CARIBBEAN VACATION IDEAS

Photos: Insiders' Guide to the Caribbean

Whether you've been to these 10 Caribbean islands once or you're planning your fifteenth visit, we've got the inside scoop on some of the best must-see spots in the islands.

  1. If there's any complaint about St. Martin, an island piled high with nightclubs, restaurants, and resorts, it's that there's too much of everything. Here, one of the many beaches.

    (Angelo Cavalli / SuperStock )
  2. Beige umbrellas protect sunbathers on the beach in front of Hotel Love in St. Martin.

    (Cedric Angeles)
  3. Two vacationers having a blast in the clear waters of St. Martin.

    (Cedric Angeles)
  4. On the French side, the 154-acre private nature reserve Loterie Farm continues to grow, adding poolside cabanas to its zip-line course, hiking trails, and other outdoorsy amenities. The reserve's new pool area is pictured above.

    (Cedric Angeles)
  5. There's a reason Aruba's luxury hotels, glitzy casinos, and designer boutiques are concentrated along this Dutch island's western edge: the spectacular sunsets. The beach is beautiful during the day too-here you see palapas and palm trees on Eagle Beach.

    (Famke Backx / iStockPhoto)
  6. An aerial shot of Palm Beach in Aruba. Notice the clear water and the white sand.

    (Anastasia Ryapolova / Dreamstime.com)
  7. An Aruba sunset, as seen from the waters off Palm Beach.

    (Held Jurgen/Robert Harding)
  8. The best budget hotel in Aruba is MVC Eagle Beach (pictured) on the west side. The 19-room inn has ocean-view terraces, all-white bedding, and dark-wood furniture—all from $145 per night.

    (Courtesy MVC Eagle Beach)
  9. A guest enjoys the beach with her dog at the Pigeon Cay Beach Club in the Bahamas. The resort occupies a three-mile strand with seven simple, stand-alone rental cottages.

    (Courtesy Pigeon Cay Beach Club)
  10. Two snorkelers explore the ocean life from the surface in the Bahamas.

    (Island Effects / iStockPhoto)
  11. This colorful signpost in Freeport, Grand Bahama points the way to other islands in the Caribbean, as well as cities like New York and San Salvador.

    (Ethel Davies/Robert Harding)
  12. A breathtaking shot over the West End of St. Thomas, one of the US Virgin Islands.

    (Christian Wheatley / iStockPhoto)
  13. A tropical beach in the US Virgin Islands.

    ( Christian Wheatley / iStockPhoto)
  14. Frolicking in the waters off the U.S. Virgin Islands, which average 79 degrees in winter.

    (Amanda Marsalis)
  15. St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, a festive, weeklong charity event in April, draws big-name chefs such as Top Chef Masters star Graham Elliot Bowles and James Beard award-winner Ana Sortun. Here, a photo of folks enjoying the event.

    (Marjo Aho)
  16. San Juan is still numero uno in Puerto Rico, but folks have increasingly begun gazing about 40 miles east—to Vieques. The rocky outcroppings on Vieques make the perfect jumping-off point for leaping into the Caribbean Sea.

    (James Aikman/Tandem)
  17. Boats in the harbor off the north coast of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

    (Whitney Tressel)
  18. Sunset over a beach of Esperanza in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

    (Whitney Tressel)
  19. Hospitality veterans Robin and Marsha Shepherd left their villa-rental business in St. Bart's to open the 10-room Malecon House in Vieques in 2010, amid a row of mom-and-pop inns. Rooms start at $175 per night.

    (Courtesy Malecon House)
  20. Sitting all alone in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, Bermuda is a true outlier. It's not anywhere near the Caribbean Sea, and its food, architecture, and customs are far more British-colonial than tropical paradise.

    (Todd Taulman / iStockPhoto)
  21. Though Bermuda is always pricey—four of the five most expensive destinations in the Caribbean are here—visitors traveling now will find lower airfares, reduced golf fees, and hotels that are more than 40 percent off summer rates. Here, a woman strolls along Horseshoe Bay.

    (Intersection Photos)
  22. The 202-year-old main house of the Greenbank Guesthouse & Cottages (pictured) incorporates cedar beams that were used as ballast in transatlantic trading ships. Rooms start at $145 per night.

    (Buff Strickland)
  23. St. George's Town (shown here), celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2012. Two years ago, Bermuda also celebrated the 350th anniversary of Warwick Academy, the oldest school in the western hemisphere, and the 200th anniversary of the Bermuda Post Office.

    (Micheal Turek)
  24. Seven Mile Beach in George Town, Cayman Islands.

    (Ed Stock / iStockPhoto)
  25. A beautiful pier of Grand Cayman Island.

    (Rusudan Mchedlishvili / iStockPhoto)
  26. The Caymans are practically synonymous with two wealthy pursuits: deep-sea diving and offshore banking. A diveboat passes over a spectacular section of coral reef in the region.

    (Courtesy Divetech)
  27. Affordable hotels on Grand Cayman are rare, but one good pick is 130-room Sunshine Suites, just a stone's throw from the Ritz-Carlton; each room has a fully equipped kitchen and it's just 200 yards from Seven Mile Beach. Rooms start at $167 per night.

    (Courtesy Sunshine Suites)
  28. The Dominican Republic is a great place to find affordable all-inclusives, particularly in Punta Cana, on the island's east coast. Here, a light breeze rustles the parasols on the beach.

    (Lars Christensen/Dreamstime)
  29. The beach in Las Terrenas, a former fishing village in the Dominican Republic.

    (Kreder Katka/Robert Harding)
  30. In Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, the Residencial Casa Linda villas look more like a neighborhood than a resort, though all rental units come with daily housekeeping service. Two-bedroom villas start at $120 per night.

    (Courtesy Residencial Casa Linda)
  31. It's easy to get to Jamaica (flights are frequent and relatively cheap) and easier still to find a resort destination for just about every type of traveler: romantic Negril for honeymooners, family-friendly Montego Bay, busy Ocho Rios (pictured) for cruisers.

    (Ruth Peterkin / Dreamstime.com)
  32. Another perspective over Ochos Rios in Jamaica.

    (R. Gino Santa Maria / Dreamstime.com)
  33. Sunbathers soak up some rays at a beach just outside Ochos Rios in Jamaica.

    (Courtesy 04deveni/Flickr)
  34. Jason Henzell's Jakes Hotel, which evokes Moroccan riads with arched doorways and colorful tapestries, is one of the largest properties on Treasure Beach in Jamaica. It has 49 rooms, two restaurants, and a spa. Rooms start at $90 per night.

    (Courtesy Jakes Hotel)
  35. Tobago is like Trinidad's backyard, a 116-square-mile haven just a 20-minute flight on Caribbean Airlines from its bigger, noisier sibling.

    (Courtesy Abeeeer/Flickr)
  36. A fishing boat in Man-O-War Bay, on northeast Tobago.

    (John Warburton-Lee/Danita Delimont)
  37. When it comes to human nesting, it doesn't get more peaceful than the four-room Gloucester Place Guest House in Parlatuvier, on Tobago's north coast. Shaded by coconut palms and mango trees, the guesthouse even has its own natural waterfall and an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean.

    (Courtesy Gloucester Place Guest House)

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