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Deserted beaches, sleepy fishing villages and kaleidoscopic reefs: our guide to getting off the beaten path in the Caribbean


28 March, 2023


15 March, 2024

Butter-soft sand that melts between your toes, palm trees which sway lazily in the breeze, and deliciously refreshing rum cocktails – these are just some of the many allures of a Caribbean getaway.

The balmy region is the perfect place for a relaxing villa escape. However, with over three dozen spectacular countries and overseas territories to choose between, you might be wondering exactly which is the best island to go to in the Caribbean. While the elegant glamour of St Barts and the vibrant culture of Jamaica hold a wealth of charm for first-time visitors and old-timers alike, there are plenty of lesser-known islands to consider too.

With endless hidden gems scattered throughout the region, you can enjoy deserted beaches and secret cays to your heart’s content. Whether you're after a tranquil desert island experience, a taste of authentic local culture or somewhere with once-in-a-lifetime wildlife activities, here's our top pick of the least touristy Caribbean islands:

The Cayman Islands

This trio of gorgeous islands are nestled in the western Caribbean, not far from Jamaica. They've been a British Overseas Territory for centuries, and you'll find they're among the region's most contemporary destinations for a holiday.

While they’re a popular day trip stop on many cruise ship itineraries, the Cayman Islands remain a relatively off-the-beaten-path Caribbean location for overnight visitors. All three have plenty to offer, though – especially Grand Cayman, with its magnificent blend of high-end accommodation, gourmet dining options, intriguing heritage sites and fabulous natural attractions.

The west side of the island, particularly the area around Seven Mile Beach, is the most developed and where you’ll find an enticing collection of beach resorts, tempting restaurants and inviting cocktail bars with uninterrupted ocean outlooks. Want to explore further afield? Head east, and you'll experience an entirely different side to this underrated Caribbean island.

Miles of untouched coastline studded with fusion dining spots and no-frills beach shacks are matched by enchanting nature reserves like the peaceful Queen Elizabeth Country Park, home to Cayman’s native endangered blue iguanas. For more animal encounters, continue around the coastal road to Rum Point, where you can set sail on catamaran trips to Stingray City to swim alongside dozens of rays.

If you want to get away from it all, hop on a short flight to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Both are incredibly laidback (you can typically only get around them on foot or bicycle), plus the latter is hands-down one of the best snorkelling spots in the Caribbean.

Discover more with our Grand Cayman travel guide

Turks and Caicos

Over 40 breathtaking isles make up this slice of paradise just south of the Bahamas. Only 12 are inhabited, including Providenciales (Provos for short), the island nation’s most developed locale.

Provos may be the most popular spot for a beach break in Turks and Caicos, but it's still a relatively hidden gem when it comes to Caribbean getaways. Venture away from bustling yet beautiful Grace Bay Beach, and you'll discover a bounty of barefoot beaches on the island’s southern coast, including the blissful Taylor Bay Beach on the edge of Chalk Sound National Park and the sheltered Sapodilla Bay.

Always wanted to experience being the sole person on a tropical island? Charter a yacht for the day and sail leisurely around the tiny islets sandwiched between Provos and North Caicos. Alternatively, South Caicos is a serene oasis perfect for those seeking untouched beaches where the only background noise is the sound of waves gently lapping against sugar-soft sand.

Discover more with our Turks & Caicos travel guide

St Martin

The fabulous French Antilles archipelago is no stranger to visitors craving a secluded beach vacation in the Caribbean. If you’re a fan of beautiful beaches and outstanding local food, then the low-key Caribbean island of St Martin will suit you down to the ground.

St Martin (or Sint Maarten) has all the standard features of a Caribbean resort – but it’s also got culture and history in droves. That’s all down to the fact that it’s half French and half Dutch. Add some Afro-Caribbean traditions into the mix, and it really is one of the most diverse destinations in the entire region.

