• Blue Diamond Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen, Mexico When resorts talk about being “all inclusive” sometimes “all” means “all the well liquor and buffet food you can handle.” Which typically isn’t much. Not so at Blue Diamond, the best of Rivera Maya’s adults-only all-inclusives; here, you still get all the food and premium drinks you can take down, but you also score a scuba dive, a spa treatment, and a round of golf. They’ve got rooms spaced around a secluded lagoon, many of which have a private dock and sundeck, and others with terraces overlooking the gorgeous white sand beach.

  • Sonesta Great Bay

St. Maarten If there’s one thing discriminating adult travelers enjoy, it’s a good twofer (and no, we're not talking about swinging). Which is what you get at this adults-only, all-inclusive that also grants you access to the not-adults-only Sonesta Maho Beach near the airport (if you like your beach with a side of jet-engine). If you opt to stay on-property, there are three swimming pools, four restaurants, four bars, and, of course, a casino. You can also have lunch delivered to you on the beach, or enjoy it in your room with a sweeping view of Great Bay.

CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, Mexico If you told a group of Mexico-bound Spring Breakers there was a venerable Tequila-resort in Puerta Vallarta, they’d probably get more excited than when Student Activities announces a Dane Cook show. But there are no Spring Breakers here at Casa Magna (and nobody really likes Dane Cook, do they?), a property that grows its own blue agave and makes an in-house proprietary tequila. Once a week, they also offer tequila tastings in the cellar led by their own tequila Sommelier, as well as serve samples of 60 different brands and 114 different types of fire water.

  • The House

St. James, Barbados One thing about the Caribbean, the people really aren't in a hurry to do much of anything. This becomes painfully apparent as soon as you step off the plane and realize that customs line is moving slower than the one at Chipotle on a day when you’re REALLY hungry. Not the case if you stay at The House, where -- in addition to a daily Champagne breakfast, marble bathrooms, 24/7 service ambassadors (kind of like a personal butler), feather-topped beds, and beachfront views -- they’ll meet you at customs and whisk you through in their special VIP line. And even though a welcome massage is included in the price of your stay, after that airport treatment, you probably won’t need it. As much.

  • Tradewinds Club, Aruba Marriott

Palm Beach, Aruba Let’s say you’re enjoying a riveting game of Keno at the Aruba Marriott’s Stellaris Casino, and your intense concentration on number-picking gets rudely interrupted by a pack of kids knocking over your pencil cup. You're furious. What do you do? Simple, you head up to the hotel-within-a-hotel Tradewinds Club, where you put those pesky kids behind you and enjoy unlimited, inclusive gourmet food; a private, adults-only beach with palapas; a swim-up bar; and balconies with epic views of the property.

  • St. Croix, USVI

Whenever you hear the words “Virgin Islands,” you giggle; then you remember you're 30. And you imagine places with resorts that you can never afford full of people judging you by the type of Casio watch you still wear. Not the case in St. Croix, the most laid back of all the Virgin Islands. Here you get a real feel for what life in the Caribbean means. You won’t find big, luxury resorts but rather, an endless collection of funky, waterside bars and restaurants. You can hike through the green hills to tropical tidepools, or watch the sunrise from the eastern-most point in the United States. It’s also home to Buck Island, a national Marine preserve and one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. The people of St. Croix keep things authentic and the food and drinks are as good as anywhere in the islands. Zion Modern Kitchen in Christiansted crafts delicious cocktails and serves locally sourced dishes, while Cast Iron Pot plates up the best Crucian food in St. Croix.

  • Costambar, Dominican Republic

While the Dominican beaches in Punta Cana and Boca Chica are all the rage, they’re actually not even the best in the country. That award goes to the ones in and around Puerto Plata, the largest city in the DR’s “Amber Coast." Think green mountains flush against pure white sand. Made famous in Jurassic Park, the region is known mostly for its amber mines and is home to an entire museum dedicated to the precious stone. It’s also the home of Ocean World, a nice-guys’ version of Sea World where they let the dolphin talent actually roam in massive man-made lagoons before their daily shows. Or you can hit the water park at the brand new Amber Cove port complex, and after you've water-slid your face off, enjoy a fruity cocktail at its mountaintop bar overlooking the entire coast. But definitely not before.

  • Haiti

The most underrated of the underrated, sure, but people forget a mere 60 years ago this country was one of the most glamorous vacation destinations IN THE WORLD. And guess what: Haiti’s still got the same white sand, palm trees, and turquoise waters of the rest of the Caribbean. Between the beaches at Jardin sur Mer. B and destination surfing at Pistons Beach in Jacmel (or further north at LaPointe), you could almost call Haiti the Hawaii of the Atlantic. Beyond the natural draw of the “Pearl of the Antilles,” Haiti boasts Afro-Caribbean art and music that you won’t find on the other islands. And the recent opening of the Marriott Port-au-Prince and an impressive collection of fine boutique hotels in the capital city indicate that Haiti is poised for a return to glory -- so you should probably go before it gets too expensive.

  • Briland (Harbour Island), Bahamas

When the cruise ships dock and floods Freeport and Nassau with sunburned Midwesterners, where do the Bahamians go to escape? Harbour Island (or Briland as the locals call it) and its 3.5 miles of packed pink sand beaches considered some of the best in the Bahamas. Beyond the beaches, though, Briland is special because it's managed to build luxury resorts, hotels, and enough bars and restaurants to keep visitors from getting bored, but didn't ruin the place with overdevelopment (cough*Bimini*cough). There’s even a club -- Gusty’s -- with a sand dance floor. Inside. And while Briland might be hard to reach during your six-hour port call, it’s definitely worth a separate trip.

  • Dominica

Typical conversation when you get back from Dominica: “So how was the Dominican Republic?” “I went to Dominica.” “Right, so did you see Sammy Sosa?” "No, no Dominica. You know what, never mind -- let's just order." First off, this island in the lesser Antilles is pronounced “Dominique-uh,” and it has absolutely nothing to do with the country that produces half of Major League Baseball. It’s known as “the nature island of the Caribbean” and rocks some amazing black sand beaches. It's also a perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts, as Morne Tois Pitons National Park boasts some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean and trails that run through thick jungle and outlet at the picturesque Victoria and Trafalgar Waterfalls. The park's also home to Boiling Lake, which as the name might imply, actually reaches boiling temps in the middle. And finally, across the island is Champagne Reef, a reef set on hot springs where the bubbles create a sensation of scuba diving in champagne. Take THAT, Kim K.

  • Santa Catalina, Providencia, and San Andrés, Colombia

The geography here might be a little confusing since these islands are actually closer to Nicaragua and Panama than they are to Colombia. In fact, as they're in the Caribbean Sea, they're obviously NOWHERE near Colombia. Then again, the Jets and Giants play in New Jersey, so whatever. That said, you’ll forget all about stuff like “geography” when you visit this archipelago known collectively as the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. At some points, the water is so shallow between islands that you can actually walk through the Caribbean to get from one to the other. And with multiple beachside bars, this makes for one of the coolest bar crawls in the world. If drinking in the water isn’t your top vacation priority, the islands are fairly undeveloped and offer some of the best snorkeling and shallow-water diving around. And the hikes on volcanic Providencia provide photo ops that will guarantee you lose friends on Instagram.

