Best of the Caribbean: Perfect Beaches

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Beauty is in the eye of the beach-goer. While every Caribbean beach is essentially the same -- sand next to water -- every traveler seems to be loyal to a different one for obvious reasons. As part of the "Perfect Caribbean" guide that appears in the November 2009 issue of ISLANDS magazine, readers and editors point to these Caribbean beaches as their favorites. Click on one below to find out more.

Anguilla: Shoal Bay East Beach Beyond just the sand and surf, Anguilla's Shoal Bay East earns raves for, as Deborah Ponder Mance of Maryland puts it, "Junior's glass-bottom boat, hot ribs and cold Caribs at Uncle Ernie's, rum punches at Gwen's Reggae Bar, naps under the palms and infinite indigo night skies."

Bahamas: Shroud Cay Beach The never-stepped-on feel of almost any Exumas beach like the one on the east side of Shroud Cay is an intimate find. "Having cruised the Bahamas from end to end over the past 35 years, I find that this beach stands out above the rest," says reader John Kaufman of Colorado. "It can only be accessed by boat. At the top of a hill next to the beach are bottles with messages that have floated to the sand."

BVI: Baths Beach The Baths in the British Virgin Islands -- when you're not lounging at White Bay, Devil's Bay or Little Thatch -- have gorgeous sands slipping through the renowned granite boulders. "The Baths are the Caribbean at its best," says reader Linda-Jo Block of Maryland.

Dominican Republic: Samana Peninsula Reader Sandra Bertoli of Maryland says the Dominican Republic's Samana Peninsula "is an unspoiled getaway with beautiful white-sand beaches."

Grand Cayman: Rum Point That quiet intimacy can be found a bit under the radar on popular islands. Grand Cayman's Rum Point "is a gem of a beach if you don't want large crowds and rough waters," says reader Stephanie Powers.

USVI: Trunk Bay Beach Many readers (and ISLANDS editors) do love the famously soft Trunk Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of an abundance of USVI beaches including Cinnamon Bay and more. But to truly enjoy it, you have to get there early in the day and fast, like reader Dorene Johnson of Nevada did. "We negotiated our own taxi to the ferry dock on St. Thomas to catch the boat to St. John," she says. "We arrived way ahead of the cruise-ship excursions and had Trunk Bay almost to ourselves. We snorkeled the underwater trail, swam in the stunningly turquoise clear warm water and sunned on the only sand I have ever lied in that I could just dust off."

More Favorite Beaches Yet the real beauty is that, even in a place as popular as the Caribbean is, spectacular no-name beaches are still ripe for discovery on so many islands here. Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach and the Turks and Caicos' Grace Bay earn much love from readers. Stephen Lashley of Maryland loved playing American football and finding a stranded baby shark at Accra Beach in Barbados. And Larry Kantner is partial to Tobago's Pigeon Point, but as he hunkers down for his cold Missouri winter, "any beach in the warm, sunny Caribbean is heaven."

Contest: Win a Caribbean Trip! Don't see your favorite Caribbean spot listed here? Let us know what we missed -- and you could win a free resort stay. Enter our new "Caribbean Favorites" contest.