If you’re searching for seclusion, then steer clear of the much-loved and ultra-glamorous Terres Bases neighbourhood on the French side of the island in favour of St Martin’s quieter beach destinations. Dawn Beach and Guana Bay on the Dutch side are both ideal quiet Caribbean vacation spots. Or, why not venture to the north of St Martin to explore pristine wildernesses like Grandes Cayes Nature Reserve? From there, you can kayak, paddleboard or hop on a boat to Isla de Pinel: a hotspot for windswept hikes, sea bathing and iguana spotting.

St Martin’s Franco-Caribbean food scene is not to be missed, either. Grand Case Boulevard stretches out along the Baie de Grand Case on the French side, and it's teeming with high-end restaurants where you can sample the island's mouth-watering fusion cuisine.

Discover more with our St Martin travel guide

British Virgin Islands

Want to truly get off the beaten path in the Caribbean? The British Virgin Islands boasts an archipelago of 60 or so isles that all offer unspoiled coastlines, verdant jungle interiors and some of the most mesmerising sunsets you'll ever see.

From low-lying atolls lapped by shallow, bath-like waters to volcanic islands with dramatic mountainous hearts, the landscapes of the BVI's are incredibly varied. Only a small section of the archipelago is inhabited, but you can still visit many of the smaller islands on day trips. Base yourself in a villa on one of Virgin Gorda's idyllic beaches for a balance of tranquillity, tantalising dining and exhilarating water sports. From here, it's only a short boat ride to the reef-enveloped Prickly Pear Island or the world-class snorkelling spot of Cooper Island.

Alternatively, far-flung Anegada on the very northeastern boundary of BVI is arguably one of the least touristy islands in the Caribbean. It's the flattest in the territory, too, and the most laidback - ideal if you’re craving a spot of solitude. Reachable from Virgin Gorda by helicopter, this is a great place for a desert island day trip. Expect to spend your time here seeking stingrays in the shallows, enjoying cocktails on the sand and savouring the island's speciality cuisine – lobster.

Discover more with our British Virgin Islands (BVI) travel guide

St John

When visiting the US Virgin Islands, many visitors choose to base themselves on St Thomas, thanks to its upscale dining, a plethora of duty-free shops and a world-class golf course. Nevertheless, the smaller St John should certainly be on your radar too.

It’s one of the least visited Caribbean islands, thanks in part to the fact you can only reach it by ferry from St Thomas. The journey is well worth it, though, as the island is a true treasure of the Caribbean. The majority of it lies within the Virgin Islands National Park, making it an absolute paradise for nature lovers.

Get ready to traverse hiking trails which weave their way up lush mountainsides and through historic sugar plantations. There are additionally lots of mesmerising marine life and rainbow-hued coral to admire off St John’s beautiful beaches. Instead of making a beeline for bustling Trunk Bay, why not snorkel at quieter spots further down the coast, such as Honeymoon Bay or Hawksnest Beach?

Discover more with our St John travel guide


Anguilla’s main island may only be 26 kilometres long, but it offers up no fewer than 33 breath-taking beaches to laze around on. The petite British Territory is found north of St Martin, and it's one of the best islands to go to in the Caribbean for water-based adventures.

Whether you’re snorkelling or diving, there’s so much to see beneath the sparkling surface around Anguilla’s shores – from kaleidoscopic shoals of fish and graceful manta rays to numerous eerie shipwrecks. A must-do is an excursion to Prickly Pear Cays. These tranquil specks of land sit off the main island's west coast, and their waters are abundant in magical marine life. Alternatively, why not dive through underwater tunnels at Ram's Head or swim out to the vibrant reef at Crocus Bay to spot sea cucumbers, urchins and turtles?

Anguilla is a divine destination for those hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Wake up to panoramic sea vistas from your chic beach villa and spend your days discovering secluded coves tucked away around the main island. You could even horse trek across sweeping dunes or charter a yacht to watch, drink in hand, as the sun disappears below the horizon, leaving the sky painted with a riot of colours.

Discover more with our Anguilla travel guide

The onefinestay experience

No matter which Caribbean island you decide to visit, you're guaranteed a memorable escape when you book with onefinestay. You'll benefit from our outstanding concierge services as well as our vast range of beautiful beach villas. From private chefs and yacht charters to one-of-a-kind experiences and activities, allow us to tailor your next secluded beach vacation in the Caribbean.

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