The Best Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas in 2016
Given that there are more than 700 islands in the Caribbean—each with its own charm—it can be difficult to know which one to pick when planning a getaway. But according to Travel + Leisure readers, there are a few where you basically can't go wrong.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands on their natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Are you the type of person who craves seclusion and lush natural surroundings? Then perhaps St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands and No. 5 on our list, is the right place for you: over 60 percent of the island is set aside as a national park. “St. John is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty, and seems to be working hard to accommodate the present and future while preserving the past,” one survey participant wrote.
Or maybe you should try St. Lucia (ninth in the rankings), which is famous for its mineral hot springs, superb diving, five-star hotels with open-air suites, and the Pitons: volcanic mountains that have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What catapulted some of the other destinations to the top of the list: For Exuma, an archipelago of 365 cays and islands in the Bahamas, pristine beaches were one of the main draws. But it was also the fact that travelers can engage in one very unique, Instagram-worthy activity: swimming with pigs. For this year’s winner—Virgin Gorda, a gem in the British Virgin Islands—natural beauty prevailed above all. Many voters raved about the famous Baths, an area of sheltered sea pools surrounded by granite boulders. “The Baths may be the most beautiful place in the world. Go for that, and it will remain with you forever,” one survey participant wrote.
Be forewarned: this list will inspire some major wanderlust.
No. 10: Vieques, Puerto Rico
No. 9: St. Lucia
No. 8: Culebra, Puerto Rico
No. 7: Bermuda
No. 6: Andros Islands, Bahamas
No. 5: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
No. 4: Exuma
No. 3: Anguilla
No. 2: Harbour Island, Bahamas
No. 1: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The standout feature of this British Virgin Island is undoubtedly the Baths, a group of sheltered sea pools and mammoth granite boulders—but excellent snorkeling, first-rate restaurants, and friendly locals garnered just as much praise. The Bitter End, a yacht club and resort, was singled out as the place to stay, due to its excellent all-inclusive packages and proximity to the water. Quiet beaches, like Savannah Bay, were hailed as perfect for those looking for a little seclusion. In the end, some voters found it easiest to simply sum up Virgin Gorda as “the most beautiful place on earth.”