4 Lesser-Known Islands in the Caribbean Worth Visiting

These Caribbean islands are perfect for a crowd-free vacation.

Green land in the daytime, surrounded by ocean water

The dual-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest country in the Americas.

Photo by Katherine LaGrave

As a lover of all things Caribbean, I often find it part of my mission to share how each island truly is its own special place, full of a distinct history and traditions. Part of discovering these singular experiences is through traveling to places with fewer crowds, locations that don’t constantly flood social media timelines or “best of” lists.

There are Caribbean countries that don’t open ports for mega cruise ships to line up for a day of duty-free shopping; there are places without crowds of spring break travelers or high-rise hotels. What you’ll experience instead is seclusion, intimate communes with nature, and authentic glimpses into everyday life, from the hustle of vendors at bustling marketplaces to a makeshift bar selling rum punch and other sundries.

These four countries have strong cultural traditions, proud residents, and smaller crowds of travelers who have been visiting for years—for good reason. Read on to learn more about what to do in each place.

1. St. Kitts

St. Kitts, the larger island of St. Kitts and Nevis, features a mix of nightlife activities and daytime excursions—hike up dormant Mount Liamuiga on the western end of the island, or take a scenic ride on St. Kitts Scenic Railway, the last one in all of the Caribbean. Onboard, passengers can enjoy a three-hour tour of the island’s history with complimentary cocktails. Do some shopping for fresh produce at the lively Public Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and spend the evening at the Strip, a collection of oceanfront bars and restaurants always filled with crowds and good energy. And speaking of crowds, this December, the island will come alive with the annual carnival celebration, called Sugar Mas. Rum lovers can enjoy immersive experiences through the newly launched Kittitian RumMaster program, led by two experts who take participants on a journey of history, distillation, and tastings.

Where to stay

Located on the soft sands of Banana Bay, this luxury resort features 124 rooms and suites; some feature private rooftop swimming pools and sundecks. Curated experiences for guests include private cooking classes and a starlight dining experience that offers unobstructed views of the sky and nearby Nevis.

People walking by the beach with a patio in the foreground.

The car-free Little Corn Island is about 2 miles long.

Photo Courtesy of Yemaya Reefs

2. Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Situated in the Caribbean some 50 miles off Nicaragua’s eastern coast, Little Corn Island is not a place I’d heard of until I visited last month. At roughly 1.5 square miles in size, the island brims with dense mangroves, flourishing jungles, and a turquoise ocean to snorkel through networks of coral reefs.

As with most secluded journeys worth the time, I first had to fly into Nicaragua’s capital city of Managua, then take a 90-minute flight to Little Corn’s larger neighbor, Big Corn Island. From there, a 30-minute boat ride landed me at Yemaya Reefs, an oceanfront boutique property lined with 16 individual casitas and sloping palm trees. Here, options include spending the day in a hammock by the ocean or enjoying one of the property’s curated activities, which include yoga, hiking through nearby forests, snorkeling, or a massage with calming waves in the background.

Seafood restaurant Erizo is open to both hotel guests and visitors, with a rotating menu—featuring entrées like coconut breaded shrimp and butterflied yellowtail fish—that’s been curated by award-winning Jamaican chef Adrian Forte, alongside executive chef Byardo Martinez. “It’s essential for me to help highlight and celebrate the rich culinary heritage of Afro-Nicaraguans. By doing so, we honor their ancestral legacy and unity within our other diaspora communities,” says Forte. Yemaya also celebrates its resident’s heritage with Garifuna dancers and musicians from the island who perform during a weekly bonfire beach dinner. Beyond Yemaya, the vehicle-free Little Corn is home to a handful of bars and restaurants that come alive at night, including Cafe Desideri, where I unashamedly belted out Beyoncé’s Renaissance album with friends to a group of lively strangers on karaoke night.

Where to stay

Yemaya Reefs is a 16-suite property with some rooms that feature private plunge pools and outdoor showers.

Two yellow boats at Carenaga harbour of St. George's

While visiting Grenada’s capital, look out for the pastel-colored houses by the water.

Photo by lidian Neeleman/Shutterstock

2. Grenada

Known as the Caribbean’s Spice Isle because of its abundance of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, Grenada is a country full of flavor, culture, and natural beauty at every turn. Situated north of Trinidad & Tobago, the island’s Grenada frogs and mona monkeys are best spotted in places like Grand Etang National Park & Forest Reserve, a mountainous forest with trails to hike. Thirty minutes away by car, 17th-century plantation Belmont Estate has a farm where visitors can take a tour and learn about tree-to-bar chocolate production.

Chocolate lovers can also enjoy a number of experiences from the cocoa that’s harvested all around the island, including a rum and chocolate pairing at True Blue Bay, and even a cocoa bath soak at its spa. For the ultimate celebration, the annual Chocolate Fest in May includes nine days of tastings, exploration of cocoa fields, and even a chocolate yoga meditation. Grenada is also home to Spicemas, a Carnival celebration that takes place every August and includes an explosion of colors on detailed costumes, the echoing sounds of soca throughout the island, and celebrations like J’ouvert that honor the emancipation and strength of enslaved people.

On the dining front, Dexter’s features flavorful dishes like dorado with plantain cakes, all made by chef Dexter Burrus, who has been cooking for more than 30 years. At BB’s Crabback, it would be a mistake to miss crabback, a dish of seasoned crab meat stuffed into a crab’s shell, and oildown—a savory one-pot stew filled with salted meat and vegetables.

Where to stay

For large groups, the four-bedroom Villa Solitaire is an ideal choice for both its spacious two-acre layout and sweeping ocean views. The 64-suite Spice Island Beach Resort is located on the popular Grand Anse Beach; it is also the only Black-owned five-star hotel in the Caribbean. Its nightly menu at Creole-Caribbean focused Oliver’s, featuring dishes like braised rabbit legs and banana sorbet, is not to be missed.

Landscape view of the volcanic Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius seen from St Kitts

Travelers visiting St Kitts can see Sint Eustatius from afar.

Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock

4. Sint Eustatius

Often called “Statia” by residents, this island sits between St. Kitts and St. Bart’s. Ideal for intrepid travelers with a thirst for adventure, Sint Eustatius is home to more than 10 square miles of protected marine reserve, where divers can spot nurse sharks, turtles, and shipwrecks among the 36 diving sites around the island. A dormant volcano called the Quill leads to dozens of hiking trails and panoramic views of the island. Along the way, you’ll also find a rain forest bursting with flora, fauna, and exotic birds, like the bridled quail dove.

The island’s capital, Oranjestad, offers a historic downtown connected by cobblestone streets. The hub of bars and restaurants are located here, including the alfresco Ocean View Terrace that serves up dishes like baked snapper with shrimp sauce.

Where to stay

The island’s first luxury boutique resort, Golden Rock, opened in 2021 and features 70 rooms, suites, and cottages set among 40 acres of gardens. Sustainable systems on property include solar panels and reverse osmosis machines that turn saltwater into drinking water. Guests can enjoy excursions like hikes to the nearby Quill, snorkeling, or dining on fresh seafood at Breeze Restaurant.

Kristin Braswell is a travel journalist and founder of Crush Global Travel. She has penned pieces for Vogue, CNN, USA Today, Essence, NPR, Architectural Digest, Ebony, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Her perfect day includes soca music, rum, and the ocean.
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