22 Top Caribbean Honeymoon Spots

Looking for your place in the sun? Find it in our guide to 22 of the Caribbean's top spots for honeymooners.

 

1. Anguilla

This British West Indies island has beautiful, uncrowded beaches and rivals St. Barts as a vacation mecca for the rich and famous.

Best for: Food enthusiasts. There are 100 places to eat in Anguilla's 35 square miles. Cuisine ranges from roadside bistros serving local specialties to pristine seaside restaurants catering to passionate gourmands.

Not for: Serious shoppers. Unlike islands with slews of duty-free shops, Anguilla's retail offerings are basically limited to galleries showing the work of local artists and hotel gift shops.

Highlight: Water-taxi to tiny Scilly Cay for a barbecued lobster curry lunch. Grab a waterside table at the islet's restaurant, place an order, and snorkel while you await your meal (264-497-5123).

Sweet Dreams: Cap Juluca is a luxurious hotel on a sweeping strip of beach. White villas topped with Moorish domes house guest rooms, which have massive, shuttered windows and balconies overlooking the Caribbean (888-858-5822; capjuluca.com). Kú, a new hotel, appeals to a chic but slightly less-moneyed set. This 27-room spot on Shoal Bay East takes inspiration from Miami's South Beach in its pastel décor. And its white-sand beach is lovely (800-869-5827; kuanguilla.com).

2. Antigua

Antigua is a water world, with beautiful beaches for sunbathers and perfect anchorages for sailors. Even its most historic attraction—Nelson's Dockyard, once home to the British fleet in the Caribbean—is thoroughly nautical.

Best for: Canoodling and skinny-dipping on serene, secluded beaches. Another plus: The atmosphere at most of the resorts is decidedly romantic and sophisticated—not too "kiddie" and not too commercial.

Not for: Couples who hope to browse for luxury goods at duty-free shops.

Highlight: The Home Restaurant. Make time to enjoy an authentic West Indian feast at this top-rated gem (thehomerestaurant.com; 268-461-7651).

Sweet Dreams: For laid-back elegance, the Curtain Bluff Resort is a sure thing—especially because all of its 72 rooms have stunning views of an unspoiled beach and the blue Atlantic. Room 75 has a balcony with a Jacuzzi (888-289-9898; curtainbluff.com). A more affordable option: The 19-room Coco's Antigua, an intimate all-inclusive property, is chic and romantic (cocoshotel.com; 268-460-2626).

3. Aruba

Quiet lounging isn't Aruba's big draw—instead, people visit this desert island for near-perfect weather year-round and for the opportunity to fill their itineraries with activities.

Best for: Honeymooners who want a party scene, shopping, scuba diving, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Not for: Couples who dream of tropical jungles and majestic mountains (Aruba is dry and flat). However, its beaches are spectacular, with powdery sand and crystal-clear water.

Highlight: The ultimate must-do for honeymooners: a private sunset sail via catamaran. Your concierge can help you arrange one.

Sweet Dreams: The 104-room Bucuti Beach Resort Aruba is a favorite for honeymooners who crave seclusion and luxury, in part because it's set on Eagle Beach, the largest and prettiest on the island. Rooms feature king-size beds, private terraces and chic, contemporary furnishings (888-4-BUCUTI; bucuti.com). Meanwhile, the more affordable 119-room Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort is revamping the décor of its suites with punched-up colors and wicker furnishings (dividutchvillage.com; 297-583-5000).

4. British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islanders could drape the terminal at Beef Island Airport in a giant banner that reads, "Welcome to the Sailing Capital of the World"—although they'd never actually do anything so crass. But that's essentially what the BVI has become over the past 30 years: the globe's number-one spot for summer (and honeymoon) sailors.

Best for: Couples who want to learn the basics of sailing and spend their nights at a private-island resort. Or newlyweds with enough experience beneath the mast to sail off on their own bareboat charter honeymoon.

Not for: Anyone who prefers the self-serve piña colada machines and 24/7 party scene at a mega-resort. These islands are really for those who want peace and quiet with their tropical paradise.

Highlight: Spending a day alone on Anegada, a coral atoll, where there's always an empty beach and an offshore wreck waiting to be explored by scuba divers or snorkelers.

Sweet Dreams: The BVI is famous for posh resorts. But one of the archipelago's most romantic digs is the almost legendary Sandcastle Hotel, on secluded Jost Van Dyke island. This is the Caribbean straight out of Jimmy Buffett—hammocks strung between coconut palms, cool breezes and cold beer, cottages draped in bougainvillea and hibiscus, and a bar packed with people from all around the world telling seafaring yarns (sandcastle-bvi.com; 284-495-9888). Want that super-indulgent, posh resort experience? BVI also has a half-dozen private-island resorts, including the renowned Peter Island (peterisland.com; 800-346-4451).