  • Saba, Dutch Antilles

Getting to Saba can be a little nerve-racking, as you have to land on the smallest commercial runway in the world (that also happens to be on the side of a cliff). But as you leave the airport on the island’s lone road, you realize it may be the most scenic drive in the Caribbean. Expect to traverse through peaks, valleys, and tiny villages, all while enjoying panoramic views of the sea throughout the entire ride. Void of chains or luxury hotels, Saba's a tiny hamlet where you can relax surrounded by friendly people and turquoise water. But what really sets this place apart is the food: while you won’t see many Yelp reviews, locals from other Caribbean islands will tell you The Brigadoon and the restaurant at Queen’s Gardens are two of the top, non-tourist restaurants in the region.

  • Culebra, Puerto Rico

If your idea of a tropical vacation involves luxury resorts with WiFi and air conditioning, well, Culebra is not for you. While its sister island, Vieques, already has a W, tiny Culebra maintains only a handful of boutique hotels and guesthouses, and A/C isn't a guarantee. But you don’t go here for the accommodations. You go for the quiet, secluded beaches where you can snorkel with sea turtles or lay out next to rusted old tanks. Or you go for hikes and kayak paddles through the pristine Caribbean wilderness. This island 19 miles from Puerto Rico was once a US Navy bombing range but is now the perfect destination if you're running from the law/looking for seclusion, and don’t want to leave the United States.

  • Varadero

Cuba Why it made our list: Thanks to the embargo (or not thanks, depending on how you look at it), Cuban resort towns boast the same fine white sand beaches and clear waters as other Caribbean destinations, but with fewer people and a more authentic feel. The best in Cuba is Varadero, where the 10-mile beach is lined with over 20 hotels that cost a fraction of what similar resorts on other islands would. Bonus: Just off the beach is a chain of untouched keys with explorable caves; you can visit via a short boat ride.

  • Maho Beach

St. Maarten Why it made our list: It’s the beach where planes fly 10ft above your head. Peace and quiet? No. An experience you won’t get anywhere else in the world? Absolutely. Bonus: The best time to enjoy the near-death experience of a 747/Airbus landing or taking off on top of you is at 2pm or 4pm, when those particular planes arrive and depart, respectively.

  • White Bay

Jost Van Dyke, BVI Why it made our list: It’s one of the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world to start with. But in the British Virgin Islands, it’s also the beach with the easiest access to bars, restaurants, and other activities you'll want to engage in when lying on perfect white sand gets old. Bonus: One of those bars is the Soggy Dollar, where the Painkiller was invented

  • Playa Negra

Vieques, Puerto Rico Why it made our list: It’s hidden, remote (you’ve gotta hike through unmarked wilderness and cross a stream to get there), and, oh yeah, it’s a freaking black sand beach in the decidedly un-volcanic Caribbean. Bonus: The black sand is actually volcanic rock sediment that washes on shore when it rains. The stuff is so metallic it will stick to a refrigerator magnet. Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan saw almost a 20% increase in demand last year. And since the magic and history of Old San Juan is old news, and Culebra is still mostly an underrated trip for Caribbean locals, that leaves... the beautiful island of Vieques. What was a US Naval bombing range until a few years ago has become the most pristine US destination in the Caribbean. So much so, that the W Hotel set up shop there; which then, of course, led to an influx of boutique hotels all around it. It hasn't quite had time to develop into a Caribbean mega-destination just yet, but thanks to its proximity to the US -- and the fact that we can get there without a passport -- its time is near.

  • Maracas

Trinidad Why it made our list: It’s about as close as you can get to stepping out of the jungle and on to the beach as you can get in the islands; dense tropical cliffs stretch right up to the sand and palm trees. Plus, the beach manages to strike a rare balance between keeping it local/authentic while still catering to tourists. Bonus: Hit up Richard’s Bake & Shark to try Trinidad and Tobago's national dish, the, well, bake and shark. Yep, it’s deep-fried shark stuffed in deep-fried dough, and it's a totally good-for-you cultural experience.

  • Buck Island

St. Croix, USVI Why it made our list: Not that St. Croix is exactly overcrowded and full of tourists, but if you REALLY want the “alone on a deserted island” experience this national preserve, 30 minutes by boat from the main island, has perfect beaches and a stunning view of St. Croix. Bonus: It’s one of the top snorkeling spots in America. If you’re ambitious enough -- and the weather cooperates -- you can fish-gaze around the entire island.

  • The Baths

Virgin Gorda, BVI Why it made our list: The Baths is an entire landscape of giant, volcanically formed boulders that create dozens of grottoes and pools in which to play. A brief hike also leads to a completely private one, if you’d like to share an intimate moment. Bonus: If giant boulders aren’t your idea of a perfect beach, it’s only a short (and pretty spectacular) hike through The Baths National Park to the beaches of Devil's Bay and Spring Bay; both of which are more the white-sand-and-blue-water variety.

  • Playa Coson

Dominican Republic Why it made our list: We've already told you that the best beaches in the DR are in the not-nearly-as-blown-up north, and of those, the cream of the crop are in the former fishing village of Las Terrenas. And then, the most isolated and dramatic of THOSE beaches is the one locals call "El Coson." So think of this stretch of sand as the best of the best of the best. Bonus: Sure, you CAN make the long walk through the beachside jungle from the town of Las Terrenas. But wouldn’t it be more fun (and faster) to jungle-hop on an ATV? Of course it would, and you can totally do that here.

  • Seven Mile Beach

Jamaica Why it made our list: A long beach that was pretty much founded by hippies so they had a place to get high and stare at far-out tropical sunsets, it's now home to the world’s preeminent swingers resort, Hedonism II. Bonus: The famous Negril Cliffs, where you can climb 30ft and and dive right into the Caribbean Sea

  • Grace Bay

Turks and Caicos Why it made our list: To be honest, you could pretty much put any beach in Turks and Caicos on a list of the best in the Caribbean, but the turquoise-water star of this island chain is Grace Bay. Home to most of the major resorts in Providenciales, it's also a launch site for the best diving in the islands. Bonus: If lying on the beach makes you antsy and you’re NOT scuba certified, head to the Coral Gardens snorkeling park -- you’ll see marine life just as amazing as that 80ft down.

  • Trunk Bay

St. John, USVI Why it made our list: It’s a perfect stretch of white sand in Virgin Islands National Park. Completely devoid of development, it allows visitors the chance to experience a truly natural Caribbean beach. Bonus: Except... when the cruise ships are docked in St. Thomas. Also known as: the time you don't want to be there. Hundreds of tourists take the ferry to St. John and the beach at Trunk Bay gets crowded. On a “no ships” day, though, it's quiet and the snorkeling trail is easier to explore. Consider yourself warned.

  • Palm Beach

Aruba Why it made our list: The alarmingly calm seas here make it one of the best places in the Caribbean for water sports. Plus, Aruba is outside the hurricane belt so you can visit late in the summer without concern of getting stuck in your hotel's bathtub for three days. Bonus: The heart or Aruban nightlife is right along the strip adjacent to the beach, which means nights on the sand are often more interesting than the days.

