By Melissa Alvarado Sierra | Published on June 14, 2023

Immerse yourself in the vibrant essence of the Caribbean by embarking on an island-hopping adventure. Sail through a picturesque tapestry of tropical wonders, indulging in the diverse sensory delights of each island along the way. Discover the rhythm of the Caribbean's local culture as you hop from one vacation spot to another, creating unforgettable memories in paradise

A Guide To Island-Hopping In The Caribbean

A Guide ToIsland-Hopping In The Caribbean


Island-hopping in the Caribbean is one of the best ways to experience this corner of the world. Sail from island to island through a tropical tapestry of sounds, vistas and flavors. Embark on an island-hopping journey and move to the beat of the local drum at these Caribbean vacation spots.

Route 1




Cozumel, one of the western Caribbean islands, is a melange of moods — from the calm neighborhoods where the locals live to the lively and popular tourist grounds. Diving or snorkeling are the two unmissable things to do here, so make sure to explore what lies beneath the aqua sea.




Island-jumping from Cozumel to Tulum is so easy. Head to Pueblo for trendy taco joints, yoga studios and craft cocktail bars. Reach Playa for swoon-worthy beaches. And don't miss the Mayan ruins, cenotes and bioreserves.


Belize City


Belize features colonial architecture, parks, and shopping, but the real draw here is the famed Blue Hole.




A Caribbean island-hopping cruise will take you to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras famous for its seemingly untouched coral reefs, the beautiful West Bay beach and forests filled with pine trees.

Route 2




Come to Perfect Day at CocoCay for the waterpark thrills, stay for the Bora Bora-style cabanas. This private island boasts a paradisiacal coastline, a pristine lagoon, a beach club, a waterpark and sweeping views of the island from a giant helium balloon.




The water is a different shade of blue in this part of the world, so make sure you hit more than one beach. Then, explore Nassau's bustling town and restaurants serving a Caribbean feast.




Beautiful and soulful Falmouth, Jamaica is home to storied Georgian-style structures, relaxing sandy beaches and some of the best foodie spots in the Caribbean.




Labadee is a private destination filled with colorful coral reefs, sultry jungles, and a heart-shaped beach. Disconnect and immerse yourself in the natural beauty, sip on a Labadoozie cocktail and get that Instagrammable shot of you against a dreamy backdrop at Columbus Cove.

Route 3


San Juan

Puerto Rico

San Juan is a romantic city with world-class restaurants, world-renowned bars, mom-and-pop shops, vintage boutiques and charming bookstores at just about every corner.


St. Thomas

The only U.S. Virgin Island (USVI) with a cosmopolitan feel, St. Thomas is the place for spectacular nightlife, duty-free shopping, and lively crowds living it up in paradise. It's also a great jumping-off point to the other USVI, like the nearby stunner St. John.


St. Croix

Once called the "Garden of the Antilles," you'll find dense jungles and protected isles like Buck Island, the historic towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted, and some of the best food and rum around in St. Croix.


St. Maarten

Zoom on a zip-line, marvel at a butterfly farm, and check out great shopping and rums galore. St. Maarten is a gem in the eastern Caribbean islands.

Download this infographic (pdf) (jpg)

Iceland Reykjavik Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa
Iceland Reykjavik Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa

Getting There

Island-hop your way through the best Caribbean vacation spots with Royal Caribbean

Book Now



Imagine, one day you're exploring shipwrecks in the Bahamas, the next, you're out salsa dancing in San Juan, and then you're beneath a palm tree in Haiti. You're island-hopping in the Caribbean — jumping from one paradise to the next in a sun-drenched chain of adventure and exploration. Caribbean island-hopping is the best way to experience the tropics.


Island-hopping is when you don't limit yourself to one destination on a vacation and instead travel from island to island. It's the exhilarating and strategic movement of the savvy island traveler — and the savviest of all know that cruising is an exciting way to achieve this experience. Island-hopping in the Caribbean is the best way to enjoy your tropical vacation.

With cruising, you're already jumping between island destinations, but then at every port of call, you have the chance to find even more islands nearby. And it can all be done before the ship leaves for the next port of call. The island-hopping opportunities are maximized to the nth degree. A cruise ship is the best place to be if you want to island-hop like a pro.


Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas is like nothing else out there, a place where both young and old get to play. If you're looking for thrills, dare to soar on 1,600 feet of zip line above the island, conquer the tallest waterslide in the Caribbean or reach even greater heights with a helium balloon ride to see the private island like never before. If you're looking to unwind, jump on an overwater cabana and melt into its plushness — the perfect place for a quick nap. Like to swim? You have plenty of options: the Oasis Lagoon, South Beach and Chill Island are prime swimming spots.

