Sit back and relax. It’s time for your beach vacation, and where better to go than the Caribbean? With pristine beaches, rich culture, and of course, all the R&R you crave, these beachy spots have it all. Check out the five Western Caribbean islands you need to visit.
1. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Enjoy all the beauty and fun of the Cayman Islands without the crowds and resorts of Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac is just 18-square miles big and sits to the east of Grand Cayman island, past Little Cayman. Cayman Brac offers visitors the perfect nature-filled escape from the rest of the world. While on Cayman Brac, check out the dozens of water activities and beachside fun. Scuba diving is popular, with tons of caves and sinkholes to explore, as well as an entire sunken ship — Russian warship MV Tibbets. Back on dry land, make sure you sample the authentic, traditional food. Cayman-style fish is a popular dish, and you can even catch the fish yourself and have a local cook prepare it using the local flavors. Birdwatching is another popular activity on the remote island, with plenty of forest space to discover the vibrant colors of the unique birds.
2. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
One of Mexico’s top beaches sits right by Cancun, in Mexico’s Costa Maya region. The beach offers paradise-like stretches of clear blue sea, as well as relaxed vibes and fun party scenes. Spend days on end relaxing on the soft white sand of the five-mile-long Isla Mujer, soaking up the Mexican sun. The beach is known for its dozens of water sports and activities, so if you’re the adventurous type, try out the scuba diving or the swimming with sharks. Punta Sol and Garrafon National Park are popular spots for nature enthusiasts, and Tortugranja, the island’s turtle sanctuary is ideal for animal lovers. Isla Mujeres is also full of Mayan ruins, underwater museums, and more.
3. Roatan, Honduras
Off the coast of mainland Honduras sits the idyllic island of Roatan. The golden sand beaches and perfect turquoise waters are the Western Caribbean escape you’ve been searching for. Located in Central America, Roatan offers guests prime diving and snorkeling spots in the clear seas among the coral reefs and animals that inhabit them. But Roatan is much more than underwater adventure. If you ever need a break from the sea, Roatan’s pine forests and mountain landscapes provide great paths to explore. The West End of Roatan is a backpacker’s dream, with tons of affordable housing options and restaurants, as well as the island having an array of luxury accommodation and being a popular stop for Western Caribbean cruise ships. Ships dock for a few hours for guests to explore the island’s beauty from the beaches to the rainforests and back. If you’re looking for more excitement on the Honduran island, check out these Five Great Things to Do in Roatan.
4. Key West, Florida
Don’t think you have to travel far to get to the Caribbean. Key West, the farthest of the Florida Keys, is a Western Caribbean gem right under your nose. The island is home to clear blue seas as far as your eyes can see, long stretches of soft white sand, and activities the whole family will love. Take a boat tour out to sea, where you can go dolphin watching or go for a kayak or snorkel adventure. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy is perfect for nature lovers, while history buffs will love the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
5. Western Caribbean Cruise, Western Caribbean Islands
While it’s not technically an island vacation per se, you’ll still get some good island hopping in during your time on a Western Caribbean cruise ship. Grab your bathing suit and beach bags and hop from perfect beach to perfect beach in Costa Maya, Belize City, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and more. Cruise lines like the Royal Caribbean offer you and the whole family an experience in the Harmony of the Seas ship, complete with a water park atop. The port of call is Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and from there, you’ll enjoy stops in Labadee, Haiti (aka Royal Caribbean’s private island), Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. Norwegian Cruise Line is another top adventure in the region, leaving from Miami with stops in Roatan, Harvest Caye, Belize, Costa Maya, Mexico, and Cozumel Mexico. Find your perfect cruise without breaking the bank on our list of top Budget-Friendly Cruises.