Each of these beaches checks the boxes of sprawling sands, turquoise waters and a peaceful setting. Use this overview to pick the Caribbean getaway that suits you best.
Among the many glorious Caribbean beaches, three stand out. All deliver the classic island fantasy of sugar-white sands and turquoise waters, but each stretch of idyllic coast delivers a different vibe. In Puerto Rico, Culebra’s best beach is Flamenco, part of a public park. Jamaica’s Negril offers Seven Mile Beach, home to adult and family resorts as well as nightlife, and Turks and Caicos’ Grace Bay Beach, recently rated the number one beach in the world, has a marine park offshore. Follow this primer for a prime Caribbean beach getaway.
Flamenco Beach, on Culebra, one of Puerto Rico’s offshore islands is a jewel. The nearly mile-long, horseshoe curve of wide sands takes its name from the pink flamingos that once nested in the nearby lagoon. The beach frequently rates as one of the Caribbean’s and the U.S.’s top strands. Sea grape trees and mangroves frame the beach and the modest waves lap the shore. This is the place for splashing, building sandcastles and strolling. Concessionaires sell soft drinks and snacks and also rent chairs and shade umbrellas. Part of a public park, Flamenco Beach has overnight camping, a rarity in the Caribbean. Best of all, the sites are so close to the sea that you can fall asleep to the sound of breaking surf. Small, boutique properties prevail on Culebra, which can be reached by commuter flights from San Juan or by flights or ferry from Fajardo.
Negril, on Jamaica’s west end, lures visitors with calm, clear waters and seven miles of golden sand, aptly called Seven Mile Beach. More laid back than Montego Bay or Coho Rios, Negril still has plenty to do. Concessionaires offer jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling and other watersports. Strolling along the water’s edge is fun, but be aware that in Negril family resorts are interspersed with clothing-optional beaches so that if you take a beach stroll with your kids they may get to see more than you’d like them to. Beaches Negril, a popular all-inclusive family resort, is a bustling property with a mega-waterpark and supervised children’s programs. The Cliff rates high for understated luxury and good food, but the property, overlooking the Negril Cliffs, lacks a good beach.
Providenciales, affectionately called “Provo,” is the main tourist island of the Turks and Caicos chain. Grace Bay Beach with its 12 miles of white sands is the big draw. In TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2016, Grace Bay Beach rated as the number-one beach in the world. Despite development in recent years, Provo still charms. Provo is also noted for its restaurants as well as for the Princess Alexandra Marine National Park. Off-shore from Grace Bay Beach, divers and snorkelers find teeming reefs. Grace Bay Club offers condos (villas) for rent and also hotel rooms. All-inclusive Beaches Turks & Caicos, a sprawling resort, features children’s and teens programs, a waterpark, and multiple restaurants.