10 Secret Caribbean Islands

September 24, 2010

Swim under a 40-foot waterfall in Dominica, scale Mount Pelée in Martinique, or experience private-island luxury in the Bahamas.


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Guadeloupe Jon Whittle

The island group has powdered-sugar-soft beaches and varieties of seclusion — from Hotel le Bois Joli’s beach to the island of Marie-Galante, with the pastoral privacy the Caribbean was known for before all the escapists arrived.


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Antigua Photo By Zach Stovall

Eli Fuller, owner of water-based tour company Adventure Antigua, has been sailing these waters since he was a kid. Sailing tours on Ocean Nomad include snorkeling at Cades Reef and turtle-spotting at Carlisle Bay. A sister sloop will be completed soon.



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Panama Shelly Strazis

Solar power and recycled water are necessities here, but “eco-tourism” is still new to Panama’s Bocas del Toro islands, so in addition to low-impact, low-key accommodations, you’ll also find undeveloped beaches, unmarked trails and uninterrupted peace.


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Dominica Jad Davenport

Jungle Bay Lodge, a comfy Robinson Crusoe-esque treehouse on the Atlantic side of Dominica, offers escorted tours to the Emerald Pool on Fridays. Ask your guide for the inside scoop on filming Pirates of the Caribbean here.


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Andros Ty Sawyer

Seriously? With water so blue it makes your teeth hurt, world-class fishing and diving, and sands from snow white to baby-bunny pink — why not Bahamas? And if you’re coming, come all the way. A private-island retreat may not change your life, but it’ll change your vacation.



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Martinique Jon Whittle

This place, on the other hand, makes you earn it. Well, of course you can lounge around Villa St. Pierre sipping coffee and looking out at the gorgeous blue Caribbean, but if you want the 360-degree view, you have to walk a little. Take plenty of water and a camera.


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Providencia Robert Ranson

It’s a short flight on Satena from sister island San Andrés, but get in the castaway spirit on the fast ferry El Sensacion (call 57-312-567-2713). Providencia has no mega-resorts on its laid-back beaches, but Decameron has several affiliated guesthouses.


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Grenada Jon Whittle

St. George’s is walkable, alone or with a tour operator. When you finish on land, go with Grenada Seafaris for a blast up the west coast. Tours run from the waterfront to Black Bay. Snorkeling stops include Molinere Bay, site of haunting underwater sculptures.



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Trinidad Jen Judge

No, this island isn’t necessarily a secret. But beyond its beaches, the mix of East-Indian, African, Chinese, Dutch, Syrian, Spanish and English cultures is rather unsung, and a feast for the eyes, ears and taste buds, particularly in a well-established street-food tradition. Trinidad also boasts the Caribbean’s largest Carnival celebration.

Isla Mujeres

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Isla Mujeres Courtesy Uli Kunz,

Whale sharks frequent the waters from June to September. And on the boat with Ceviche Tours, you’re almost guaranteed to swim with dozens of the world’s largest fish. All you have to do is jump in.


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