Ready to start planning a warm, tropical getaway? Or are you content simply dreaming about future trips to the Caribbean?
Either way, a lot of other people have that same idea, and Caribbean beaches can get crowded quickly. Luckily, there are still some secret spots in the Caribbean where you can relax in your own little slice of paradise — and these are 10 of our favorites.
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Klein Curaçao, Curaçao
A tiny uninhabited island southeast of Curaçao is known for its white, powdery sand and spectacular diving conditions (read: sprawling masses of coral and underwater caves). To get there, you’ll need to either charter a boat or book a tour with an operator such as Bounty Adventures. Once you explore the lighthouse, swim with sea turtles and snorkel around a shipwreck, you’ll definitely be asking, “Can I go back?”
Since you have to get there via boat or group tour, you could stay by the harbor of Willemstad on the main island at Renaissance Curaçao Resort and Casino. You can use 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night or a free night certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (worth up to 35,000 points).
A negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival is required for entry.
Playa La Vacama, Dominican Republic
You won’t have to fight for a beach chair at this off-the-beaten-path beach as it’s located in the northeast corner of the island, away from the main tourist destinations in Punta Cana.
It’s a bit difficult to get to, and there’s no restaurant nearby, but that just adds to the secluded nature of the sandy spot. Once there, you’ll get to enjoy coconut trees, white sand and turquoise waters with few others in sight. And let your whole family enjoy the seclusion by booking a stay at the nearby Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana or the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana (from 25,000 points per night).
Negative COVID-19 tests are not currently required for entry, but travelers should be prepared for random rapid tests and temperature checks.
Sugar Beach, St. Lucia
Volcanic peaks, lush rainforest, white sand beaches: Sugar Beach, on St. Lucia, is truly a paradise found. This cozy spot — one of the best places on Earth to escape the cold — is set between the towering Pitons, which serve as a dramatic backdrop for lounging under palm trees or taking a dip.
You can spend the night here at the magnificent Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. Travelers with The Platinum Card® from American Express can book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) for 5x points per dollar spent, along with premium perks including daily breakfast for two, room upgrades depending on availability, late checkout and a $100 property credit. Even if you don’t stay, you can still visit by boat or on a day trip.
As of Feb. 10, all travelers ages 5 and older must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than five days before arrival for entry.
Button Beach, Jamaica
Nothing embodies secrecy and privacy more than James Bond — and there’s no better place to find it than GoldenEye, Ian Fleming’s former estate, where the author dreamed up the suave secret agent.
Today, the property operates as a hotel, effectively a series of private villas offering guests access to secluded Button Beach and a lagoon. GoldenEye’s unmarked entrance is tucked behind a private gate — and let’s face it, that’s about as top-secret as it gets.
Residents of the U.S., as well as a few other high-risk countries, who are 12 years of age or older, must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test before boarding a flight to Jamaica. Tests can be taken within 10 days of travel.
Flamingo Beach, Aruba
OK, it might not be quite as much of a closely guarded secret any more thanks to Instagram, but Flamingo Beach is still one of our favorite beaches in the Caribbean. The private beach, situated on Renaissance Island — part of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (from 40,000 Marriott points per night on off-peak dates)— is home to the only pink flamingos in Aruba.
Hotel guests have free access, but a limited number of day passes are available for particularly motivated visitors willing to shell out for selfies. Nonhotel guests can also purchase a day pass for $125 to visit the FOMO-inducing beach.
Spotts Beach, Grand Cayman
Surrounded by cliffs, this picturesque beach on Grand Cayman is excellent for spotting sea turtles, and its location — the south coast of the island — makes it prime for watching the sunrise and set. Best of all, there’s limited parking and only a few homes and condos nearby, so you won’t be climbing over sunbathers, nor will you be competing for space at the picnic tables or grills.
Gallery: Longing for surf and sand? These are the 10 best US beaches, per Tripadvisor (USA TODAY)
Stay at the nearby Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa (temporarily close due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic) on Seven Mile Beach to get two stunning beaches in one stay.
The Cayman Islands remain largely closed to tourists at this time, and strict testing and quarantine requirements are still in place.
Related: The best times to visit the Caribbean
Banana Bay, St. Kitts
The untouched beach at Banana Bay is a bit hard to get to, and that’s just the point. You’ll follow one road that goes to St. Kitts’ southeast coast, where white sand, beautiful views of neighboring islands, and wildlife awaits. In certain seasons, the off-the-beaten-path destination is known for its flying fish and turtle-hatching.
