Even with all the gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean islands, some stand out from the rest. Whether it’s for bars, scuba or sunsets, each one of these spots has a special quality that we treasure as much as pirates’ gold. Here, our raves and faves.
Dawn Beach, St. Maarten
The name is no coincidence. Situated on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten, this beach boasts morning shows in amazing hues. Stay for a day of snorkeling and body surfing. Bonus: The beach is located far from the big resorts and crowded beaches on the French side of the island, so secluded bliss is virtually guaranteed.
The beach at Laluna, a 16-room hideaway on Grenada, faces west onto the Caribbean. As the sun slips into the sea, watch the colors swirl and paint the sky. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive green flash that signals the exact moment the sun sets. At the hotel’s pool area, which sits above the sandy strand, comfy built-for-two daybeds make the perfect perch for taking in the evening spectacular. Or settle into sofas at the hotel’s Sunset Bar and enjoy cocktails, Italian appetizers and the view (laluna.com).
Mosquito Bay, Vieques
The delights of the beaches on Vieques, a small island just off the coast of Puerto Rico, are actually best enjoyed after the sun has set. At Mosquito Bay, you can board a boat for an unforgettable show: The waters glow with millions of bioluminescent organisms, leaving behind phosphorescent trails of light as they move.
The Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, B.V. I.
What’s a tropical vacation without a tropical drink in hand? This bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands is the home of the original “painkiller” cocktail. The potent mix of rum, fresh island juices and spices feels all the more refreshing after a swim—the only way to get here. The Soggy Dollar has no dock, so you must jump from your boat into the warm Caribbean. It’s a great day trip from St. John, U.S.V.I. And the sunsets are spectacular. Bonus: There’s often live calypso music in the evenings.
Pelican Bar, Jamaica
Technically speaking, the Pelican Bar in Jamaica is actually on a sandbar. The jerry-built shack sits on a strip of supersoft sand just off the coast of Parottee Point. Patrons arrive by boat and sip Red Stripe (Jamaica’s national beer) while standing knee-deep in the crystal-clear seawater. Fresh-caught fish is sometimes available; radio ahead to place your order.
Fish Pot, Barbados
Escape the clamor of the large resorts with an afternoon at Little Good Harbour on the northwest coast of Barbados. Work up an appetite swimming and boogie boarding in the deep blue sea, then treat yourself to the delicious cuisine at the beachside Fish Pot. Housed in a converted fort, the eatery offers gourmet seafood meals served on an open-air terrace. Favorite dishes include a blackened flying-fish panini, stuffed with tomatoes and port-marinated onion, and lobster pasta served with asparagus and baby corn.
Photography: (top) Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism; (bottom) CuisinArt Resort & Spa.