5. Cayman Islands

The islands that make up the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) are surrounded by gorgeous, clear water, making them a diving hot spot. They also have a culture of politesse, which makes visitors feel safe and at home.

Best for: Couples who appreciate high-end resorts and the high-stakes adventure of wall diving.

Not for: Those who want to explore local villages for exotic cultural experiences. The Caymans have an American standard (and style) of living.

Highlight: Scuba divers love the Sunken City of Atlantis, where a local artist is constructing a below-the-surface city with sculptures cast from rock, sand and cement—all of which are fostering the growth of a brand-new reef (800-594-0843; bracreef.com/dive_atlantis.html).

Sweet Dreams: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman opened in December on Grand Cayman's famous Seven-Mile Beach. It has a La Prairie spa, a Greg Norman golf course and a restaurant overseen by the chef of Le Bernardin, the New York City French food palace. Rooms have private terraces, and there are also secluded oceanfront condos (ritzcarlton.com; 345-943-9000). A more moderately priced choice are the accommodations at the Rocky Shore Villas. It has charming rooms—some in private cottages—and offers classes on traditional island cooking and fishing (866-845-6945; getaway.ky).

6. Barbados

Locals are proud that Barbados retains more British flavor than any other Caribbean landfall: Afternoon tea, driving on the left and cricket are a few of the customs the Brits left behind. And unlike islands where traditions are fading, Bajans (as the islanders call themselves) embrace these customs as part of their national character.

Best for: Pretending that you're in a tropical England. Dig into a champagne-and-caviar picnic while watching a match at the Barbados Polo Club (246-432-1802), or attend a garden party hosted by the Barbados Horticulture Society (246-428-5889).

Not for: Spring-break party scenes. The club-and-café area around the Careenage yacht basin in downtown Bridgetown can get pretty rowdy on weekends, but this isn't a place for party animals.

Highlight: Walking hand-in-hand down the wildly romantic Bathsheba Beach, knowing that a young Queen Elizabeth II once strolled here, too.

Sweet Dreams: With a recent $200 million ultra-extreme makeover, the legendary Sandy Lane is back among the Caribbean's best hotels. From the palatial guest rooms and luxury spa to the 18-hole golf course, everything has been upgraded and outfitted with the best that money can buy. And they really do treat you like royalty (246-444-2000; sandylane.com). The St. Lawrence Gap area is full of less-expensive alternatives, including the nifty little Southern Palms Beach Club, which features brightly decorated rooms along a lovely beach (southernpalms.net; 246-428-7171).

7. Curaçao

This little Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela is a melting pot of people from all around the globe: More than 50 different nationalities and ethnic groups are represented in an area about a sixth of the size of Rhode Island. This mix of cultures makes Curaçao one of the most cosmopolitan places on the planet—an island of interesting food, intriguing art and pretty good duty-free shopping.

Best for: Couples who crave a side dish of art and architecture with their coconut-palm-tree-and-turquoise-bay honeymoon entrée.

Not for: Die-hard beachcombers. Curaçao has its nice strands, but they're few and far between, and not in the same league as those of more fabled Caribbean beach destinations.

Highlight: Roaming the island's Punda and Otrobanda districts, where hundreds of Dutch-colonial buildings have been lovingly restored and are now restaurants, bars, music clubs, art galleries and duty-free shops.

Sweet Dreams: The Kurá Hulanda Hotel, Spa & Casino in Otrobanda offers a model upon which every Caribbean boutique hotel should base itself. The resort is located in an ancient, walled colonial compound with cobblestone streets, pastel walls and one of the best museums in the Caribbean, making a stay there feel like a journey back in time (877-264-3106; kurahulanda.com). Couples with a hankering for a beachfront setting should check out the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino (800-223-6388; marriott.com).

8. Dominica

With 60 percent of the island still covered in rain forest—much of it protected within the confines of national parks—and more than 365 rivers (one for each day of the year), Dominica is a Caribbean version of the Garden of Eden.

Best for: Couples who donate to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. Dominica has staked its future on eco-tourism, and the island offers visitors everything from guided rain-forest hikes and jungle river adventures to what many people consider the best whale-watching in the West Indies.

Not for: Anyone who expects luxury spas, Cordon-Bleu cooking, satellite TV or door-to-door limo service. Dominica is the unspoiled Caribbean—modest, economical and drop-dead gorgeous.

Highlight: A romantic dip (skinny or otherwise) at Emerald Pool in Morne Trois Pitons National Park or in one of the dozens of other secluded waterfalls that are scattered about this incredibly lush, green island.

