A Traveler’s Guide to the Islands of the Caribbean
What are the best islands in the Caribbean to visit?
That’s actually a tricky question because no matter where you go any island in the Caribbean is a potential paradise on Earth.
El Caribe, or the Caribbean, is a region in the American continent that comprises the Caribbean Sea, all the islands in it and all the coasts that surround it. The Caribbean is located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico, and the North American mainland is east of Central America and north of South America.
In total, the Caribbean is formed by more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and keys, and it can be divided in three main groups:
- The Greater Antilles – las Antillas Mayores
- The Lesser Antilles – las Antillas Menores
- The Leeward Antilles – las Islas de Sotavento
So, what are the best islands in the Caribbean to visit? What are the best places to stay and where to go if you like nature or the city? What are the best islands in the Caribbean to visit in the summer? I will try to answer these questions in this blog post.
The Best Islands in the Caribbean to Visit
As we stated before, the Caribbean is made up of more than 700 islands of different sizes and populations.
Part of the Caribbean was conquered by the Spanish, but also by the French and the British and this impacted not only the language but the cultures and history as well.
There are three islands and a few continental territories where people speak español caribeño (Caribbean Spanish), which is a group of dialects spoken in the region. It is a mixture of the Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands and Andalusia but is mixed with the different languages of the natives of the islands.
Because you are a Spanish enthusiast and student, we just can’t miss the opportunity of teaching you about the most important islands in the Caribbean where people speak Spanish, so you can take them into consideration when making your next vacation plans.
The major islands of Cuba and Isla de la Juventud, and more than 4,000 islets, keys, and archipelagos that span 42,857 miles (68,971km) make up what we know today as la República de Cuba (Republic of Cuba), the largest and most populated island of the Caribbean.
Cuba is one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit, and with its mountainous territory and more than 600 beaches, you surely will find something to do in the cities or out in nature.
If you stay in Havana, the capital of the island, you can enjoy a good café cubano (Cuban coffee)—just beware, it is really strong—or some of the most delicious foods in the country, like ropa vieja, rice and beans and tostones.
You can also check out all the street art in Havana, a great way to understand more about the culture, politics, and artistic view in the island.
Cuba is one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit in December, because you can attend some of its most popular festivals, like la Parranda de los Remedios and Las Charangas de Bejucal.
Check out our post on Cuba’s flavorful culture for a better idea of what you can do there in your visit and keep in mind that Cuba is one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit in the summer thanks to its consistent weather throughout the year. The summer is dry and hot, and while the rest of the year may have a lot of rain, it doesn’t make your stay any less enjoyable.
Visit Cuba’s traveling portal for more information about places you can go and tourism services.
2. Dominican Republic
Located in the center of the Caribbean, in the central and west part of the island named La Española, you can find República Dominicana (Dominican Republic).
República Dominicana is the second-largest country in the Caribbean, and one of the most diverse in the region in culture, nature, and history. Here you can find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, magnificent hotels and a lot of things to do.
Santo Domingo, its capital, is one of the most modern and dynamic cities in the region. It is known as la capital by the locals, and here you can observe the amazing fusion of old and new. Is a great place for you to experience firsthand what Dominican culture is all about.
In Santo Domingo, you can visit huge malls, art galleries, explore the oldest and the newest parts of the city—which was the first European settlement in the region hundreds of years ago—enjoy a great nightlife experience, and try the delicious Dominican food.
But if you like to go beyond the cities, and nature is where you enjoy your vacations the best, the Dominican Republic has your back.
If you decide to make this place your next vacation destination, you must visit Salto de Damajagua, also known as 27 Charcos (27 puddles), a place hidden in the middle of the Dominican jungle that consists of 27 waterfalls that were recently discovered (in the 1990s!). This is a place you don’t want to skip when you visit.
República Dominicana is probably one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit during COVID because their requirements and regulations aren’t as strict as in other countries.
For more information, you can visit their official tourism page.
3. Puerto Rico
El Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) is located in the northeast of the Caribbean and is made up by the Island of Puerto Rico and several smaller islands and keys. Puerto Rico is one of the United States unincorporated territories.
Although the island of Puerto Rico is the smallest one of the Greater Antilles, the island is full of natural diversity, with dry and rain forests, a karst zone, mountainous areas, and coastal ecosystems. All these elements make it one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit!
