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Beauty may be subjective, but anyone would agree the Caribbean is full of beautiful places. So choosing the 12 prettiest islands in the Caribbean certainly leaves you spoilt for choice.

From the delights of St. Lucia, with its distinctive Pitons mountains, to the wonders of Grand Cayman’s coral reefs, there is beauty all around. The cooling rivers and waterfalls of Jamaica, or the rainforests of Puerto Rico are equally lovely.

The other thing these islands all have in common is beaches with turquoise waters, golden sands, and balmy weather. No wonder the very word “Caribbean” conjures up thoughts of paradise—an earthly delight to be enjoyed by all.

Puerto Rico

Street view of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with the added bonus of rich culture, busy shopping, and nightlife. Travel the coastline or the interior, and you’ll find many delights.

First, take the time to appreciate the beauty of Old San Juan. This historic area of cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and impressive forts is great to explore on foot.

Aerial view of Playa El Escambrón, Puerto Rico

Playa El Escambrón, Puerto Rico

Snorkelers or surfers are spoiled with choice among Puerto Rico’s lovely beaches. Playa El Escambrón, on the outskirts of San Juan, is popular with both.

Offshore islands such as Culebra and Vieques have quiet beaches and clear water. The Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques is a must-see for any visitor.

View while hiking in the lush El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

In the El Yunque National Forest, you can find unexpected peace, and beauty, amid its natural wonders. Enjoy one of Puerto Rico’s best hikes, swim in a waterfall, or just listen to the coqui frogs that are a symbol of the island.

St. Kitts & Nevis

St Kitts & Nevis, one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean

St. Kitts & Nevis

The travel posters for St. Kitts & Nevis would make anyone long to visit this charming island. Images of beautiful beaches, historic plantation houses, and tropical greenery capture a lush paradise.

The reality does not disappoint, from the charms of Romney Manor to the delights of Frigate Bay’s two beaches. Hop aboard the St. Kitts Scenic Railway to take it all in at leisure.

Historic site of Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts & Nevis

Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts & Nevis

Photographers will also delight in Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its panoramic views of the island and out to the Caribbean are spectacular.

Couple sightseeing from Mount Liamuiga, St. Kitts & Nevis

Mount Liamuiga, St. Kitts & Nevis

There are more wonderful views at Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano that dominates the island. Hiking to the top is one of the best things to do in St. Kitts, but you can also just enjoy a more distant view from the black sands of Dieppe Bay.

If time allows, take a boat to visit the tiny island of Nevis. It brings to life that saying about the best things in life coming in small packages.

Barbados

Barbados, one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean

Barbados

Barbados would make any list of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean just for its beaches. Some visitors never even leave the golden sands of the western side of the island to explore the wilder eastern Atlantic coast.

At Carlisle Bay, you can understand why. It has everything you want or need in a beach: soft sands, warm waters, lively bars, plenty of people-watching, and some of the best snorkeling in Barbados.

Couple exploring the sandy beach of Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

Surfers looking for more wave action head eastward to beaches such as Bathsheba, with its big breaks and rugged rocks. Another popular beach in Barbados is Crane Beach on the southern shore, famous for its pink sands, and a photographer’s delight.

Rock formations inside Harrison's Cave, Barbados

Harrison’s Cave, Barbados

Photographers also enjoy the underground rock formations in Harrison’s Cave. Awesome stalactites, stalagmites, and crystallized formations have a beauty all of their own.

At Animal Flower Cave, on the northern tip of the island, you’ll find a sea cave you can swim inside. However, the views from above of the waves pounding against the rocks are worth the visit alone.

St. Lucia

Scenic landscape of St. Lucia

St. Lucia

The Pitons—twin volcanic peaks risen from thick, green forest—are icons of St. Lucia. If you have time, the hike to the top of either will show off this prettiest of Caribbean islands.

View of Reduit Beach with mountains in St. Lucia

Reduit Beach, St. Lucia

If you’ve come to relax, however, you’ll enjoy some beautiful beaches in St. Lucia. Picturesque Anse Chastanet and Reduit are among the most popular, for good reason.

Anse Chastanet is on the quieter southern coast, near to the island’s hot springs, and Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. The Pitons loom over this picturesque, curving bay, where snorkeling is a delight.

