Many U.S. beaches become enjoyable again once now that summer weather hits. But there are still quite a few reasons to plan a Caribbean summertime escape; hotel prices are much lower than the ones you'll find over the holidays and spring break, you won't have to worry so much about the kids' schedules with school and sports and extracurriculars (if you decide to even bring them...), and no matter what time of year, you can't beat the islands' beaches. So here we bring you the 10 best beach hotels in the Caribbean. Take your pick...
Puerto Rico is all the rage right now, in part due to U.S.-departing flights there being relatively cheap -- so you should book before that changes, and spend your saved cash on a stay at the Royal Isabela Golf Resort. This see-it-to-believe-it romantic retreat is perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and is spread out over a whopping 426 acres -- which includes one of the Caribbean's top golf courses. There are just 20 casitas, with private plunge pools and patios, and activities abound: expect everything from hiking trails to spa services to tennis courts to visits to the organic farm, which provides many of the ingredients served at the on-site restaurant.
This secluded boutique makes our list because it has one of the serene vibes of all the hotels in the Caribbean. The resort’s beach is truly a tropical paradise, with palm trees, hammocks, loungers, white sand, and turquoise water. Guests have a choice of Studios or One- or Two-Bedroom Condos, and each has updated decor (except for some bedspreads) and fully equipped kitchens. Plus, all units are beachfront and offer great views -- and although this is technically a luxury property, rates are generally more than reasonable.
A "best of the Caribbean" list is not a legitimate "best of the Caribbean" list if Barbados grand dame Sandy Lane isn't on it. Oozing luxury through and through, this celebrity-and-royal-beloved resort is the creme de la creme of the island -- indeed, it's one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Guest amenities run rampant; perhaps the most noteworthy is access to the super-exclusive Green Monkey golf course. A Rolls Royce Bentley, top-notch spa, outstanding restaurants, and lovely beach are just a few other aspects that set the elegant Palladian-style hotel apart from the rest.
Beaches is known for being a top family-friendly hotel chain, and we think the one in Turks and Caicos is one of its very best. With seven pools, a sprawling water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the 65-acre Beaches is clearly the Turks and Caicos resort with the most features. An all-inclusive hotel, this property will keep your little ones entertained while you head for a rum punch; there's a Sesame Street Camp and nightly performances, a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, an Xbox games garage, and even a DJ academy all on-site.
Part of the same larger group as Beaches, Sandals hotels provide upscale, adults-only options on the sand. This 225-room all-inclusive Grenada resort is one of the newest additions to the brand. It’s spread over a sprawling 17-acre property on the southwestern tip of the island, but all the main property features are centrally located, so it’s not difficult to find your way around. With five pools, a lovely spa and fitness center, numerous activities, and 10 restaurants, couples won’t be at a loss for things to do. It’s the romantic touches such as fire pits, gazebos, and swinging chairs on a pier looking out over the water that make the property one of the best beach hotels in the Caribbean.
The 21-room GoldenEye is hands down Jamaica's hippest and most luxurious resort. It's also one of the island's most historic, as the former home of Ian Fleming, and the hideaway at which the author scribed all 14 of his James Bond novels. Today, the property, which reopened in 2010 after an extensive $50 million renovation, includes stunning cottages and villas overlooking a private beach and lagoon, as well as two happening restaurants, two pools, a tree house spa, and an extensive roster of on-site activities.
This 310-room colorful resort is the least expensive of the four Princess-brand properties in Punta Cana -- it may be a bit basic, but considering its long list of extras, it's certainly one of the top hotels in the Caribbean for its price. A family-friendly offering (with two pools and separate kids’ clubs for different age brackets), the Tropical Princess is situated next door to the more party-friendly Caribe Club. Both of these properties share certain amenities such as the lobby, nightly entertainment, and tennis courts. For those looking for a great beach location on a budget, this is the place. Guests have access to three restaurants and seven bars (there is a fee to use the restaurants at Caribe Club) and a nice spa.
We love this romantic boutique on the quiet island of Antigua. Offering understated luxury, Carlisle Bay has dedicated sections for families and couples, and successfully appeals to both with its lovely white-sand beach, calm ocean, free non-motorized water sports, and impressive kids' club. The 82 rooms are modern and sophisticated if not very distinctly Caribbean, but the extensive features and services (many of which are free) still make this one of the island's top upscale options.
It's called One&Only for good reason -- there’s nothing quite like it on Paradise Island, or anywhere in the Bahamas for that matter. But though this resort wasn't acquired by the elite brand till 2002, it's history dates back further than that. Huntington Hartford II (the man responsible for Paradise Island's name change from Hog Island) bought the property in 1962, and it began to attract members of royalty, and notable names like Zsa Zsa Gabor and William Randolph Hearst. Since then, it has evolved into a modern-day luxury oasis. Expansive manicured grounds have two outdoor pools, a romantic garden and statuary modeled after Versailles (a dream for weddings), and an endless stretch of white-sand beach and turquoise waves. Health and wellness nuts are spoilt for choice with daily yoga, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, an indoor/outdoor fitness center, and a Balinese-style spa with private villas. After a day in the sun, guests return to their rooms to find champagne and strawberries waiting, and many choose to begin their evenings with sunset drinks at Jean-George's Dune restaurant.
St. Lucian by Rex was one of the first major resort hotels to open on St. Lucia, and it can certainly feel dated in certain areas. So why does it make this list? Well, despite its imperfectly polished image, the resort holds a prime beachfront location, a well-kept pool area, and a tasty beachfront restaurant. Plus, all-inclusive rates that are half of what other nearby all-inclusive resorts (such as Sandals) charge are pretty spectacular, too. This is certainly one of the Caribbean's best options on the sand if you're looking to save some cash.