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Aruba (Photo: Steve Photography/Shutterstock)

11 Best Caribbean Beaches You Need to Visit on Your Next Cruise

Aruba (Photo: Steve Photography/Shutterstock)
Contributor
Marissa Wright
Contributor
David Swanson
Contributor
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

Last updated
Jan 5, 2024

Read time
9 min read

Stunning sunsets, lush landscapes and welcoming locals are ideal components on any cruise vacation, but when it comes to visiting the Caribbean, there's one feature that stands out amongst them all: Caribbean beaches.

If you're sailing on a Caribbean itinerary, you're in luck because this corner of the world offers a beach to match any cruiser's expectations -- or even trump them. Here is our list of the 11 best beaches in the Caribbean, including those found on Southern, Eastern and Western Caribbean cruise itineraries.

And if you want more Caribbean cruising tips, check out our best Caribbean cruise content, itineraries, reviews and more.

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Southern Caribbean Locations

Aerial from Palm beach at Aruba in the Caribbean Sea (Photo: Steve Photography/Shutterstock) (Photo:Steve Photography/Shutterstock)

A cruise to the Southern Caribbean islands is often a throwback in time. Many say these outposts represent the authentic West Indies. The geography might encompass verdant rainforests or desert terrain, distinctly volcanic mountains or slowly eroding limestone formations.

Five of the best beaches in Caribbean waters are located in the Southern Caribbean. Here’s what you need to know before visiting the best beaches in the Caribbean.

1. Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, one of Aruba's largest beaches, is also one of its most photographed -- and with good reason. Eagle Beach is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean due to its wide swathes of soft white sand and clear turquoise waters that are open to the public.

Eagle Beach is quieter than the bustling Palm Beach resort area, and this sandy spot in the low-rise hotel section is popular with a good deal of visitors and locals. Its proximity to hotels and resorts makes it easy to grab drinks or lounge chairs for a fee.

It's only a 10-minute taxi ride from the cruise pier in Oranjestad, and when you arrive, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of space and shade.

2. Cockleshell Bay, St. Kitts

The Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts is scalloped by one pretty, white-sand cove after another. Follow the scenic road all the way to its end and you'll arrive at Cockleshell Bay, a popular destination on the cruise line excursion list.

The bustling restaurant called Reggae Beach Bar here serves Caribbean classics alongside exotic tropical cocktails. Visit St. Kitts Water Sports Center next door for a laundry list of sports equipment like ocean kayaks and snorkel gear to explore the nearby reef. There are plenty of beach loungers for those who prefer to sit back and relax.

Give yourself some breathing room when traveling to and from the cruise port because it takes about 20 to 25 minutes by taxi to get to Cockleshell Bay.

3. Crane Beach, Barbados

Crane Beach on Barbados is one of the best beaches in Caribbean waters. With lightly tinted pink sand and bright blue waters, it’s a four-mile-long Caribbean oasis. Natural reefs create a safe haven for swimming and snorkeling in the warm, clear waters and a sweeping vista of limestone cliffs contrast nicely with the light pink sands and sparkling water.

From the cruise terminal in Bridgetown, it typically takes 35 to 40 minutes to get to or from Crane Beach.

4. Grande Anse des Salines, Martinique

The best beaches of busy, beautiful Martinique are found well away from the cruise ship port, so you'll want to plan on renting a car or hiring a driver. The locals' favorite is Les Salines, located about 35 miles from the port in Sainte-Anne on the island's southern tip. Here, you'll find facilities along with beach vendors selling drinks and snacks.

The beach is clean and well-maintained but very popular on weekends when parking can be tight. We recommend arriving in the morning to take advantage of the fewest people and calmest water. Somewhat closer to the port is Le Diamant, a small town fronted by a long, glimmering beach, but you'll still want to allow 30 to 40 minutes each way for the trip.

5. Te Amo Beach, Bonaire

Experience true love at one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Te Amo Beach is a much-loved stretch of sand accessible to the public and very close to the port in Bonaire. It’s the perfect spot to grab a patch of sand and enjoy a beach day with the whole family.

White sand greets you, and the calm waters welcome snorkelers and swimmers alike. Snorkelers can discover marine life like fish and coral that aren’t too far from shore and beach lovers can enjoy the soft sand.

Getting to the beach is easy, as Te Amo Beach is a short six-minute taxi ride from Bonaire cruise port.

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Eastern Caribbean Locations

Trunk Bay, St John Island, US Virgin Islands (Photo: Sorin Colac/Shutterstock) (Photo:Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

When it comes to Eastern Caribbean cruise ports, heading to a great beach always tops the list of shore excursion picks. Some passengers sign up for pre-booked escapes to tried-and-true locales, such as beach bars specifically designed for daytrippers, while others look for beach resorts fronting the turquoise sea, which sometimes means purchasing a day pass to make it easier all around.

