Pictures of friends vacationing in Las Vegas or taking a trip around Europe on social media don’t even faze us anymore. That photo at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower? You’ve seen it a million times. Sometimes you just want to travel somewhere you haven’t virtually travelled to, courtesy of Instagram.

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Image credit: Bloomberg

Enter: The Caribbean. Boasting tropical beaches, authentic cuisine and lively culture, the Caribbean is an exotic place for sun worshippers. Spanning 7,000 islands and 25 countries (of which, 13 are independent) surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean is a region worth discovering.

We’ll admit, it’s not as easy as getting to Australia or even Europe per se, but a vacation in the West Indies isn’t as far-fetched as you think. Private jets aside, most destinations require you to transit in America or London – which really, can be a vacation in itself if you stop for a day or two.

With so many islands to choose from, we’ve picked five of the most beautiful and lush destinations – from enthralling Bahamas to culturally rich Jamaica.

Bahamas 

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Image credit: Lonely Planet

People who say paradise doesn’t exist have definitely never been to the Bahamas. The Bahamas’ limestone landscapes were what caught Christopher Columbus’ eyes in 1492, who mistakenly thought he had reached Southeast Asia. We can’t blame him, though. Instagram didn’t exist in the 1490s. Anyone would able to tell Bali apart from the Bahamas now. The rest is history – we mean, literally.

Made up of 700 islands and cays, strung together with deep ocean channels and shallow banks, the Bahamas has everything to offer. From remote beaches to vibrant nightlife, there is an island for every type of vacationer.

Nassau, the Bahamian capital, is located on the northeast coast of New Providence Island and boasts miles of spectacular beaches, as well as stretches of vivid coral reefs perfect for snorkelling.

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Atlantis on Paradise Island. Image credit: Mariott

The most visited location in the Bahamas is also home to large chain hotels and is one of the most popular cruise ship ports in the Caribbean. Check out Atlantis on Paradise Island, a luxury hotel, water park and entertainment complex which also boasts the one of the largest outdoor aquariums in the world.

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The Pink Sands Beach, a romantic beach with pale pink sand on Harbour Island. Image credit: Feel The Planet

The Bahamas are also not short of pristine beaches. From Pink Sands to Treasure Cay beach, it’s perfectly understandable why the affluent from America make the Bahamas their weekend getaway regularly.

How to get there: Fly via Singapore Airlines to London, where you’ll get on a connecting British Airways flight to Miami, followed by Bahamasair to Nassau International Airport. 

Cayman Islands

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Cayman Islands are teeming with marine life. Image credit: Lonely Planet

A British territory in the Western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands is known for its gorgeous, sun-kissed beaches and coral-encrusted diving spots – a playground for divers hoping to explore pristine reefs and swimming alongside friendly stingrays. This trio of tropical isles, which includes Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, is a treasure trove of marine life.

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Image credit: Ritz Carlton

Grand Cayman, the largest and most Americanised of the three islands, is a glitzy shopping mecca and global financial centre – with resorts (such as the Ritz Carlton) lining up its fabulous Seven Mile Beach.

Once the sun goes down, check out the thriving nightlife scene on Seven Mile Beach, where the wealthy dine, drink and party. The Macumba Lounge, right in front of the Westin Hotel, is an excellent martini bar and lounge with great entertainment every night. Camana Bay, a lively waterfront town, is also the epitome of luxury here – with Caribbean dining options such as Abacus and Agua Restaurant and Lounge.

How to get there: Get on a Singapore Airlines flight to London, where you’ll get on a connecting British Airways flight to Nassau International Airport, followed by Grand Cayman Island – also on British Airways. 

Jamaica

Jamaica has long been a vacation haven for the luxury-seeking elite. From John F. Kennedy to Prince Charles and even Beyonce, the destination has hosted the rich, royal and famous. It is no wonder then that Jamaica boasts some of the most lavish retreats.

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The GoldenEye, where author and James Bond creator Ian Fleming penned all 14 novels. Image credit: The Address Magazine

Check out GoldenEye, the former home of author and James Bond creator Ian Fleming – which features secret coves, breathtaking private beaches, tropical forests and a seawater lagoon. It is no wonder he chose to hide here in isolation while penning all 14 James Bond novels. We’d all be more creative with THAT landscape surrounding us, honestly.

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Image credit: 7 Waterworks

While famed for its picturesque beaches and world class beach resorts, that’s not all there is to Jamaica. It’s capital city, Kingston, has been named a Creative City of Music by UNESCO. Bask in the spirited Rastafarian culture and reggae music by attending live concerts and festivals while you’re there. Additionally, don’t miss the Bob Marley Museum, which pays tribute to the late Jamaican singer and is situated on the site of the legendary musician’s home.

How to get there: Jamaica is served by two airports, Kingston and Montego Bay. Fly via British Airways to London, where you’ll get on a British Airways operated connecting flight to Kingston. To get to Montego Bay, get on a flight to Miami, where you’ll get on a connecting flight to your destination. 

Trinidad 

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Trinidad’s vibrant costumes. Image credit: Uncommon Caribbean

Home of Calypso, the steel drum and probably the world’s best carnival, the Port of Spain has a zest for life and is a vibrant hub for Caribbean cuisine and exciting nightlife. Forming part of the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad is the larger island and is an incredible place to visit if you enjoy wining, dining, dancing and shopping.

If you’re hoping for wild night outs in the Caribbean, Trinidad is just the place to go. Partying is Trinidadians’ way of life, with a range of upscale bars, swanky nightclubs and multi-level VIP clubs dazzled by lights and sizzling cocktails. Check out Aria Lounge, one of the trendiest hot spots for the well-heeled crowd.

Beyond the flashing lights, the island is also a nature lover’s paradise. Featuring thick rainforests and beautiful waters, Trinidad is renowned for its birdlife and mystical manatees.

How to get there: Get on EVA Air to Taipei, where you’ll get a connecting flight to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, followed by Caribbean Airlines to the Port of Spain.

Tobago 

Tobago is like Trinidad’s more laid-back sister who prefers spending Friday nights at home sipping wine, thus complementing Trinidad perfectly. If you’re up for a relaxed vacation, you might want to skip the parties and carnivals of Trinidad and jet off straight to this island.

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The world-famous Buccoo Reef. Image credit: Climate and Reefs

Tobago boasts perfect views and a quintessential Caribbean vibe – a strip of elongated land with unspoilt palm-lined beaches, biodiverse lush rainforests and pristine coral reefs thriving with rich marine life. Buccoo Reef, Tobago’s largest reef, has been named as the third most spectacular reef in the world.

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The Magdelena Grand Beach Resort. Image credit: Recommend

There is also no shortage of lavish resorts. Magdalena Grand Beach Resort, named after one of Christopher Columbus’ ships (and also the original name of Tobago), is a 750-acre gated community of luxury villas, condos and bungalows around the Tobago Plantations PGA designed Championship 18-hole golf course.

How to get there: Get on EVA Air to Taipei, where you’ll get a connecting flight to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, followed by Caribbean Airlines to the Port of Spain.

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.