  • Exuma

Bahamas Why it made our list: Exuma has all the beauty of other top Bahamian spots without the strip of hotels, so you can enjoy the beach in peace and quiet. Or at the very least, only have to share it with those famous swimming pigs. Bonus: Take a short walk to the “washing machine,” a private cove where the tides meet and swish you around like last week’s gym clothes.

  • Horseshoe Bay

Bermuda Why it made our list: Yes, yes, we realize that Bermuda isn't technically in the Caribbean but close enough, right? And the combination of pink sand and limestone formations is something you won’t see anywhere else. Bonus: This beach can get unpleasantly crowded with tourists when the cruise ships come in, so take a short walk to either Port Royal Cove or Peel Rock Cove and find yourself in an almost-private grotto.

  • Riviera Nayarit

The problem with charming Mexican surf towns is they occasionally lack modern luxuries like paved roads and potable water. Enter Riviera Nayarit, the coastal stretch north of Puerto Vallarta, where towns like San Pancho, Sayulita, Bucerias, and Lo de Marcos offer some of the best waves, funky city streets, and organic bistros and boutique hotels in all of Mexico. And for luxury travelers, Punta Mita has a Four Seasons and St. Regis. But no matter where you stay, the star of Riviera Nayarit is the hidden beach at the Marietas Islands. You’ll have to swim through a cave under the island to get there, but it's one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

  • Oaxaca

Oaxaca (pronounced THIS WAY) was founded in the 16th century and is perhaps the cleanest large city in Mexico. The home of Oaxacan chocolate, the most important ingredient in its signature mole sauce, and mezcal (which must come from here to be authentic, FYI), the city's obvious attractions are food and drink, but the local handcrafts are also worth your attention. The central square, or zocalo, is surrounded by historic buildings filled with restaurants, art galleries, and museums; when you're down strolling around, head about 10 miles west to the Monte Alban archeological site -- it was the Zapotec capital from 500 BC to 800 AD.

  • Bacalar

Bacalar sits along a freshwater lagoon in Quintana Roo and boasts turquoise water reminiscent of the nearby Caribbean. That water is also incredibly calm, which helps make the area one of the best spots in Mexico for waterskiing, paddleboarding, and other relaxing water activities. It's also a bastion of ecological conservation where mega-developments have been shunned in favor of preserving the surrounding jungle. Case in point: the town was the subject of a 2011 movie about environmental preservation called Bacalar.

  • Campeche

Pirates of the Caribbean are cool on a movie screen, but in real life? Notsomuch. So when the Spanish colonial port city of Campeche was being overrun by pirates in the late 17th century, they fortified the entire city with epic stone buildings, forts, and cannons. Over 1,000 of those buildings still stand today and in 1999 the city was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its classic preservation of the baroque-style architecture. This city on the Yucatan peninsula offers white sand beaches, gulf breezes, and a fraction of the crowds in nearby Cancun and Cozumel.

  • La Paz

At the far end of the inhospitable Baja desert sits the capital city of Baja Sur, a shimmering blue oceanside haven with the same beaches and vistas as its neighbor Cabo San Lucas, but without being, well, Cabo. So if you’re going to Baja to drink tequila and make bad decisions, don’t come here. But if you’re into diving, whale watching, or sitting on a beach without 800 of your closest friends from Palo Alto, then La Paz is a choice destination. Situated on the Sea of Cortez, a place Jacques Cousteau dubbed “the aquarium of the world,” the area is home to thousands of marine species you won’t see elsewhere. And from November-April, it’s also part of the whale migration (blue, humpback, sperm, and gray) through the Pacific.

  • Tlaxcala

While the words “Mexican countryside” might immediately lead you to think, “have some ransom money ready,” the vast majority of Mexico’s open, agricultural spaces are warm, beautiful, and most importantly... completely safe. Take Tlaxcala, just south of Mexico City. In addition to being the smallest state in the country, it also boasts the lowest crime rate. A trip here ventures through sprawling farms where grand colonial haciendas stand over vibrant fields. The city itself is full of colorful adobe structures adorned with paintings of ancient warriors, and small rustic restaurants plate local cuisine (which is influenced more by pre-Hispanic flavors) that you won’t find in more-touristy areas.

  • Progreso

THE weekend beach escape for Yucatan’s capital-city dwellers, Progreso's a perfect mix of culture and sand. Plus, you can boat through the mangroves, freshwater pools, and tropical swamps of the El Corchito ecological preserve or take a short day trip to the Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins -- both are reasons why this town is also one of the world’s most underrated cruise destinations.

  • El Cocinero - Havana

Vedado Situated in the same abandoned factory as the outrageously fun club/bar/concert venue/art gallery La Fabrica in the trendy Vedado neighborhood, El Cocinero would fit like an Etsy-sequined glove in any hip 'hood in the States (here’s looking at you, Williamsburg). Look for the 50ft brick smokestack atop the rooftop dining room. Follow it to rum and meat. Rejoice.

  • Los Naranjos - Havana

Vedado Spanish for “the orange tree,” this paladar feels like entering someone’s trendy house that has been converted into an even trendier restaurant -- which is exactly what happened. It’s your standard Vedado mix of Cuban fusion in a chic, neon-lit setting, but what sets it apart is an elaborate and nuanced menu that expands upon traditional dishes. Couple that with frequent live music, and an unbearably hip crowd that would put any Brooklyn scene to shame, and you’ve got one of the crown jewels of the Cuban dining landscape.

  • Doña Eutemia - Havana

Old Havana Just off Plaza de la Catedral, you'll fine delicious Cuban fare in the original design of the eponymous founder, whose portrait still resides above the entranceway. Expect a basic choice of pork, chicken, or beef, and what has to be one of the most delicious frozen mojitos on the entire Island. Doña Eutemia is just steps from the artist collective Experimental Graphics Workshop, so grab a few prints, dodge the overaggressive touts trying to get you to eat in more touristy paladars, then walk off your massive portion of ropa vieja and mojito buzz on the streets of Old Havana.

  • Corte del Principe - Havana

Miramar Visitors looking for a Cuban eatery that eschews tradition should look no further than this sleepy little bistro in the heart of the Miramar neighborhood, known as the the purveyor of the finest Italian food in Havana (which frankly, isn’t much of a competition... but still). Fresh pasta of almost every variety is served up here -- but at a price. This is one of the more expensive options on this list. What? Did you expect a plate of tagliatelle al fungi alla marinara to come cheap in the middle of Cuba?

  • La Chucheria - Havana

Miramar Here’s the thing about Cubans and dining out: because so many restaurants serve variations of what they would have at home anyway -- and, many Cubans lack the disposable income needed to eat out frequently -- the most popular restaurants in Havana either a) serve something radically different than what they'd cook at home, or b) serve massive portions of cheap food. La Chucheria hits both quotas. It’s a simple pizza and sandwich joint, set up like a traditional Western diner. Stop in here if you are short on cash, or just a little homesick for some good ol’ American-style grease.