San Juan—officially known as Municipio Autónomo de San Juan Bautista—is the capital of the island. It is one of the most important cities in Puerto Rico and the most important economic and industrial center. Thanks to its per capita income and gross domestic product—both being in the highest ranks of Latin America—San Juan is one of the most attractive cities for companies to invest in.
If you ever visit San Juan you will find firsthand why it is the most cosmopolitan city in the region. But San Juan is more than just attractive modern structures and buildings. Its diversity relies on its historical neighborhoods, those barrios full of history and stories to tell. Places you can’t miss if you visit.
But if you prefer nature, El Yunque National Forest is your perfect destination. Here you can hike on its many trails, take a quick dip in its natural pools and waterfalls, or just relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this place. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the United States, and it has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the region, being the home of hundreds of plants and animal species unique to the region, like the coquí frog.
Check more information about Puerto Rico by visiting its traveling portal.
4. Nueva Esparta
El estado de Nueva Esparta is one of the 23 states of Venezuela and is its only insular state.
Nueva Esparta is formed by Isla Margarita (Margarita Island), Coche and Cubagua, and is located in the northeast Caribbean coast of Venezuela. Isla Margarita was discovered in 1498 by Columbus and was called Paraguachoa—which means fish in abundance—.
Of the three islands, Isla Margarita is the most populated one and, although its capital city is La Asunción, the main urban center is the city of Porlamar.
Thanks to the geographical location of Nueva Esparta in the Venezuelan Caribbean, the island is one of the most important tourist attractions in Venezuela. The beaches in the islands are perfect for surfing, diving, windsurfing, and a whole lot more water sports and outdoor activities.
The Island is also full of historical heritage, with old Spanish fortifications like fortresses and castles you can visit.
Nueva Esparta is one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit, and if you ever go there, you have to go to Laguna de la Restinga, a national park that serves as a union between the east and the west of Margarita Island. Here you can walk around, take boats to travel around the lagoon and stay on the beach taking a sunbath or a swim in the water.
You can find more information about Nueva Esparta on its official Facebook page.
5. Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina
El archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina—popularly known as San Andrés and Providencia— is part of the Colombian territory in the Caribbean Sea. These islands are some of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit.
San Andrés and Providencia consist of two island groups and eight outlying banks and reefs. The largest Island in the group is San Andres, whose capital city is San Andres, and Providencia and Santa Catalina share their capital, Santa Isabel.
San Andres has more than 40 sites where you can practice diving, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and the sea is so blue it appears to change color throughout the day. An actual paradise.
If you want to spend a relaxing day at the beach, Cocoplum beach in San Andres is where you have to go. This beach is protected by a coral barrier, so its waters are calm and amiable so you can enjoy it and don’t worry about sudden surf, making it one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit with family.
San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina are the best islands in the Caribbean to visit in the fall, because while the temperatures get colder and colder in the north, the consistent weather of these islands is perfect for warm vacations, enjoying the sun and the beaches.
You can learn more about San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina in the official tourism portal of Colombia.
We already learned all about the best islands in the Caribbean to visit where you can practice your Spanish, but if you have to ask there about all the other islands in the Caribbean, here are some of the most important Islands and their names in Spanish!
|Antigua and Barbuda||Antigua y Barbuda|
|the Bahamas||las Bahamas|
|Sint Eustatius||San Eustacio|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||San Cristóbal y Nieves|
|Saint Lucia||Santa Lucía|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||San Vicente y las Granadinas|
|Sint Maarten||San Martín|
Let’s Prepare for Your Trip!
When planning your next trip, it is important to make fast decisions and be attentive to your surroundings and options. Learning Spanish helps your cognition and decision-making abilities, something that is perfect when you like to travel! Thinking about your next destination while preparing for your travels is not an easy task, and learning Spanish actually helps you to make the best decision to enjoy those amazing vacations you deserve!
And if you decide to go to el Caribe, being able to speak and understand Spanish will make life so much easier and more fun during your visit! You’ll be able to talk with the locals and have a more fulfilling and authentic experience. Speaking Spanish dramatically improves your comprehension skills and enhances the quality of your vacation experience.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up today for a free 1-to-1 class with a certified native Spanish-speaking teacher at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Check out our programs and take a peek at our affordable prices and begin this new adventure with us!
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