Irresistible beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and a cornucopia of vibrant cultures continue to woo millions of visitors to the Caribbean region. From luxury getaways to affordable adventure trips and festivals, each Caribbean destination offers travelers its unique culture and appeal. Here are the top 10 most visited Caribbean islands, which account for 85% of visitors to the Caribbean region. As Caribbean destinations continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, the list of most popular Caribbean islands is ranked using 2021 data, and 2020 data is also provided to show the positive or negative changes in stay-over visitors.
1. Dominican Republic
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 4,994,309 / Year 2020: 2,405,315
The Dominican Republic is the most visited island in the Caribbean. With its seemingly endless white-sand beaches, the Dominican Republic is a popular getaway for tourists searching for an idyllic vacation, plenty of outdoor adventure, and a tinge of colonial history. From its jaw-dropping cliffs to peaceful mangrove lagoons, it’s easy to fall in love with the Dominican Republic’s natural beauty and rich Spanish heritage. Bountiful palm trees complement the turquoise waters of popular Punta Cana to create the perfect postcard from this tropical destination. Outside Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic offers abundant aquamarine adventures at Bahía de las Águilas and the Samaná Peninsula.
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Dominican Republic: Beach Day at Hard Rock Hotel Casino Resort Punta Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Tourist Board.
2. Puerto Rico
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 1,664,866 / Year 2020: 678,854
Puerto Rico jumps to the second most popular destination in the Caribbean. There is much to enjoy as Puerto Rico is an island with old Spanish charm and modern attractions and accommodations. Puerto Rico is home to the El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States, and Casa Bacardi, the world’s largest rum distillery where the piña colada was invented. Its blissful beaches, 23 golf courses, and captivating culture attract scores of visitors to Puerto Rico every year. The island’s breathtaking beauty includes three of only seven bioluminescent bays in the world.
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Puerto Rico: 16th-century citadel in San Juan named Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photo Credit: © Puerto Rico Tourist Board.
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 1,464,399 / Year 2020: 880,404
Jamaica remains the third most visited island in the Caribbean. From Negril’s Seven Mile Beach in the west to breathtaking waterfalls in the east, Jamaica is well known as the playground of the English-speaking Caribbean. With more than 170 attractions spread over the island, there’s something for people of all ages to enjoy. Stroll the beaches of Montego Bay by day and dance to the latest reggae music at one of the city’s nightclubs. In Kingston, explore the life and work of the legendary Bob Marley at his namesake museum and have lunch at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records. Take a thrilling bobsled ride through the forest and go swimming with dolphins in the resort town of Ocho Rios.
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Jamaica: Stunning views from Firefly Ocho Rios. ©Jamaica Tourist Board.
4. The Bahamas
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 892,997 / Year 2020: 445,879
The beautiful island chain of The Bahamas is a haven for relaxation, and its sun-drenched beaches are among the world’s best. With its serene, laidback atmosphere, pristine waters, and rich, vibrant culture, the Bahamas is perfect for a quick weekend getaway or an extended tropical vacation. Take a trip to The Exumas to see the swimming pigs and explore other islands between sips of Bahama Mama, one of many rum-based cocktails on the island. When in The Bahamas, try the famous conch salad and craft beer from the Pirate Republic Brewery.
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Bahamas: Exuma – Swimming with Pigs. Photo Credit: © Bahamas Tourist Board.
5. US Virgin Islands
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 824,461 / Year 2020: 415,749
There’s so much to do in the US Virgin Islands (USVI), from exhilarating adventures to tranquil relaxation and a host of activities in between. Island hopping between St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas is a breeze with regular ferries between the islands. Explore the rich cultural diversity of the islands through mouthwatering local dishes and historical European architecture. When you’re tired of exploring, laze away at the beaches by day, and enjoy the spectacular bioluminescent bays at night. Shopping is also a major attraction of the USVI, thanks to a $1,600 duty-free allowance.
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US Virgin Island: Carnival Revelers. Photo Credit: © Gary Felton via US Virgin Island Department of Tourism.
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 806,534 / Year 2020: 368,322
Visitors to the Dutch enclave of Aruba can enjoy ultimate relaxation on its breathtaking white-sand beaches or embark on thrilling escapades to explore the natural landscape. The coastline offers abundant activities for the watersport enthusiast, including snorkeling, diving, and windsurfing. There are also many land-based options, such as horseback riding and hiking. When you’re done sunbathing at one of its uncrowded beaches, take a dip in the natural pool at the Arikok National Wildlife Park or stroll through the capital, Oranjestad, and gaze at the city’s unique colonial-era architecture.
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Aruba: Family At Butterfly Farm. Photo Credit: © Aruba Tourism Authority.
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 500,000 (estimate) / Year 2020: ???
The former French islands of Guadeloupe are a fascinating archipelago of 5 islands well known for their distinctive Creole culture, cuisine, and celebrations. The main island, Grande-Terre, has a vast limestone plateau fringed with magnificent, white sandy beaches and dozens of beautiful resorts. Head over to Basse-Terre, home to the Guadeloupe National Park, where the La Soufrière volcano can be found. Try Guadeloupe’s delectable creole cuisine, which serves a mouthwatering blend of flavors in dishes like Fricassée de Lambi – Queen Conch stew, and Calalou – a spicy soup of spinach, pork, and land crab.
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Panoramic landscape view of Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, Caribbean Sea. Photo Credit: © napa74 via 123RF.com.
8. Turks & Caicos
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 404,664 / Year 2020: 164,539
The islands of Turks and Caicos are truly among the world’s most incredible destinations. From the powdery white sand beaches to the radiant blue waters, you’ll marvel at the wonder of this magical archipelago. You can dive into the world’s third-largest barrier reef system in the Turks and Caicos and visit the world’s only Conch Farm. Don’t miss the chance to swim at the captivating Grace Bay Beach and spend an evening dancing to ripsaw music. Whether a family vacation or a romantic getaway, these mesmerizing islands provide many options to create perfect memories.
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Barbados: Beautiful white sand beach in Turks & Caicos.
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 356,470 / Year 2020: 1,085,920
Tourists from around the world are drawn to the mystique of Cuba, an island that boasts a pristine coastline, an abundance of parks, and several UNESCO natural reserves. Cuba offers an eclectic blend of old-world charm in its neoclassical and baroque architecture, mixed with post-modernist styles and natural landscapes. Havana is well known for its lively entertainment featuring jazz, Latin music, dance, and copious amounts of rum-flavored drinks. Cuba also has plenty of museums and art galleries that offer a window into the country’s rich history and culture.
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Cuba: Palacio de Valle. Photo Credit: © Cuba Tourist Board.
Stay-Over Tourists: Year 2021: 291,011 / Year 2020: 312,298
The magic of Martinique can be found in its diverse creole cuisine, influenced by the country’s African, European, and Indian heritage. The French island is a nature lover’s paradise with spectacular waterfalls, natural rivers, and magnificent landscapes. Adventure seekers have abundant activities to choose from, including hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, diving, snorkeling, and kitesurfing. Martinique is also home to a dolphin sanctuary where visitors can enjoy dolphin watching and view several species all year round.
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Martinique: View of Saint Pierre Pelee. Photo Credit: © Martinique Tourism Board.
So, which of these top ten most visited Caribbean islands have you visited? And more importantly, which of these do you plan to visit next? Beyond their beautiful beaches, each of these most popular Caribbean islands has a wide range of top attractions, just waiting to be explored! Like all Caribbean destinations, they offer authentic and exciting experiences beyond sun, sand, and sea.
Note: Originally published on September 10th, 2014, this post was updated on November 8th, 2022.