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Best Cruise Ports In The Caribbean
By Sharon
Pushed March 2, 2017
Best Cruise Ports In The Caribbean
Best Cruise Ports In The Caribbean

 
Are you planning a Caribbean Cruise? So, what do you expect to see once you are there? What do you want to do? In other words, what is your dream Caribbean  escape?
 
Booking the 'best cruise destinations in Caribbean' depends on what you intend to do with your holiday and where; while there are those who must satiate their hearts' yearning for adventure, there are also those who just need a nice, quiet, and perhaps luxurious place to hang out, eat or purchase excursions for the cruise port duration.
 
From Alaska to Caribbean, cruise ports all kinda look the same. You've got your jewelry stores, three-for-$10 T-shirts, throngs of taxi drivers, and shady dudes on the corner who totally aren't looking to sell you anything illegal. But once you get past the first few blocks around the docks, some ports are legitimately cool places to visit even if you only have a few hours.
 
These are the destinations that should absolutely be on your next Caribbean cruise itinerary -- they'll surprise you with spectacular beaches that aren't infested with tourists, trails through seaside desert wilderness, and 21st-century modern marvels. Trust us, you'll be glad you got off the boat.
 
The Caribbean's Best Paradises For Getting Away From The Crowds, St Maarten Cruise port.
The words 'luxury' and 'privacy' are often found in the same sentence, and rightly so, especially in the context of holiday in this part of the world. If you're the kind of person looking a touch of luxury - which you will certainly find in many of the boutique Caribbean hotels - you will not find the region lacking. Anguilla, for example, sets the bar high in terms of stunning beaches, luxurious villas and precious isolation. Then there's Martinique, with its far-flung beaches, distinctly Gallic character and ambience, and breathtaking nature hikes. And finally Grenada, with its air redolent with nutmeg and beaches fringed by forested hills.
 
You can shop on any island, but if you are looking for a "shop til you drop" experience, head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Curacao (pronounced cure-uh-sow). Both islands have extensive stores, shops and designer boutiques that rival any U.S. or European city. Other islands that offer a variety of shopping are Barbados, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico and St Martin/St Maarten.
 
The largest gambling casinos in the Caribbean are found in Aruba, The Bahamas (Cable Beach & Paradise Island), Curacao, San Juan, St Croix, and St Maarten.
Barbados and Jamaica only have slot machines. Antigua, Belize, Bonaire, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Kitts, St Vincent and Turks & Caicos all have much smaller gaming operations.
 
Caribbean night Life - Lots of fun when the Caribbean sun goes down can be found on Barbados, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Martin/St Martin, and St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
 
Quiet and seclusion - Cruise passengers who are looking for a more peaceful, secluded vacation will find it on Parrot Cay which is located on Turks & Caicos, St Kitts, St Vincent & The Grenadines, and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
 
Hiking in the Caribbean- Dominica - Valley of Desolation and the Boiling Lake; Dominican Republic - Pico Duarte Ascent (Caribbean's highest peak); Grenada - Mt. Qua Qua; Guadeloupe - La Soufriere Volcano; Jamaica - Blue Mountains; Puerto Rico - El Yunque National Forest; St. Kitts - Bloody Rivers Stream; Tobago - Little Tobago Cay; Trinidad - Asa Wright Nature Center; and the US Virgin Islands - 2/3 of the island of St John is a nature preserve.
 
Golf - The best Caribbean golf courses are found on the islands of Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Croix and St Thomas.
 
Caribbean Photography and nature - Dominica, Jamaica, St John, St Lucia are wonderful islands for photography and nature lovers. In fact Dominica is called the nature island of the Caribbean.
 
History & Archeology Buffs will find the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Curacao, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico quite interesting.
 
Snorkeling - Antigua, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Curacao's Marine Park, St Martin, The Grenadines, Tobago, St Thomas, Turks & Caicos, St Croix and St John all offer the best snorkeling in all the Caribbean islands.
 
Diving - Caribbean diving enthusiasts prefer Bonaire, Grand Cayman,  Saba, The Bahamas, St Croix, Turks & Caicos, and Virgin Gorda.
 
Sailing Excursions- the best sailing in the Caribbean can be found on Antigua, Barbados, St Martin, The Grenadines, US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands.
 
