If you thought all beaches were created equal, think again. Sure, some travelers prefer the party scene but for the bonafide beach aficionado, it’s that quieter nook that is worth seeking out. What the smaller out-of-the way beaches lack in amenities, they more than make up with countless miles of buttery sand, seclusion and serenity. Plant your sun lounger by the water’s edge and check out our list of the Top Ten Secret Beaches in the Caribbean and try not to let the cat out of the bag.
It’s no surprise that the best-kept beach secret is on the smallest of the three Cayman isles. Where the maximum speed limit is 25 mph and iguanas have the right of way, Little Cayman is where you’ll find Point Of Sand; the prettiest sandy perch this side of a postcard. On the southeast coast, the water is ankle-deep for the first fifteen feet and gradually drops off making the beach primo for snorkeling and swimming. Accessible by car or scooter, the water is home to the Queen Conch and at least a dozen varieties of reef fish.
Drive along Roxborough-Parlatuvier Road, turn onto one of several paved roads and you’ll spot the entrance to the sweetest little beach on the island. On the northwest coast seven miles from the capital city of Scarborough, crescent-shaped Castara Bay Beach, in the charming fishing village with the same name ,is full of beachy perks like talc soft sand and awesome underwater meet and greets with sting rays, puffers, grunt fish and photogenic white-spotted moray eels. Keeping company with beach-goers, small hawksbill turtles sit on the reef munching sponges and Yellowhead Jawfish with their distinctive light blue body and yes, a yellow head flit about in the watery caves.
If you have a hankering for a tight-lipped beach rendezvous, give the aptly named Rendezvous Bay Beach a try. One of 365 beaches on the island, the peaceful sliver located within the National Park is framed by green hills and tucked away in an out-of-the-way cove on the south coast. It may be tricky to find but with your eye on the prize, the trek from Fig Tree Hill, English Harbour or Carlisle Bay or a ride on a small boat from English Harbour is well worth the effort for the relaxation and cinematic sunsets.
Less than an hour from beaches that front the hi-res hotels, Baby Beach is a delightful half-moon in an unruffled lagoon. In Seroe Colorado on southeast side, the water is so shallow that kids (or big babies) can wade out quite a distance and still touch the bottom with their feet and grownups can put their feet up on one of the comfy beach beds. Uncrowded above the waves, down under is busy with a kaleidoscope of barracuda, parrot fish and squid doing their thing towards the inlet. Cheap and cheerful, the Big Mama Grill serves up the best sticky ribs and chicken on the sand.
British Virgin Islands:
On the north side of Anegada or the “Drowned Land “as the Spanish named it, Lo’Blolly Bay is a blinding white beach protected by Horseshoe Reef; the Eastern Caribbean’s third largest continuous coral reef. Twenty miles from Tortola, the nearly-deserted strand is one of several along the eleven mile coastline and with only two hundred lucky people who call the island home, it never gets crowded. A bonanza for bone fishermen and nirvana for scuba divers, the east end is also home to gigantic piles of conch shells that were once pirates’ treasures. For foodies; a surplus of lobsters inspires the annual Lobster Festival held every November.
Sitting pretty on the west side, Playa Knip is the Bentley of Beaches with limestone cliffs that shade the cove and cerulean waves that keep a beat with the coconut palms. Unflustered and child-friendly, the beach is a world away from the crowded slivers on the more touristy side of the island. Amateur photographers like the daredevils who jump off the peaks and for those with an international palate; there are plenty of vendors dishing up plates of yummy island food.
Named for the nearby military buildings where drills were once held, Drill Hall Beach is a south coast secret in the Parish of St. Michael. At the eastern end of the sandy strip, the calm water is perfect for kids who like to wade knee-deep and for the surfer wannabees in the family; the gentle waves welcome those testing their skills on a board. On the warm Caribbean side, the sand is also a favorite nesting spot of sea turtles gracefully making their way back down to the sea.
You have two choices; either you climb down the cliff clutching a rope or hop a boat from Crocus Bay. Yes, it may be hard to find but Little Bay Beach is a sandy secret worth discovering. Tucked away with ridiculous views of just about everything, this unspoiled spit that is bookended by cliffs is one of those coveted unsullied spots on the sand.
Away from the jam-packed beaches on the northwest coast, Doctor’s Cove Beach on the Hip Strip or Gloucester Avenue in the heart of Montego Bay dates back to 1906 when Dr. Alexander James McCatty opened one of Jamaica’s first bathing clubs. Today, the aquamarine water with a year round temperature between 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and curative powers that ease ailments like arthritis is still the beach of choice on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The cyber-café is a big hit with kids who like to send their beach Selfies to their pals at home.
Despite its name, Pigeon Island is connected to the mainland and there’s nary a pigeon in sight although a variety called the common wood pigeon once lived there, hence the islands name A placid alternative to Reduit Beach across the Bay (you can catch a water taxi to Pigeon Island from Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay Village), the beach is inside the National Park on the northwest coast. On the southern side of the park, just inside the entrance, two petite strips of golden sand are standouts for swimmers and sunbathers who also rave about the bites and beverages at Jambe de Bois, a rustic waterfront café. From April 30 to May 10, Pigeon Island hosts the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival with an impressive lineup this year that includes reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff, American rapper Flo Rida and R&B crooner Robin Thicke.
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