NEW YORK, United States, Monday February 29, 2016 – Business Insider described the Caribbean islands as “bursting with adventurous activities, clear waters, and stunning natural sites.” Yet while lauding the appeal of all the islands, the publication noted that “some have advantages over the others,” prompting it to rank them.
The publication’s take on what constituted the best islands encompassed the cost of hotel bookings, the destination’s accessibility, and the range of activities available.
The method used to rank the islands involved factoring in each island’s average hotel room costs using data from Hotels.com; the flight time from New York City; the number of attractions listed on TripAdvisor, and the amount of coastline offered per square kilometre, which Business Insider called the “beach density score.”
In most instances, the publication defined a Caribbean island as a single country, republic, or territory in the region.
Here’s how they placed:
25. St Vincent and the Grenadines
Distance from NYC: 6 hours
Average hotel room cost: $637 per night
Located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, the island chain of St Vincent and the Grenadines is made up of 32 islands and cays. The relatively deserted islands offer travellers a combination of rainforest adventures, water sports, luxury accommodations, and miles of powder-white sand beaches. Of the 115 activities offered to travellers, 59 of them are either stunning natural sites or parks. The island chain has a moderate beach-density score of 0.22.
Distance from NYC: 7 hours and 45 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $107 per night
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has undergone recovery efforts that have brought travellers back to the history-rich island. There are plenty of historic and picturesque attractions to see here, including the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien and the Marche de Fer flea market. It has a low beach-density score of 0.06, indicating that it has relatively little beachfront compared to other Caribbean islands.
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and 2 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $412 per night
In Anguilla, you’ll find miles of white sand and pristine waters — hence its high beach-density score of 0.67. With romantic beaches like Rendezvous Bay, this is a destination where you can swim and sunbathe year-round. Its list of activities range from swimming with dolphins to sailing on glass-bottom boats.
Distance from NYC: 6 hours and 10 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $206 per night
Once the world’s most treasured source of exotic spices, Grenada aptly has earned the nickname of Spice Island. Today, it’s home to lush and mountainous terrain where you can fish, sail, hike, or bike. It has a modest beach-density score of 0.35 and 158 different activities that include diving with sharks and turtles.
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and 55 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $134 per night
In Dominica, visitors can do everything from relaxing in hot sulphur springs to swimming on black-sand beaches. The island’s volcanic terrain has created unique sites like the Champagne Reef, where geothermal bubbles make you feel like you’re swimming in a giant bottle of champagne. Plus, there are nearly 40 incredible diving sites to choose from, despite its relatively low beach-density score of 0.2.
Distance from NYC: 6 hours and 20 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $140 per night
Guadeloupe is an archipelago of islands where travellers will find 321 different activities to pick from. Its two main islands include Grande-Terre, where beach towns offer white sands and a variety of water activities, and the mountainous Basse-Terre, where you can visit the breathtaking Guadeloupe National Park. It has a low beach-density score of 0.19.
19. British Virgin Islands
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and 29 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $278 per night
The British Virgin Islands offer 204 different activities to travellers, with about 60 different islands to choose from. Check out the ruins and rum distilleries in Tortola, venture into underwater coves in Virgin Gorda, or enjoy a drink at a swim-up bar in Jost Van Dyke. You’ll also find some of the world’s best sailing spots in the British Virgin Islands, which have a high beach-density score of 0.53.
18. Turks and Caicos
Distance from NYC: 3 hours and 25 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $468 per night
Turks and Caicos has world-class hotels and stretches of uncrowded beaches. Providenciales is a popular travel destination for upscale vacationers, thanks to places like Grace Bay, which was just dubbed the best beach in the world by TripAdvisor users. Turks and Caicos is home to 118 outdoor activities alone, and it boasts a moderate beach-density score of 0.41.
17. Trinidad and Tobago
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 55 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $185 per night
The two islands that make up Trinidad and Tobago offer travellers top-notch bird-watching, diving, and rainforest-hiking opportunities. Trinidad is home to lush hills and a bustling nightlife, while Tobago has palm-lined beaches and a serene setting. In total, the islands boast 231 different cultural, natural, and recreational activities for travellers, despite their low beach-density score of 0.07.
16. St Lucia
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 35 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $331 per night
In St Lucia, you can experience modern sites and luxury resorts or delve into old plantations and hidden beaches. Its sulphur springs are ideal for DIY spa treatments, while intimate beaches like Anse Mamin give you the chance to experience your own private paradise. The island has 366 different activities and a low beach-density score of 0.26.
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and 35 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $102 per night
In Montserrat, you can explore stunning volcanoes, ruins, and pristine beaches. Check out all of its 19 attractions before enjoying a sunbath on one of its glistening beaches. The island also has the most affordable hotel rooms on our list. Montserrat has a moderate beach-density score of 0.39.
14. Antigua and Barbuda
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 20 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $292 per night
In Antigua, you’ll come across narrow roads and colourful villages filled with historic sites. Barbuda also has its charm, with reef-filled waters and a large bird population. There are 216 different activities to choose from and such a wide variety of beaches that you could visit a different one each day of the year and still not repeat yourself.