 
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Great for: Shopping, architecture, beach time, fine French cuisine, watching planes take off
If you've only got six hours: Head to Maho Beach, just across the fence from Princess Juliana International Airport, where planes take off within mere yards of the sand. 
 
If you're perpetually confused by the alternative spellings for St. Maarten and St. Martin, there's a good reason. The island has both Dutch and French sides, each spelled accordingly. But that's what makes a stop here so unique: It's like a trip to Europe minus the nine-hour flight. Stroll the Dutch Colonial architecture near the port, then take a short ride over to the French side, which is like a tropical Saint-Tropez with top-notch restaurants. Beaches on both sides of the island might be small, but are stunningly gorgeous -- including the clothing-optional Orient Beach. And because the island has nonstop flights from The Continent, the shopping here is as good as you'll find anywhere in the Caribbean.
 
St. Maarten is a cosmopolitan beach destination with European flair on the Dutch and French sides of the island. Phillipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side and the island’s hub of activity with cruise ships coming and going and visitors strolling along the brick-lined Great Bay Beach Promenade. This busy beachfront runs for nearly 2 miles with colorful umbrellas dotting the wide sandy shores. For a completely different experience, head to Cupecoy Beach, a clothing-optional spot beneath golden sandstone cliffs.
 
 
St. Kitts
St. Kitts Great for: History buffs, Hamilton fans, hiking, relaxing on the beach.
If you've only got six hours: Take the 45-minute ferry ride over to Nevis, where even if you're not hell-bent on seeing the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, you can visit a ton of historic sites or relax on considerably less-crowded beaches.
 
Broadway musical hysteria aside, St. Kitts and Nevis are two of the oldest settlements in the Eastern Caribbean. Add to that the sheer jungle wilderness and dormant volcanoes you can easily hike in an afternoon, and this is one of the most diverse cruise ports in the islands. Touring Caribbean relics like the 350-year-old Romney Manor, the colonial town square, or the Brimstone Hill Fortress lets you experience what life must have been like here in the 1700s. If colonial-era imbibing is more your speed, the beach bars in Frigate Bay are a relaxing way to drink away your time on the island.
 
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata Amber Coast, Dominican Republic great for: Museums, shopping, water park enthusiasts.
If you've only got six hours: Hit the Ocean World adventure park, where unlike typical depressing dolphin-and-whale parks, the marine mammals live happily ever after in a giant lagoon. You can also swim with dolphins or sharks, or enjoy the massive attached water park.
 
This lesser-known spot on the north coast of the Dominican Republic features a brand-new port at Amber Cove that just opened in 2015, with water slides, hilltop and in-water cabanas, and A-list shopping. But venture outside the port and you'll find a city that's not yet teeming with tourists, providing an authentic look at Dominican culture. There's also an entire museum devoted to amber (this is where the amber in Jurassic Park came from... fictionally, of course) and some of the most underrated beaches in the DR.
 
 
San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan Puerto Rico Great for: Wilderness hiking, historic sites, dining, nightlife. If you've only got six hours: Take a short tour bus ride to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Park System. You won't have time to hike to the top of the Caribbean's tallest mountain, but it'll expose you to some wilderness you don't get back home.
 
Since it's a major port of departure for cruises to the Southern Caribbean, San Juan is hardly a hidden gem. But with Old San Juan just a short ride away -- where you can hit up the 16th-century El Morro and 18th-century Fort San Cristobal -- it's your best chance to explore Spanish colonial history on a cruise. Puerto Rico is huge, and the best beaches aren’t necessarily doable in a day. But the rainforest at El Yunque can be visited in a few hours, the Bacardi distillery isn't far out of town, and the dining options are expansive.
 
 
Barbados
Barbados great for: Coral sand beaches, shopping, diving. If you've only got six hours: Dive or snorkel the coral reef within a couple miles of the shoreline. The island isn't as popular as ones close to the US, so the reefs are more pristine and full of colorful marine life.
 
Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean (technically in the Atlantic), so the waves and breaks on its eastern coast make for some of the most impressively rugged coastline in the islands. A 4x4 tour out here is definitely worth your time, though a stroll through the historic British colonial capital of Bridgetown is a whole different kind of impressive. If you want to get in the water, in addition to the coral reef there are more than 200 sunken shipwrecks near the island.
Barbados is a distinctive island, both in its natural beauty and fun-loving culture. This West Indies gem is actually a coral island. The sandy beaches are made up of pulverized coral, which makes for fine, soft sand. Just off the coast, there are coral reefs that tempt snorkelers and scuba divers with their exotic underwater life.
 
