Editor’s Note: Some of the information below may be out-of-date. Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Barth, St. Maarten/St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Please visit caribbeantravelupdate.com or the specific hotel’s website for updates.
Dreaming of the perfect beach, a room with a postcard-worthy ocean view, and an inspired culinary journey? We’ve checked in and checked out dozens of Caribbean beach resorts over the years, but these 20 beachfront hotels remain favorites — for all the right reasons.
W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island - Puerto Rico
Sometimes something unexpected is a good thing. That’s certainly the case at W Retreat & Spa Vieques, which despite being located in party-centric Puerto Rico and being part of a trendy, mostly-city-based hotel chain, manages to be, as its name states, a “retreat.” This 156-room property on the sleepy, beach-rimmed island of Vieques, located just off of Puerto Rico’s east coast, indulges with stylish contemporary décor and a lower-decibel vibe that mixes tranquility and fun.
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort - St. Lucia
To stay within sight of St. Lucia’s famed twin Piton peaks — right in the middle of them, in fact — and yet still on the beach (a number of the island’s luxury resorts are actually perched on hillsides high above the sea), book a stay at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. The property’s 86 rooms, villas and bungalows channel a breezy plantation style with white fabrics and romantic four-poster beds (beach bungalows are more contemporary), while its cuisine ranges from coconut shrimp and burgers at The Pier Bar to personalized tasting menus at The Great Room.
Cap Juluca - Anguilla
Maundays Bay on Anguilla — home to 70-room Cap Juluca — easily ranks among the most sublime beaches in the Caribbean, a photogenic crescent of white sand and turquoise water that’s as calm as can be. At this casual-glam Moorish-style Caribbean beach resort, the sand is just steps from the recently refreshed rooms, suites and private-pool villas; three restaurants feature local and globally-inspired menus (refreshing fruit sorbet is served each afternoon on the beach, too); and an 1,800-square-foot pool, tennis courts, and complimentary water sports keep activity-seekers content.
Zoetry Agua Punta Cana - Dominican Republic
An intimate all-inclusive resort — in the Dominican Republic, no less — might seem like an oxymoron, but Zoetry Agua Punta Cana manages to make it a reality, offering just 96 thatch-roofed suites with warm wood décor on a quiet stretch of beach near Punta Cana. Wellness is the focus here (although the resort is not adults-only) as lush palms rustle in the breeze, lagoon-style pools invite a relaxing dip, and four restaurants serve fresh local and international fare.
Sandals Royal Caribbean - Jamaica
It took exactly 50 years for the first overwater bungalows — those seductive thatch-roofed hideaways perched on stilts above a seductive lagoon that were first conceived in French Polynesia in 1967 — to appear in the Caribbean, and Jamaican all-inclusive pioneer Sandals deserves the credit. Its Montego Bay resort, Sandals Royal Caribbean, just debuted a dozen luxurious Over-the-Water Villas. And with their private infinity pools, floating hammocks, and personalized butler service (plus a lofty nightly rate to match) there’s really no reason to mingle — but you can, to enjoy eight restaurants, five bars and unlimited scuba diving and water sports.
The Palms Turks & Caicos
It’s impossible to truly appreciate the color of the water in Grace Bay on Turks & Caicos’ main island of Providenciales until you stand on a balcony at The Palms, Turks & Caicos and experience a panorama of blue so vivid it almost doesn’t seem real. Add a spectacular beach of talcum-soft white sand, a pool scene that’s both social and serene, generously sized accommodations (most with kitchens) and a luxurious spa with amazing indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, and this 72-suite property pretty much has everything a bliss-seeking couple or family could want.
Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino - Aruba
Fresh from a multi-million dollar renovation, the 357-room Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino (formerly the Radisson) is at the center of the island’s fun-in-the-sun scene. From its prime location on Palm Beach (which offers proximity to dining, shopping and an overwater bar for sunset cocktails) to its architectural pedigree (it was designed in 1955 by Miami-based legend Morris Lapidus), this Caribbean beach resort is an ideal spot to experience this Dutch island’s playful side. The lushly landscaped pools are kiddie nirvana, while the eforea Spa and starlight-domed casino indulge the 18-and-older crowd.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya - Mexico
A lovely beach is pretty much a given along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, where clear Caribbean blue washes pristine white sand and all-inclusive ease is the mantra. But what 539-room luxury Grand Velas Riviera Maya adds to the equation is thoughtfully crafted cuisine (both local- and international-inspired in eight all-inclusive restaurants) that doesn’t disappoint. Ideal for families or couples (there’s an adults-only Grand Class area), the property also earns kudos for generously sized rooms and suites, friendly staff, and impeccable grounds.
Belmond La Samanna - St. Martin
The best Caribbean beach resorts’ calling cards, especially those in the luxury realm, go beyond sun and sand to include impeccable service, inspired dining and an authentic sense of place. Belmond La Samanna, an 83-room, eight-villa enclave located on the French half of St. Martin/St. Maarten, delivers all of that — plus one of the region’s most impressive wine cellars and, of course, one of its most inviting beaches: a wide arc of champagne-hued sand washed by the calm, clear water of Baie Longue.
Caneel Bay Resort - U.S. Virgin Islands
Simple splendor in a natural setting was environmentalist Laurence Rockefeller’s guiding principle in 1956 when he built Caneel Bay Resort on the pristine U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. More than 60 percent of the island is designated as national park — including this 170-acre property. Its 166 natural stone and wood rooms feel world’s away from civilization (they don’t have TVs or telephones), while its seven secluded beaches provide access to superb snorkeling, and five restaurants offer dining in settings that range from a scenic beachfront to romantic sugar mill ruins.
