1. Sint Maarten (Saint Martin)
Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in the astoundingly blue Saint Martin, you can enjoy the beautiful views and temperatures of the West Indies, but with a distinctive combination of Caribbean and Dutch charm.
2. Puerto Rico
Technically an “unincorporated territory” of the United States, it’s not much of a hassle to hop down to Puerto Rico, and not only that—but it’s an experience unlike any other in the US. There’s no other place in the world where you can experience such a wonderful blend of these two great cultures, and still be able to use a US passport.
3. The Bahamas
With more than 3000 islands to explore and an equally dazzling number of resorts, restaurants, bays, islets, trails, bars, and virtually anything else you could ever want from a vacation, few other places in the West Indies—and the world—can compare to the Bahamas.
Also part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba is not just unique for its Dutch influence, but because its climate is uniquely arid and dotted with cacti, in stark contrast to the tropical nature of its neighboring islands.
5. Turks & Caicos
The Turks & Caicos Islands are primarily known for their very diverse population of British expatriates, large local population, as well as many immigrants from Spanish-speaking neighboring nations, resulting in an eclectic mix of cultures. Also, the islands have a completely awesome music scene, culminating in the local “ripsaw music”-based Music and Cultural Festival.
6. St. John
The Virgin Islands (US and British) are never given enough attention. On the US side, St. John is probably the most gorgeous of the chain. With not one traffic light located on it and with plenty of secluded beaches, trails, and superb dining spots to check out, it would be foolish not to want a trip here.
7. Dominican Republic
The DR offers astounding natural views and bustling city centers, with the second-highest population in the West Indies, and accordingly, with an almost inexhaustible number of potential things you can do. From scuba-diving to clubbing, you can’t exactly go wrong here.
8. St. Lucia
St. Lucia boasts a number of amazing festivals throughout the year (most importantly, Carnival in mid-July—which is very similar to its rambunctious cousins in Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil) and also incredible opportunities to access Saint Lucian arts and literature: two Nobel laureates have hailed from the tiny island.
Something has to be going right when a country’s music scene produced Rihanna. Barbados is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the West Indies, due to its robust culture, spectacular resorts, and a uniquely strong blend of English and Caribbean cultures.
10. Riviera Maya, Cancun
With a climate that never really gets colder or warmer than 77°F, Cancun is pretty ideal. The Riviera Maya area is a string of resorts and hotels that creep down the eastern coast of Mexico, and, naturally, they’re surrounded by pristine beaches, beautiful, winding trails, and every restaurant and bar you could ever wish for.