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Best Caribbean Beaches
You visit Canada for undisturbed nature and friendly locals, and Europe for history and rich cuisine, but you travel to the Caribbean for the beaches. The region is synonymous with incredible scenery, including idyllic islands, reefs and cays. But with so much variety, it can be difficult to pick which sandy strip to visit first. To help you choose, U.S. News – with the help of reader votes and expert opinions – ranked the best Caribbean beaches. These destinations feature the sugary sands and turquoise waves that have earned the region its outstanding reputation. Cast your vote below, and help us rank next year's best destinations. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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If you're traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, a visit to Magens Bay is a must. St. Thomas' most famous shore is too beautiful for words, but be prepared to share the scenery with dozens of fellow tourists. To avoid the crowds, head to quieter St. John, where you'll find secluded stretches of shoreline like Maho Bay Beach and Europa Bay. Or, check out the protected shore in St. Croix's Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, which only permits visitors on Saturdays and Sundays between September and March.
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Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales is one of those incredible Caribbean beaches where you'll discover crystal-clear water, powdery sand and a colorful coral reef just waiting to be explored. There are also numerous restaurants, shopping plazas and hotels and resorts nearby. If Grace Bay Beach is too crowded for you to secure a beach umbrella, try Governor's Beach or Pillory Beach on Grand Turk instead. Another hidden gem is North Bay Beach, a beautiful white shore on secluded Salt Cay that offers plenty of space to stretch out and several snorkeling spots.
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These British isles have gorgeous beaches to hike on (the boulder-filled Baths), snorkel by (Smuggler's Cove), eat at (Cane Garden Bay) and party on (Great Harbour during Old Year's Night, aka New Year's Eve). This means there is an ideal stretch of sand for everyone, so feel free to plan your visits to these sandy shores based on your mood. When you need a break from the sand, hike one of Sage Mountain National Park's 12 trails or dive one of the hundreds of shipwrecks located offshore.
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Anguilla's sands are legendary. Even though the island only stretches across 16 miles, it's home to 33 beaches. Shoal Bay East is a popular option thanks to its convenient on-site equipment rentals. But if you're hoping to avoid rubbing elbows with other tourists, head to Rendezvous Bay instead. Meads Bay is another highly regarded but uncrowded spot in a great location, and you'll likely find lots of available beach chairs to rent.
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A popular vacation destination for families, the Bahamas is made up of 700 islands that cover 100,000 square miles of ocean. In short: There are numerous beaches available. Two traveler favorites include Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island and Gold Rock Beach in Lucayan National Park (on Grand Bahama Island). For an even more unique experience, visit famous Pig Beach in The Exumas to swim with the island's adorable potbellied inhabitants – and get photos that will last a lifetime.
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Set along the west side of Barbados – an area known as the Platinum Coast – is a shoreline so gorgeous that the poshest hotels have all jockeyed for spots there. Noteworthy stretches of sand on this side of the island include Paynes Bay Beach, Brighton Beach and Brandons Beach. If you aren't resting your head at a major resort, you'll have just as much fun at other top-notch shores, such as southern options like Carlisle Bay and Dover Beach.
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It's hard to top Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach: The white sand and calm waves are nothing short of spectacular. Another great option is Rum Point on the north side of the island, where you can mix with locals while sipping a tropical drink at the beachside bar. If you're headed to Grand Cayman's smaller sister islands, unwind at the remote Point of Sand on Little Cayman or eye the scenery at The Bluff on Cayman Brac.
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Comprising 32 islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is full of beautiful beaches. You've probably seen some of them already, as the area's sands were featured in the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. When you arrive, be sure to check out the Tobago Cays: These uninhabited islands in the Grenadines have some great beaches for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. If you aren't up for making arrangements to get to the cays, park yourself at Mayreau island, where you'll find stunning shores like Salt Whistle Bay and Saline Bay.
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Benefitting from being outside the hurricane belt, Aruba and its beaches welcome visitors with sunny skies, warm temperatures and beautiful scenery year-round. Start your trip by swimming in Palm Beach's calm water, then head south to Eagle Beach to get your blood pumping while Jet Skiing or kayaking (water sports rental options abound). Looking for even more adventure? Consider exploring Arikok National Park's caves or scuba diving the Antilla or Pedernales shipwrecks.
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You will never find yourself bored on Grenada thanks to the country's roster of 45 beaches. Grand Anse Beach is the main island's most popular shoreline, as it offers azure water, nearly white sand and plenty of amenities. For a more secluded experience, travel to Grenada's smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, for beaches where you may not have to share the sand with anyone, depending on when you visit.
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These tiny twin islands offer plenty of rewards for those who are willing to make the trek. Striking shorelines abound, including the honey-tinted sands of Oualie Beach and Pinney's Beach on the island of Nevis. Meanwhile, St. Kitts is where you'll find Cockleshell Bay, which provides great views of neighboring Nevis. Bustling Frigate Bay, also on St. Kitts, offers waves ideal for surfing and windsurfing, as well as proximity to plenty of hotels and nightlife venues.
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With 365 beaches on one island, chances are you won't have a hard time claiming a spot on the sand. Not only that, but there's a shoreline for every type of beachgoer. Half Moon Bay offers a secluded feel thanks to its location away from cities and towns. Plus, the bay's versatile conditions are ideal for water sports ranging from snorkeling to windsurfing. Dickenson Bay is great for swimming and sunbathing, and Galley Bay Beach's waves are perfect for surfers.
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St. Lucia is a hit with honeymooners thanks to its romantic boutique hotels and secluded stretches of sand. Enjoy postcard-worthy views of The Pitons and the vast Caribbean Sea as you lounge along the island's bright white coastline. Favorite beaches include Reduit Beach on Rodney Bay and Anse Chastanet. Grande Anse is also a special spot, as it welcomes hundreds of leatherback turtles that crawl onto the beach to lay their eggs every year.
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No island captures the culture of the Caribbean quite like Jamaica. You may come for the reggae music, Blue Mountain coffee and climbable waterfalls, but you'll stay for the sensational beaches. Seven Mile Beach in Negril will impress with its white sand and calm water, while Boston Bay Beach in Port Antonio is great for surfers seeking waves and sunshine. For a beach with an abundance of amenities, including water sports equipment rentals, check out popular Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay. Keep in mind, though, that the beach charges a nominal entry fee.
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This island (one side is Dutch and the other is French) offers a unique travel experience unlike anywhere else in the world. Aside from culture, the beaches also share important distinctions. Orient Bay Beach is St. Martin's only official clothing-optional beach, but you might encounter some sort of nudity on other local beaches. If this type of beach vibe isn't your style, stay in St. Maarten and visit family-friendly Friar's Bay or famous Maho Beach, where you can watch planes descend practically on the beach thanks to the nearby airport.
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