Reduit Beach is much livelier, but its beauty is undimmed by its popularity. Its golden sands and clear waters are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Beautiful landscape of Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia

Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia

At the other side of Rodney Bay is Pigeon Island National Park, where you can take in grand views of this side of the island. Hiking trails lead you from one lovely viewing point to an even lovelier one.

Jamaica

Magnificent landscape of Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica

Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

Jamaica has been a star of the movies for so long that its beauties need little introduction. Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios may well be the most famous, with a spectacular drop that cascades over a series of steps straight into the Caribbean.

Beautiful blue waters of Blue Hole, Jamaica

Blue Hole, Jamaica

The limestone from which the waterfalls have carved out the falls also gives rise to the nearby Blue Hole, one of the best places to visit in Jamaica. You can enjoy its beauty while hiking, or swimming amid the tropical greenery.

This is also the setting for raft or kayak trips along the White River. Named for the white limestone rocks on the riverbed, it’s also a place to swim or hike.

Clear waters of White River, Jamaica

White River, Jamaica

Of course, you can’t visit Jamaica without spending time on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. This Jamaican beach is an archetypal Caribbean beach of soft white sand and crystal-clear waters.

To take a break from the sun, take a tour of the Green Grotto Caves. Once a refuge for runaway slaves, they are famed for their rock formations and mesmerizing underground lake.

Martinique

Beautiful landscape of Martinique

Martinique

The French-Caribbean history of Martinique is seen at its height in the island’s “habitations” or plantations. Habitation Latouche, in Le Prêcheur, is a colonial-style mansion, with lush gardens.

Habitation Clément, in Le François, has a beautiful Creole-style mansion, with lovely botanical gardens. Once a rum distillery, it is now a cultural center hosting art exhibitions and other events.

Lush landscape of Mount Pelée, Martinique

Mount Pelée, Martinique

There are more glimpses of Martinque’s troubled past in the ruins of Saint-Pierre. The former capital—once known as the “Paris of the Caribbean”—was destroyed by an eruption of  Mount Pelée in 1902.

You can visit the villain of the piece by hiking to the summit of Mount Pelée. It’s a tough climb, but the views take in most of Martinique’s coastline and several neighboring islands.

Exotic plants in Jardin de Balata, Martinique

Jardin de Balata, Martinique

Much less strenuous is a stroll through Jardin de Balata, which showcases many tropical orchids and exotic palms. Take to the elevated walkways for picturesque views of the many trees and flowers.

Read: Best Caribbean Islands for First Timers

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman, one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is known for its diving and most visitors at the very least enjoy some snorkeling. The highlight for many is visiting Stingray City, where you can swim with these gentle creatures in complete safety.

The amazingly clear waters of Grand Cayman leave every swimmer in awe. They start right just north of George Town at the famed Seven Mile Beach.

White sand beach of Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

One of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean, the beach has powdery white sands and turquoise waters. Despite being popular for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports, it’s long enough to stay uncrowded.

Boardwalk in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Grand Cayman

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Grand Cayman

Escape the sun in the shady pathways of Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, one of the best things to do in Grand Cayman. Its themed gardens include an Orchid Boardwalk, while the Blue Iguana Recovery Program is another highlight.

There are more gardens at Pedro St. James National Historic Site. This site also features a restored mansion that enjoys panoramic views of the Caribbean.

Aruba

Iconic fofoti trees in Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

The old Dutch architecture of Oranjestad makes for an unexpected sight in the Caribbean sunshine. However, the bright colors make the buildings a perfect fit for the waterfront of Aruba’s capital city.

Away from town, Aruba’s beaches are spectacular. Eagle Beach, with its soft white sands, and two windworn Fofoti trees, is one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean.

White sand beach of Palm Beach, Aruba

Palm Beach, Aruba

Equally lovely, but much busier, is Palm Beach, named for the shady trees lining it. It’s packed with yachts, resorts, and bars as well.

Rugged landscape of Arikok National Park, Aruba

Arikok National Park, Aruba

If you ever tire of the beaches, explore the desert, cacti, hills, and caves of Arikok National Park, one of the best places to visit in Aruba. A highlight is swimming in the Conchi natural rock pool as waves crash ashore nearby.

There are sweeping views of the sea at the California Lighthouse on the northern coast. Named for a ship that sank nearby in 1891, the lighthouse enjoys amazing sunsets.

