5 Reasons to Visit the Southern Caribbean Islands
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular destinations. And it’s easy to understand why. The region’s tropical climate and all-inclusive resorts attract people from all over the globe, and there are hundreds of islands, islets, reefs, and cays to explore.
While many travelers choose to stay in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, the smaller islands nations—including Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten—shouldn’t be overlooked. They not only offer the luxury amenities and relaxed vibes that everyone seeks on vacation, but also boast extraordinary beaches, delicious cuisine, and outdoor thrills.
Still need convincing to add this part of the region to your travel bucket list? Read through our top five reasons to visit the Southern Caribbean islands.
The Incredible Beaches
Everybody who says they want to visit the Caribbean has pictured themselves walking on white-sand beaches and swimming in crystal-clear waters. Why? Because each nation is full of bustling surf spots, protected snorkeling areas, and calm bays where travelers can while away their vacation days.
Some of our favorite beaches on the Southern Caribbean islands include:
- Baie Rouge, St. Maarten: Named for its pink-hued sand, this laid-back beach is popular with tourists since it’s located close to restaurants and other amenities.
- Bathsheba Beach, Barbados: This beach’s stunning rock formations alone are worth seeing, but you should also know that Bathsheba is one of the best surfing destinations in the Caribbean—the Soup Bowl competition is hosted here annually.
- Daaibooi Beach, Curaçao: Surrounded by cliffs, this calm bay is perfect for diving and snorkeling. If you’re an animal lover, note that sea turtles are often found swimming in the area.
- Flamingo Beach, Aruba: You’ll need to purchase a day pass (or stay at the Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort) to visit this private island, but we promise the experience more than makes up for the cost. It’s here that you can feed, take pictures of, and relax alongside a flamboyance of the stunning pink birds.
- Magazine Beach, Grenada: If you want to make the most of every minute of your trip, Magazine Beach is a great option—it’s located a short 10-minute walk from the Maurice Bishop International Airport. Getting a little sand in your suitcase won’t hurt!
- Jalousie Beach, St. Lucia: Also called “Sugar Beach,” Jalousie is best known for its powdery white sand and epic views; it’s nestled between two majestic volcanic peaks.
The Cultural Diversity
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most diverse regions, so you can expect to experience new traditions and customs no matter which of the southern nations you choose to visit.
Take Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, for example. The three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles (otherwise known as the “ABC islands”) are all part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Especially in Willemstad, Dutch influences can be found in everything from the 18th-century buildings to the Delf Blue pottery that’s sold by local vendors.
The Flavorful Food
With so many cultural influences at play, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Caribbean cuisine is a melting pot of flavor. In fact, many dishes are a fusion of West African, Creole, European, Latin American, Indian, and Middle Eastern ingredients and cooking styles.
If you visit the Southern Caribbean islands, make sure to try a few of these popular foods:
- Callaloo Soup in St. Lucia: Coconut milk-based broth made with amaranth leaves, okra, potatoes, and garlic.
- Conch and Dumplings in St. Maarten: Hot-and-spicy conch (sea snail) served with fluffy cornmeal dumplings and a rich gravy.
- Guava Cheese in Barbados: A sweet treat made with guava pulp, sugar, and lime juice—similar in texture to fudge or toffee.
- Keshi Yena in Curaçao: Baked cheese stuffed with chicken, olives, raisins, and spices.
- Nutmeg Ice Cream in Grenada: Classic dessert flavored with one of the island’s most abundant spices.
- Pestechi in Aruba: Deep-friend pastry filled with meat, fish, vegetables, or cheese (think of it as a Caribbean version of the empanada).
Of course, there’s also plenty of tropical fruit punches, rum cocktails, and beer to drink on the islands, too.
The Spectacular Wildlife
The region’s white-sand beaches may get most of the glory, but the Southern Caribbean islands are also known for their lush jungles, national parks, volcanic peaks, and natural swimming pools—all of which are home to a unique array of flora and fauna.
And there are plenty of ways to discover each ecosystem, from scuba diving through the coral reefs in St. Maarten to hiking up the Haystack in Aruba to taking a mud bath at the Sulphur Springs in St. Lucia. No matter how you choose to explore the outdoors, keep your eyes peeled for tropical fish and lizards, hummingbirds and parrots, and wild monkeys (the latter can only be seen on Barbados and Grenada).
The Cruising Potential
We know what you’re thinking: with so many amazing options, how do you choose which Caribbean islands to visit? Well, that’s where cruises come in handy.
A number of lines—including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and more—offer itineraries that will take travelers to many of the destinations mentioned in this article. Booking a cruise vacation is truly one of the best, most relaxing ways to experience all the historical sites, tourist attractions, and activities that the Southern Caribbean islands have to offer.
Here's what you can expect at some of the capital cities you’ll stop at along the way:
- Bridgetown, Barbados: The historic downtown area of Bridgetown and its Garrison have been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Castries, St. Lucia: Located in the northern region of St. Lucia, this port boasts a local market where travelers can buy everything from fresh produce to handmade goods.
- Oranjestad, Aruba: One of the best ways to get around this Caribbean island? Hopping on one of its colorful, double-decker trolleys.
- Philipsburg, St. Maarten: Many cruise lines offer excursions to Phillipsburg’s Loterie Farm nature sanctuary for ziplining and hiking adventures.
- St. George’s, Grenada: When you’re done exploring the Underwater Sculpture Park, refuel on a variety of local cuisine (Grenada is nicknamed “Spice Island”).
- Willemstad, Curaçao: No trip to Willemstad is complete without walking across the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge that separates the two halves of the city.
Now that you know what the Southern Caribbean is best known for, it’s time to book the trip! Get in touch with Liberty Travel to learn more about our special deals on all-inclusive vacations.