  • Restaurante Santy Pescador - Havana

A decidedly un-Cuban venue in Havana, Santy is an open-air, palatial Mediterranean/sushi restaurant on the docks of the Rio Jaimanitas. It’s technically “hidden” (if you don’t look up the address on Google Maps, that is) but that doesn’t mean the house isn’t packed with tourists and locals alike any given evening. Don’t expect VIP service here: it’s quick and laid-back. Who hasn’t dreamed of munching California rolls 3ft away from Cuban boats and fishermen?

  • Le Chansonnier - Havana

Vedado A Parisian-style cafe in the midst of Havana?! Hemingway’s head might explode at the prospect, but it’s real. And it’s spectacular. Caviar, duck, an overpriced wine menu -- it has all the tenements of a traditional French restaurant. Sensitive lighting, a quiet ambience, and an air of European class make this one of the more unique paladares in all of Cuba, and a truly rare dining experience overall. Plus, all snooty French waiters are replaced with genial Cubans. Magnifique!

  • La Barraca - Havana

Hotel Nacional Inside what is probably the most renowned building in all of Havana lies the most well-trodden (for tourists, at least) Government-owned restaurant in Cuba. Giving off some serious late-‘50s glamour, this upscale eatery is inside Hotel Nacional’s lush gardens on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Snack on Cuban-infused Creole, and hold your breath if you aren’t into a side dish of cigar smoke.

  • Atelier - Havana

Vedado Another entry in the trendy Vedado dining scene, Atelier has a distinctly idiosyncratic layout, as it resides within an antique mansion littered with rustic typewriters, sewing machines, and sprawling couches that make it scarily easy to indulge in one-too-many Cuba Libres. Atelier aspires to bring a new level of excitement to Cuban dining, and offers dishes like conejo al vino (rabbit in wine) and duck confit, in addition to more traditional fare.

  • San Cristóbal - Havana

Central Havana Quintessential Cuban charm seeps from the cluttered walls of this Central Havana restaurant, powered by chef Carlos Cristóbal Márquez Valdés. All that TGI-Fridays-esque wall flair manages to dodge chintz and remain charming, though. The restaurant looks like someone’s house, because it is someone’s house. The upstairs is an actual living space, while the downstairs hosts San Cristóbal. If you want upscale desserts in Havana, this is a safe (and delicious) bet.

  • La Guarida - Havana

Miramar One of the most famous restaurants in all of Havana (and by extension, all of Cuba) La Guarida is NOT an airport serving the greater-NYC area. It is, however, an upscale eatery on the top floor of a dilapidated building that has become a tourist dining destination actually worth its salt. Celebrities like Sting, Jack Nicholson, and Prince Albert of Monaco (!) all stopped by on their trips to Cuba, and you can, too, so long as you make a reservation. Serving contemporary Cuban-fusion, La Guarida could be considered Havana’s premier paladar.

  • Cafe del Oriente - Havana

Miramar If you want a distinctly upscale dining experience during your Havana nights (dirty dancing is optional), Cafe Oriente may be as classy as it comes. This government-run restaurant is where local politicians take visiting dignitaries and diplomats, but you can go here, too. The digs look like a set piece from Midnight in Paris, your waiter will be wearing a tuxedo, and your bill will probably hit triple figures. Traditional bougie dishes like filet mignon and lobster thermidor are served while a live piano player (also in a tux) serenades.

  • Espacios - Havana

Miramar There's a little more attitude at this chic and contemporary suburban house bar than some of the other, more quirky places on this list, but the gorgeous green-treed backyard makes even an ounce of pretension totally reasonable. Cuban drink staples abound, but you also might be able to find some international imports if you're willing to pay.

  • Fabrica de Arte Cubano FAC - Havana

Vedado Located in a defunct oil factory, FAC is a prime example of the Cuban government's dedication to arts and culture. The multi-floored, government-sponsored space -- which is part art gallery, part DJ dance club, part concert hall, and part film/performance theater -- is giant, with enough outdoor areas and bars to satisfy the hundreds of hipsters who wait in line for an hour to get in every weekend.

  • Cafe Fortuna Joe - Havana

Miramar The intrigue here is almost 100% the interior decorations. Vintage typewriters, sewing machines, cameras, radios, and even a toilet clutter the space, and tables are made from old cars and other assorted house parts. Imbibing here will make you feel like you're back home, if your home is your hoarder grandmother's basement.

  • El Chanchullero de Tapas - Havana

La Habana Vieja With only four small wood tables and a few barstools, plus El Chanchullero's reputation as the premier hip hole-in-the-wall, don't be surprised if you have to wait a little while before enjoying a first-rate mojito and the shrimp enchiladas. The graffitied interior makes it feel a little divey, but that's exactly what a detour off the threaded tourist path should entail.

  • Casa de la Musica - Havana

Miramar The name is one of the best-known for live music, and there are two locales -- one in Miramar and one in Centro (though the former is probably the one you want). All kinds of music is featured here -- from big famous bands to Reggaeton to even occasionally electronica -- but be sure to know who's playing, lest you stumble in on an off night and find the place brimming with old men and sex workers. The party starts around 11pm!

  • Up & Down - Havana

Vedado Head up to talk, go down to dance, and anticipate heavy pours and hordes of fancy people.

  • Café Teatro Bertolt Brecht - Havana

Vedado Young Cubans don't necessarily subscribe to the Buena Vista Social Club vibe of yore, but that doesn't mean they don't like to dance. Find the youths at this subterranean concert bar, listening and dancing to up-and-coming Cuban musicians, and actively embracing contemporary fusion music.

  • Madrigal Bar Cafe - Havana

Vedado Run by Rafael Rosales -- a celebrated Cuban movie director -- out of an old pink-colored and white-columned Colonial from 1919, this quirky cocktail and tapas spot is equally popular with curious internationals as it is with locals looking to sip a quiet Cuba Libre.

  • Submarino Amarillo - Havana

Vedado The American trade embargo that happened in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis effectively led to a Cuba-wide Beatles ban for close to two decades. This means that a campy Beatles-themed bar (ironically now owned and operated by the Culture Ministry) to Americans is actually a welcome place to make up lost time for Cubans. Expect cheap cover, rock music, and heavy Beatles nostalgia.

  • Humboldt 52 - Havana

Centro Habana This city has an established and welcoming gay scene, and this isn't more apparent than in Havana's very first openly gay bar. What it lacks in physical space it makes up for in huge personality -- drag shows, karaoke, and elaborate cocktails perfectly complement the colorful and open-minded crowd.

  • El Floridita - Havana

La Habana Vieja No Havana bar list is complete without the self-proclaimed "cradle of the daiquiri." Hemingway's old haunt is mad touristy, but it truly is a special place worth checking out.

  • Cow Wreck Beach

Anegada, British Virgin Islands Much of the the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke are made up of tiny coves that cut into towering green mountains. But not little Anegada, the lone flatland of the four largest BVIs, whose topography isn't as attractive to tourists and thus finds itself far less crowded. The most remote beach on this sparsely-populated island is Cow Wreck -- named after a ship full of animal bones that crashed there in the 1800s -- and offers all the white Caribbean sand and turquoise water you're looking for, just without the people. Although there is an open-air bar right off the beach, but that's cool, right?

