by Tim Johnson
What could be better than discovering some of the Caribbean's best beach hideaways? After all, finding paradise is its own reward, and comes in the form of swaying palms, clear, blue water, and having a lot of sand to yourself. Here are some of the very best in the Caribbean - some are secret, some are fun and all are beautiful.
Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands - CDWheatley / iStock
Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands
Sandy Cay can feel like a world unto itself. A tiny island fringed by generous white-sand beaches, it's the kind of place where you could spend a day, a week - or a lifetime. Home to shallow reef and some of the clearest, cleanest waters anywhere, feel free to swim, snorkel - or just enjoy the solitude. Just 14 acres in total, it offers an outsized opportunity to view wildlife, including a nature trail where you can spot a wide variety of sea birds.
Shoal Bay, Anguilla - Forcdan / Fotolia
Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Perhaps the finest beach on this tiny island, a small skiff of sand that's part of the lesser Antilles near St. Martin, Shoal Bay stretches for two miles, with aquamarine horizons that stretch on forever. Dance on the sand at Gwenn's Reggae bar, which features live music on Sundays, or just carve out your own span of sand and enjoy the wind and the waves.
The Baths, Virgin Gorda - CDWheatley / iStock
The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands,
Here, you can find your own hidden spot to spend the day. A remarkable beach strewn with volcanic boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter, The Baths is a place lined with secretive pools, where you can sequester yourself from the world and have a tiny piece of paradise to yourself. Or join the crowd, by following a series of handrails and ropes down to nearby Devil's Bay, a horseshoe-shaped body of water with a dinghy dock that's popular with swimmers and boaters alike.
Rendezvous Bay, Antigua
Famously boasting 365 beaches - one for each day of the year - Antigua has no shortage of great places to enjoy the sun. But we dare say that Rendezvous Bay is the best. However, true paradise comes with a price - you will need to go off-road and hike about a half hour to reach it. Bring everything you need - you won't find any beach bars here, just peace and quiet and all the relaxation you can handle.
CDWheatley / iStock
Sapodilla Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is one of the world's greatest beach destinations - and this place is one of the best on these paradise islands. With shallow, clear water and some of the softest sand you'll find anywhere, Sapodilla is a popular place for families, who love the calm, quiet atmosphere and lack of riptides and other threats.
Point of Sand, Little Cayman
Sometimes known as Point O' Sand, this secluded spot on the northwest corner of Little Cayman can be a bit crowded on Sundays when many boat-owners pilot their crafts over five miles of sea that separate it from nearby Cayman Brac. Once there, swimmers will have to brave some strong currents, but they will be rewarded with a verdant reef teeming with Caribbean sea life.
Maracas Bay Beach, Trinidad - Anna Krasnopeeva / Dreamstime
Maracas Bay Beach, Trinidad
On an island with few beaches, this one is undoubtedly the best, a sweep of sand lined with palm trees and backed by green mountains. Here you'll find an excellent vibe, with friendly locals "liming" (local parlance for hanging out), and outdoor restaurants specializing in "bake and shark", which serve up the island's seafood delicacy, actual deep-fried shark. Then make some time to lime.
Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI - CDWheatley / iStock
Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Located inside a national park on quiet St. John, Trunk Bay is beautifully preserved, with almost shockingly blue waters and sand so white, you may have to avert your eyes. Part of a tract of land donated to the national Park Service by laurence Rockefeller, you can hike among the remains of old sugar plantations, then cool off by snorkeling offshore along the 200-metre Underwater Trail of reefs.
Originally published in Vacation Magazine Spring/Summer 2017 issue.