Why We Love the Caribbean
Known for their hospitality, gorgeous beaches, and natural beauty, the islands have long attracted visitors from around the world. The Caribbean is also one of the most versatile regions, perfect for honeymoons, baby moons, and solo travelers.
Puerto Rico, Dominica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and St. Martin suffered some of the worst damage, while the Bahamas and Jamaica escaped relatively unscathed. This hurricane season has already been especially destructive, and the process for rebuilding on each island can take anywhere from a few weeks to up to a year.
The region will recover in time, and as the process continues, the editors from Travel + Leisure took a moment to reminisce about some of their favorite memories from the Caribbean.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
"This summer I took my first trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the immediate beauty of the island was not just in the landscape. Puerto Rico has such a rich and layered history that has resulted in an equally rich culture and people. The people of the island have been American citizens for 100 years and yet they maintain an individual identity that is unforgettable. In my experience in San Juan, Santurce and Loíza it was clear to me that the people make the island beautiful. They are extremely kind, resilient and prideful in only the best ways. The friendliness and hospitality is unmatched, on my visit I had the chance to experience La Noche de San Juan in which Puerto Ricans rush to the ocean and dip backwards 12 times for good luck. The party proceeding this ritual was wonderful insight into the Borinquen culture, living up to it's meaning 'Land of the brave and noble lords.'" —Mariah Tyler, Assistant Digital Photo Editor
Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands
“My husband and I celebrated our babymoon at this beautiful resort on Virgin Gorda. Now managed by Rosewood Hotels, Little Dix is one of Laurance Rockefeller's original hotels, a Caribbean icon, and the property has an incredible sense of being at one with nature and the environment. The main restaurant, with its soaring thatched roof, the immaculate grounds, the stylish bungalows, which are blissfully free from TVs: it all adds up to a sense of peach, beauty, and isolation that is unmatched. And I look forward to taking our son there, to honor its timelessness and Caribbean heritage, in the years to come." — Jacqueline Gifford, Travel Director
“For more than 20 years, I've been lucky enough to call Andros Island in the Bahamas my hometown – or home island, you could say. Most people call it the the Bahamas' great backyard since the majority of the land is protected as a national park, which makes the place heaven on Earth for nature lovers and aquatic aficionados. Andros boasts the third largest barrier reef in the world and the island is teeming with hundreds of species of birds, wild orchids, and the famous blue holes (natural freshwater swimming pools). The best part of where I grew up, aside from the natural surroundings, are the people. It's always polite to wave at someone while driving or to stop and offer a ride for anyone walking along the road. Right near one of the creeks, there's a small conch salad stand where I try to go to at least once while I'm visiting. The fishermen bring in the freshest, juiciest conch you'll ever have but the best part is that you'll most likely end up sitting there devouring the Bahamian ceviche and having a laugh with the owner for hours on end – but hey, it's island time." — Kira Turnbull, Photo Associate
Blue Mountains, Jamaica
“You don't have to love spending lazy days sunning on the beach to enjoy a trip to the Caribbean, which is something I learned on a recent week-long journey to Jamaica's striking Blue Mountains. Here, evenings get surprisingly cool, there are challenging hikes through thick, tropical vegetation, and every hotel, home, or restaurant you visit serves extraordinary local coffee. There are plenty of other reasons to love this stretch of Jamaica, too, like the stunning mountaintop villas at Strawberry Hill, or a day trip to YS Falls — a seven-tiered waterfall that plunges through the jungle and is now flanked by a series of new infinity pools." — Melanie Lieberman, Associate Digital Editor
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
“On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I booked a glass-bottomed kayak tour in Vieques' Mosquito Bay. It's one of very few bioluminescent bays in the world, and the Guiness Book of World Records calls it the brightest. The conditions are just right for the microorganisms responsible for its glow to thrive, and the new moon on the night of my tour made their agitated flashes exceedingly sparkly every time we dipped an oar or hand into the water. I can still picture the X-ray-like outlines of fish swimming beneath the kayak. It was wildly magical in a way only nature can be." — Richelle Szypulski, Assistant Digital Editor
Grand Case, St. Martin
"There's a fantastic beach at Grand Case, a town on the French side of this idyllic little island. But the best thing about it, to my mind, is the food market that appears just off the main high street on Saturdays and Sundays. Simple benches and tables are crammed into a deck overlooking the water, where you can sit and eat the most phoenomenal barbecue, plaintains, and beans and rice, while drinking an ice-cold Carib beer and looking out at the mesmerisingly blue sea." — Flora Stubbs, Features Director
St John, British Virgin Islands
"There were so many gorgeous places to snorkel in St. John. I was in heaven." — Laura Teusnik, Executive Managing Editor
"I recently had the opportunity to see Havana through the eyes of two locals, friends-of-friends who happen to also work as tour guides. I was amazed by not only the rich culture — the vibrant art galleries, the abundance of live music, the architecture, the talented artisans at every market — but also the Cubans' welcoming spirit and passion for teaching Americans about their country and its history. I learned more walking through the less than two square miles of Old Havana with people who were born and raised in the city than I could have learned in any museum. (If you're able to go in the future, it's easiest to reach my guide, Jansel Reina, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)" — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor
Natural Pool, Aruba
"Accessible only by ATV, horseback, or on foot, this natural rock pool is tucked away inside iin one of Aruba's national parks. Known as 'Cura di Tortuga' or 'Conchi,' the pool formed some 90 million years ago at the time that volcanic activity created the entire island. After a trek through the park, it's the perfect way to cool off while enjoying some of the best views of the island." — Jess McHugh, Digital Reporter