With swaying palm trees, sublime beaches at every turn and the most relaxing of vibes, it’s no surprise that Caribbean island hopping is on most travel lovers’ bucket lists.
From an ultimate honeymoon getaway or as part of a long term backpacking adventure, this unique and beautiful part of the world has something for everyone and draws all in who visit.
However, when you start researching the best islands to visit in the Caribbean, you may feel like you don’t know where to start.
An archipelago of over 7,000 individual islands, it’s likely that you’ll have never have even heard of most of the Caribbean Islands.
Add to this the logistics of getting between each and it can make planning a Caribbean island hopping trip become overwhelming.
But don’t worry because we’re going to share some of the best Caribbean island hopping itineraries, along with the top things to get up to in each area so you can pick the best Caribbean destinations for you!
Let’s dig in.
Best Caribbean Island Hopping Spots
1. St Vincent and The Grenadines
The main island of St Vincent is a great place to start your Caribbean island hopping adventure. Why?
The newly constructed Argyle International Airport means there are now direct flights from the US, Canada, Central and South America, and Europe.
Don’t miss the lively marketplace in the capital of Kingstown and if you like getting up high, take a hike up the active, but safe enough for now, volcano La Soufrière.
Scattered south of St Vincent are the 32 beach ringed Grenadine islands.
We think the pick of the bunch are mellow and friendly Bequia, hikers paradise Canouan, exclusive Mustique and off the beaten track favourite Union Island.
All of which can be reached either by air (with SVG Air/Mustique Airways) or via inter-island ferries.
From Union Island it’s such a short hop to Grenada that you can almost smell the nutmeg in the air.
From endless rainforest hiking trails to relaxing sunsets on inviting beaches, there so many things to do in Grenada making it one of the best islands to visit in the Caribbean.
Be sure to take in the panoramic views of the island from Fort George in the elegant capital of St George.
Grenada is our favorite place in the Caribbean because half of our family are from there. You can take flights back to St Vincent from Grenada.
Please note: St Vincent and the Grenadines were unaffected by the recent Hurricanes, Irma and Maria.
2. Turks and Caicos Islands
Airlines offer direct flights from the US, Canada and Europe multiple times per week into Providenciales International airport.
Known locally as Provo, your first island here is ringed by soft sandy beaches.
Head to Bight Reef or Smith’s Reef for excellent snorkeling and take a kayak out to explore the tiny cays around the turquoise lagoon of Chalk Sound National Park.
From Providenciales visit the tiny tropical paradise of West Caicos and Little Water Cay or as it is better known, Iguana Island, for up close reptile encounters.
Then catch a short 30 minute flight to where wild horses roam free on Grand Turk Island in the south of the 40 odd island archipelago.
From here you can explore the very pleasant Salt Cay and South Caicos Island.
Just don’t expect to be doing much more than lazing on the powdery white sands and some of the best Caribbean beaches, or exploring crystal clear underwater shipwrecks with sea turtles in this part of the world.
The tropical, quiet and shallow beaches around the Turks and Caicos make them perfect for families.
And you can fly direct from Grand Turk International Airport into the US.
Following the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, some of these islands are still currently recovering.
Turks and Caicos Islands were severely impacted but commercial flights have resumed, shops are open and supplies returning to normal. Many hotels, however, are due to be closed through the rest of 2017 for repairs.
3. St Kitts, Nevis and Antigua
St Kitts island is famed for the views from the top of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park and boasts the last functioning passenger train in the Caribbean, with a gorgeous 3 hour coastline route with unrivalled views over the sea and sugarcane fields.
Golden Rock International airport hosts international flights direct from the US, Canada and Europe to here.
A 45-minute crossing over The Narrows away is Nevis, and there are plenty of daily ferry options.
Nevis has a very chilled vibe where you can bathe in healing volcanic spring waters after taking on the Nevis Peak, one of the toughest trails in the Caribbean.
This island is seriously great for adventure lovers wanting some escapism.
