If you’re dreaming of a vacation made up of palm trees, white-sand beaches, and turquoise waters, look no further than the Southern Caribbean islands. Located south of the Dominican Republic, these islands consist of exclusive and exotic destinations that appeal to any type of traveler.
The Southern Caribbean is made up of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Martinique.
The ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) are a popular family destination with a variety of restaurants, bars, and hotels. Other islands, such as Grenada and Dominica, are full of national parks, rainforests, and outdoor adventures.
One of the greatest draws of the Southern Caribbean region is that most of its islands fall outside of the hurricane belt in the Caribbean, so you’ll likely avoid a major storm during your vacation.
These are some of the best Southern Caribbean islands to visit during your next getaway.
Considered the sunniest island in the Caribbean, Aruba is the perfect place to visit year-round, as it has the least amount of rainy days on average than any of the other surrounding islands.
Known for its mix of sandy stretches of coastline near Oranjestad, Aruba also has plenty of natural wonders to explore, like rock pools, caves, and volcanic lava formations, making it one of the best Caribbean islands for families.
One of the main attractions of Bonaire is the Bonaire National Marine Park, a treasure trove for scuba divers who are interested in exploring one of the world’s largest reef ecosystems.
If you don’t have your scuba certification, experience the wonders of the park by snorkeling, booking a boat tour, and engaging in other fun water activities by the reef.
You can also cycle along the coastline; spend a relaxing day on Te Amo Beach, one of the Caribbean’s best beaches; windsurf at Lac Bay; or spot bright pink flamingos (the island’s official bird) while enjoying lunch by the shore.
Stroll along the colorful, Dutch colonial-style buildings that line the Handelskade waterfront and visit the Willemstad city center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) on a vacation to Curaçao.
Adventurers will want to step inside the island’s Hato Caves and marvel at its limestone formations, while animal lovers won’t want to miss visiting one of the island’s 30 aquariums, where you’ll be able to interact with sea lions, swim with stingrays and dolphins, and even feed sharks–if you dare.
Don’t forget to cap off the day with a stop at a local distillery and try a glass of the island’s famous blue curaçao liqueur, too.
If you’re a rum fan, you’ll especially enjoy Bridgetown, Barbados, home to the world’s oldest rum distillery. Learn all about the island’s signature liquor on a tour and tasting at Mount Gay Visitors Centre, which has been distilling rum for over 300 years.
If you’re looking for a little more activity, take a catamaran out to shore and swim with leatherback turtles in the ocean, or go snorkeling in Barbados through a sunken shipwreck.
Of course, no one will judge you if you choose to simply enjoy a rum punch while lounging on one of the best beaches in Barbados.
The lush green landscape of St. Lucia is distinguished by the Pitons, two impressive volcanic peaks that provide a dramatic backdrop for the entire island. If you visit Castries, the island’s capital, you’ll find plenty of outdoor adventures to enjoy, like hiking the Piton mountains or driving by an active volcano.
One of the best things to do in St. Lucia is spend a day relaxing at the luxurious Sugar Beach or take a mud bath at Sulphur Springs, where all of your worries will melt away in one of their therapeutic sulfuric pools. Take the kids to Splash Island, where there are plenty of slides and fun water attractions to keep them busy.
You’ll know you’re in Grenada the second you step foot on the island and take a whiff of its scented air. Nicknamed “Spice Island,” Grenada’s major exports include aromatic cloves, ginger, and cocoa, which you can enjoy and learn more about during a spice tour in St. George’s, the island’s major port city.
Take a break from swimming in the ocean and head to Annandale Falls, where you can admire the 30-foot high waterfalls and even jump off from the top. Or journey down the island’s Grand Etang Rainforest Reserve while lying on a river tube.
There’s a reason why Dominica is called “Nature Island”. With over 300 waterfalls, tropical forests, mountains, and hot springs, this is the place to go if you’re looking for some quality ecotourism.
In the city of Roseau, you can choose any variety of adventures, including hiking up to Boiling Lake, the world’s second-largest hot spring; snorkeling in Champagne Reef, where you’ll be surrounded by fizzy bubbles during your dive; and swimming in the crystal waters of Emerald Pool inside Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
In Fort-de-France, Martinique, relax on the island’s serene beaches or discover the magic of its tropical rainforest. As the largest city in the French West Indies, Fort-de-France is also one of the best places to try French and Creole cuisine in the Caribbean, and a glass of local rum, too.
History buffs will be thrilled to visit the island’s plantations and military forts, while the sportier types can kayak through mangrove bays.
As one of the more underrated islands of the region, St. Vincent possesses all the charm of the Caribbean.
If you visit the capital of Kingstown, you’ll be able to experience the life of a pirate as you board a schooner or catamaran and sail along the coast of the island, spend some quiet time admiring the serene St. Vincent Botanical Gardens, or lay out on one of the island’s unique black-sand beaches.
How to See the Best Southern Caribbean Islands
A Southern Caribbean cruise is a great way to discover these exotic islands for yourself. Instead of limiting yourself to visiting just one country on your vacation, or having to book multiple trips to and from airports and hotels, a cruise will take you from one dreamy Caribbean destination to another in complete luxury.
Enjoy indulgent days at sea on a luxury cruise ship and enjoy world-class dining experiences, watch thrilling live shows, and dream the night away in an innovative and stylish stateroom. Caribbean cruise excursions make it easy to see the best Southern Caribbean islands and all they have to offer with virtually none of the planning.
Ready to book your dream cruise to the Southern Caribbean Islands? Browse our Caribbean cruise deals to find your perfect itinerary and book your stateroom, airfare, and excursions all in one place.