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Top Caribbean Beaches

May 6, 2013 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent



Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach beckons guests at the Regent Palms Turks & Caicos to leave the pool and wade into its waters.


Beaches have always been prime ingredients in vacation travel, especially when it comes to the Caribbean. You, as travel agents, most likely know this from firsthand experience, but we have statistical information to back that up.

According to MMGY Global’s 2013 Portrait of American Travelers, nearly one-third (31 percent) of leisure travelers surveyed responded “beach” when asked about the primary purpose of one or more trips during the past 12 months. When it comes to the fantasy/ambiance dimensions of a vacation, better than six in 10 (65 percent) consider a beach experience “extremely or very desirable.”

Beautiful stretches of sand and sea abound in the Caribbean and it’s hard to go wrong wherever you send your clients there, but Travel Agent took a good, long look at the best of the best and chose the following 10 as the top beaches of the region. We’ll tell you why we think they’re great and also point out some fine hotels that call these magnificent patches of paradise “home.”

Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach, Turks & Caicos, offers sugar-fine sand and clear water that makes for excellent snorkeling conditions.


Grace Bay Beach

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

What Makes It Great: Grace Bay, which graces the cover of this issue, may be the most gorgeous beach that Travel Agent has ever seen. All the attributes you would expect the best beaches to have are found here: white sand with the texture of sugar, blue-green water, and a dash of local culture such as spotting local conch fishermen catching fish and cleaning shells. So besides getting a bragging-rights-worthy tan, clients can get a dose of experiential travel to boot. It doesn’t get any prettier here than it does around sunset, so we recommend taking a stroll (with a loved one, perhaps) at that time. Grace Bay Beach is also home to excellent snorkeling and is never overly crowded. Note, however, that this beach can get pretty windy at times, so be sure to have your clients check the weather before planning a picnic here.

Best Hotels Nearby: For affluent clients, or those willing to spend a little more for that long-awaited getaway from the workaday world, we recommend the Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, which hosts a nice mix of families and couples. The resort recently added butler service for clients staying in the Penthouses. This year, it also decided to stop charging fees for kids’ use of its Conch Kritters Club.

There’s also the Grace Bay Club’s Turks & Caicos Hotel. This hotel has a range of accommodations from Junior Suites to Two Bedroom Suites that offer up to 2,200 square feet of luxurious appointments. Each suite has at least one private balcony or patio, along with a kitchenette and twice-daily maid service. While Grace Bay Club does have an adults-only section, the resort also has family friendly villas.

Also nearby is one of the best all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts in the Caribbean: Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, a Sandals Resorts International property. And it should be getting even better later this year as Sandals recently purchased The Veranda Resort & Residences All Inclusive, a luxury property with oceanfront views along Grace Bay. It will be an expansion of Beaches and be introduced as the Key West Luxury Village.


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Westin Grand Cayman
Westin Grand Cayman occupies a good long stretch of the island’s famous Seven Mile Beach.


Seven Mile Beach

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

What Makes It Great: This may be the best beach for clients who want a little more action to go along with their beach experience. Besides swimming in the clear blue water, where spotting a friendly stingray is as common as finding a sea shell, this stretch of heaven comes with an array of beach bars, restaurants and shops. For the best snorkeling and diving on Seven Mile Beach, we recommend the Cemetery Reef. One Caveat: The beach can get rather crowded at any given time, since this is a popular spot for cruise passengers. On the plus side, clients will only have to endure that for an hour or so.

Best Hotels Nearby: The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa recently unveiled a multimillion-dollar resort renewal project. The oceanfront resort has introduced additions through all guest rooms, suites, public spaces, meeting spaces, the fitness center, and the pool and beach experience. Plus, it is home to our favorite restaurant in Grand Cayman, Casa Havana, which serves traditional Caribbean cuisine with a Cajun twist. For clients looking for some classic elegance, book the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.


