Best Caribbean Beaches
Top Caribbean Beaches for the Intrepid Traveler
Saline Beach, on the southern coast of St. Bart's, is the island's most beautiful and secluded slice of paradise.
For some people, the Caribbean is the ultimate tropical cliché.
There's the steel drum music and pina coladas. The all-inclusive resorts. And the crowds of lobster-hued cruise tourists haggling over made-in-China souvenirs at purpose-built island ports.
But talk to anyone who's explored the region as an intrepid traveler, and you're sure to hear testimony to the Caribbean's exotic allure.
The more than 7,000 islands, cays and volcano-fringed coves here seem sprinkled across the azure seas like so many glittering diamonds.
And when it comes to finding an idyllic stretch of sand all your own, the Caribbean is overindulged with its share of breathtaking beaches.
What follows are a few of our favorites, custom picked for beach lovers who know that the perfect mix of sea, sun and sand is indeed a very fine - and, often, powdery white - balance.
Saline Beach - Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts)
Rich and beautiful folks and other emulators of posh tropical leisure have long been lured to St. Bart's - a tiny, V-shaped island that barely pushes eight square miles in size.
Saline Beach, on the southern coast, is the island's most beautiful and secluded slice of paradise. The horseshoe-shaped swath of sand is located a couple miles from Gustavia (St. Barts' main village). From the parking lot, you'll have to hike 10 minutes over a dune to reach the beach here, but it's worth the effort. And while nude bathing isn't officially allowed, many folks cool off au naturel (turn left when you arrive at the beach if you want to hang with more covered-up beachgoers). The best way to enjoy Saline Beach is to make like the locals - hit a boulangerie and epicerie in Gustavia to stock up on a spread of French cheeses, sausages, baguettes and wine for a gourmet picnic in the sand.
EAT: Gustavia's cuisine scene is renowned, and fabulous French fare abounds. One of the best spots to toast your privileged self at sunset is Maya's Restaurant (on the beach, just northwest of Gustavia), famed for fabulous French Creole cuisine in romantic surrounds.
STAY: For the best oceanfront lodging, splurge on a bungalow suite or villa at the Hotel St.-Barth Isle de France on Flamands Beach.
Englishman's Bay - Tobago
Half of the dual-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the latter island is the least developed and tiniest, and home to one of the most dream-inducing beaches in the Caribbean.
The beach at Englishman's Bay, on the leeward side of Tobago, is buffered by verdant headlands that cradle a U-shaped beach stretching about a mile. On the southern end of the strand, a freshwater stream flows from the island's lush rainforest interior to the sea. And just offshore, brilliant coral reefs ripple with tropical fish. There are no official facilities here, apart from a small snack cart run by a local selling pies and drinks. But when it comes to a secluded spot to lay out your towel in completely untouched surrounds, few beaches can hang with Englishman's Bay.
EAT: Wash down a meal of curried lamb or Creole shrimp with live steel band beats at Toucan Inn & Bonkers.
STAY: Cabana-style rooms open onto a nice pool at Kariwak Village, and the meals are largely sourced from the owner's organic garden.
Pink Beach - Barbuda
Situated in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean is a pretty pair - Antigua and Barbuda. The latter island is so undeveloped you could almost call it paradise lost. But for beach lovers looking to lounge seaside in an otherworldly locale, Barbuda is most definitely paradise found.
Apart from uber-expensive all-inclusive resorts and sublime beaches, there's little else on the island. But when sandy perfection is your prime demand, Barbuda delivers.
Visitors reach the island by plane or boat from nearby Antigua, which lies 27 miles to the south of Barbuda. The reward when you step onto the silky sand at Pink Beach (Barbuda's centerpiece beach - located a few miles south of the island's main village, Codrington) is instantaneous. Nearly eight miles of deserted oceanfront stretches from Spanish Point to Palmetto Point, and the snorkeling is fabulous. The champagne color of the sand glows rose thanks to the crushed coral in the mix. And it's possible to stroll the beach for miles without seeing another soul. As if the natural lure of the beach wasn't enough, Barbuda is also home to the Caribbean's largest nesting colony of frigate birds, which you can visit by boat.
EAT: Barbudan lobster with butter and lime sauce at The Beach House is a culinary must.
STAY: Set on its own peninsula, Coco Point Lodge is one of those died-and-went-to-heaven oceanfront resorts that charges an arm and a leg for extreme luxury and paradise delivered to your door.
Anse Chastanet - St. Lucia
There are times when the price of beach perfection is higher than others, and this is one of them. Think the mysterious peaks of Tahiti, transplanted to the Caribbean - such is the exotic lure of the spiky Piton Mountains surrounding this unbelievable beach on St. Lucia's southwestern coast. The beach at Anse Chastanet is intense tropical beauty defined, with the Technicolor green of the surrounding jungle-clad mountains forming a sharp contrast to the dark sand beach and bright white villas dotting the cliffs.
EAT: Carrot and coconut soup and grilled dorado are on the indulgent menu at Nick Troubetzkoy's Anse Chastanet resort.
STAY: It's hard to imagine accommodations more decadent than at Jade Mountain, where the enormous suites (dubbed 'sanctuaries') boast private infinity pools that overlook the Pitons and Anse Chastanet beach.
Tintamarre Island - off St. Martin
Beach connoisseurs are enamored by the beautiful mountain-coddled coves of St. Martin. But if you're willing to go the distance for a more isolated beach experience, arrange a day-trip aboard a catamaran to the island of Tintamarre, situated about five miles off St. Martin's north coast.
You'll feel like Robinson Crusoe on the island's deserted beaches lapped by clear blue water. And iron-rich clay, found in the coves here, inspires beachgoers to strip down for spontaneous mud baths (just rinse in the ocean afterward to complete the holistic experience). Part of the Natural Reserve of Saint Martin, development is prohibited on Tintamarre, and there are no lodging and dining facilities.