  • Hidden Beach

Nayarit, Mexico Just because you happen to be one of the 25 best beaches in the world, doesn't mean you can't be remote too. When getting there involves a half-hour ferry ride, a treacherous swim under a cave, and timing the tide just right so you don't get stuck, the word "remote" seems applicable. This beach -- which some say was created when the Mexican military used the island as a bombing range -- is flanked by grottoes that you can explore during your government-limited, 20-minute trip. It also sits in Riveira Nayarit, one of the most underrated destinations in Mexico.

  • Ciudad Valles, Mexico
  • Illusion Boutique Hotel - Playa Del Carmen
  • Royal Playa Del Carmen - Playa Del Carmen

Recommended by Sara.

  • Ocho Rios - Jamaica
  • Yelapa

-If you haven't heard of this tiny beach haven in Puerto Vallarta’s Bahia de Banderas, that's a good thing. It has gone decades without the infiltration of obstructive high-rises or a mass influx of tourists. Some say it's Mexico’s last authentic beach town, and we'd agree. So much so that we put together these eight reasons why it's absolutely the country's top undiscovered stretch of sand. -You can only get there by boat Twenty miles north of Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa is so off the radar you can only arrive by boat. Most travelers hire a private charter from Boca de Tomatlan or take a water taxi from Los Muertos Beach, and they often stop en route at Majahuitas, a popular snorkeling spot. And when visitors do finally arrive in Yelapa, the boat pulls right up onto the beach. Who needs a dock? -There are no chain restaurants, bars, or hotels The only businesses in town are locally run and include about a dozen beach bars/restaurants and a handful of small hotels. Unlike other "undiscovered" beach towns, which may have an OXXO gas station or Subway, Yelapa still feels "pre-tourism boom" retro, without any souvenir shops, to boot. -Did somebody say beach pies? What really put Yelapa on the map for locals is not tacos or chimachingas or even Mayan ceremonies -- but pies. Yes, fresh-baked pies. Two local bakers strut up and down the beach daily selling a variety of flavors, from coconut to cheesecake. They are like the ice cream trucks of Yelapa, and visitors can score a slice for a mere $2. -All the fresh seafood, none of the inflated prices It's a town of villagers who make their money foraging and fishing. All the seafood you eat there is caught fresh from local waters, and sold well below typical resort prices. -It's a hotspot for raicilla You may not know that raicilla, a type of once-bootlegged mezcal, is all the rage in Mexico. Recently re-discovered (it’s been around pre-Spanish days), raicilla is reportedly twice as strong as mezcal or tequila and known to cause mild hallucinations (consider yourself warned). It’s not easy to find in Puerto Vallarta, but it pours freely in Yelapa. Salud! -It's not overrun with tourists Sure, beach bums who have been coming to Yelapa for decades argue that there are now more tourists than ever, but that's not saying much. And while some booze cruises often drop their passengers off for a few hours, Yelapa remains decidedly not overrun. The beach is long and wide, visitors sprawl out, and it's still far enough off the beaten path that there aren't any high-end restaurants for Anthony Bourdain to deem the best in Mexico. At least not yet. -The beach: gorgeous and perfectly bareboned The crescent-shaped stretch of sand straddles jungle and ocean and is lined with lounge chairs, a few umbrellas, and nothing else. Just steps inland are a handful of thatched-roof, al-fresco bars and some swaying hammocks under the palm trees. From anywhere you kick your feet up with Pacifico in hand, you hear the crashing waves and little else.

  • Cow Wreck Beach - Anegada, British Virgin Islands

Much of the the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke are made up of tiny coves that cut into towering green mountains. But not little Anegada, the lone flatland of the four largest BVIs, whose topography isn't as attractive to tourists and thus finds itself far less crowded. The most remote beach on this sparsely-populated island is Cow Wreck -- named after a ship full of animal bones that crashed there in the 1800s -- and offers all the white Caribbean sand and turquoise water you're looking for, just without the people. Although there is an open-air bar right off the beach, but that's cool, right?

  • Hidden Beach - Nayarit, Mexico

Just because you happen to be one of the 25 best beaches in the world, doesn't mean you can't be remote too. When getting there involves a half-hour ferry ride, a treacherous swim under a cave, and timing the tide just right so you don't get stuck, the word "remote" seems applicable. This beach -- which some say was created when the Mexican military used the island as a bombing range -- is flanked by grottoes that you can explore during your government-limited, 20-minute trip. It also sits in Riveira Nayarit, one of the most underrated destinations in Mexico.

  • St. Lucia

Average budget hotel: $50 per night Average daily food cost: $7 Cheapest beer: $0.74 Here’s some St. Lucia trivia: the island is shaped like a mango. Remember that for your next pub night. Also, it's an island that offers everything from mountains and rainforests, to charming fishing villages and secluded volcanic beaches renowned for reef diving. St. Lucian food is a combo of Creole with French and West Indian influences, and for cheap eats, you're gonna want to roll with the roti -- unleavened Indian bread stuffed with curried vegetables and meat. At Prudee’s House of Roti, two people can take down a hearty beef and chicken plate for a mere $10. What’s the catch? The island is a bit remote from the US so pack snacks -- you might have a long wait for a connecting flight.

  • Curaçao

Average budget hotel: $65 per night Average daily food cost: $23 Cheapest beer: $0.94 Did you know that one of the official languages of Curaçao is Dutch? Well, it is. Situated off the north coast of Venezuela, Curaçao is still a territory of the Netherlands and a bit off the beaten tourist path; although it does maintain a bustling airport, which helps keep airfares down. Beer at local bars is cheap if you avoid US brands, but if you really want to save your guilder, stock up on booze at Centrum supermarket. What’s the catch? The mosquitos at night -- they are not friendly.

  • Negril, Jamaica

Average budget hotel: $50 per night Average daily food cost: $23.50 Cheapest beer: $2.25 Known for long stretches of white sand beaches and shallow bays of calm, aquamarine waters, Negril offers visitors the most bang for their Caribbean buck. Sure, Jamaica has a lot of pricey resorts, but this area -- situated on the western side of the island -- rocks a good mix of inexpensive two- and three-star hotels along the gorgeous Seven Mile Beach. Negril is also less touristy than the other parts of Jamaica, which helps make it less expensive. Be sure to enjoy a panoramic sunset while drinking cheap Red Stripe at Peewee’s Restaurant. What’s the catch? It's popular among Americans spring breakers, so if beer bongs and beach parties aren't your scene, perhaps you shouldn't visit in March.

  • Cancun, Mexico

Average budget hotel: $36.50 per night Average daily food cost: $17.85 Cheapest beer: $1.37 And speaking of spring breakers, Cancun is one of the busiest destinations in the Caribbean. Reason being: there are a plethora of inexpensive flights from the States, and accommodations are cheap on the outskirts of town. The place also rocks beautiful beaches, a solid nightlife scene, and easy access to artsy Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Cozumel. Oh yeah, also, Mayan ruins to explore -- El Rey and the a crumbling tower of pale gray stone known as Yamil Lu’um -- and gorgeous cenotes in which to swim. Or venture to Las de Guanatos to score a bucket of beers for a mere 100 pesos. What’s the catch? Again, the low cost of Cancun makes it a popular spring break hotspot. Also, be sure to research your hotel. You might save some cash, but there are a lot of accommodation horror stories.