Dominica

Lush view while hiking in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

The beauty of Dominica starts at Champagne Beach, only 15 minutes from the capital of Roseau. Swim or snorkel in underwater thermal springs that support the hypnotic sponges of the unique Champagne Reef.

Keep going south and you reach Scotts Head, a pretty village with a dramatic promontory. Here you enjoy sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea meeting the Atlantic Ocean.

Majestic waterfalls of Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

The island’s interior is equally rich in sights. At the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, you’ll find a rich supply of hikes, waterfalls, and panoramas.

The most famous falls in the park are near the village of Trafalgar. These two falls are reached by a short hike, with a dip in a natural hot spring as a reward.

People swimming in Emerald Pool, Dominica

Emerald Pool, Dominica

If you enjoy natural pools, then visiting the Emerald Pool in the north of the park is another unmissable thing to do in Dominica. Deep within the rainforest, this is fed by a lovely cascade in the most picturesque of settings.

Grenada

Lush landscape of Grand Etang National Park, Grenada

Grand Etang National Park, Grenada

Grand Etang National Park on Grenada is one of those sights you can scarcely believe even when in the midst of it. Several 2,000-foot-high peaks, their slopes covered in lush vegetation form the heart of this hiker’s paradise.

Below the spectacular Grand Etang Lake is Annandale Falls, a natural wonder set in a Forest Park. Some 30 minutes’ drive away you can enjoy a cooling dip at Concord Waterfalls.

Grenada, one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

Among Grenada’s many beaches, Grand Anse stands out for its palm-lined beauty. Only 20 minutes from Saint George’s port, it’s perfect for swimming or sunbathing, and has great views of the island’s coast

View of the Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada

Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada

Anyone who loves diving or snorkeling will want to see Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park in Moliniere Bay. Its eerily beautiful underwater statues are now a rich habitat for marine life.

British Virgin Islands

Calm waters of Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are perfect slices of the paradise you come to the Caribbean to find. From the moment you set foot in the capital Road Town, on Tortola, you know you are somewhere special.

Find your way to nearby Cane Garden Bay and the number of yachts calling in tells you this is one of the island’s finest beaches. Land, sand, sea, and sun combine into one of the prettiest vistas in the Caribbean.

Huge rocks lined up on Devil's Bay, British Virgin Islands

Devil’s Bay, British Virgin Islands

A sailing trip is essential to see more of the islands. On Virgin Gorda, you will want to see Devil’s Bay—reached by a short hike through scenic landscapes.

Woman snorkeling in The Baths

The Baths, British Virgin Islands

Devil’s Bay is part of The Baths, a name given to a unique geological formation of massive granite boulders, pools, and grottos. Swim, paddle, or just stroll around in wonder.

Near to Tortola is Jost Van Dyke, one of the best Virgin Islands to visit to find amazing beaches, and clear waters. Its laid-back island atmosphere is almost as much of an appeal as its natural beauty.

Aerial view of Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Escape even more on Norman Island, where snorkeling at  “the Caves” is a must-do. The island may have inspired the novel Treasure Island, and you will understand why when you see it.

Tobago

Magnificent view of Argyle Waterfalls, Tobago

Argyle Waterfalls, Tobago

Among the natural wonders of Tobago, Argyle Waterfalls stand out for their setting amid rich rainforest. The hike delivers breathtaking views, with a dip in the pools afterward to cool down.

If the beach is a priority, head instead to Mt. Irvine Bay Beach. Known for its gentle waves (and nearby golf course), this is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.

Coastline of Little Tobago Island, Tobago

Little Tobago Island, Tobago

Uninhabited Little Tobago Island (also called Bird of Paradise Island), is a sanctuary for bird and marine life. Birdwatchers will love the many tropical species, while snorkelers will also be in their element among its reefs.

Clear blue waters of Buccoo Reef, Tobago

Buccoo Reef, Tobago

Visiting Buccoo Reef is one of the best things to do in Tobago for snorkelers and swimmers. You can even see the coral reefs, and shoals of fish, on glass-bottom boat tours.

Fort King George is a historic site overlooking the island’s capital of Scarborough. Now also home to the Tobago Museum, it’s a handsome structure, with great views.

Grenada, one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean

Grenada

Has this list of the 12 prettiest Caribbean islands tempted you to visit some of them, of not all? Then browse our Caribbean cruises to find the perfect getaway for you and your loved ones.

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