Cheval Blanc St.-Barth Isle de France - St. Barth
Craving Côte d’Azur chic a bit closer to home? Cheval Blanc St.-Barth Isle de France, a boutique Caribbean beach resort located on St. Barth’s idyllic Baie des Flamands will transport you with its sophisticated France-meets-West-Indies ambience — it’s owned by French fashion and spirits powerhouse LVMH — and soothing white-on-white décor. Enjoy a dip in the beachfront pool, sip your choice of more than 150 French wines and champagnes, indulge in a Guerlain ritual at the Cheval Blanc Spa, or enjoy fine French cuisine infused with local flavors at La Case de l’Isle restaurant.
One & Only Ocean Club - Bahamas
Re-opening on Feb. 14, 2017, after a series of renovations (most planned, but some necessitated by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016), luxe One & Only Ocean Club stands apart from its Nassau/Paradise Island neighbors because of its elegant ambiance and storied grounds — most notably the terraced Versailles Gardens and 12th-century French Cloister. Recent enhancements include the addition of a beachfront infinity-edge pool and Ocean Pool Grill, as well as a redesign of the rooms and suites in the historic Hartford Wing. Sun lovers who clamor for glamour will be in heaven.
The Ritz-Carlton Resort Grand Cayman - Cayman Islands
Seven Mile Beach — the name alone is enough to make you go “ahhh.” This scenic sweep of champagne-hued sand is home to The Ritz-Carlton Resort Grand Cayman, the island’s top luxury property offering celebrity chef dining (Blue by Eric Ripert is one of the five restaurants), a dreamy Swiss Alps-inspired spa (by La Prairie), and two pools (if you tire of the beach — but you won’t because the water is ridiculously clear and calm). Soothing décor in the 365 rooms and suites reflects the view outside. Ahhh, indeed.
Guana Island - British Virgin Islands
Thinking about how amazing it would feel to tune out the world right now? If so, only a few dozen other guests await at Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands, known for effortless eco-chic design in 18 rooms and villas with panoramic sea views and access to seven beaches. There are no cars or bikes on the island and no TVs or phones in the rooms (there is free Wi-Fi, however). Only one room and four villas have a pool, but there’s plenty to do in this 850-acre haven: swim snorkel, kayak, water ski, hike, play tennis, do yoga — or, oh right, just chill.
COMO Parrot Cay - Turks & Caicos
Located on a private, 1,000-acre island off of Turks & Caicos’ stunning resort hub of Providenciales, COMO Parrot Cay has been luring seclusion seekers and wellness aficionados with its restorative formula — healthful cuisine, holistic therapies, yoga and Asian-inspired therapies — for almost 20 years. The 62 rooms, suites and villas on the private-island resort are all light, airy and energizing, there’s a mile-long beach and dozens of nearby cays to explore, and the focus on organic and locally sourced ingredients means you can indulge without worry.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla
Calling all chic-seekers: The sleek, modern and architecturally inspiring Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla (rebranded in 2016 after opening in 2009 as Viceroy Anguilla) is an upscale enclave you won’t want to leave. There are 181 rooms, suites, villas and residences, so families or groups of friends in search of seclusion can opt for a Beachfront or Blufftop Villa (with three, four or five bedrooms), while privacy-craving couples can enjoy a plunge pool with a view in an Ocean-view Studio Rooftop Suite. Four restaurants, three pools, two beaches, and a spa round out the indulgences.
Secrets the Vine Cancun - Mexico
If you love Mexico but prefer wine to tequila, 497-room Secrets the Vine Cancun just may be the perfect Cancun all-inclusive resort for your next beach getaway. Overlooking the Mexican resort city’s inviting white sand and aqua surf, this sleek and sophisticated high-rise property with its soaring lobby, multi-level pools, and expansive spa, has a downtown vibe that feels transported from Miami or Los Angeles. Guests can enjoy a wide selection of wines by the glass (there’s harder stuff, too), as well as a complimentary wine-tasting class, and dine at eight restaurants.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort - Aruba
This 104-room adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort on Aruba’s beautiful Eagle Beach — a 14-acre stretch of white sand that’s infinitely more tranquil than the island’s popular Palm Beach — is intimate, romantic, and ideal for couples craving a more personal beach vacation. Contemporary décor and eco-friendly initiatives complement a welcoming, old-school ambiance that creates an easy camaraderie at the pool and open-air SandBar. Plus, the free breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, daily happy hours, and self-service laundry make feeling at home here hassle-free.
Jamaica Inn - Jamaica
Wave after wave of blue washes over you at Jamaica Inn: the vivid periwinkle paint on the walls, the intense turquoise of the sea, the pillows and cushions in an array of azure hues. Nostalgia, too, wraps its arms around you at this 52-room Ocho Rios resort that’s a throwback to a quieter, gentler circa-1950s Jamaica (there are no TVs radios, or clocks in the rooms), before all-inclusive properties lined Jamaica’s beaches. Soothing almost to a fault, this is a place for connecting — with your partner, with fellow guests, and with longtime employees who’ll make you feel like part of the family.
La Concha Renaissance Resort - Puerto Rico
To enjoy the best of both worlds — the beach by day and nightlife after dark — it’s hard to beat San Juan. The Condado neighborhood, in particular, lures the young and restless with its chic restaurants and clubs (not to mention close proximity to romantic Old San Juan), and a stay at the 483-room La Concha Renaissance Resort means joining the party is as easy as taking the elevator to the lobby. This lively beachfront hotel also features a playful multi-level pool area that transforms nightly into an al fresco lounge, and the Perla restaurant (in the shape of a post-modern clamshell) serves new American cuisine.