5 acres. Of course, you can’t miss out on the only white sand beach on the island. Rendezvous Beach, nestled in a private cove just north of Little Bay, is perfect for snorkeling and kayaking as a Caribbean destination.
Known for its snorkeling and scuba diving, Bonaire is a nature lover’s paradise. It also has some beautiful scenery you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Before you head here, it’s important to note that strict regulations protect marine life here, so please be aware of them before packing your bags for Bonaire.
Start with a day trip to Klein Bonaire (Little Bonaire), a small uninhabited island you can only reach by boat. Bring your snorkel or scuba gear, a picnic to eat lunch on the beach, and please take your trash with you when you leave!
The Salt Pans on the southern edge of Bonaire look like gigantic white snow cones in the distance, but they are actually huge mounds of salt. Some of the salt runs into the bay, which turns the water pink. Once you leave the salt flats, head to Lac Bay, a lagoon dotted with mangrove forests. Kayak among the tufts of mangroves that pop up while enjoying the varied fish that swim past.
Lastly, make sure to visit Washington-Slagbaai National Park. Here, two former plantation homes serve as your base of operations for mountain biking, driving, or hiking among millions of cactus plants in this nature preserve. Despite its location in the Caribbean, much of Bonaire has an arid climate. The last thing to do here: cliff jumping into sparkling waters after navigating through prickly cacti at this unique Caribbean destination.
Step back in time to Saba, part of the Lesser Antilles. This island is just five miles long and is located 28 miles southwest of St. Maarten. Saba is a gorgeous place for scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking to the top of Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano that dominates the landscape of this pristine island.
There are four villages with modern amenities, one of which has a medical school in this Caribbean destination. There is an abandoned sulfur mine you can explore (carefully) as well as a 2-mile hike to the top of Mount Scenery from the aptly named village of Windwardside. There are three hotels and several cottages that offer accommodations on Saba.
Outdoor lovers will delight in Dominica, an island in the Lesser Antilles heavy on natural wonders and plenty of things to do in a top-notch hidden Caribbean destination.
Coral reefs, tall waterfalls, a dense rainforest, boiling lakes, and a volcano all await your exploration. Beaches are covered in black and white sand, but the multicolored sand doesn’t detract from Dominica’s beauty.
The crown jewel of Dominica is the Waitukubuli National Trail, a 114-mile wilderness jaunt all over the island. It’s the Caribbean’s first long-distance hiking trail, so make sure to bring a good pair of hiking boots and a sturdy backpack.
Bequia, in St. Vincent and Grenadines, provides something for everyone at this fantastic Caribbean destination. It has island nightlife that gives you a taste of local food, drink, and entertainment at modern resorts. Palm-lined beaches are ideal for lazy days in hammocks as you read your favorite bestselling novel between splash times in crystal-blue waters.
If you’re in the mood for cooking your own food, farmer’s markets sell local delicacies to take back to your hotel room. If history is your thing, check out the historic forts perched on volcanic rocks near the major towns. Divers love Bequia, with more than 30 dive spots to see moray eels, hawksbill turtles, and stunningly colorful coral reefs.
Ready for a Trip to the Caribbean?
There are plenty of Caribbean destinations to head to, including all-inclusive vacations. Summer or winter, relaxing or active, Caribbean islands cater to all interests and tastes of vacationers who want to escape to paradise for a little while. Check out more of our content to find tips for your greatest tropical vacation ever!