Translucent turquoise waters, radiant sands, and rustling palms - these star in the fantasies of beach connoisseurs around the world, and the Caribbean is the place to find them.
Islands like the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Antigua, Anguilla, and Aruba are famous for their alluring stretches of coast, but other islands host their own versions of the perfect beach, and many of these dreamy slices of sand and sea also offer easy access to some of the best Caribbean beach resorts.
From seductive crescents of dazzling white sand and blue sea backed by lush jungles to sublime slices of reef-fringed shore, you'll find the perfect stretch of sand to live out your tropical dream in this list of the top beaches in the Caribbean.
1. Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
Gorgeous Grace Bay, on the island of Providenciales, is one of the star attractions in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This idyllic stretch of sand and sea seems almost too beautiful to be real. Gleaming white sand, as soft as flour, merges with clear waters in eye-popping shades of blue for eight breathtaking kilometers, and a coral reef glimmers just offshore.
You can swim in the crystalline shallows or kick out to the reef to see stingrays, turtles, and tropical fish darting among the coral in the Princess Alexandra Marine Park. With beauty above and below water, no wonder this sublime stretch ranks as one of the best beaches in the world.
Several of the island's most exclusive resorts, from luxury hotels to family-friendly resorts, fringe the shoreline, as well as plenty of restaurants. You might even spot JoJo the friendly wild dolphin, who loves to swim along this stretch of coast, and who can blame him?
2. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Turquoise waters and bone-white sand fringed with casuarinas and coconut palms are the top features of this famous beach in the Cayman Islands. It actually measures closer to six miles, but you'll still find plenty of space to stake a spot on its soft sands.
Head north to escape the cruise ship crowds, and you can plonk down under the palm fronds and listen to the soothing slosh of gentle waves brushing the shore. Seven Mile Beach is also one of the best swimmable beaches in the Caribbean, with clear waters and soft, squeaky sand.
Lining the shore are some of the Cayman Islands' best hotels and resorts, and some of these larger resorts rent beach chairs. After a blissful day watching the beach scene, you can refuel at one of the nearby restaurants.
Diving is one of the top things to do in the Cayman Islands, and some of the sites can be accessed right from the shore of Seven Mile Beach.
3. Trunk Bay, St. John's, US Virgin Islands
Lush forest tumbles to a perfect crescent of startlingly blue sea, at this Caribbean favorite. It's tucked within the Virgin Islands National Park, one of the jewels of the US Virgin Islands.
Offshore, emerald islets dot the bay, and the Trunk Bay Underwater Snorkeling Trail offers excellent snorkeling in the clear, warm waters, with up to 30 different species of fish. Underwater signposts label interesting features of the coral reef.
After a relaxing day on the beach, you can hike the park's trails and explore the ruins of historic sugar plantations. Facilities here include a bathhouse, snack bar, souvenir shop, and snorkel gear rentals. Because this beach lies within the national park, visitors must pay an admission fee.
4. Bávaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Snow-white sands, fringed with palms, and clear aquamarine waters are the top features of this popular beach in the resort town of Punta Cana. Stretching for an incredible 48 kilometers, it's one of the best walking beaches in the Caribbean - the silky soft sands will cushion your feet.
No wonder a string of mega resorts jostle along the shore - sun seekers flock here from around the world to bask on these glittering sands. Besides swimming and sunbathing, you'll find plenty of other activities to keep you busy, from snorkeling and kayaking to catamaran trips and parasailing.
Nearby are world-class golf courses, and Scape Park, with dune buggies, zipline tours, and beautiful Hoyo Azul Lagoon. If you're looking for a more relaxed pace, head north to the charming fishing village of El Macao.