Then, head to nearby Nassau, known by some as the "Isle of June." It's the capital of the Bahamas and a former pirate's refuge. Head to the Fulton Historic District or the lively Straw Market on Bay Street for straw bags and hats, rum cake and guava duffs. From there, take a scenic boat ride to the tiny island of Blue Lagoon to swim with dolphins and sea lions, and grab grilled Mahi and a Bahama Mama before your next stop.

When docking in Falmouth, Jamaica, you'll find friendly vendors filling the blossoming streets, selling their artisan pieces from charming wood carts. For a taste of rum, stop by the Hampden Estate distillery, which opened in 1759. If you're a music lover with only one day in Falmouth, don't skip the Reggae Walk of Fame and Museum. This is the place to learn about the history and importance of this genre, as well as the biggest name in reggae — Bob Marley. Finally, visit Red Stripe Beach, the sandy beach with at least four different shades of blue.

Your trip ends with a cruise to the Caribbean vacation spot of Labadee, Haiti, a private island getaway where you can lay back and relax in spots like Columbus Cove, a hidden beach perfect for disconnecting from the world. Meanwhile, adventure junkies will find an exciting playground of zip lines, speedboats and an alpine coaster. And for an aquatic quest, there's Arawak Aqua Park, a watercourse featuring the only icebergs in the Caribbean.


When you cruise from GalvestonNew Orleans, or Florida, you can visit some of the best beaches in the world filled with colorful arrecife. Arrecife means reef in Spanish, and Cozumel, one of the western Caribbean islands, is one of the best Caribbean vacation spots to explore coral reefs and underwater wonders in Mexico. You can hop from the island of Cozumel to Tulum and back again thanks to a fast ferry that travels between these destinations.

Start in Cozumel and head straight to the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park to witness the massive schools of fish, the colorful and abundant coral reefs and the happy sea turtles. Then, bounce over to Tulum, which is known for its mellow, hippie vibe. You can enjoy yoga on the beach, massages that include Mayan rituals and fully vegan menus at every turn.

Biodiverse and serene, Roatán in Honduras is next on your island-hopping list. As a popular destination among backpackers, couples and families, diving is big here, with offshore reefs, coral gardens, shipwrecks (Anguilla and Odyssey are the easiest to find) and a wonderful world of underwater wildlife. You can swim with bottlenose dolphins at Anthony's Key and take a zip line through the forests, meeting monkeys along the way. You can also learn about local traditions by visiting the Garifuna people on Cayo Grande.

Nearby, Belize City is a great hub for shopping, outdoor venues and colonial buildings. It's also the perfect jumping-off point to explore the Blue Hole, a massive underwater sinkhole ringed by an impressive coral reef. If you want to have a swim closer to shore, go to Goff's Caye — a spectacular tiny island with soft sand and aqua waters reachable by a 30-minute boat ride. Find a palapa (thatched roof) to sit under, and enjoy the idyllic views.

For cultural immersion, head to the Museum of Belize in the Fort George District. The modern building was originally Belize's jail, but today, it houses different exhibits showcasing photos, documents and displays of historical significance.


On your journey through the eastern Caribbean islands, your cruise will stop in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. You can quickly explore the historic towns of Frederiksted and Christiansted before you hop to the surrounding isles, like Buck Island. Most of Buck Island is surrounded by an elkhorn coral barrier reef, which you can explore with a diving tour or by snorkeling on your own. You can also bird-watch, hike, sunbathe or have a picnic by the beach. Unlike other places in the Caribbean, Buck Island is a protected National Monument.

From there, jet to feisty St. Maarten. Home to some of the liveliest bars, casinos and beach restaurants, there's also ample opportunity to soak up the peace and quiet. Take a serene morning stroll on Cupecoy Bay, hike among rugged scenery from Guana Bay to Pointe Blanche, or just chill out at Mullet Bay beach, the perfect place for photos, swimming and lounging by the translucent waters.

Then, end your trip in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Enjoy a walk over storied cobblestones, and learn about the island's history at places like Fort San Cristóbal. Pop over to Sr. Paleta to taste local fruity ice cream flavors — the mojito version is quite popular — and try craft cocktails at La Factoría.

Beyond San Juan, there's so much to see just only a few minutes away, such as the El Yunque rainforest in Rio Grande and magnificent waterfalls like La Mina. The experiences you can have when island-hopping in the Caribbean are endless, you just have to book it and go!

Written By

Melissa Alvarado Sierra is a journalist, author and sailor. She's been exploring coastal destinations around the world for more than a decade, always searching for authentic experiences to share with her adventurous readers. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Lonely Planet, Orion Magazine, AFAR, USA Today and others.

Get Royal Deals, Sign Up Today


16 Best Foodie Vacation Destinations


6 Caribbean Islands With Delicious French Cuisine


15 Best Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes


Previewing: Promo Dashboard Campaigns

My Personas