The Baths

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

What Make It Great: It’s not often that you hear “rocks” given as the main reason to why a beach is superb, but that’s exactly why the beach at the Baths is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Caribbean jet-setters. Now, we aren’t talking about the rocks that stub your toes on a full-out sprint to the ocean. Rather, the Baths are perhaps one of the most mind-blowing rock configurations you will ever see. At the Baths, the beach shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins, as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach. Because of the rocks, the water can be a little choppy, but not enough to ruin some great snorkeling.

Clients should be at least moderately fit as the Baths do involve a bit of climbing and maneuvering. A scraped knee here and there isn’t uncommon, but it’s a small price to pay for seeing something that is on so many people’s “bucket lists.”

Best Hotel Nearby: There are plenty of viable options for hotels close to the Baths, but why not pair a once-in-a-lifetime experience with perhaps the Caribbean’s best villa resort. Villa Aquamare is made up of three thoughtfully designed, 8,000-square-foot villas—all spaced out enough to ensure privacy. Each five-bedroom villa is perched at a different elevation and surrounded by landscaping for even more privacy, yet angled to maximize views of the stunning Sir Francis Drake Channel. A separate concierge house Resident Concierge is located on the property to provide attentive guest services at every turn.

Clients have the option of renting more than one villa, or even all three, to accommodate large gatherings of up to 36 people in one private enclave. The villas all have comfortable and spacious areas and ample balconies with spectacular ocean views. But a distinguishing feature of the Aquamare experience is found in each of the spa suites: open, yet completely sheltered marble bath areas with separate, large, outdoor shower rooms.


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Beach in Anguilla
On Shoal Bay Beach in Anguilla, Shoal Bay Villas recently added eight deluxe oceanfront rooms.


Shoal Bay Beach


What Makes It Great: Shoal Bay East is a coral island. Like Grace Bay, the sunsets here are what sets it apart from most beaches. Plus, the locals who frequent this beach are about as nice as they come. You may also get an impromptu taste of culture on the beach as it’s a popular spot for some leisurely games of cricket.

Best Hotel Nearby: Shoal Bay Villas is an excellent option for families and large groups. It recently underwent an extensive renovation, which included room upgrades, and an expansion. This includes 10 new deluxe rooms—eight oceanfront and two poolside—bringing its total to 23 rooms altogether. The resort also added a fitness center and a mini-spa with two Balinese therapists on hand.


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Crane Beach in Barbados
Crane Beach in Barbados has pink sand, strong surf and few crowds.


Crane Beach

Saint Philip Parish, Barbados

What Makes It Great: This beach offers a well-balanced mix of a tranquil sun-sand-and-sea experience and some challenging water sports. Sunbathers can stretch out and work on their tans, but swimmers should be aware that the water is rough. The surf here is usually pretty high and the tide is equally strong. While this may discourage some folks looking for a calm dip in the ocean, it is a major perk for water sports enthusiasts who love to body surf and boogie board. There is also the aesthetic factor to consider: Crane Beach is the only one on the island with pink sand.

Best Hotel Nearby: The Crane Residential Resort is one of Travel Agent’s favorite luxury resorts in all of the Caribbean. This place defines classic elegance and top-notch service. And it doesn’t hurt that it sits on the cliff overlooking Crane Beach. These views can be equally relaxing as lounging on the beach itself and make this particular spot very popular for destination weddings. The best accommodations at the resort, however, are the private residences, which have hardwood or stone floors, private ocean-view pools in most and fully equipped kitchens. (Don’t let the luxury aspect discourage you from suggesting Crane Resort to your less-affluent clients; the hotel’s website posts 20-25 percent discounts that are available for 2014 if they book by June 30, 2013.)


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Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa
Most of the rooms at the Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin, have balconies with views of Anse Marcel Beach.


 Anse Marcel Beach

Anse Marcel, St. Martin

What Makes It Great: This is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean for families with small children who may not be the best swimmers just yet. The water is very calm and shallow, making it an excellent place to get the little ones acquainted with the ocean. It is tucked into a beautiful, quiet, tropical bay, protected from the swell. There is also a lot to do here as the Marina Port de Lonvilliers is located at the northern side of Anse Marcel. The marina is home to an array of quick and affordable eateries as well as some impressive boutique shops.

