The Best Caribbean Beaches for Cruisers

best caribbean beaches
Rum Point Beach in Grand Cayman is a quiet alternative. - Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Chances are, there’s one “must-do” on your Caribbean cruise, and that’s … to hit the beach. Good thing there are plenty of gorgeous strands throughout the islands. Here, our favorite picks in the top 15 ports: 

1. Sapphire Beach

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

virgin islands sapphire beach caribbean

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Plenty of passengers will head to heavily touristed Magens Bay, but the shallow, large reef at Sapphire Beach provides better snorkeling opportunities and smaller crowds. Plus, the views of St. John are a Pinterest page’s dream. The public beach is in front of the Sapphire Beach Club & Resort — you can pay a nominal fee for access to beach chairs and facilities, including showers.


St. Thomas cruises from $


2. Tabyana Beach

Roatan, Honduras

tabyana beach roatan honduras caribbean

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

While divers go on day trips in the deep, many beach-loving cruisers simply walk a few steps to Mahogany Beach, right near the port. As a result, the strand can get crowded fast, making Tabyana a better choice. Thanks to its proximity to the world’s second largest reef system, there’s great snorkeling here. 


Roatan cruises from $


3. Cupecoy Beach 

Philipsburg, St. Martin 

st martin cupecoy beach caribbean

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Cupecoy sees a good mix of tourists and locals, many of whom also peddle beach chairs, umbrellas, beer, and soft drinks to visitors. A few things to remember: The northwest side of the beach is clothing-optional, the whole area is gay-friendly, and the waves can be rough on weak swimmers. Also, leave enough time to fight the afternoon traffic back to the ship.


St. Maarten cruises from $


4. Palm Beach 

Oranjestad, Aruba

aruba palm beach caribbean best beaches

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Once dominated by high-rise hotels, Palm Beach has now become Aruba’s “it” location, thanks to an influx of restaurants, shops, and clubs. You can also sign up for a day pass to a hotel and, best of all, you can forgo the expensive cab ride with an easy trip on the public bus.


Oranjestad cruises from $


5. Cockleshell Bay 

Basseterre, St. Kitts

st martin cupecoy beach caribbean

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Located 10 miles away from the high-rise resort area, this beach features a small number of food and drink vendors, but getting away from the crowds makes up for the lack of luxuries. Our advice: Be sure to negotiate a return ride on the way there. 


St. Kitts cruises from $


6. Blue Bay

Willemstad, Curacao

curacao blue bay best caribbean beaches

Photo by Claudia Uripos / eStockPhoto

This is one of Curacao’s most popular and largest beaches, but it’s equipped to handle crowds. The entrance fee is $8 but finding your own spot of sand or shade — if you prefer to dodge the intense midday rays — isn’t a problem, and the snorkeling is top-notch here.


Curacao deals from $


7. Rum Point

George Town, Grand Cayman

cayman islands rum point beach caribbean

Photo by SOPA / eStockPhoto

Skip the overcrowded Seven Mile Beach and hang out on the north shore instead, where you can order a cocktail in one of the Wreck Bar’s hammocks. It’s best to sign up for a trip to Rum Point through Red Sail Sports, as the beach is about an hour drive from the cruise port.


Grand Cayman cruises from $


8. Brandons Beach 

Bridgetown, Barbados

brandons beach bridgetown barbados caribbean beaches

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

This is one of the most popular strands on Barbados’s famed “Platinum Coast.” It’s also where many cruisers head, since it’s not far from the port, but it’s still your best bet. You can actually walk to Brandons Beach from the port, but if it’s too hot, take a five-minute taxi ride. 


Barbados cruises from $


9. Cane Garden Bay

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

cane garden bay road town beach

Photo by Thinkstock

There’s over a mile of sand to play in at this popular beach, which is lined with authentic West Indian restaurants. Water sports include windsurfing, and you can join the locals jogging along the curved shoreline. Your ship will offer a tour, but if you want to go solo, hop in a taxi for the 15-minute (roller coaster-style) ride.


Tortola cruise deals from $


10. Governor’s Beach

Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos

governors beach grand turk island caribbean

Photo by Huber / SIME

This beach is close to the port and has an energetic vibe, which is unusual on this quiet island. There’s plenty to do, from Hobie Cat® sailing to snorkeling the small reef. Beach chairs and umbrellas are also available for a fee. It’s an easy 10-minute walk from the port to the beach — if you take a taxi, you’ll probably regret the expensive, two-minute drive. 


Grand Turk deals from $


11. Turtle Beach

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

jamaica turtle beach ocho rios

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Turtle Beach is bigger than Mallards, closer to the cruise port, and offers a wide range of water activities. Yes, it’ll probably be crowded, but it’s easy to find a spot to rent a beach chair. Vendors hawk water skiing, scuba diving, and banana boat trips. And, if you want to shop, a mall is right behind you. A short, 10-minute walk from the port, this beach has a $3 entrance fee. 


Ocho Rios cruises from $


12. Cable Beach

Nassau, The Bahamas

cable beach nassau bahamas best caribbean

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

While many cruisers flock to the Atlantis Resort, four-mile Cable Beach is less busy but still offers a great time for day-trippers without breaking the bank. Plenty of hotels offer cruisers day passes, or you can sign up for moderately priced fishing, diving, and scuba packages. It’s an easy bus ride to many of the hotels along Cable Beach from the cruise port. 


Nassau cruises from $


Bonus Beaches:

13. Galley Bay Beach

St. John’s, Antigua
Of the island’s 365 beaches — that’s its claim, and it’s sticking to it — this convenient one feels surprisingly quiet. The long, thin strand is pristine, and you can snorkel, swim, or kayak in the clear, warm water. From February through July, sea turtles lay eggs here, and the hatching is a sight to behold. 


14. Isla Verde Beach

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Isla is in front of the high-rise hotel section but is divided into several parts; we’re partial to the quiet, family-friendly area near Ocean Park. Just consider yourself warned: Saturdays and Sundays are huge beach days for locals, so you’ll run into crowds on the weekends. You’ll have no trouble finding a taxi in either direction.


15. Aquasol Beach 

Montego Bay, Jamaica
Just a short walk from MoBay’s popular Gloucester Avenue, Aquasol — also known as Walter Fletcher Beach — is more of a water park than just a beach, and families come here to play on banana boats and jump on sea trampolines. Taxis line up at the port to drive the 10-minute ride. 


Join the discussion

What’s your favorite Caribbean beach?

1 Comment

Posted by MrChocoholic

Objecting to Cable Beach being on this list at the present time. This once-beautiful beach, perhaps the nicest on New Providence (Paradise Island doesn't count) has been blighted by the incomplete construction of a mega-resort that was originally funded by Chinese investment money. This abandoned site is a terrible blight and worse--divides Bay Street diverting traffic where there used to be a simple roundabout. Keep going further out to Love Beach, which is still beautiful and relatively unspoiled.

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