19 Oct 2022

The most picturesque Caribbean islands


TobagoCays StVincent and the Grenadines TobagoCays StVincent and the Grenadines

Yacht Cruising 

Caribbean & Central America

Excursions and Experiences

The Caribbean is a dream holiday destination for many of us. 

Sunny skies, deep blue waters and palm trees that sway gently in the breeze; the islands of this region have plenty of natural beauty, but what is the most picturesque Caribbean island to visit? 

Each has its own stunning sights to see, so to help narrow down the list, we’ve put together our list of top Caribbean islands for you to explore.


Antigua & Barbuda is one country that comprises of its two namesake islands, as well as the uninhabited island of Redonda. While part of the same nation, they have their own distinct identities. 

Barbuda is the quieter of the two and arguably the most picturesque island, where the Antiguan locals venture for peace and relaxation. The beaches on Barbuda are postcard perfect – and there are plenty of them to explore here. 

Pink Sand Beach is where you’ll find the natural phenomena of pink sand that glistens in the sun. Crushed rose shells and corals give the sand its unique colouring, which appears more vibrant after swells from the sea.
One of the top Caribbean islands and without a doubt one of the most popular, Barbados has endless natural beauty spots. While its beaches play a significant role in why the island’s beauty is so popular among tourists and locals, it’s often the greenery of Barbados that goes under the radar. 

Hunts Garden, Andromeda Botanical Garden, and the Flower Forest are all home to an array of exotic flora that bloom in beautiful tropical colours. Marvel at the Pride of Barbados (the island’s national flower) with its vivid shades of red and yellow, and witness the beauty of desert roses, ixoras, and blue lotuses first hand. 

Harrison’s Cave is another stunning natural feature on the island. Bubbling streams, thunderous waterfalls, and deep, crystal-clear waters form a sight that’s needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Guided tours of the cave are available to ensure you don’t miss even one of its mesmerising wonders. 

If you’ve worked up an appetite after exploring the island’s beauty spots, why not try the national dish of Barbados, flying fish and cou-cou; one of the traditional Caribbean foods adored for its tantalising flavours.
Bequia is one of the lesser known most picturesque Caribbean islands, largely untouched by booming tourism. That, however, is a huge advantage. When you set foot on Bequia, you get the sense of how much of an idyllic paradise it truly is. 

For the most stunning 360-degree views, a hike up Mt. Peggy Hill is a must. At the highest point of Bequia, you can see the dazzling waters stretch for miles while surrounded by luscious green fields. Some parts of the trail can be steep and slippery, so a certain level of fitness to reach the top is needed.
Highly regarded as one of the best sailing destinations in the world, the British Virgin Islands form a stunning backdrop to the tropical climate. There are around 60 islands to navigate by sailboat, most of which are uninhabited with dense forestry to explore. But it’s the waters of Salt Island where you will see something truly unique. 

The RMS Rhone has sat at the bottom of the sea close to Salt Island since 1867 after it sank during a hurricane. The former UK Royal Mail ship is now a beginner-friendly diving site as well as a habitat for marine life including eels, lobsters, and octopi.
Carriacou is one of the most picturesque Caribbean islands for underwater exploration. Known far and wide as the ‘Isle of Reefs’, Carriacou is home to some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs, where schools of fish have made their home. There are a range of different diving sites to suit all skill levels from beginner to expert, so you’ll be sure to find a spot to explore. 

Many lucky divers also witness large nursing sharks crossing through the waters, and the song of humpback whales can be heard when the gentle giants migrate past the island in late spring.
Guadeloupe is an archipelago comprising of 6 inhabited and several uninhabited islands. It’s one of the largest nations in the Caribbean, meaning there is plenty to see when you visit. The area is a volcano hotspot, which has created unique black sand beaches due to the soot and ash. 

Being near a volcano has also made the soil around Guadeloupe’s islands extremely fertile – especially on Basse-Terre. Forests on the island are thick with trees and mangroves, and beautiful flowers such as orchids thrive here in the tropical climate.
Le Marin, Martinique Le Marin, Martinique
Le Marin, Martinique
If you favour mountainous regions, Martinique is one the most picturesque Caribbean islands for you to visit. Another famed volcanic region, the terrain here was shaped long ago by eruptions. The north of Martinique is where you will find the most evidence of volcanic activity with the sandy beaches coloured black – much like on the islands of Guadeloupe.

The south is more easily accessible and is where you will find the bulk of Martinique’s bars and restaurants. Beaches in the south have contrasting white sand to those in the north, and you may even see sea turtles swimming around southwest peninsula who consider Grand Anse Beach as a haven.
The beauty of Puerto Rico is apparent at any time of day, but when the sun goes down, you’ll notice something truly magical glowing in the waters. There are only five bioluminescent bays in the world, and three of them are in Puerto Rico.

