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Lauded in films, literature, and popular folklore, the Caribbean has long been regarded as the ultimate in luxury tropical getaways. A place of sparkling seas, white sandy beaches, colorful coral reefs and secluded lagoons, the vast archipelago of islands has a diverse history that has seen indigenous tribes, swashbuckling piracy, the rise of voodoo and a melting pot of races and cultures from all over the world.
While major island such as Cuba and Jamaica boast rich histories and strong cultural identities, places such as Barbados, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas are famed more for tiny secluded islands, untouched beaches, and virgin tropical forests. When looking for a tranquil island getaway, visitors will invariably choose to stay in a boutique hotel that highlights the stunning natural surroundings. Below we present the best that the Caribbean has to offer.
Best Overall: Amanera
Perched high on a cliff, surrounded by lush tropical jungle and overlooking the golden sands of the Playa Grande, the DR's Amanera provides a luxurious and idyllic island getaway. Private casitas provide elegant accommodations with floor-to-ceiling windows and large shaded terraces, complete with dining tables and private pools, taking full advantage of the spectacular bay views. The indulgent spa features traditional palo santo smoke smudging, as well as treatments including papaya-oat body wraps and coffee exfoliations.
Outdoor activities such as tennis, kayaking, and kiteboarding are easily accessible, and golfers can enjoy the oceanside greens of the nearby Playa Grande Golf & Ocean Club. In the restaurant, guests can dine on locally-inspired dishes while surrounded by the cascading waters of the free-form infinity pool, or staff can arrange for intimate candlelit dinners directly on the beach. After dinner, guests can sip cocktails crafted around local rums and smoke hand-rolled cigars in the hotel bar.
Best Budget: Spring Hotel Bequia
Commanding magnificent views of the nearby bay from its lofty hillside location in the Grenadines' Port Elizabeth, Spring Hotel Bequia offers a relaxed tropical retreat for an extremely reasonable price, with rooms starting well under $200. The hotel is built in a rustic, traditional style, with natural stone finishes, polished woodwork, and colorful artwork. Guest suites feature hardwood floors, canopied beds, and screen doors which open onto scenic balconies. Amenities include cable TV, stereo systems, and Wi-Fi. The onsite restaurant and bar, located next to the leafy pool courtyard, contains wicker lounges, a pool table, and a beautiful shaded terrace with jungle and ocean views. With a fitness center, badminton and basketball courts, a giant chess set, and beach equipment such as chairs, towels, and snorkels, guests will find an abundance of outdoor activities in and around the hotel.
Best View: Jade Mountain Resort
Rising up from a verdant jungle canopy filled with bright tropical flowers, the Jade Mountain Resort is an architectural marvel with circular tiers and towers linked by floating walkways. Here, stunning suites feature hardwood or tiled floors, natural stone walls, and jetted tubs. With the fourth wall entirely absent, suites extend straight onto generous balconies where guests can relax on sun lounges, chairs and in the private pool while gazing over St. Lucia's calm bay waters and dramatic mountain backdrop.
Taking full advantage of the view, the hotel infinity pool, lined with brightly-colored tiles, is surrounded by the Jade Mountain Club where award-winning cuisine is served. Upstairs, the Celestial Terrace is the perfect place to enjoy sunset libations or gaze up into the starry night skies. The hotel prides itself on its eco-credentials and its immersion in its surroundings with peaceful koi ponds, intact forest, and a limited tech policy (there are no TVs or land lines, although cell phones and Wi-Fi are allowed in guest rooms) that encourage guests to enjoy the stunning natural setting.
Not ready to book quite yet? Explore other options with our guide to St. Lucia's best beach resorts.
Best for Families: Amanyara
The Amanyara is a spacious, green resort in Turks and Caicos where winding paths lead past peaceful ponds into guest pavilions hidden among vibrant tropical foliage. At this family-friendly resort, there are a variety of activities that cater to all ages. Babysitting services can be arranged when required. Four-legged family members can also stay free of charge thanks to a pet-friendly policy. Luxurious pavilions and suites open onto tranquil natural surroundings, whether overlooking ponds, private infinity pools, or ocean vistas.
Children can participate in supervised activities such as tennis, soccer, and frisbee, while the whole family can join in on fun activities such as volleyball, billiards, and ping pong, or go scuba diving at the dive center. In the evenings, guests can dine on fresh local seafood on the pond island terrace or choose to have a picnic on the beach next to a roaring wood fire.
Interested in more accommodations in this area? Check out our guide to the best hotels in Turks & Caicos.