  • St. Kitts

Average budget hotel: $80 per night Average daily food cost: $10 Cheapest beer: $0.74 St. Kitts is a rare gem in the Caribbean. It's also an island shaped like a chicken leg -- again, just throwing that out there for trivia night. This lush, tropical paradise has an intoxicating blend of rolling hills, aqua-green sea, abundant vegetation, rainforests, and volcanoes that loom majestically in the cloudy mist. Though the tourist beach bars are amazing, some of the best watering holes on the island are in the Old Town section; they simply look like random structures that dot the roadway. Don't hesitate to stop. In fact, be sure to hit Paula's Shop; it's run by a woman named... Julie -- just kidding! Her name's Paula -- and she sells cheap Carib beer (the Kittitians' local brew of choice), delicious home-cooked chicken, and not one, but two types of shampoo. What’s the catch? Tourism isn’t St. Kitts' main industry -- so outside of the main beach areas, your options are limited for attractions.

  • Rincon, Puerto Rico

Average budget hotel: $70 per night Average daily food cost: $30.25 Cheapest beer: $2 Located on the western side of the island, Rincon is a surfer’s paradise with some of the best waves in the Caribbean. Which is why you'd be crazy not to take a surfing lesson while you're there. Then again, there's also amazing diving and snorkeling if that's more your speed. Start your day with a $1.50 breakfast and close it out at Picoteo Rincon, a joint known for tasty and inexpensive sangria. What’s the catch? Obviously, San Juan is easier to get to, but the sunsets in Rincon make it well worth the trip.

  • Barbados

Average budget hotel: $50 per night Average daily food cost: $26.50 Cheapest beer: $2.25 Did we mention that Barbados is famous for rum? Well, it is. The majority of the action on this former British colony is on the western side of the island, while the more affordable options fall on the east. That said, it's not a huge place -- you won't have trouble getting around. Spend your days diving alongside shipwrecks/coral reefs and dining on $5 plates of local flying fish, which is served lightly breaded and topped with a yellow sauce. And again, don’t forget the rum... What’s the catch: Barbados is a little farther south than most Caribbean destinations, which is its blessing and its curse.

  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Average budget hotel: $34 per night Average daily food cost: $22.50 Cheapest beer: $2.50 If you do one thing while visiting Ocho Rios, take a trip to Dunn’s River Falls. And then stand under the breathtaking waterfalls while appreciating all the surrounding lush Jamaican vegetation (only thing... hold on to your sunglasses! Also, wear shoes, the rocks are slippery.) Ocho Rios is one of the cheaper destinations in all of the Caribbean for all-inclusive resorts; so you’ll save the bucks if that’s your thing. Plus, there are cheap direct flights from a number of US cities. And, expect to pull off $4 jerk chicken and $2.50 Red Stripes, which isn't too shabby either. What’s the catch? Ocho Rios is a popular cruise ship port. Check the weekly cruise schedule before heading out to hit the local attractions -- they may be swarmed.

  • Grenada

Average budget hotel: $55 per night Average daily food cost: $9 Cheapest beer: $0.56 Grenada is an island known mostly to Americans as "that country we invaded in 1983 to rescue some medical students," but what it should be known for are the outstanding volcanic views, nutmeg plantations, and terrain largely unspoiled by tourist development. If you enjoy ecotourism and avoiding large strings of identical resorts, you'll find Grenada downright enchanting. Expect to scuba dive with the turtles for as little as $22 and eat a fusion meal of Creole, Caribbean, and West Indian flavors for around $3 an entrée. What’s the catch: If you’re allergic to nutmeg (or just hate the smell of it), then visiting the "Spice Isle" could be an issue -- as mentioned, they grow a ton of it there and the scent fills the air.

  • Dominica

Average budget hotel: $38 per night Average daily food cost: $13.70 Cheapest beer: $2.25 Dominica is a Caribbean secret. (Unless you do a Google search.) It’s an eco-traveler paradise with impressive mountains, lush green vegetation, and winding rivers. And even better, Dominica has little commercial development and is considered one of the most well-preserved spots in the Caribbean. Spend your days hiking through the rainforest, sunning yourself on a black sand beach, or scuba diving at one of the island's 40-plus dive spots. Then, feast on caramel pork and chicken stew for as little as $9 at places like Riverside Café. What’s the catch? Nightlife is limited. So bring a book.

  • The Florida Keys (yep, all of 'em)

Must-stay: The Marker Resort Must-eat/drink: Conch fritters and a mojito with Key West Legal Rum, Sunset Ale Must-hit: Bahia Honda State Park Key West grabs most of the headlines, and justifiably -- it's a bohemian paradise that seduces foodies, revelers, fishermen, sailors, music fans, and beach bunnies in equal measure. But it's worth it to remove your KW blinders, because some of the lesser-known Keys offer up similar pleasures with an added dose of honky-tonk. Islamorada gives you art galleries, sophisticated dining, and incomparable fishing on both the Gulf and Atlantic sides (Ted Williams was a regular and asked that his ashes be spread there before, uh, his head was chopped off and cryo-frozen). Marathon gives you shipwreck diving and a sea-turtle museum, the only licensed one in the nation. And the Lower Keys host the region's greatest beach (Bahia Honda) and also serve as a sanctuary for the docile, miniature-sized Key deer.

  • Martinique

Must-stay: Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa Must-eat/drink: Accras de morue (salt cod fritters) and Champagne Must-hit: Saint-Pierre for scuba diving and dormant volcanoes Did you know there’s an island in the Caribbean where they drink more Champagne than in any other French region? Added bonus: the island is largely undisturbed by American tourists, which means no chain hotels and a far more European feel. Yes, it's Martinique, and it probably rang a bell for you thanks to Mount Pelee, the semi-dormant volcano that last erupted in 1902 and was the topic of countless fourth-grade science reports. Head to the rebuilt city of Saint-Pierre to get an up-close look at the crater from Anse Turin beach before scooting into the capital city of Fort-de-France for Creole cuisine, iron and glass architecture, and some fort-hopping.

  • Curaçao

Must-stay: Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino Must-eat/drink: Ayaka (meat tamale in a banana leaf) and blue Curacao liqueur Must-hit: Curaçao Underwater Marine Park; Downtown Willemstad You can save your pennies for a bender in Amsterdam, or you can fly direct to a Dutch-Caribbean island that grants you oodles of culture on top of white sand beaches and, well, Curacao waters. A criminally underexplored Caribbean island, Curacao will slowly shut down your stressed synapses with its yin-and-yang blend of art galleries, diving, alfresco fine dining, mountain biking, and 17th-century architecture in the capital city of Willemstad. Further proof of the island’s eclecticism: special events range from a film festival to an international drag fest.

  • Tahiti, French Polynesia

Must-stay: The Brando Must-eat/drink: Poisson cru and Tahiti Drink (yes, that’s what it’s called) Must-hit: Paul Gauguin Museum The clichéd Tahitian images really are born of truth: outriggers, thatched bungalows, white sand beaches, and emerald lagoons do indeed abound everywhere. Just remember that French Polynesia is actually made up of 118 atolls -- easily hopped between, but you’ll want to choose your home base carefully. Bora Bora has its obvious charms, but Tahaa, Rangiroa, and Moorea, to name but three, give you a quieter feel and the same unparalleled natural beauty. Other options: Rurutu for humpback whales, Nuku HIva for horseback riding, and Tetiaroa, once owned by Marlon Brando and now home to the luxe Brando resort.