Crane Beach is known for its great waves, and the waters are filled with surfers and even some body surfers, though the rough waters are appropriate only for strong swimmers.
 
Spend the day like a castaway on the remote Harrismith Beach in the Parish of St. Philip in Barbados. Though it’s just a short walk from Bottom Bay, this sandy paradise is far removed from the resort scene at the more developed beaches. The beach is accessible by a flight of stone steps carved into a cliff overlooking the sea. The cliff-top ruins of an old plantation house add to the romantic air. After descending the steps to the shore, enjoy a picnic, search for shells or relax with a book—but swim at your own risk as there’s no lifeguard on duty at this hidden gem of a beach.
 
Bonaire
Bonaire great for: Diving, snorkeling, outdoor adventures. If you've only got six hours: You might not have enough time for a full two-tank dive, but try and at least get in the water at the Bonaire National Marine Park. It's the best-preserved coral reef in the Caribbean.
 
Bonaire is the go-to destination for divers seeking the best the waters of the Caribbean have to offer. But an afternoon here isn't limited to those with PADI certifications. Don't get us wrong, if you've got a card you absolutely must hit the marine park -- but even snorkeling around Klein Bonaire is better than the diving almost anywhere in the US. If you're more for staying on land, a hike through Washington Slagbaai National Park takes you through a spectacular desert with 203 different species of birds. Your kids, if you've got 'em, will go bonkers feeding and petting the donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary, or taking in the colors at the Bonaire Butterfly Garden.
 
Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Once a secret hideaway, Anguilla has come into its own as a Caribbean hot spot for Hollywood starlets and honeymooners alike. Filled with beautiful beaches, posh resorts and overall laid-back charm, Anguilla's popularity is certainly well-deserved. There are 33 beaches on this 16-mile stretch of island, and the best part is that they are all open to the public. Shoal Bay is among the most popular with 2 miles of pearly-white sand on the Atlantic side that has a convenient equipment rental on-site for visitors.
 
Georgetown Grand Cayman
George Town, Grand Cayman great for: Dining, shopping, wreck dives, swimming with stingrays
If you've only got six hours: Take a short boat ride to Stingray City, a sandbar where you'll literally be surrounded by rays. Afterwards, enjoy a drink at Rum Point.
 
For those who want to experience the Caribbean but aren't quite ready to dive head-first into the island culture, Grand Cayman is an absolute paradise. The food here is unmatched, with restaurants from the likes of Eric Ripert, plus an annual culinary cookout that draws A-list food celebs from the world over. Grand Cayman is also home to the Kittiwake, one of the coolest wrecks in the Western Hemisphere. And the shopping at Camana Bay is, like the restaurants, as good as you'll find anywhere in the States.
 
 
Oranjestad, Aruba
Oranjestad, Aruba great for: Hiking, desert adventures, sunny beaches. If you've only got six hours: Spend them at Eagle Beach, said by some to be the best beach in the Caribbean and not always as crowded as resort-laden Palm Beach.
 
Aruba calls itself "One Happy Island," which might have something to do with the fact that it rains here less often than Cleveland wins championships. (Well, close: This spring it got its first legit rainfall in half a decade.) So a sunny day at Eagle Beach is pretty much a guarantee, but beyond the beaches, even a short port call allows you time to check out Arikok National Park, the most spectacular desertscape in the Caribbean. A horseback ride to the hidden seaside swimming hole is the ultimate peaceful getaway from the teeming masses on your ship.
 
Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with its wide swath of powdery sand and gentle surf perfect for swimming. The beach is a bit quieter than some of its neighbors, but still free to the public like all of Aruba’s beaches. Sleep across the street from these serene shores at the Dutch-influenced Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.
 
 
Trunk Bay, St. John
Nearly 50 years after Laurance S. Rockefeller donated Trunk Bay to the National Park Service, the beach and offshore coral reefs remain among St. John's most breathtaking and well-preserved attractions. Trunk Bay's clear, warm waters and silky coral sands draw tourists in droves, and its well-maintained facilities include chair and snorkel equipment rentals and showers. Visitors can bask in the tropical sun, snorkel the 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of reefs, or try their hand at underwater photography -- the clean water and variety of colorful sea life promise spectacular photo opportunities.



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