Sweet Dreams: Perched along the waterfront of the island's largest town, Fort Young Hotel is within the stone walls of a ruined 18th-century British-colonial fort. Friendly and comfortable but certainly not fancy, the hotel offers a perfect base for exploring the rest of Dominica and a most happening scene on Friday nights, when the rum punch flows freely to the sounds of live reggae and calypso (011-767-448-5000; fortyounghotel.com). Or get back to nature at the wildly romantic Beau Rive, on the secluded east coast (beaurive.com; 011-767-445-8992).

9. Dominican Republic

Friendly people, a vibrant culture, miles of beaches and affordable resorts all attract visitors to the bustling, Spanish-flavored Dominican Republic.

Best for: Couples who crave adventure in the sun. You can hike 10,000-foot peaks, windsurf in terrific cruising grounds, scout for humpback whales, snorkel and scuba dive with a kaleidoscopic array of fish and bike through the fecund countryside.

Not for: Haute cuisine. Chicken dinners with sides of rice and fried plantains are the norm. Your best bet is to choose the grilled fish—more than likely, it's just off the boat.

Highlight: Protected by a barrier reef, the bay at Cabarete, 23 miles east of Puerto Plata, is an ideal place for beginners to try windsurfing. The Carib BIC Center offers equipment and instruction for one hour or one week (809-571-0640; caribwind.com).

Sweet Dreams: You'll feel lost in the tropics at the Punta Cana Resort, where palm trees sprout around the beach villas and nature trails snake through the thickly jungled grounds. There's also a P.D. Dye-designed golf course, where 12 of the 18 holes face the ocean (888-442-2262; puntacana.com). When you're not zipping across the water at Cabarete, relax in one of the hammocks at the Velero Beach Resort. All junior suites are smack-dab on the beach and equipped with a full kitchen. It's good to know you can grab a cool one from the fridge at any time (velerobeach.com; 809-571-9727).

10. Grenada

Also called "The Spice Island," Grenada has grown its trademark nutmeg, along with mace, cinnamon and cloves, for centuries. The island is home to mountainous rain forests alive with tropical birds and monkeys, white- and black-sand beaches, and welcoming people.

Best for: Outdoorsy couples who love to get their feet wet will enjoy exploring Grenada's lush jungles, waterfalls and beautiful beaches.

Not for: Name-droppers and party animals; though in some cases decidedly luxurious, Grenada is wonderfully low-key and unpretentious.

Highlight: Explore Grand Etang National Park, where you can hike to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and jump in for a swim, or go tubing down the Balthazar River. Adventure Jeep Tours offers tubing trips (473-444-5337; grenadajeeptours.com); guides for jungle treks include Henry Safari Tours (473-444-4460; spiceisle.com/safari) and Mr. Telfor Bedeau (473-442-6200).

Sweet Dreams: Spice Island Beach Resort's 64 newly renovated rooms stretch along the golden sands of Grand Anse Beach (the island's most famous strand). All have oversize whirlpool tubs, Frette linens, Molton Brown amenities and a patio or balcony. The 1,500-square-foot suites come with a private plunge pool (473-444-4258; spiceislandbeachresort.com). A more affordable option along Grand Anse is the 63-room Flamboyant Hotel & Villas. All rooms have ocean views with patios or terraces; studios have kitchenettes (800-223-9815; flamboyant.com).

11. Jamaica

There's no better place for a laid-back honeymoon, where you'll listen to hip-swaying music at every turn, than Jamaica—the birthplace of reggae.

Best for: Music fans. Bob Marley lovers can hop on Chukka Caribbean Adventures' Zion bus tour, which takes you through the countryside of St. Ann, the music legend's home parish (876-972-2506; chukkacaribbean.com). Or, you can take a snorkeling cruise in Montego Bay's Marine Park; after your dive, the music and dancing begin right on deck (876-952-5860; calicosailingcruises.com).

Not for: City slickers. If dusty roads and ordering a Red Stripe beer from a beverage stand on the roadside just aren't your thing, you could while away the hours of your honeymoon at your resort. But if you do, you'll miss out on the people and atmosphere that make the island so special.

Highlight: Traveling in January? Check out the jazz and blues festival, which is held annually in Montego Bay and features contemporary reggae artists like Maxi Priest and Shaggy.

Sweet Dreams: Situated in a secluded area of central Jamaica, Jake's, a 29-room boutique hotel, offers a music library filled with sounds from around the world. One of the best parts about staying there: the affordable room rate (800-688-7678; islandoutpost.com). If you don't mind paying a bit more, book a room at the sleek, 398-room Half Moon resort in Montego Bay (876-953-2211; halfmoon.com).


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