  • Cuba

Must-stay: Hotel Nacionale Must-eat/drink: Roasted peanuts or churros from street vendors and rum rum rum rum rum Must-hit: Malecon sea walk; any baseball stadium Because there's no time like the present. There are tons of ways to get to the singular island nation these days, but why not fly there like a boss: JetSuite now offers nonstop, private jet service to Havana. Once there, you should try to do it all: walk the Malecon, take in a baseball game, spend hours strolling the streets of old town Havana and Trinidad, hit the beaches of Varadero, visit one or more of the six UNESCO biosphere, and take in every museum you can, including the Museo Hemingway. Oh, and does it even bear mentioning that rum, cigars, and salsa Cubano are obligatorio at night? Before you go, though, read our crazy-comprehensive guide to visiting Cuba here.

  • Fiji

Must-stay: Likuliku Lagoon Resort Must-eat/drink: Lovo and kava Must-hit: Tovoro Waterfalls; firewalking on Beqa It would be a hard sell to not sell you on Fiji, but here's our best shot: it’s, um, a long flight to get there. OK, now that that’s out of the way, here’s why you’re compelled to visit: aquamarine lagoons, hotel rooms overhanging the water, beach snorkeling, waterfall hiking, pearl shopping, and nighttime displays of firewalking. A trip to Fiji is also not complete without a sampling of kava, the local drink made from sun-dried kava root that is said to be a mild aphrodisiac (but no hangover!!!!).

  • Petit St. Vincent, Caribbean

Must-stay: Two-bedroom beach villa on the private island Must-eat/drink: Flame-grilled lobster and rum punch Must-hit: Island picnic on Mopion Need to power down your work-addled brain? A private island without Wi-Fi, television, or phones should do the trick. Petit St. VIncent -- site of this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition shoot -- consists of 22 one- and two-bedroom cottages, a world-class dive center from Jean-Michel Cousteau, and a plethora of opportunities to do a whole lotta nothing. "But how do I order room service?" you might whine. Funny you should ask: PSV is all about the analog, specifically a "flagpole system" wherein you raise a yellow flag for butler service and a red flag to signal "do not disturb." Once you're ready to be disturbed again, you can head down to one of the beaches for barbecues, yoga, sailing, kayaking, and a little fishing. Replugging upon departure will be a bear.

  • Saint Lucia

Must-stay: Anse Chastanet Must-eat/drink: Curried lambi (conch) and BBC (frozen Bailey’s Banana Colada), Piton beer Must-hit: Sulphur Springs mud baths Saint Lucia, a sleepy, celebrity-populated enclave (think Oprah and Bieber, but not together), gives you a lot more than the standard sun, sand, and sea. The Piton mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invite hiking and mountain biking, the rainforest is best seen by tram, and the iconic Sulphur Springs mud baths offer up a cost-free spa service. When you're sick of the grand beauty of Marigot Bay, you can envelop yourself in the grand beauty of the botanical gardens. As for the Bieb, he’s a fan of the private yacht; consider chartering one yourself to explore the windward islands.

  • St. Petersburg, FL

When you talk about the best beaches in Florida, names like Siesta Key, Clearwater, and Longboat Key always come up. And what major city is the closest to all three of those? St. Petersburg, the longtime-sleepy neighbor just west of Tampa that’s home to the Dali Museum AND the Devil Rays. The Downtown's undergone a major resurgence over the last decade and boasts an entire city block of bars that surround Jannus Live, one of the city's top live-music venues. It's also home to not one, but TWO new breweries, and a new Downtown pier set to host major music festivals. Oh, and about those beaches: St. Pete Beach might be the most underrated on the Gulf Coast, and the one at Ft. De Soto is the most scenic place in Florida.

  • San Pancho

Why you need to go: Now that the surfer beach town of Sayulita in Riviera Nayarit is completely overrun with cruise ship passengers, cool locals are chilling out a half-an-hour north in San Pancho, a quiet beach town that primarily draws yogis and New Age wanderers. Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains, this underrated, bohemian getaway with little infrastructure is all about immersing yourself in nature and tapping into your inner hippie. The one must-do thing: Yoga is the big draw, but check into Punta Monterrey, a rustic, all-inclusive gem deep in the jungle; it rocks its own secluded beach and room rates around an unfathomable $80 per person a night. Villas are perched on the hillside, and organic communal meals are made from scratch with ingredients straight from the garden. A short hike through the jungle takes you to yet another secluded beach where guests soak in natural mineral mud.

  • Guadalupe Valley

Why you need to go: The most important wine region in Mexico (yes, Mexico has wine!) is crawling with roadtrippers and wine enthusiasts. Just a two-hour drive from the San Diego border, Guadalupe Valley in Baja California has luxury design hotels, top Mexican chefs opening trendy restaurants, and, naturally, excellent vineyards in which to frolic. Or, taste wine. It’s one of the most scenic, rural spots in Mexico with valleys unfurling for miles under vast blue sky. The one must-do thing: While wine tasting is obvious, you'll absolutely want to try some of the region’s best restaurants.The al fresco Finca Altozano, helmed by popular chef Javier Plascencia, serves up seasonal, traditional Mexican dishes. Laja, touted as the best restaurant in Baja California, dishes out an excellent, farm-fresh tasting menu. And La Villa del Valle, an intimate six-room hotel, features a cool taco truck.

  • Isla Mujeres

Why you need to go: Isla Mujeres is only eight miles from Cancun via boat, but it feels half-a-world away. The former fishing village is a far cry from Cancun’s high-rise-lined beach and tequila-raging spring breakers, and it's super old school (locals get around by foot or golf cart) with some of the best beaches in the Yucatan. Feeling completely removed on this hedonistic island has long attracted jet-setting honeymooners, but there’s more to rose petals romancing your beachfront dinner. Unique attractions -- like an underwater sculpture museum and archeological sites -- make it a solid adventure. The one must-do thing: Isla Mujeres is one of the few places in the world you can swim with whale sharks. Guests can plunge deep in the ocean and swim neck to neck with these peaceful (and, thankfully, vegetarian) creatures the size of school buses.

  • Holbox

Why you need to go: Even more remote than Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox has a tiny footprint and tons of native wildlife. Travelers get excited by the sheer nakedness of the island. Even on a 20-mile-long stretch, there’s virtually nothing here -- which is why birders, kite surfers, and beach bums rejoice. The best part? You feel like you have the entire island to yourself. The one must-do thing: Holbox is located within the country’s largest ecological reserve, Yum Balam, so exploring the island on a water taxi or kayak gets you up close to colorful reefs, lagoons, and even pink dolphins and flamingos.

