There are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean archipelago. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to visit them all on your next vacation. Before you can choose a Caribbean island for your getaway, it helps to understand which destinations are best for which type of travel. 

Are you looking for an island that offers pristine beaches? Plenty of family activities? A world-class nightlife? When you compare Caribbean islands based on these types of factors, the choice becomes much easier. 

The Best Destination for Families: Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos

Turks and Caicos actually comprises more than 40 islands and cays, though only eight are well-populated. Providenciales (known locally as “Provo”) is a great place to start if you want to be in the center of the action. 

Though the island has a reputation for romance and luxury, it’s actually one of the top stops in the Caribbean for a family getaway. That’s because the selection of unforgettable family-friendly activities is simply unparalleled. The following are just a few of the available experiences that your whole family will enjoy:

- Horseback Riding: Bring the family on a guided horseback tour that takes you to remote areas of the island and exposes you to the most stunning landscapes in the region. Kid-friendly tours are widely available, and there are even ocean horseback tours that go underwater. 

- Snorkeling: Turks and Caicos is situated along two underwater mountains and is home to crystal blue waters and a wealth of tropical marine life. A family snorkeling trip gives you the opportunity to see colorful fish, rays, coral, and more. Snorkeling tours are abundant on the islands. 

- A Trip to Iguana Island: Speaking of colorful wildlife, one of the most unique family adventures is a trip to the uninhabited Iguana Island. Walk side by side with over 2,000 endangered rock iguanas on a gorgeous, serene beach. 

- Dining at Kid-Friendly Restaurants: Though there are a number of world-class luxury restaurants on the islands, you can also find an impressive number of kid-friendly eateries. The best ones include Da Conch Shack and Bugaloos Conch Crawl, both located on Provo. Enjoy fresh seafood and conch dishes as well as kid-approved favorites like chicken fingers and hamburgers—all while sitting on the sand and enjoying the ocean waves. 

Of course, there’s plenty more for families to do, including paddleboarding, kayaking, kiteboarding, and even whale-watching. If you want to compare Caribbean islands for family fun, consider looking into Turks and Caicos villas

The Best Destination For Budget Travel: Barbados

Barbados

Barbados has a reputation for being among the most cost-effective vacation destinations in the Caribbean while still offering all of the golf, watersports, and world-class cuisine that you would hope for. In fact, Barbados is world-famous for its golf and was even the sight of Tiger Woods’ wedding. 

Here are just a few of the reasons why Barbados is ideal for the budget-conscious traveler: 

- Getting around the island is super cheap. Buses cost about $1 USD and scooter rentals are abundant, so you can cruise the island in style.

- Restaurants like Just Grillin’ and Lemongrass offer cheap eats that are worth writing home about. Just Grillin’ is an especially good choice if you want to indulge in local island delicacies like jerk chicken. 

- There are more than 80 white sand beaches to explore in Barbados, so you can enjoy a new adventure every day without spending a dime on activities. 

- Oistins Fish Market offers affordable local foods, gifts, and more. You can even purchase four beers for just $10. 

- Because Barbados has direct flights from major airports on the east coast and is close to the United States, affordable round-trip flights can often be found.

From the affordable Barbados villas to the wealth of bargain dining options, this island offers an abundance of amazing deals that you’ll seldom find elsewhere when you compare Caribbean islands. 

The Best Destination for Stunning Beaches: St. Barts

St. Barts

If you’re all about the sand and surf, you should know that St. Barts is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. As one of the less populated islands, it’s also a great place to relax on the shore and escape the crowds. 

While you’re cruising along the St. Barts luxury villas, the historical architecture, and the exquisite dining spots, you’ll want to make time for the following beaches: 

- Baie de St. Jean (Bay of St. John): This stunning beach is popular among snorkelers and watersports enthusiasts, and it has been compared to the French Riviera for its beauty and serenity. The waters are calm, so don’t be afraid to get inside and splash around. 

- Anse des Flamands: This remote, quiet beach can be found about 3 miles north of Gustavia on the northwest side of the island. The beach is uniquely lined with palm trees, and it’s located near a beautiful dormant volcano. 

- Anse de Grand Cul de Sac: Another popular spot for windsurfing, kayaking, and other watersports, Anse de Grand Cul de Sac is home to warm, calm waters. This reef-protected beach is located on the northeast side of the island near the town of Marigot. 

There are nearly 20 beaches on St. Barts, so you’ll find plenty of stunning sights to explore during your vacation.

The Best Destination for Couples: Saint Maarten-Saint Martin

Saint Maarten-Saint Martin

If you want to enjoy scenic landscapes, intimate dining, and unforgettable adventures with that special someone, Saint Martin is your destination. The island is actually split between French and Dutch territory with Saint Maarten (Dutch) on the southern side of the island and Saint Martin (French) on the northern side. 

Whether you venture north or south, you’ll find no shortage of romance. The following are just a few of the reasons why couples love Saint Martin. 

- Mullet Bay: The most scenic and relaxing beach on the island, Mullet Bay is rich with white sand, palm tree groves, and stunning blue waters. The sea is calm enough for swimming, and the clear skies are perfect for beholding the gold-hued Caribbean sunsets and stargazing with a chilled drink. 

- Adventurous excursions: Saint Martin is home to The Flying Dutchman, the world’s steepest zipline, descending more than a thousand feet along 2,800 feet of cable. Other adventures on the island include hiking tours, ATV tours, and watersports. 

- Loterie Farm Saint Martin: Loterie Farm consists of over 100 acres of stunning foliage, mango trees, and mahogany trees. Explore the hiking trails on foot, rent a private cabana beneath the palm trees, and wade in the secluded pools with your true love.

- Toppers Rhum: This six-thousand-foot facility is one of the best-known rum distilleries in the world, perfect for indulging in the signature Caribbean drink. Taste over 50 flavors of rum, including unique varieties like jalapeno lime and white chocolate raspberry. See the handmade production process up close on a guided tour. 

- Fine dining: For a truly romantic getaway, you need restaurants with the right ambiance. Thankfully, Saint Martin has an abundance of such establishments, including exquisite eateries like Bistrot Caraïbes, Le Cottage, and Restaurant L'Auberge Gourmande. Bon appétit.

- Exquisite luxury villas: Saint Martin luxury villas offer some of the best private lodgings in the Caribbean, and many of these properties are located right on the beach. There’s no need to crowd yourself into a bustling resort when you can enjoy true comfort and uninterrupted romance in your own private space. 

Compare Caribbean Islands

It’s easy to choose a Caribbean island when you understand what each vacation destination has to offer. Decide which features and amenities are most important to you, and plan accordingly. If you have a few days to spend, you may even be able to do some island hopping via ferry or boat tour. This will allow you to see multiple islands so you don’t have to compromise. 

Did we forget to mention your favorite island for vacations? If so, please let us know in the comments.