5 Caribbean Vacations to Recharge Your Batteries
Because we could all use a break.
Tropical birds chattering amid lush rainforest foliage. Palm fronds rustling overhead, disturbed by gentle trade winds. Foamy waves shushing against a sandy shoreline. Do you hear that? Paradise is calling.
If you’re ready for a dreamy Caribbean escape, AAA partner Travel Impressions can help. With the company’s portfolio of more than 250,000 hotels, resorts and villas, and 35,000 excursions to some 1,300 destinations around the globe, the options for an unforgettable vacation are practically endless.
Need inspiration? These five Caribbean vacations come with plenty of sun and fun.
Scattered across 500 miles of turquoise waters just 50 miles from the coast of Florida, the more than 700 islands and cays that make up the Bahamas beckon with sugar-sand beaches and laid-back charm. Among the places to play: bustling Nassau, with its 2.5-mile stretch of Cable Beach; Paradise Island, home to the world’s largest open-air marine habitat; Grand Bahama Island, where Lucayan National Park boasts a 6-mile underwater cave system; and the more secluded Out Islands, where getting away from it all is the reason to go.
Must-do excursions: Take a guided walking tour of Nassau to learn about the city’s rich history. Glide over Nassau Harbor on a glass-bottom boat tour and feed the fish in the famous Sea Garden. Sip and savor island-made rum on a guided distillery tour in Nassau while you discover the history behind the distillery’s roots and smell the rum as it ages.
Favorite stays: The AAA Four Diamond Grand Hyatt Baha Mar sits along the white sands of New Providence Island and features an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the Caribbean’s largest upscale casino. Just across the water, Atlantis, Paradise Island features five distinct resorts, a 141-acre water park and a marine habitat with 14 lagoons and 50,000 aquatic animals including dolphins, sharks, rays, sea turtles and more.
Whether you’re looking for vibrant nightlife set to reggae beats, the chance to hike amid wild jungle landscapes or simply a few relaxing moments with your toes buried in sugar-soft sand, Jamaica delivers. The birthplace of Bob Marley is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea, with six distinct resort areas within its 146-mile length. Among the delights: chic shopping and championship golf courses in Montego Bay, 600-foot-long Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and the vibrant capital of Kingston—the largest English-speaking city south of Miami.
Must-do excursions: Take a guided float on a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River. Swim in the aquamarine waters of the Blue Hole mineral spring, surrounded by the rustling rainforest. Hike to Mayfield Falls, hidden deep in the heart of the jungle. Or stroll along the pristine shoreline of famed Seven Mile Beach.
Favorite stays: AAA Four Diamond Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa boasts the only rooftop pool bar in Jamaica. For family fun, AAA Four Diamond Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites caters to the younger set with a lazy river and a water park. And AAA Four Diamond Jamaica Inn, a mainstay since 1950, sits on a 700-foot private beach that’s considered among the best in the Caribbean.
3. Dominican Republic
A sunny beach or an emerald-green golf course? In the Dominican Republic, you don’t have to choose. This friendly nation shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, its sandy shores lapped by the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. In addition to golf courses designed by legends like Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo and the beachfront resorts that have made this the Caribbean’s most-visited country, you’ll find rainforests and savannas, the region’s tallest mountain and charming towns full of colonial architecture.
Must-do excursions: Take a surfing lesson at Macao Beach in Punta Cana. Ride the cable car in Puerto Plata more than 2,000 feet up to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres. Stroll through Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th-century village and a haven for local artisans. Or ride into the jungle on horseback and cool off in the freshwater pool beneath El Limon waterfall.
Favorite stays: AAA Four Diamond Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa has one of the largest pools in the Dominican Republic. AAA Four Diamond Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana boasts an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a Vegas-style casino and activities just for kids. And AAA Four Diamond Paradisus Punta Cana Resort is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and mangroves in prestigious Bavaro Beach.
Nestled in the southern Caribbean Sea, this tiny island (only 69.5 square miles!) is practically bursting with delights—starting with the weather. Light trade winds help keep the average temperature around 82 degrees, and Aruba records more sunny days than any other Caribbean island. And thanks to its location outside the hurricane belt, storms aren’t a worry on Aruba. Your only concern will be making sure you take it all in—from family- and sea turtle-friendly Eagle Beach to glamorous Palm Beach, from desertlike landscapes populated by curious iguanas to the city of Oranjestad with its colorful Dutch colonial architecture.
Must-do excursions: Go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters surrounding Aruba and swim past the Antilla, one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks—now home to corals, sponges, sea turtles and other marine life. Then, take a sunset sail on board a catamaran for breathtaking views of Aruba’s scenic coastline.
Favorite stays: Located on its own private beach, AAA Four Diamond Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is divided into two zones—one for adults only and one that’s family-friendly. AAA Three Diamond Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort charms with colorful Dutch colonial architecture—and it’s pet-friendly, too.
5. Puerto Rico
No passport needed to visit this tropical U.S. territory just east of the Dominican Republic. This island paradise boasts almost 300 miles of coastline and nearly as many beaches. It’s also home to El Yunque, the only rainforest managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and is the birthplace of the pina colada—now the island’s official drink. Old San Juan charms with cobblestone streets, pastel-hued colonial buildings, vibrant markets, fascinating museums and centuries-old forts. And when the sun goes down, the waters of the island’s bioluminescent bays take on an otherworldly glow.
Must-do excursions: Take a hike through El Yunque National Forest and listen for the coqui frog’s distinct call of “ko-kee, ko-kee.” Stroll around Castillo San Felipe del Morro, where soldiers once guarded the harbor, and fly a kite in the trade winds. Or go on a tour of the Bacardi rum factory to learn about the past, present and future of this world-renowned spirit.
Favorite stays: Built in 1919, AAA Four Diamond Condado Vanderbilt Hotel was San Juan’s first oceanfront luxury hotel. AAA Four Diamond La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort is a retro landmark originally built in 1958 and completely reimagined for the 21st century. And AAA Four Diamond San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has something for all ages, with a water slide and full-service casino.