With over 7,000 islands to choose from, we pick the best for every traveller, whether you're a thrill-seeker, a romantic or a history lover
Powdery white sand and turquoise waters are what make the Caribbean islands popular holiday destinations. The West Indies – named by Christopher Columbus when he landed in 1492 and believed he had reached the Indies – has something for everyone. Whether travelling with children or on your honeymoon, in search of adventure or tranquillity, we’ll help you find the perfect island paradise.
Best for lovebirds: St Vincent and the Grenadines
For a secluded and romantic Caribbean getaway, head to the private-island resort of Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines. Surrounded by warm, crystal-clear waters and untouched nature, this small island offers tranquillity, intimacy and breathtaking scenery.
Best for families: Antigua
With 16 tropical hectares (40 acres) crammed with pedalos, bikes, volleyball, steel bands and limbo dancing, Jolly Beach in Antigua is perfect for families. Large resorts have organised activities for children. A rainforest canopy zip-line tour, on Fig Tree Drive in the southern end of the island, will please both kids and adults. ‘Stingray City Antigua’, in Seaton’s Village, offers an opportunity to interact with stingrays in safe and controlled conditions.
Best for adventurers: Dominica
Away from tourist crowds, Dominica is built for adventure. With dense tropical forests and mountain peaks, the island offers lush, green landscape, waterfalls and rivers. Wildlife highlights include whale watching, scuba-diving on Castaways Reef and canoeing at Freshwater Lake. Best of all activities, though, is the hike through Morne Trois Pitons National Park to the Boiling Lake, the second largest actively boiling lake in the world. You’ll start with a swim through the secluded rock pool at Titou Gorge and end with the sulphurous pools of the Valley of Desolation.
Best for culture vultures: Cuba
Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest, most diverse island. With unprecedented changes continuing apace since the withdrawal of Fidel Castro in early 2008, it’s also the most dynamic. Walking around historic Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is like taking a trip back in time. Visit the Museo de la Revolución for a historical context of modern Cuba.
Best for watersports lovers: Bonaire
With clear waters, undisturbed coral and arguably the best diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean, Bonaire is an island devoted to watersports. September to October is the best time to go for the spectacular coral spawning. Don’t miss a plunge under Town Pier, one of the top critter dives in the Caribbean, to see seahorses, frogfish and turtles. Bonaire’s warm, dry and breezy climate also makes the island an ideal location for sailing and windsurfing.
This article was updated on 19/04/18