Although I live in Miami, some of my favorite beaches are found in the Caribbean. Some are easily accessible by a short plane ride and sit in front of posh hotels. Some are free, public beaches with plenty of parking. And others are only accessible by cruise line. I had three things in mind when compiling my “The Best Beaches of the Caribbean” list: the beauty of the location, the activities available and, of course…the quality of the sand and water!
The Best Beaches of the Caribbean
Knip Beach, Curacao
Playa Kenepa Grandi in Curacao, or “Big Knip Beach,” is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen (in the Caribbean and beyond). Nestled in the east end hills of the Netherland Antilles, this tiny but bustling island is the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling!
I caught my first glimpse of Big Knip when my cruise on the Carnival Freedom stopped in the port in 2014, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since! We’re talking the ideal beach: white, smooth sand, crystal clear water, and a quiet atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxation. There’s a nearby reef that is a great spot for snorkeling, but it is quite a swim and should only be attempted by very strong swimmers. Don’t worry, there are plenty of spots to snorkel right around the beach itself!
The Best Beaches of the Caribbean
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Those gorgeous tiki huts you see? They’re free! But be warned – they’re also first come, first serve, and the beach is very popular with the locals. So visit early for a better chance to snag one for yourself!
Maracas Bay Beach, Trinidad
Guys, this beach is one of the most serene beaches you’ll ever come across. It’s tucked away in the tiny fishing village of Maracas Bay.
You MIGHT pass 20 houses on your way there. We arrived on a rainy day, and after we parked our car and made our way down to the beach, what I found kind of took my breath away.
Despite the rain, people were on the beach, splashing in the waves and lying on the sand. Maracas Bay is in a mountainous area, and when the fog rolls in you think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
Bring some cash along, because you’ll find the famous “Shark and Bake” (a fried shark sandwich exclusive to Trinidad, and the very best are said to be found in Maracas Bay!) stands, and very inexpensive turquoise jewelry right across the street. I love to buy jewelry when I visit the Caribbean. You’ll often find that you can get precious stones, like turquoise, at much less expensive rates than you can here in the states.
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Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Why do I love Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas so very much?
This is why:
Beaches are like snowflakes – no two are the same. Like Big Knip, some of the best beaches of the Caribbean offer picturesque views, white sandy beaches, or waters teeming with tropical fish. Others offer a surreal sense of isolation and escapism. Half Moon Cay has it all!
Half Moon Cay is unlike any other beach I’ve been to. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful water in the Bahamas (so clear that you don’t even need to wear a snorkeling mask to see the school of fish swimming between your legs, and the softest white sandy beaches on Earth), but it’s only accessible by Carnival Cruise Lines. Whenever I am at this particular port of call, I feel like a member of an exclusive beach-going club.
Needham’s Point Beach, Barbados
Every beach in Barbados is lovely, including the Crane Beach, which has been voted one of the best beaches in the world in years past. But I’ve visited the Crane twice, and both times I was disappointed to find the pink sand beach entirely covered in kelp (which did not make for a very nice beach-going experience). So my pick in Barbados is Needham’s Point Beach.
Needham’s Point Beach is a free, public beach that is easily accessible in Georgetown, Barbados. If you’re visiting on a cruise, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon while you’re in port.
The water is warm, the waves are perfect for surfing, and the sand is so soft that you’ll want to take your sandals off and never wear them again!
That’s right, there is surfing in Barbados! You can sign up for lessons right there on the beach, or bring along a boogie board and ride the waves without instruction.
The water is shallow so far out that you can take the kids splashing in the surf without worrying about it being too deep. This is always nice when traveling with the little ones!
While you’re there, try a Bajan fish cake! You can’t get any more authentic than fresh Bajan fish cakes right on the beach!
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
I’ve been to a few different areas of the Dominican Republic, and each time I step foot on a new beach there, I silently wish that I could live there year-round. Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana stretches for miles, offering soft sand and gorgeous blue-green water perfect for splashing, or gazing into…I tell you, the sound of the waves crashing and gently rolling onto the shoreline is enough to put you into a hypnotic state!
One of the things I love about the beaches in Punta Cana is they’re perfect for lovers or families. There are water sports available, and body surfing is definitely an option. The water rolls gently onto the shore after the break and creates a very relaxed shoreline, perfect for children to build sand castles in!
Bayahibe Beach, Dominican Republic
Sometimes we want to just lie on a beautiful beach and relax, and that’s what I really look for in the best beaches of the Caribbean. But sometimes, just sometimes, you want an energy-charged, super fun beach experience. And that’s exactly what you’ll find on Bayahibe Beach in the Dominican Republic.
Of course, you’ll find a beautiful beach, but it’s everything else that sets Bayahibe Beach apart: the plethora of lounge chairs, the palm trees providing ample shade, waiters serving up tropical cocktails right on the sand, and maybe even a roasted pig buffet for lunch!
The beach offers mild waters perfect for a leisurely swim, but there are water sports available as well…if you can drag yourself away from the free fresh coconut drinks!
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
If you’ve never been to Turks and Caicos…you are missing out! Some of the best snorkeling excursions I’ve done has been in Turks and Caicos, however, you don’t need to wander far to have the time of your life!
In the cruise port at Turks and Caicos, you’ll find a beautiful beach, and also lots of fun shopping at the port, including a Duty Free store and shops where you can buy local crafts, jewelry and clothing!
If you are looking for a little break from the beach (which I don’t understand, but I’m sure happens to some people), you can always step off the beach and hang out in the port center where there is an awesome free pool, grab a bite to eat or a cocktail, or check out the surfing simulator!
Now I realize that this list of the best beaches of the Caribbean is completely subjective…so tell me, what’s your favorite beach?
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