The beautiful islands of the Caribbean include some of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Each year, hundreds of cruise ships set sail, full of eager families, honeymooners, and other tourists who look forward to soaking up the sun and playing on the sandy beaches that have become synonymous with the Caribbean. However, not every island is a popular port of call for cruise ship corporations- in fact, dozens of barely-known little islands exist in the Caribbean, with hardly any tourism despite their breathtaking scenery and rich history. Here are some of the best hidden gems in the Caribbean, for travelers who like to vacation a little more off the beaten path.
Nevis, West Indies
High in the northern section of the West Indies lies Nevis- a picturesque marvel of a Caribbean island featuring an unbelievable stingray and sea turtle population. Perfect for adventure-seekers and sun worshippers alike, Nevis features high-end hotels like the Four Seasons, Medical University of the Americas, and even an amazing SCUBA dive site called Booby High Shoals. It’s easy to get to Nevis: just hop a plane from San Juan, Puerto Rico, or take a ferry from St. Kitts and you’re there!
Fun Fact: Nevis is the birthplace of Founding Father/hit musical subject Alexander Hamilton.
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Looking for a calming, chilled-out beach experience? Culebra may be your new favorite travel destination! A sleepy little island with some of the clearest turquoise-colored water you’ll ever see, Culebra is ideal for those who seek peace and quiet and wish to spend their vacation in total relaxation mode. San Juan offers direct flights to Culebra, and you can also ferry over from Fajardo. Enjoy the silence!
Fun Fact: Culebra means “snake” in Spanish.
Martinique, Lesser Antilles
Despite being name-dropped in Kokomo, the Beach Boys’ definitive ode to island living, Martinique is still one of the lesser-known Caribbean islands. Besides miles of tropical beaches and rainforests, Martinique is also home to Melee, a volcano which erupted in 1792, 1851, and twice in 1902. (Yes, that’s why we refer to a chaotic disturbance as a melee.) Vacationers who like a side of adventure with their relaxation will love Martinique, and especially appreciate how easy it is to get there from the contiguous United States- Miami offers direct flights to the island.
Fun Fact: The two 1902 eruptions of Melee in Martinique were instrumental in the U.S. Congress’ vote to begin construction of the Panama Canal in 1904. Originally, the canal was meant to be built in Nicaragua, but the presence of a dormant volcano there made people nervous after the eruption of Melee.
Saba, Lesser Antilles
Who ever heard of a Caribbean island without a beach? If you are more into rocky terrain, amazing hiking trails, and the opportunity to climb a potentially active volcano, look no further than Saba! A municipality of the Netherlands, Saba contains many hiking and walking trails for nature enthusiasts, as well as museums and galleries featuring both historical and contemporary artifacts that reflect the 5-square-mile island’s rich history. The island swells in population when classes at Saba University are in session, but never loses it’s vibe as a hidden hideaway.
Fun Fact: The capital of Saba is The Bottom- a name that is both unique and humorous! Imagine the t-shirts you can get in the Bottom’s gift shops…
Canouan, Grenadines Islands
If you happen to be rich and famous, or just want to pretend you are for a few days, Canouan is definitely the place to plan your next getaway! The glitterati love Canouan for its obscurity, not to mention its astounding array of four-star golf clubs, resorts, and spas. Flights to Canouan are available from Barbados, Puerto Rico and St. Vincent, with ferry service offered from Kingstown. Stargazing tourists with money to spare can see all their favorite Hollywood idols while soaking up the sun on this exclusive Caribbean island!
Fun Fact: The luxury 18-hole Raffles golf court is renowned for being one of the toughest courses on Earth.
If you’re in the mood for a Caribbean vacation but want something a little more out-of-the-ordinary than an average cruise ship experience, these hidden island treasures may be just the travel spots for you! Take a chance and visit one of the lesser-known islands of the Caribbean-you may just stumble on your new favorite vacation destination and have an unforgettable time!