The Caribbean is typically the first region people think of when you mention the dream vacation. World-class beaches, crystal-clear waters, balmy temperatures, plentiful sunshine and luxe all-inclusive hotels and resorts? Yeah, the Caribbean has all of that and a whole lot more to explore, whether you’re passionate about history, culture, cuisine or adventure.
The following primer will ensure you get the most out of your trip to this coveted region in 2019.
Best Caribbean Destinations for 2019
The Cayman Islands, Aruba and Guadeloupe stand out as destinations travelers won’t want to miss this year. The Cayman Islands smashed tourism records in 2018 and isn’t expected to slow in 2019 as it gets set to host notable events such as the 11th annual Cayman Cookout and KAABOO Cayman.
Meanwhile, Aruba is another tropical paradise boasting remarkable beaches, tremendous shopping opportunities and buzzing nightlife. Plus, it’s located outside of the hurricane belt so visiting during the summer and fall months carries less risk.
Add Guadeloupe to the list of islands you need to visit in 2019. You’ll find a variety of landscapes here as well as discover rich culture and history. Luxe accommodations and the never-ending potential for an adventure set it apart from some other popular Caribbean destinations.
Best Attractions in the Caribbean
Stingray City in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands is among the region’s most popular tourist attractions, allowing visitors to interact with friendly stingrays in a shallow sandbar. Wildlife enthusiasts should also check out the Bahamas’ Pig Beach, an adorable attraction in The Exumas that’s home to roughly 20 pigs and piglets living it up in paradise.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls is one of the world’s most unique and famous waterfalls and receives thousands of visitors each year. Its one of the few travertine waterfalls in the world that empties directly into the sea.
As Cuba becomes more accessible to Americans, the capital city of Havana has become one of the Caribbean’s emerging destinations, offering visitors unrivaled history and culture as well as some stunning architecture. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico is also a worthwhile stop in 2019 and best known for its centuries-old Spanish forts and colorful streets.
Must-See 2019 Events
The Caribbean hosts some of the world’s most anticipated carnival celebrations as well as a plethora of other coveted food, music and art festivals worth traveling for.
March’s colorful Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is easily among the region’s top events this year as is Barbados’ Crop Over Festival kicking off June 1. The six-week celebration and 200-year-old tradition features parties, arts and crafts markets and delectable street fares.
Foodies will have plenty to celebrate in 2019 as well with the return of annual events such as Jamaica’s Portland Jerk Festival and Turks and Caicos’ Conch Festival. Bermuda’s two-day Cup Match the first weekend of August is not to be missed either. The cricket showdown between two island rivals is complemented by lively concerts, beach parties and delicious food and drinks.
In early November, the Cayman Islands will host its annual Pirates Week Festival, a fun-filled tradition that even includes a mock-pirate invasion. The unique event is ideal for families visiting the Caribbean ahead of the holidays.
Best Places to Stay for Families
There’s no shortage of family-friendly destinations throughout the Caribbean but a few stand out above the rest, including Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Paradise Island, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. One-of-a-kind resorts like the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana and Atlantis Paradise Island make family travel both entertaining and affordable as each offers something for travelers of all ages.
Awesome beaches, spacious accommodations and family-friendly activities like snorkeling and kayaking also await visitors to Turks and Caicos, which is just a slightly longer flight from the U.S. than the Bahamas.
Best Places to Stay for Couples
Couples simply can’t go wrong in the Caribbean as few destinations are as capable of reigniting the spark or keeping the flame burning. Negril, Jamaica stands out for its intimate, adults-only resorts while St. Lucia’s Marigot Bay is another romantic possibility.
Couples Resorts is a no-brainer for lovers as it boasts a pair of all-inclusive luxury properties in Negril, including Couples Swept Away, which is the brand’s largest resort. Visitors to St. Lucia can also book a proposal, honeymoon or romance package at the five-star Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.
Nearby St. Vincent and the Grenadines is also a stellar honeymoon or romantic getaway destination. Travelers can enjoy an idyllic catamaran sailing, spend some quality time on a white-sand beach or indulge in a couples massage back at their resort.
Best Places for Group Travel
Groups will find plenty to do in Curacao as the destination offers not only beautiful beaches but a scenic national park and a gorgeous capital in Willemstad. Visitors to Curacao can even swim with dolphins.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is another fantastic spot for groups as it boasts many comfortable hotels resorts and rich history that you and your friends and family can experience in a variety of ways. Don’t forget about the extraordinary rum and cigars.
Groups are also assured a phenomenal time in St. Martin, home to the famous Maho Beach where visitors gather to watch incoming planes. In addition to the beaches, travelers will enjoy activities such as scenic hikes, ziplining, snorkeling, shopping and much more.
Best Places for Solo Travel
If you plan to explore the Caribbean alone in 2019, there are plenty of places you’ll want to conquer, including Martinique. The rugged island is not only safe but loaded with Instagram-worthy sites and eye-popping nature to keep you occupied from arrival through departure.
Bonaire is another excellent island for solo travel. The popular diving destination is perhaps best known for the beauty that lies below the sea surface so you won’t need a partner to enjoy yourself.
The British Virgin Islands are back in business and offer plenty to do for solo travelers as well as a friendly vibe that’ll allow you to fit right in. Head to Tortola and check out stunning beaches at Smuggler’s Cove and Cane Garden Bay.
Best Foodie Destinations
Dining in the Caribbean means plenty of spice and fresh seafood. Hungry travelers craving a memorable meal can’t go wrong in off-the-beaten-path places like Anguilla, St. Barts or Trinidad and Tobago. Of course, the Cayman Islands is a foodie paradise as well, boasting renowned chefs and some of the region’s most popular culinary festivals. Visitors might also want to cross authentic Jamaican jerk chicken and Cuban sandwiches off their bucket list.
Best Places for Adventure Travel
The only limit to the adventures available in the Caribbean is your imagination. Breathtaking hiking and biking trails, coral reefs, volcanoes and dramatic mountain peaks are just a few of the many highlights here. If you’re not sure where to start, consider destinations like Dominica, Grenada and Nevis.
Dominica is known as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” and boasts hundreds of natural attractions including rivers, mountains, volcanoes, hot springs and more. What’s more, Dominica’s Boiling Lake is the second-largest hot lake in the world.
Scenic Grenada offers thrill seekers dozens of diving sites and hiking trails as well as water sports while Nevis features horseback tours, rainforest hikes, the 3,200-foot Nevis Peak and stellar snorkeling offering exciting close-up encounters with sea turtles and other wildlife.
See the rest from the 2019 travel guide to the Caribbean by Travel Pulse here.
When you’re out enjoying the best the Caribbean has to offer, but you need some local recommendations, feel free to stop by any of our Cariloha stores where our local staff is happy to answer any questions or to guide you to places you want to go.