  • Yelapa

Why you need to go: When people travel to Puerto Vallarta, they hardly leave Los Muertos Beach. But better beach-bumming is just down the coast. Hop in a water taxi or private boat for a 45-minute ride to this sliver of crowd-free, retro beach nirvana that hasn’t been touched since the '60s. In Yelapa, there’s only a handful of thatched-roof restaurants, beach bars serving cheap drinks, and a sprawling white sand beach that has a lounge chair with your name on it. The one must-do thing: The point of Yelapa is to do nothing at all. Crack open a Pacifico at Angelina's bar and sway in a hammock under leafy palms.

  • Puerto Rico

This U.S. territory is relatively close to the continental U.S. and frequent daily flights make it a great option for those looking for a Caribbean vacation on a budget. Fly into San Juan and start off by visiting Old San Juan, a historic part of the city made up of cobblestone streets and colorful buildings that just ooze charm. Nearby, the Bioluminescent Bay is a must visit; we recommend renting a kayak to see it up close. Round out your vacation with trip to Vieques, an island off the coast that’s home to beautiful secluded beaches, wild horses, and great snorkeling. When to go: Late spring (any time between April through June) is a great time to go, but for the best savings, head there in the fall.

  • Dominican Republic

This island is another one that’s easily accessible from the U.S. and you can often find good flight deals, which make it an affordable vacation spot. There are a few beaches to choose from, but Punta Cana is typically a great option—especially if you want to stick to a budget without scrimping on amenities. There are several high end, all-inclusive resorts as well as a few smaller, budget options. During low season, you’ll be surprised at how far your dollar will go, and you may very well be able to snag a luxury property at a very deep discount. La Romana is yet another option that’s home to several resorts, beautiful beaches, and a plethora of water activities. When to go: The Dominican Republic is relatively affordable all year, but March through August is a good bet. Just be cautious when traveling during hurricane season.

  • Antigua

Antigua is known for having 365 days worth of beaches (as in a beach for every day of the year) so there’s bound to be a beach here for just about anyone to enjoy. You’ll find that classic Caribbean beach you imagine in your head: Sands are soft and white, the water is crystal blue, and the vibe is relaxed and quiet. Hotels and resorts are abundant with beach chairs and umbrellas lining the sand waiting for you to relax. You can also rest easy while taking in the rays or reading a book, as almost all beachside areas will serve you cocktails and snacks directly on the beach. When to go: Go during off-season (May through November) to avoid crowds. The weather will still be amazing, and you'll have the beach to yourself.

  • Anguilla

Many laud it as one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, and it's easy to see why once you catch a glimpse of its beaches. While other parts of the Caribbean have faced overdevelopment, Anguilla manages to retain its island charm. Be sure to spend some time at Shoal Bay East, a beautiful stretch of sand that offers restaurants and bars looking out to crystal blue waters. For a slightly more secluded adventure, head around the corner to Upper Shoal Bay to experience what is arguably the whitest powdery sand in the entire region. When to go: May through August right after the high season is the best time to go. Fall is another option if you're looking for a deal, but many properties do close down during this time.

  • Jamaica

For food overflowing with flavor and locals eager to share their food traditions with you, head to Jamaica. You've probably had jerk chicken or pork (the national dish), but there is a whole lot more to discover here. As you might suspect, the local seafood is excellent and incredibly fresh. If you haven't had the pleasure of feasting on curried goat or oxtail stew, take a chance and try some of the most flavorful dishes often served with a side of Jamaican rice and peas. When to go: Head here towards the end of the year anytime from October through early December for good weather without the threat of a hurricane. If you're okay with risking it, you can get great deals during the summertime beacuse of hurricane season (try to get traveler's insurance if you go this route).

  • St. Martin/Sint Maarten

The island is split into two sides: French and Dutch, and both offer a plethora of excellent dining options sure to make any foodie happy. Traditional French cooking techniques (as well as other international cuisine) are infused with quintessential Caribbean style and flavors. Think delectable lobster bisque to start, roasted local fish for the main course, and flambéd pineapple or coconut ice cream for dessert. If you aren’t looking for a fancy meal, you can’t go wrong with the many roadside barbecues serving up local flavor. When to go: Many spots here close down during hurricane season so it's best to visit from May through June or from November through December to get a good price. Avoid the height of winter as prices typically go up significantly.

  • Cayman Islands

Often celebrated for having some of the most crystal clear waters in the world, the Cayman Islands should be your first choice for underwater activities. They offer no shortage of choices when it comes to picking the best underwater company to snorkel or dive among. Off the shores of Grand Cayman lies the famous “Stingray City” where visitors head to pet and interact with rays in a shallow part of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. You can also head out on a catamaran for a day of snorkeling in the nearby reefs. When to go: Go during May through July for warm weather and discounted hotel rates.

  • Bonaire

The tiny island of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean is heaven for scuba divers. The coast is lined with reefs, making for a perfect destination for both serious divers and more casual snorkelers. The reefs are gorgeous and well preserved, and harbor more than 350 different species of fish. Almost every hotel and resort has an on-site dive shop, and those that don’t usually partner with one very close by. When to go: October through November is the best time to visit if you can swing it. The weather will still be quite warm, and prices will be discounted.

  • Sian Ka’an Coastal Biosphere Reserve

Mexico Best accessed from: Tulum -- tour companies in Cancun’s hip neighbor will arrange day trips to Sian Ka’an, but the more adventurous may be able to reach the Muyil entrance to the park via public transport. Best hike: Aside from a couple of short walks through the jungle here, the focus is on a boat tour through a submerged forest of mangroves along the ocean’s edge. Once you hop in a boat at Muyil, Mayan-dug canals through sprawling tracts mangroves are at your fingertips. Though this reserve is home to plenty of crocs, the canal waters are crystal clear, and most tours climax in a current-driven, boatless free-float. Look for dolphins and sea turtles amongst the mangroves, but don’t expect to set eyes on any of the five species of wildcats that call this reserve home -- they like to play at night.

  • Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay - Puerto Rico

Vieques Island If you only take one thing away from this article, make it this: go to the Bioluminescent Bay. In rare bays around the world, the right set of factors -- low circulation, shallow depth, high temperatures, and nutrient-saturated waters -- combine to create the perfect conditions for the proliferation of amazing little creatures called dinoflagellates. Those are the strange little guys you see above (it’s notoriously difficult to capture the bioluminescence with a camera). When agitated, they release a spark of blue light, creating constellations of stars in the lagoon's dark waters. Puerto Rico goes to great lengths to protect these unique ecosystems, but the fragile bays likely won’t be around forever. This is an absolute must-see. What to do there: The best way to visit the Bioluminescent Bay is on a kayaking tour, which run nightly except when there’s a full or almost-full moon. Book in advance.

  • Old San Juan - Puerto Rico

It should come as no surprise that almost 400 years of Spanish history left their mark on Puerto Rico, and nowhere is that more apparent than Old San Juan. The city's characteristic blue cobblestone streets are flanked by Spanish-style apartments, combining to create a resemblance that is so striking, you might think you somehow ended up on the other side of the Atlantic. What to do there: Drink! It is the birthplace of the piña colada, after all. Go to La Factoria or El Farolito and see what they can do for you.

  • Rincón - Puerto Rico

What’s a list of beautiful places in the Caribbean without a beach town? And what a beach town! Tucked away on Puerto Rico's western coa

nov 23 2015 ∞
apr 27 2016 +