I love beaches. Every time I have the opportunity to go to a new beautiful beach with azure water and white sand I do my best to visit it. While I’ve visited hundreds of beaches on all the continents (except Antarctica, of course), and I’ve loved and enjoyed many of them, I have to say that the Caribbean has the highest concentration of the most beautiful, warmest, and exotic beaches on Earth. Well, in my opinion, at least. (Seychelles is one big exception, and I wrote about that here).
So, I’d like to share some of my favorite beaches here in the Caribbean region, including what makes them so unique to me.
1. The Baths, Virgin Gorda
I visited Virgin Gorda last year to spend my birthday there, and seriously, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. Virgin Gorda is one of the bigger islands in the British Virgin Islands, and while all the islands there are full of gorgeous beaches, in my opinion, Virgin Gorda has the most beautiful and unique ones.
The Baths is probably the most famous there, and arguably the most photogenic too. This is a unique national park with white sandy shores framed by gigantic granite boulders. In some instances, the conglomerate of boulders creates caves with shallow pools fed by the beach’s waves, in others, the boulders serve as an adventurous path to lead you to a somewhat secluded spot on the beach.
The beach is full of corals and underwater grottos, which makes it an excellent place for snorkeling. And of course, don’t forget your camera!
2. Flamenco Bay, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is full of beautiful beaches, but in my opinion, the best beaches in the country (can we call it a country?) are on the small island of Culebra. My favorite there is Flamenco Beach, which currently holds the sixth position in TripAdvisor’s Best Beaches in the World. Hills flank this horseshoe-shaped beach on each side, forming a perfect postcard scene of hills, white sand, and crystal clear water.
Maybe snorkeling is not that great here, but swimming in those warm waters feels so good. And of course, the jewel and attraction of the beach are the two WWII tanks laying on the sand and water. You can climb on them and even go inside, but be careful, as they are pretty rusted.
I remember one-time camping there, I had a stormy day and got some of the best waves I’ve bodysurfed in my life. An experience I’ll never forget.
If you’re on a budget, you can camp right next to the beach; otherwise, there are a few budget hotels around the area so you can stay somewhat close to the beach. I know hotels in Puerto Rico are not the cheapest, but Culebra has welcomed a healthy diversity in accommodation to make it more affordable to travelers. You can check some of the current deals and reviews on TripAdvisor.
3. Playa Pilar, Cuba
It is said that Playa Pilar used to be Fidel Castro’s favorite beach in Cuba. And if it was, I can see why. Playa Pilar is located to the west of Cayo Guillermo, at the end of a long stretch full of resort beaches. Those resort beaches are lovely, but Playa Pilar is even more stunning. Somehow the water is clearer here, as you can see int eh picture above.
The calm water is excellent to kayak around or towards the small island right in front of it. If you’re kayaking to the island, be careful as sometimes there are strong currents that could drift you off course.
Besides kayaking, I think this beach is excellent to go with friends, sit in the shallow water (yes, it is very shallow for several meters from the shore) and relax there chatting and making jokes. Or at least, that was my experience there!
One of the drawbacks of Playa Pilar is that to get there, you must be a guest of one of the resorts, campsite, or guesthouses in Cayo Coco or Cayo Guillermo. Unfortunately, access to those islands is restricted to guests. I stayed at the Melia Cayo Coco, and I highly recommend it. I share more about my experience there on this post.
4. Tulum Beach, Tulum, Mexico
Where can you find a gorgeous Caribbean beach with Maya Ruins in the background? Tulum, of course! While this beach is more in the Gulf of Mexico, it is still the Caribbean Sea, so I consider it Caribbean!
Like the previous beaches, this one counts with white sand and azure water, but different from the other ones is that the beach’s backdrop is a stunning cliff crowned with the small yet intriguing ruins of Tulum.
You can spend the morning visiting the ruins and then heading down the stairs to the beach. Depending on when you go, the beach could get a bit crowded by tourists visiting the ruins, which could make it a bit difficult to relax there. But, if you’d like more solitude, exit the ruins and head to the beach just south of them. Same waters, same sand, similar view of the ruins (just a bit farther), and no people… yes, no one!
Most hotels in Tulum are located along the main Chetumal-Cancun Avenue, which is a bit far inland (a short taxi ride away), but there are a few accommodation options right on the shore too, in case you’d like to stay right next to the beach. Encantada Tulum is one of the top-rated hotels along the beach, but if you want to go cheaper, I highly recommend XscapeTulum – located on the Chetumal-Cancun Avenue. I stayed there with my family and we all enjoyed it.
5. Eagle Beach, Aruba
For such a small island, Aruba has no shortage of beautiful beaches. Probably the most famous of all is Eagle Beach.
It is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island thanks to its powdery sand and gentle surf that makes it a perfect beach to go swimming. Not only it is the widest beach in the country, but it also holds the third position in the TripAdvisor’s Best Beaches in the World list. Even though it is so famous, this beach somehow tends to be quieter and more relaxing than some of the nearby beaches.
Ok, I know I said there were going to be five beaches on this post, but I don’t want to leave this one out… so, it’s a bonus beach!
6. Zoni Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Yes, another beach in Culebra! While Flamenco Beach is the prettiest one in Culebra, it has a fallback. Given that it is featured in so many top beaches in the world lists, at the moment Flamenco is very popular, and sometimes it gets pretty crowded.
But, there’s an alternative that is just as pretty. Zoni beach has the same beach qualities as Flamenco, with three main differences: It’s a long straight beach instead of a cove, it has not WWII tanks, and it has no people!
Zoni beach is the answer for everyone looking to relax and feel like they have no one around them. It is on the opposite side of the island from where Flamenco Beach is, so the crowd mostly stays away from it. Don’t miss this one!