Whether you're looking for popular public beaches filled to the brim with other cruisers or tiny spots of sand, here are four excellent places in the Eastern Caribbean to rest and relax.

6. Magens Bay Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Island

If you're looking for a top beach that checks all the boxes, Magens Bay Beach is the place you want to be. Magens Bay Beach, located on the island of St. Thomas, is the best Caribbean beach for families and large groups that need to please different travel styles.

The horseshoe-shaped beach is breathtaking, and on top of its beauty, it has a wide range of water sports and equipment rentals available. Lounge on the beach or take to the hills around the beach to enjoy sweeping vistas of the island itself or its pristine waters.

Due to Magens Bay’s popularity, the beach can fill up quickly and feel crowded. We recommend heading to the beach early to grab a lounger.

Beachgoers will pay a per-person fee to visit this pristine strip of sand and need to find a mode of transport. From St. Thomas’ cruise port, you can take a private taxi or shared shuttle bus to the other side of the island. Expect the journey to last around 20 to 24 minutes.

7. Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

While beautiful Magens Bay is justifiably famous, it's usually offered as the beach excursion for most cruise ships -- thus, it's often extremely crowded. Instead, get a double dose of views at Sapphire Beach, a resort about a 30-minute taxi ride from the port.

Sapphire Beach is located on St. Thomas' east end and has a magnificent view of St. John and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

For those looking for calm, crystal-clear waters, this is it. Snorkeling is at its best; just walk right into the surf, and the fish are there to greet you. Windsurfers also have a great time, and all equipment and lounge chairs can be rented for the day.

8. The Baths of Virgin Gorda, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Slip into a natural wonder that combines rock pools, boulders, caverns and a small strip of beach in Tortola. The main draw for The Baths is the chance to swim, snorkel and adventure around the crystal-clear pools and discover the Cathedral Room, a small natural pool inside a cave.

Getting a chance to explore one of the best beaches in Caribbean waters will require some extra planning. From Tortola’s cruise dock, take a ferry to Virgin Gorda. The ferry trip takes 30 minutes each way. We recommend booking each leg of the ferry in advance and arriving early because you don’t want to miss your ferry back to the cruise ship.

From the Virgin Gorda ferry docks, take a 10-minute taxi to the baths. Enjoy one of the most unique and best beaches in the Caribbean.

9. Trunk Bay Beach, St. John

A visit to St. John isn’t complete without a stop at the best Caribbean beach. Trunk Bay Beach is a beach lover's paradise with over a quarter mile of warm white sand and salty turquoise water.

Beach facilities include snorkel gear rentals, beach chair rentals, a snack bar and grill, restrooms, showers, public telephones and lifeguards. There is a per-person entrance fee at Trunk Bay Beach.

Besides the tropical sand and water, the key feature at Trunk Bay is the marked underwater trail for snorkelers. Beginner snorkelers can safely follow the path and explore the aquatic sea life.

Cruise ships don’t dock at St. John but may anchor and tender to the National Park dock. Most cruise ships will dock at the neighboring island of St. Thomas and cruisers may catch a ferry to St. John. It is a 12-minute taxi ride to Trunk Bay Beach from Cruz Bay ferry dock on St. John.

Best Caribbean Beaches: Western Caribbean Locations

Isla Mujeres (Photo: halfofmoon/Shutterstock.com)

Cruisers heading to the Western Caribbean searching for the best Caribbean beaches will be delighted by what this region offers. Western Caribbean beaches pack a lot of adventure, food and tropical reefs for cruisers to explore.

Here are two of the best Western Caribbean beaches and what you need to know before you go.

10. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

Seven Mile Beach is the perfect spot to enjoy the sun, sand and a drink in your hand, and it is easily one of the best beaches in Caribbean waters. Seven Mile Beach on the Cayman Islands is a quintessential Western Caribbean public beach that stretches closer to 6.3 miles long.

Up and down the long beach, you can find unique sections with different amenities. Closer to downtown, there are lively restaurants and bars where you can whet your whistle, while the northern tip is quieter and ideal for lounging around in the sun.

Seven Mile Beach boasts a range of marine life and water activities like paddleboarding, banana boat rides and snorkeling. Rent equipment for water sports or bring your own to have a fun-filled day at this top Caribbean beach.

Seven Mile Beach is only a ten to 12-minute taxi ride from Georgetown cruise port.

11. Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Of the three strands that border MoBay's "Hip Strip," which is Gloucester Avenue, it's Doctor's Cave that gets our vote for being most family-friendly. Pay a nominal fee for a day membership to this venerable private "bathing club," and you can enjoy a wide sweep of manicured sand and calm Caribbean waters fed by underground streams.

There are changing rooms with showers and lifeguards along with beach umbrellas, chairs and floats for rent. Cravings are satisfied by a seaside food court that serves patties, jerk and kid-friendly chicken fingers.

Doctor's Cave is a 15-minute drive north from the Montego Bay cruise terminal.

Publish date December 04, 2023
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