There’s no shortage of brand-name islands in the Caribbean: Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten. But, if you’re looking for something more remote and untrammeled by the modern cruise industry, the region still offers relatively unknown Caribbean islands just waiting to be explored. Here are four of our favorites.
Dominica (don’t confuse it with Dominican Republic) is rugged, mountainous, and pristine. There’s a reason why they call it “The Nature Island”. It eschews watered-down rum punch cocktails, all-day steel drum bands, and soul-sucking all-inclusive resorts for lush hiking trails, black sand beaches, world-class diving, and one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences like trekking to Boiling Lake. At less than 300 square miles (one-quarter the size of Rhode Island), the island still manages to pack 365 rivers of snorkeling, diving, and kayaking opportunities.
If you’re looking to really get away, but can’t afford the expense of renting your own private island, Barbuda has what you’re looking for. The sister island to Antigua is even smaller than Dominica — less than 60 square miles of pristine beaches — and is arguably the least developed in all of the Caribbean. There is no modern airport (it’s reachable only via 20-minute prop flight or 3-hour ferry ride) and visitors can only stay in one of two hotels. Bottom line: there’s little to do here except relax in the pink sand with your own thoughts and a Carib (and that’s exactly the point).
If you’ve never heard of Nevis, we’re not surprised. Along with Barbuda, this tiny speck of an island is another contender for the Caribbean’s least developed. There are no chain stores or any traffic lights for that matter. While it’s a relatively low-lying island, there are still plenty of opportunities to pique the interest of adventure travelers, including sulfur hot springs hikes and diving for spiny lobster. The island’s most charming aspect is that most of its hotels have evolved from beautiful, centuries-old plantation homes that still retain all of their original character.
Far beyond Nassau and Bimini, there exists hundreds of tiny, undeveloped islands in the Bahamas. Known as The Out Islands, they are among the most beautiful and, in some cases, literally untouched in all of the Caribbean. Cat Island boasts just enough cultural and economic infrastructure to support human life. As with every other destination on this list, there’s plenty to see topside, including stunning pink beaches and unexplored hidden coves. But the island’s real draw is under the water, most notably diving the Santa Maria Teresa — a well-preserved shipwreck from the Spanish-American War. What’s more: southeastern trade winds provide the island with a consistent, mild climate and unusually warm water (even by Caribbean standards).