Best for Romance: The Caves
Perched high on a rocky cliff in Negril, Jamaica, with waves crashing into the caves and grottos below, the dramatic location of The Caves sets the tone for a seductive and intimate vacation. Each individually decorated guest room is built in a traditional Caribbean style with wooden walls and thatched roofs, and each feature furnished verandas which overlook a variety of natural landscapes. Guests can enjoy brown sugar body scrubs and massages at the spa, or head outside on kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing expeditions.
A particular highlight of the resort is its cozy cave grottos—natural caves which open straight onto the ocean's waters. Worked stone is seamlessly melded with natural formations for a unique experience while candles and palm fronds lend a romantic air to private dining experiences followed by delicious rum cocktails in the adjoining Blackwell Rum bar. Other dining options include the scenic gazebo terrace and the Sands beach dining experience, where lanterns are strung between palms and local jerk chicken is a specialty.
Best for Luxury: Tortuga Bay Hotel
Nestled amongst 1,500 acres of pristine Punta Cana ecological reserve, the Tortuga Bay Hotel consists of plantation-style buildings painted in a warm marigold yellow that accentuates old-fashioned style, comfort, and detailed service. Large, bright rooms contain minimalist décor with wood accents, marble-clad bathrooms with walk-in showers and separate bathtubs, and furnished balconies that face over the beach. The renowned Six Senses Spa, the only one in North America, offers indulgent holistic treatments conducted by professional massage therapists.
Two 18-hole golf courses, free bicycles and kayaks, and a network of trails running through the reserve provide ample recreation activities. Restaurants include Bamboo, serving exciting fusion dishes with Mediterranean influence in the tranquil pool courtyard, and the wood and thatch structure of La Yola built over the clear ocean waters. The hotel also takes an active role in establishing and supporting eco-initiatives in the region.
Best for Singles: GoldenEye
Famed for being the birthplace of James Bond, Jamaica's GoldenEye hotel brings historic appeal to a relaxed tropical paradise. A range of villas, cottages, and beach huts are built in a traditional Caribbean style with retro décor and are located in prime beachfront locations beside calm lagoons or nestled amidst lush jungle vegetation. Guests can laze on the padded sun lounges by the oceanside infinity pool, or chill on the GoldenEye pool atop a natural rock outcropping steps from the sea. Casual bars include the Shabeen lounge, with a rooftop terrace offering comfy couches and spectacular views, and the simple Bamboo Bar which pedals rum cocktails straight out of fresh coconuts and serves grilled seafood fresh from local fisherman. The Gazebo serves delicious grilled meats and fish on a scenic veranda perfect for sunset ocean views, while the poolside Bizot Bar is full of local color and charm.
Best for Business: Eden Roc at Cap Cana
Located in the private Cape Cana community in the Dominican Republic, the Eden Roc at Cape Cana promises access to numerous facilities and services, such as the Jack Nicklaus golf course, marina, and a free airport shuttle service. Comfortable and traditionally designed rooms come with large TVs, sound systems, and high-tech iPad control systems. Events held in the exclusive Caletón Beach Club are privy to LCD projectors, video-conferencing equipment, and other audio-visual aids. The helpful staff at the state-of-the-art business center can assist in managing events and seminars and can also arrange group outings to nearby attractions. The modern and well-equipped spa and gym are great places to unwind after a working day. Three restaurants serve Mediterranean seafood, delicious grill dishes, and wood-fired pizzas. The elegant wine bar and sophisticated Riva piano bar make for an excellent end to a productive day.
If you're in need of other options in the area, take a peek at our guide to the best all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic.
Best Beachfront: Hermitage Bay
As the only hotel located on an isolated stretch of sandy beach and accessible by private road, guests at Antigua's Hermitage Bay are ensured a peaceful and relaxed beach getaway experience. Guests can choose to stay in the desirable beachfront villas or tuck away in more secluded and private hillside villas which command excellent views from their furnished decks and private plunge pools. Simple but elegant décor features hardwood floors and carved furniture, and modern amenities such as iPod docks, large-screen TVs, and air-conditioning.
A large infinity pool extends right to the edge of the beach and is surrounded by a smooth wood deck that houses sun loungers and umbrellas. Other amenities include a modern gym, relaxing spa and wellness center, and windsurfing, kayaking, and snorkeling activities. The five-star restaurant serves European, Caribbean, and American cuisine featuring organic, locally-grown ingredients and seasonal specialties. The nearby bar also offers a comfortable space in which to relax and enjoy the nightly live entertainment.