With summer fast drifting away, like your favourite beach ball caught in an outgoing tide, and that time of year we all know as the “Winter blahs” finally creeping into sight, your Google Flights net has no doubt been widened slightly because, let’s be honest for a second, Europe is no longer the sun-seeking getaway it was a month ago. But just because your dream of escaping to the Amalfi Coast has been pushed back another 6-8 months doesn’t mean you can’t keep squandering hundreds of work hours in the hunt for somewhere - anywhere - that’s at least 22 degrees warmer than you are right now. The problem is, the world outside Europe is a pretty mahoosive place and that can leave you with the very first world problem of “choice overload”.
That said, if you’re looking for a holiday hotspot that boasts the following - curved palms, soft white sands, azure waters, cocktails so delicious you’ll forget about your worries for a week and the sort of #nofilterneeded views that will make your 397 Instagram followers uber-jealous of you - then you can close your incognito tab and stop your search because a quick jaunt to the Caribbean is exactly what you’ve been praying for.
Of course, this brings about its own semi-troublesome question in the form of: which Caribbean beach is going to tick all your boxes? So, to help you out, and using our own humble opinion, we’ve pulled together a super-subjective guide to the best Caribbean beaches out there right now. All you have to do is read, choose, head to Skyscanner, book, pack and relax, which is what we call living your best life.
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
If there was a Reef Knots Book Of World Records, this piece of sandy paradise would be taking home an unprecedented amount of awards. There would be The Most Postcard-Worthy Beach Award, The Best Public Beach On Earth Award, The Best Ocean Reflecting Sunset Award and The Most Super Wealthy And Yet Surprisingly Modest Capital City Award. Seriously. This is that place your mind conjures up when you close your eyes and imagine the Caribbean. Despite being famous for its luxury hotels, impossibly attractive villas, and queue-for-a-month restaurants, Seven Mile Beach is a rarity in that it has something for everyone. From holding-hand honeymooners to volleyball-loving beach bums, those that want to lay on a cabana and work their way through the cocktail menu to those who can’t get enough of water sports, hopping between coral reefs and sunken shipwrecks, snorkeling and scuba diving. Oh, and did we mention the sunsets. Probably. But it’s worth mentioning them again because the entire beach faces that way, meaning you get to enjoy that life-affirming moment of watching a huge red orb slowly sink into the ocean while saying “wow”.
Pretty much every single beachside town with a Caribbean postcode gets to boast a fine white sand beach, crystal clear waters and great restaurants just a short walk away. But what makes Cuban resorts different is the feeling you get when you stroll through the windswept streets in your white Oxford shirt, matching shorts and Birkenstock sandals: it feels so much more authentic (thank you, embargo). But while you can enjoy this at any Cuban resort town you like, the best of the bunch is Varadero. It’s a verdant paradise with laid-back beach vibes. It’s a ten-mile stretch of foot-massaging sands that are lined with a thousand palms, a hundred happy necklace salesmen and over twenty hotels, all of which cost a fraction of those in other Cuban resort towns. And if you really want to make your Instagram disciples double-tap their screens, just take the short boat ride to the explorable caves just off the beach. They’re like nothing else you have ever visited.
Winnifred Beach, Jamaica
If you’ve ever dropped in on Jamaica before, you’ll know free public beaches aren’t exactly enjoying the emancipation you might of hoped for. But that’s what makes Winnifred Beach so special. It’s a truly tropical secret that requires a little dollop of local knowledge just to discover it’s hiding place, which is in the island’s most incredible parish of Portland, to the northeast of Jamaica. But they’re all the clues we going to give you because a) we don’t want to be the subject of a Wikipedia page about the history of Winnifred Beach and b) the best things come to those who want it most. All we’ll tell you is this: this sandy destination is worth the riddle-filled journey. It’s a place hidden behind tall tropical trees that momentarily open up to reveal a rustic paradise - a real Caribbean treat - that will make you feel calm in an instant. It’s the rawest Jamaica. It’s beaches perfect for soaking up the rays, waters you’ll want to swim in all-day and local cuisine at its best; the rough-built wooden shacks selling fresher-than-fresh conch soup, jerk chicken, local seafood, coconut water and, of course, Red Stripe beer. Mmmmm.
Maracas Bay, Trinidad
This is the place for anyone that’s dreamed of escaping everything and enjoying life on the edge of paradise, where your critter-singing stroll along a thick jungle path leads you to an impossibly stunning beach without any warning your destination was in sight. Literally. Where the soft sands and curved palm trees end is where the jungle-covered cliffsides begin It’s the most beautiful kind of dramatic you will have ever experienced with your own eyes. Of course, while escaping to the edge of paradise is great for a while, the chance to be pampered quickly resurfaces again, which is what makes this beach so unique. It somehow manages to blend the two worlds, keeping it authentically local while doing all it can to keep the tourists here happy. Oh, and because you’re in Trinidad, you’ll also get to try the maybe-maybe-not-super-healthy national dish the locals call Bake & Shark which, oddly enough, does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s deep-fried shark stuffed into deep-fried bread. With all this on offer, it’s no wonder this is T&T’s most popular beach.
The Baths, British Virgin Islands
If you’re wondering how somewhere called The Baths made our list of best Caribbean beaches above the smorgasbord of other incredible sandy spots, let us point you toward the landscape, which is entirely made up of ginormous, sky-high boulders that were formed 70 million years ago after a volcano sneezed out a whole bunch of lava and created this moment of eye-rubbing beauty. It’s one of those places that could create some trust issues between you and your eyes. But monstrous boulders aside, the most amazing thing about this beach is the grottoes that get flooded with seawater, grottoes that make for the most breath-snatching swimming pools and snorkeling spots. But if that’s most amazing thing, then the coolest part has to be the winding trail through these caves to Devil’s Bay; a 20-minute trek that can feel a little bit like a luxury Tough Mudder as you clamber over boulders, splish-splash your way through tidal pools, and suck your belly in as you shimmy into almost-impossibly slim passages before jumping down onto the sugary-sand below. Most beaches are made for lounging around and soaking up the sun’s radiation, but not this one. This is for those madly in love with living a little.
The Exumas, Bahamas
When you’ve been bitten by the FOMO bug, nothing is worse than getting back from the holiday of a lifetime to discover you missed out on a must-have experience and, in this case, that would be traveling all the way to the Bahamas and not swimming with those world-famous swimming pigs - the ultimate ethical adventure. It’s a moment that should live in the memory of everyone that puts a flip-flop on this picturesque island. But these nautical swine aren’t the only reason you should book a flight to the Exumas. You should do it because this place is renowned for its blissfully isolated beaches, it’s world-famous diving spots, and resorts so calm and undisturbed they have been known to dissolve every kind of trouble quicker than a bath bomb under hot water. You should also ask a local tour guide to take you to the “washing machine”. We won’t tell you what it is exactly, but it’s only a short walk and it’s probably your only chance to feel like a load of luxury laundry.
And there we have it.
A subjective guide to six of the very best Caribbean beaches. It doesn’t matter what sort of close-your-eyes-and-picture-paradise sort of escape you are after, this little chunk of planet earth has a beach for everyone. Beaches to lounge around on, beaches to explore the jungle from, secret beaches to live the local life and beaches made from ancient volcano snot. All you need to do is head to the one that tickles your fancy the most. Schimples.
Thanks for reading. For more ideas on how to embrace the endless summer, chase the horizon and keep your skin sun-kissed all year round, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and sign-up for a naughty-little newsletter below! (you’ll get a cheeky 10% off if you do).