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and 45 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $132 per night
Martinique is home to a striking variety of landscapes. Its capital, Fort-de-France, boasts a more urban feel, while its northern region has plenty of rain forests, mountains, and miles of beaches. It’s a paradise for outdoor lovers, with around 118 outdoor activities to indulge in. It’s also home to 25 historic landmarks, including the birthplace of Napoleon’s empress Josephine. It has a moderate beach-density score of 0.31.
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 40 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $210 per night
Whether you’re in search of prime beach resorts, exhilarating nightlife, or breathtaking natural sites, you’ll find them in Barbados. Its capital, Bridgetown, is home to the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, which produces the world’s oldest brand of rum. On the west side, you’ll find calm waters ideal for swimming, while the east side boasts wild surf terrain. In total, there are 373 different activities for travellers, and it has a moderate beach-density score of 0.23.
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 20 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $270 per night
Despite a moderate beach-density score of 0.38, Aruba is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations, thanks to resorts that offer prime package deals and more than 350 different activities for visitors. The main town of Oranjestad is filled with pastel facades, landmarks, and shops, while the island’s outskirts are where you’ll find hidden beaches and beautiful vistas.
10. St Kitts and Nevis
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 10 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $257 per night
The two-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis abounds with palm-fringed beaches, soaring mountains, and lush jungle terrain. There are 173 different activities here, which range from natural sites to historic attractions like sugar plantations. St Kitts hosts a more bustling atmosphere filled with nightlife venues and resorts, while Nevis offers a calmer atmosphere. The sister islands have a high beach-density score of 0.52.
9. US Virgin Islands
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 31 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $246 per night
The main islands of the US Virgin Islands — St Croix, St John, and St Thomas — are home to historic colonial buildings, prime sailing, bustling shopping and nightlife, and hidden coves to explore. Although it has a low beach-density score of 0.1, it has 779 different activities to choose from and ferries that make island-hopping easy.
8. Cayman Islands
Distance from NYC: 3 hours and 50 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $281 per night
There are 443 different activities to choose from on the three islands of Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman is the largest and has a cosmopolitan feel to it, thanks to its array of gourmet restaurants, malls, and the beautiful Seven Mile Beach. Cayman Brac has some fantastic diving sights and plenty of serene trails. Little Cayman has uncrowded beaches and one of the world’s best wall dives at Bloody Bay Wall. The islands have a high beach-density score of 0.61.
7. Saint Barthélemy
Distance from NYC: 5 hours and five minutes
Average hotel room cost: $305 per night
Saint-Barthélemy (also known as St Barts or St Barths) has a variety of designer boutiques, fine-dining restaurants, and breathtaking scenery, like stunning mountains, green hills, and glistening bays. Most of its beaches remain crowd-free, making them the perfect place to unwind after exploring all of the 51 activities on the island. The island also has an incredibly high beach-density score of 1.52.
Distance from NYC: 3 hours and 45 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $220 per night
Despite a low beach-density score of 0.09, Jamaica is home to sandy beaches, bountiful banana groves, and 763 activities that range from hiking and bird-watching to snorkelling and shopping. Sample authentic Jamaican cuisine before heading to Rick’s Cafe in Negril, an iconic drinking institution known for its epic sunsets and cliffside views.
5. The Bahamas
Distance from NYC: 2 hours and 55 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $328 per night
With around 700 islands and incredible beachside properties, the Bahamas is paradise waiting to be explored. It was recently dubbed the No. 1 Caribbean destination for wealthy travellers, with around 703 activities. It has a moderate beach-density score of 0.26.
Distance from NYC: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $171 per night
A favourite destination for divers, Curacao is also home to beaches with calm waters and 253 activities to choose from. Of those 253 activities, 75 are water sports alone. If you’re not a water enthusiast, try exploring the Hato Caves, an elaborate network of stalactites and stalagmites, or hiking the trails of the Christoffelpark. Curacao has a high beach-density of 0.82.
3. St Martin/Sint Maarten
Distance from NYC: 3 hours and 55 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $202 per night
St Martin is split into two sides: the Dutch half of Sint Maarten, which is filled with bustling nightlife, shopping centres, and gleaming beaches; and the French half of St Martin, which has a quieter ambience, with white-sand beaches and charming mountainside scenery. The island has a very high beach-density score of 1.09 and 388 different activities to enjoy.
2. Dominican Republic
Distance from NYC: 3 hours and 40 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $184 per night
The Dominican Republic is home to some of the Caribbean’s most diverse landscapes of mountains, desert terrain, colonial buildings, and beaches. There are a whopping 1,036 activities to choose from here, despite its low beach-density score of 0.03. Indulge in prime seafood at its beachfront bars or witness four of the five highest peaks in the Caribbean that rise above Santiago.
1. Puerto Rico
Distance from NYC: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Average hotel room cost: $183 per night
Puerto Rico takes the No. 1 spot thanks to its affordable hotel rates and a staggering 1,056 activities travellers can enjoy. Despite its low beach-density score of 0.04, it’s home to tropical terrain that has helped it earn its “Island of Enchantment” name. (Business Insider)