Since the spot is so secluded, you will need a car or taxi to get there. Stay at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino (30,000 Marriott points per night on off-peak dates) or Park Hyatt St. Kitts (30,000 Hyatt points per night) and they’ll help you make the arrangements.
Travelers must submit a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result from an approved lab taken within 72 hours of travel, along with required embarkation forms and other supporting documentation.
Gold Rock Beach, Grand Bahama
Referred to as a “welcome mat” during low tide because you can sit on the sand bar, Gold Rock Beach is part of the Lucayan National Park, which you have to walk through to get to the sandy shores. You’ll only see a couple of other beachgoers at this hidden gem in the Bahamas — technically not part of the Caribbean but perfect for a beach vacation nonetheless — and you can explore Lucayan’s underground caves nearby — that is, if you can tear yourself away from the sunshine.
This is a great destination to redeem Capital One miles for travel purchases because it’s mostly local hotels like Castaways Resorts and Suites.
All travelers visiting the Bahamas must have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (swab) test taken no more than five days prior to the date of arrival.
La Sagesse Beach, Grenada
Clear water and soft sand are two of the many reasons people seek out this peaceful, palm tree-dotted slice of the Grenada coastline, which has but a single hotel. You can rent beach chairs and kayaks, and be sure to explore the tropical gardens of the La Sagesse Nature Center, located less than a quarter-mile down the road. Book a private villa right near the beach or opt for a nearby hotel like 473 Grenada Boutique Resort.
All travelers entering Grenada must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days prior to travel and must quarantine in a government-approved facility until undergoing another test, usually on the fourth day after arrival. Other requirements are also in place.
No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire Island
The uninhabited island, located a half-mile off Bonaire, doesn’t have any buildings or people. What you will find, however, is a stunning reef, bright blue waters and unspoiled white-sand beaches. Best of all, No Name Beach is protected by a national park, which means it will never be overrun with hotels and visitors. Eden Beach Resort is right near a water taxi, making it a prime home base to explore the stunning island.
Travelers 13 years of age and older must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken within 72 hours before arrival, to travel to Bonaire. Travelers from destinations in high-risk countries, including the United States, must also undergo an antigen test within 4 hours of departure.
Half Moon Bay, Antigua
Antigua’s Half Moon Bay tends to be more deserted than others on the island: There’s no sign identifying the mile-long stretch of pink and white sand. Once you find it, though, you’re in for a crowd-free euphoria. The beach has something for everyone — windsurfers flock to the center to take advantage of the waves, while snorkelers float around the calmer water near the edges.
There are several hotels on the island, including Nonsuch Bay Resort and Carlisle Bay — just be sure to pay for your stay using a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for 3x points.
All travelers 12 and older flying to Antigua must have a negative COVID-19 PCR taken within seven days of their flight.
Related: How to travel to the Caribbean using points and miles
Loblolly Bay, British Virgin Islands
You’ll feel as if you’re on a private island here, as this secluded beach is filled with unspoiled white sand and you won’t see high-rise hotels or hordes of visitors: just the occasional hammock and umbrella. There are some low-key beach bars and restaurants, but they stay pretty hidden.
If you’re going to travel to the British Virgin Islands, you might want to splash out at Scrub Island, a Marriott Autograph Collection property you can book from 70,000 points per night on off-peak dates.
Travel to the British Virgin Islands remains largely off-limits at this time.
Little Bay, Anguilla
When you have to climb down a rope along a cliff to get there, you know it’s a secret beach. But that’s precisely the adventure it takes to enjoy the secluded nature of Little Bay. While accessing it may be a bit of a harrowing experience, once you get to the white sandy beaches with no crowds, you’ll be glad you did. We guess we should mention you can take a chartered boat here, too, though you’ll miss out on the adrenaline rush.
If you’re traveling to Anguilla, there’s good news for Hilton loyalists: Zemi Beach House — an incredible resort just 15 minutes away from Little Bay and new to Hilton’s LXR Hotels & Resorts group — is bookable from 95,000 points per night. It is closed until March 31, 2021, at this time.
Like the British Virgin Islands, travel to Anguilla remains largely off-limits at this time.
Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman.
Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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