Dotted with 365 pink and white beaches, next up is Antigua, the shimmering jewel of the Caribbean Islands.
Fly here from Nevis with Fly Montserrat. The atmospheric, colonial Nelson’s dockyard is the only working Georgian dockyard in the world and is unmissable.
Onward direct flights go to the US, Canada and Europe from V.C Bird International Airport.
St Kitts, Nevis and Antigua were relatively untouched by the recent hurricanes, Irma and Maria, and are welcoming tourists.
4. St Martin, Anguilla, Saba and St Barth
The islands of St Martin, Anguilla, St Barth & Saba are all within easy reach of each other.
Famed for the planes flying directly over the beach, the biggest international airport in the area is on St Martin.
St Martin is a dual nation island with a colonial and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The French north side is more reserved, while the Dutch South side is definitely where the parties happen.
From here nip across the channel to isolated Anguilla and enjoy sunbathing on the soft sands, or get to grips with some watersports in the clear blue waters of Rendezvous Bay.
If you’re traveling as a couple, sneak away on a romantic boat trip to Little Cay or Prickly Pears Cays for some secluded paradise spots.
Then for your next stop, take a 90-minute ferry ride from Marigot on St Martin to enigmatic Saba.
The tiny island of Saba is essentially the top of a dormant volcano, Mount Scenery. A landscape of unspoilt beauty, the underwater mountains surrounding it provide some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the world.
The white beaches and interesting colonial towns of French speaking St Barth are also only a 30 minute ferry ride from Oyster Pond on St Martin.
St Martin and St Barth were severely affected by the recent hurricanes, Irma and Maria, and many governments are still advising against all travel to the two islands.
Anguilla is open for business and Saba suffered only minimal damage.
5. US and British Virgin Islands
Fly into Henry E. Rohlsen airport in St Croix island to begin your Caribbean island hopping adventure here.
Be sure to visit the Cruzan Rum Distillery and the historic sites of Christiansted while in St Croix. You won’t be disappointed.
Then hop on a ferry or a seaplane to explore the delightful beaches and snorkelling spots of St Thomas.
Next up, just a 20 minute ferry ride away is the natural allure of St John.
With much of it a protected national park, this island has a distinctly wilder feel to it and Trunk Bay is consistently voted one of the best beaches in the whole world.
From here take a short boat ride across the border to the British Virgin Islands.
A volcanic archipelago, the British Virgin Islands is made up of 40 islands.
The main island of Tortola is the gateway to this area and the island should be used as your hub for visiting popular neighboring islands of Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island and Virgin Gorda.
Terrance B Lettsome International Airport in Tortula has flights to US, Canada and Europe.
Due to the recent hurricanes, Irma and Maria, US and British Virgin Islands experienced widespread collapsed infrastructure and international airports have only recently reopened (at time of publishing).
Many of the British Virgin Islands in particular are set to still be recovering well into 2018.
6. Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia
Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport on the northernmost island of Guadeloupe has international flights from the US, Canada and several European destinations.
As does Hewanorra International airport on the southernmost island of St Lucia.
So it’s completely up to you where you start your Caribbean island hopping trip here.
These four tropical islands are perfect for the more active adventurer, and frequent, comfortable ferry services will transport you between each in less than 2 hours.
Butterfly shaped Guadeloupe has forest canopy rope bridges and spectacular waterfalls, while Dominica has volcanic hot springs and exciting wetland expeditions.
In Martinique, climbing Mount Pelee volcano and diving in the underwater caves around diamond rock are musts for those seeking a thrill.
St Lucia holds more adventure in the form of zip lining through the rainforest and bathing in mud pools.
Of course it doesn’t have to be all go on these islands, with plenty of stunning beaches to chill on and golden sunsets to watch.
Due to widespread damage, all but essential travel is currently being advised against with regards to Dominica. It is, however, business as usual in the lesser affected islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Lucia.
We hope this post has helped kick start your Caribbean island hopping trip.
The Caribbean Islands truly are one of the most magical places in the world.