Eleuthera, Caribbean

Eleuthera © iSAW Company/Unsplash

The best Caribbean islands for first-time visitors

Stuck with where to start in this paradisical region? Let us help you plan an itinerary that’s packed with sunshine, wildlife, cocktails and culture

March 2024

By Ashleigh Arnott

The spectacular islands of the Caribbean are what cruises were made for – hopping from one idyllic spot to the next. And while there’s no wrong move when it comes to choosing your route, there are some ports that can really help you tick off the essentials when visiting for the first time.

Our onboard Rhythm of the Caribbean programme enables you to enjoy the region’s spirit while you’re sailing, too. Dance at pool parties, shake up fruity daiquiris, play the steel drums, and even meet macaws, all without stepping off your ship. The programme is available on all Princess Caribbean itineraries.

So, where to begin? We’ve rounded up some of the best Caribbean islands for first-timers, along with their highlights. Sunshine, here we come…

Princess Cays in the Bahamas

Visit our exclusive beach resort, Princess Cays, when sailing around the Bahamas © Princess


The Bahamian island of Eleuthera (accessible via ferry from Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas) is 100 miles long but only two miles wide, meaning it’s practically all beach. Thus, Eleuthera, which incorporates the smaller Harbour Island as well, boasts some of the best examples of a Caribbean must-see: pink sand beaches. The pale pink hue of the sand comes from foraminifera, microscopic coral organisms that have pink and red shells.

Sailing to Eleuthera with Princess means you can also visit Princess Cays, our exclusive beach resort that offers watersports, shopping opportunities and even a complimentary beach barbecue.


To be known for having the best beaches in all of the Caribbean really is some accolade, and Aruba wears this crown proudly. As well as being a sunbather’s dream, the island has crystal-clear waters that make it the perfect place to try snorkelling, and there are plenty of vibrant tropical fish to swim past, even in the very shallow parts of its shoreline. Venture a little deeper into the water on a semi-submarine tour and you’ll get a closer look at Aruba’s coral reefs and the shipwreck Antilla, a remnant from World War II.

St. Thomas Skyride, the Caribbean

Head high to find exceptional views on the island of St. Thomas © St. Thomas Skyride

St. Thomas

The second largest of the US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is well-known for its duty-free shopping, but it also offers a rare chance to see the Caribbean landscape from a very special vantage point. The St. Thomas Skyride is a cable car that travels 200 metres upwards to Paradise Point, a viewpoint where you can see the historic downtown area and harbour, and, on a clear day, the islands of Puerto Rico and St. Croix about 50 miles away. Make a beeline for the onsite bar and restaurant for a signature Baileys Bushwacker cocktail (which contains no less than six types of booze!) to sip on while taking in the vista.

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, is ideal for first-time visitors wanting to see the Caribbean’s majestic marine life. Starfish Point is a stunning stretch of beach, home to a crystal-clear shoreline and an abundance of the bright orange, five-pointed sea creatures; while a boat trip to Stingray City, a group of sandbars situated 25 miles offshore, gives visitors the chance to get up close to magnificent local stingrays. The waist-deep water here enables you to feed and even stroke the friendly fish.

Diamond Botanical Gardens in St. Lucia, Caribbean

Admire out-of-this-world plantlife and wildlife in St. Lucia © Diamond Botanical Gardens

St. Lucia

An incredible 77 per cent of St. Lucia is covered in forest, so when it comes to seeing the wild, verdant side of the Caribbean, there’s no better place to start. Its two mountain peaks, the Pitons, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and their slopes are home to brightly coloured flora and fauna, including hummingbirds, iguanas and the endangered St. Lucia parrot. A visit to the Diamond Botanical Gardens is a wonderful introduction to tropical plant life, as well as a chance to take a dip in the island’s soothing mineral baths – ideal for tired muscles after a hike up the Pitons.

Puerto Rico

The lively city of San Juan in Puerto Rico buzzes with personality, so once you’ve wandered through its 16th-century old town and toured the imposing El Morro fortress, it’s time to settle in for some food, drink and salsa dancing. The Casa Bacardí hosts distillery tours for those who’d like to know more about the iconic rum, and you mustn’t leave the island without trying mofongo, a traditional side dish made of fried plantain, garlic paste and strips of pork crackling.

Excited to explore the Caribbean?

See all our Caribbean itineraries at princess.com

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About the Author

Ashleigh Arnott

Ashleigh Arnott

Ashleigh is a freelance writer who plans her travels around delicious dinners, elegant bakeries and rowdy taprooms. She'd always choose verdant hills over sandy beaches and lives in the UK's greenest city, Sheffield, where you are very likely to find her in a good pub with a pint of stout, even in summer.