These natural wonders make Puerto Rico arguably the most picturesque Caribbean island to visit at night whether you’re near Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande, or La Parguera. The shimmering glow is caused by plankton known as dinoflagellates. They glow a blue-green colour when the waters near them are disturbed, creating an otherworldly vibe full of calm and serenity.

If seeing the natural wonders of the Caribbean is high on your list of priorities, the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico are a must see, but there are many other beauty spots on the island as well. El Yunque rainforest if full of dense greenery, exotic wildlife, and a flowing waterfall. The La Ventana and Del Indio caves are also worth visiting for their stunning views and indigenous cave drawings respectively.

And if you want to sit back and relax with a drink in hand after your exploration, Puerto Rico is also the nation that created the delicious Caribbean rum cocktail, the piña colada; the perfect accompaniment after a long day.
Located southeast of Ta Prohm, this mid-12th century build was once a large Buddhist monastery. Meaning ‘A Citadel of Chambers’, the complex features one of Jayavarman VII's favourite themes; the four faces of Avalokiteshvara.

Just a few meters from the monastery, the pool of Sra Srang stands in testament to Jayavarman's import, constructed for the private bathing of the King and his consorts.

Though the precise function of the temple construction remains unknown, many archaeologists and scholars believe Banteay Kdei is a devotion to Jayavarman VII's religious and spiritual teacher.
A key detail shared with Ta Prohm is the temple's condition. Cleared from the jungle overgrowth by conservators in the 1920s, the poor-quality sandstone used in construction has meant that great restoration efforts are required to preserve and restore the temple.

The temple of Banteay Kdei is less travelled than many others on this list, and the lack of crowds paired with the ethereal image of the Sra Srang waters can make it one of the best temples in Cambodia to visit if you’re looking for a calm and tranquil experience. 
The waterfalls of Saint Lucia are a sight to behold. They provide a stunning backdrop for any photo, but more than that, they are beautiful locations where you can relax and unwind to the tranquil sound of flowing water. You’ll find many waterfalls scattered across the island, but the central areas with luscious forestry are a good place to start.

If you want to take some time out to rejuvenate, Saint Lucia is also home to the New Jerusalem Mineral Baths where you can soak and soothe your body in the warm waters while surrounded by the beauty of nature. You can also make a stop at the Sulphur Springs for a volcanic mud bath. And don’t worry about washing the mud off; the Toraille waterfall will be right next to you!
Princess Juliana International Airport, Maho Beach Princess Juliana International Airport, Maho Beach
Princess Juliana International Airport, Maho Beach

Much like the other top islands to visit in the Caribbean, Saint Maarten has plenty of beaches, reefs, and greenery that you could explore for days on end, but Saint Maarten will also treat you to a sight – and experience – that’s much rarer.

If you stop by Maho beach, you’ll see a plethora of airplanes soaring right above your head coming in to land. That’s because the beach is just a few metres aways from the Princess Juliana International Airport runway. It’s certainly something you don’t see every day and makes for a truly memorable moment – especially if you can snap a picture of a plane directly above you.

As far as the most picturesque Caribbean island goes, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines certainly has the allure of the big screen, being the main shooting location for Pirates of the Caribbean, but there’s plenty more to see – particularly if you make the trip over to Union Island.

A calm and tranquil area, Union Island avoids mass tourism, making it one of the more authentic areas to stop and relax.
It’s also a kitesurfing hotspot in the Caribbean. Whether you want to join in yourself or simply observe the experts at play, Union Island is a great destination if immersing yourself in the local way of life is something you’d like to experience.

How many Caribbean islands are there?

There are over 7,000 islands, cays, reefs, and rocks in the Caribbean which are divided between 30 different sovereign island nations and dependent territories. Out of all the islands, only 100 or so are inhabited. The Bahamas alone has over 700 islands – more than any of the other island nation in the Caribbean.

Which Caribbean islands are safe for tourists?

Most of the Caribbean islands are safe to visit, as many of the island nations rely on tourism to boost their economy. All the destinations listed below are considered safe for tourists:

Bequia Island
British Virgin Islands (including Salt Island)
Carriacou Island
The Cayman Islands
Guadeloupe (including Basse-Terre)
Puerto Rico
Saint Barthélemy
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Maarten
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (including Union Island)
U.S. Virgin Islands

Discover the most picturesque Caribbean islands with Emerald Cruises

There’s so much to see and discover when you explore the Caribbean. Each island has its own wonders and beauty spots to marvel in, which makes picking just one picturesque Caribbean island to visit an impossible task.

With Emerald Cruises, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the sights for yourself in complete luxury. For more information on our Caribbean itineraries, request your free ‘Luxury Yacht Cruises brochure and start planning your Caribbean adventure.

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