Pink beaches, shallow coves, azure water: The Caribbean doesn't suffer. But how to choose the best of the best? Each island nation and territory is stunning in its own right, but these ten are among the most unspoiled, with some of the best beaches on the planet.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda is the third-largest of the British Virgin Islands, with natural beauty covering virtually all of its 8.5 square miles. The island offers quiet beaches and coves and flora-filled national parks. Perhaps the prettiest and most popular attraction is the Baths, a seaside area where huge granite boulders form scenic saltwater pools and grottos.
Barbados has something for everyone: pink sand beaches, exotic wildlife (think monkeys, sea turtles, and eight species of bats), and sunsets just begging to be enjoyed with a fresh cocktail. For a wilder brand of beauty, look to the village of Bathsheba on the east coast. Here you'll find big waves and shallow pools carved by the coral reef right off the shore
It may not be the largest or best-known Caribbean island, but Saba's unspoiled and undeveloped environment makes it memorable. Located in the Lesser Antilles chain just south of St. Martin, The island's appeal extends both above and below the coastline, from the jagged silhouette of Mt. Scenery (an appropriate name) to the diverse and colorful coral reefs. It also happens to have some of the friendliest locals you're likely to encounter.
It's easy to see why Guadeloupe has long been a favorite vacation spot among French tourists. The butterfly-shaped territory has staggering waterfalls, white sand beaches, and clear water perfect for snorkeling. And thanks to new direct flights from New York and Boston, there's never been a better time to visit.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos consists of 40 islands (eight of which are inhabited), but it's still hard to go wrong here. Providenciales has some of the world's loveliest white sand beaches, particularly near Grace Bay on the north shore (pictured). Grand Turk has a more developed feel, with charming colonial architecture throughout Cockburn Town.
Montserrat, Leeward Islands
Montserrat changed forever when the formidable Soufrière Hills volcano buried the southern half of the island in a Pompeii-like layer of ash. The aftermath can be viewed from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, but there are still unspoiled areas toward the north. Spend time hiking the tropical Katy Hill trail, or go kayaking in Rendezvous Bay.
Nearly every hotel along Aruba's leeward beaches is a winner, but it's a waste not to venture off this developed stretch. The beaches here are some of the best in the entire world, like powder-fine Eagle Beach and black pebble Andicuri Beach. Leisurely strolls through the pastel-palate main street of Oranjestad are also a must.
Antigua mixes tropical beauty with British history—just look at the candy-colored colonial buildings lining the narrow roads. The main draw here is English Harbour, the site of a restored naval station and popular yachting destination. The views overlooking the harbor's curved, boat-filled coastline are truly unforgettable.
The 700 islands and 2,400 cays of the Bahamas are ready for both exploration and relaxation—but where to begin? Should you start by swimming the underwater caves at Grand Bahama? Or do you soak in the views on Cat Island's Mt. Alvernia? How about sunbathing on the famed pink beach of Harbour Island?
Written by Caitlin Morton