Best Hotel Nearby: The Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin offers some of the best views of Anse Marcel Beach as most of its rooms include private balconies that feature impressive views of the surrounding scenery. And just like the beach, the resort is a good choice for families.


Cinnamon Bay

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

What Makes It Great: The beach is gorgeous and last year became certified by Blue Flag for its environmental sustainability. There is a watersports center on the beach that rents kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, etc. Across the street from the beach entrance are extensive sugar mill ruins that visitors can check out (this was recently made wheelchair accessible) as well as a short hiking trail. The snorkeling is good too. Wildlife to be seen include donkeys, iguanas, white-tailed deer, and birds. Admission to Cinnamon Bay is free.

Best Hotel Nearby: There is a campground on the beach with bare campsites, tents and cottages as well as a restaurant managed by nearby hotel, the much more upscale Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort. Caneel Bay is especially well suited for affluent clients. This 166-room luxury resort offers not only great access to Cinnamon Bay Beach, but also borders six other secluded beaches if the crowds at Cinnamon Bay get a bit too heavy.


Pink Sands Beach

Harbour Island, Eleuthera, the Bahamas

What Makes It Great: First, allow us to say that pretty much any beach located in The Bahamas Out Islands lends itself to some of the greatest snorkeling you will find in the Caribbean. This beach is usually not very crowded and is a good place to bring young children or inexperienced swimmers since the coral reef protects the shore from the breakers. The beach is full of pale, pink sand and spans about three miles.

Best Hotels Nearby: For couples, we suggest the 38-room boutique hotel, Valentines Resort & Marina. Sitting right on the Harbour Island waterfront, it has a private dock, a diving center and a freshwater pool surrounded by Balinese-style lounge chairs. For families, we suggest the Pink Sands Resort, which comprises 25 private cottages and offers a freshwater swimming pool, two tennis courts, snorkeling gear and more. Oceanview accommodations provide a private path to the sea.


Horseshoe Bay Beach

Southampton Parish, Bermuda

What Makes It Great: There may actually be better beaches in Bermuda, but we are giving Horseshoe Bay the nod simply because it is the most popular beach in the destination and perhaps one of the most well-known beaches in the world for the long stretch of pink sand, giving clients some bragging rights when they share tales of their Caribbean vacation with friends. This may also be the safest and calmest beach on our list. Because it is so popular, however, it tends to get a bit crowded, so be sure to tell clients to claim their spot on this iconic beach as early as possible in the morning. Also, it should be noted that unlike most beaches in Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay has a lifeguard on duty from May to September.

Best Hotels Nearby: For our money, the two best resorts near Horseshoe Bay are The Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda Resort, which includes rooms with private balconies and marble floors and The Reefs Resort & Club, which has some stunning rooms set atop a limestone cliff overlooking the beach.


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Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica
It’s hard to believe that the pirates who once roamed Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica, would ever want to leave.


Seven Mile Beach

Negril, Jamaica

What Makes It Great: Pirates once haunted this seven-mile stretch of golden-sand beach. From funky eateries that serve icy-cold drinks by day to sizzling hot reggae by night, Seven Mile Beach is a haven for fun-seekers and sun-worshippers alike. (Visitors should be aware, however, that at night local folks may come by and try to persuade them to buy stuff.) This beach just goes on and on. Tell clients about Cosmo’s, a fresh, little lunch spot, just east of Beaches Negril Resort & Spa.

Best Hotels Nearby: Seven Mile is surrounded with some pretty affordable family options from the quaint Coco La Palm Seaside Resort, which has open courtyards, a large swimming pool, a beachfront pool and huge whirlpool hot tub—shielded from outside view by the property’s gardens; the Country Country Beach Cottages, which comprises really cool, rustic, hand-crafted cottages; and Grand Pineapple Beach Negril, a Sandals Resorts International property and a good all-inclusive option for families.

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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