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Is there anything better than stretching out like a cat in a warm patch of Jamaican sun? Only if you sprinkle your island vacation with a dash of adventure. Known fondly as “the land of wood and water,” Jamaica’s forests feature prime hiking and bird watching. History buffs can the heritage sites of Trelawny, while reggae and dancehall fans will love the authentic music clubs of Kingston. Montego Bay is perfect for snorkeling and shopping, while the spas of Ocho Rios can make any stresses melt away.
Puerto Rico offers the perfect balance of rum-soaked nightlife and tranquil retreat. The Spanish colonial buildings of San Juan set a perfect backdrop for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Hike the massive El Yunque rainforest to see waterfalls, stone towers, and colorful Puerto Rican wildlife. As far as beaches go, it doesn’t get better than the private sands of Isla de Vieques – particularly Mosquito Bay, where by moonlight the water glows blue-green thanks to magical microorganisms.
Aruba is the quintessential Caribbean island, all sun and sea and stretches of powdery white sand. Time will slow to a pleasant crawl as you linger over a tropical cocktail or flutter serenely underwater, where only the parrotfish are in a hurry. The pastel façades of Oranjestad landmarks and shops lend an inviting and playful vibe to the capital city. Enjoy the shade of an Eagle Beach divi tree while the crashing waves of turquoise water create a soothing soundtrack just for you.
Romance and adventure are in the air on this lush West Indian island in the Caribbean, depending on your coast. To the west, you'll find calm waters and good swimming. To the east, there are massive, competition-caliber waves. Wherever you stay, expect turquoise waters, fine soft sand beaches, catamaran cruises and delicious island fare.
Among the best golf destinations in the world, Punta Cana is the very picture of leisure. Several of the courses have been designed by professional golfers, making for the perfect sort of kicked-back challenge that you want on a golfing vacation. The beaches here are simply perfect: calm, warm waters that gently lap at stretches of fine white sand. Thrill yourself with a zip-line adventure, clap along with traditional Dominican music at a cultural performance, or explore the magical lagoons of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park.
The farther you go from Grand Cayman's busy docks, the more peace and quiet you'll find. At Stingray City (actually a sandbar), stingrays swim alongside you in the tranquil waters. Closer to town, travelers report finding some of the best massage and spa services anywhere in the Caribbean.
When was the last time you went out for a casual drive and ended up inside a volcano? A surreal scenario comes to life at La Soufrière, one of the most popular attractions in St. Lucia. Pack your skin with the medicinal mud of Sulfur Springs for a DIY spa treatment. Continue your eruptive adventures with a guided hike of the two volcanic plugs known as the Pitons then ascend Morne Fortune to take in the sweeping views. For an intimate beach experience, hit the private black sands of Anse Mamin.
The most populated of the Turks and Caicos islands, Providenciales is one of the world’s top beach destinations. The diving and snorkeling is as convenient as it is stunning, thanks to miles of coral reef that’s easily accessible from the shore. The upscale resorts and captivating beachscapes of Grace Bay make it a popular choice for waterfront escapes. The cliffs and crags of Chalk Sound make a lovely backdrop for kayaking the bright turquoise waters.
Featuring white-sand beaches, volcanic peaks, and protected parks, along with some of the most impressive dive spots in the world, Guadeloupe is an island hopper’s paradise. This French archipelago is one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets, offering a more relaxed alternative to its better-known neighbors.