Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Wed July 22 2015

Opinion Home | Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

  • Nicole Connolly | July 22, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    Top 5 Places to Visit in the Caribbean

    Top 5 Places to Visit in the Caribbean

    Photo courtesy of The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

    Each year millions of people flock to the Caribbean in search of sand, sun and fun. But planning a trip can be difficult, since there are so many locales to choose from! Consider this the short list of the best, based on number of tourist visits per year. These are hands down some of the most beautiful locations on earth.

    1) The Dominican Republic

    At over 4.5 million visitors per year, this island tops the list. Visit the historical part of the Dominican Republic and venture over to Santo Domingo, the capital. This city features some of the oldest colonial construction known to the entire Western Hemisphere, including the Stately Cathedral. Retrace the steps of the first Spanish explorers that landed on the island, and take your time. There are plenty of cafés in which to savor the local cuisine and shops to visit along the way.

    The Dominican Republic’s Coconut Coast is famous for its white beaches, protected by barrier reefs a short distance away. This creates a pristine area for you to work on your tan or simply unwind. When you feel like taking a break from sun worshipping, venture inland. Here you will find a beautiful and protected national park featuring cascading waterfalls and lush greenery. It's also the perfect place to have a picnic.

    If a well-heeled experience is more your speed, then visit Santiago de los Caballeros. The second largest city on the island, its residents were made quite wealthy by the sugar and tobacco industry. It's a lot calmer than the bustling Santo Domingo, but still has quite an elegant nightlife.

    2) Cuba

    Coming in at number two, Cuba boasts almost 3 million tourists each year. With the vastly improved relations between the nation and the United States, that number could easily double. When you find yourself there, definitely check out the splendor of Havana. You can drive along the Malecón, also known as Cuba's main street. Colorful, vibrant, yet laid-back and casual, this is where you can find those premium cigars or kitschy dive restaurants with authentic Cuban food.

    Also, make sure you visit a tobacco plantation while you are there as well. After all, the art of cigar rolling was perfected here. Finally, why not finish off your tour with a diving lesson?

    3) Jamaica 

    With its signature reggae music a constant soundtrack to the journey, just over 2 million visitors a year flock to this tiny Caribbean paradise. Besides the beach and usual touristy shopping areas, there are several other stellar natural attractions that you must see. Find Dunn's River Falls and experience its majesty. Head to the Blue Mountains and see the serenity of a lush tropical environment. Trek over to Mayfield Falls and see what gently cascading waterfalls will do for your soul. Finish off your wilderness adventures at the Green Grotto Caves. Who knew that Jamaica had so much beautiful pristine natural wonders to enjoy?

    For a completely different vibe, head over to Doctor’s Cave Beach Club and enjoy a drink or fine meal. You can also get up close and personal with dolphins at Dolphin Cove. Jamaica has so much to offer that you might want to become a permanent resident. Oh yes, and if you're really into reggae then you simply must visit the Bob Marley Museum during your stay!

    4) Puerto Rico

    Coming in at number four, this island still boasts a healthy tourist draw. One and a half million people visit the island annually, and a few even choose to make Puerto Rico their home. Part of the reason lies in the fact that it is so close to the United States. It’s just a short plane ride over and you land on a beautiful island paradise.

    What causes all of those people to flock to such a tiny speck of land? Well, for starters there is Mosquito Bay (don’t let the name deter a visit). It is a favorite among tourists and locals alike because of the bioluminescent glow the plant and animal organisms give off at night. This is such a bright, stunning display that no other light sources are needed. Take a guide with you and experience Mosquito Bay in all of its glory.

    Puerto Rico also has several beaches that are pristine and virtually untouched by human habitation. You may have to go a few miles east of the main island, but those are worthy trips. Of course, a visit to the El Yunque National Rainforest is another great way to see nature up close and personal. The Splash Nature Preserve houses stunning tropical specimens and is easily navigated. There are 13-plus hiking trails and many waterfalls to view.

    5) The Bahamas

    Rounding out the list is this legendary cluster of islands that garners 1.3 million visitors each year. Simply pick your little speck out of the bunch and you can do everything from shopping, yachting (evening joining one of the local yacht clubs), snorkeling, or trying your luck at a casino.

    Balance out nature experiences with a decadent stay at the Atlantis Resort, complete with waterpark and dolphin attractions.

    The Caribbean is certainly not short of great finds. Each locale has its own unique natural and cultural attractions to enjoy — all that’s left to do is dive in!

More Caribbean


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
Journey on an Avalon River Cruise

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships