Shh! These top beaches used to be a se­cret

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE | TRAVEL - Me­lanie Reffes

If you thought all beaches were cre­ated equal, think again. Sure, some trav­el­ers pre­fer the party scene but for the bona fide beach aficionado, it’s that qui­eter nook that is worth seek­ing out. What the smaller out-of-the way beaches lack in ameni­ties, they more than make up with count­less miles of but­tery sand, seclu­sion and seren­ity. Plant your sun lounger by the water’s edge and check out our list of the top se­cret beaches in the Caribbean, and try not to let the cat out of the bag.

Ja­maica

Away from the busy beaches on the re­sort-lined north­west coast, Doc­tor’s Cave on the Hip Strip in the heart of Mon­tego Bay is the beach less-trav­eled. Dat­ing to 1906 when Dr. Alexan­der James McCatty opened one of Ja­maica’s first bathing clubs, the water was re­puted to have heal­ing pow­ers. To­day, the bath-warm water with year-round tem­per­a­tures between 78 and 84 de­grees Fahren­heit is still the per­fect pre­scrip­tion for re­lax­ation. The beach, part of the Mon­tego Bay Ma­rine Park, al­lows vis­i­tors easy ac­cess to a boat­load of water sports while a spir­ited un­der­wa­ter awaits the snorkel­ers in the crowd.

St. Maarten

On the Dutch side of the dual-na­tion is­land, Mul­let Bay is a word-of-mouth beach. A pretty pal­ette of teal blue and talc white, the long sandy rib­bon on the south­west coast is dot­ted with palms and sea grape trees. The no-frills beach is easy to find off Rhine Road near the is­land’s only golf course. The week­end vibe is lively with lo­cals play­ing vol­ley­ball on the sand, party cata­ma­rans skirt­ing the shore­line, and fisher­men on the jetty 50 yards from shore.

An­guilla

It may be hard to find, but Lit­tle Bay Beach is a sandy se­cret worth dis­cov­er­ing. The un­spoiled spit is book­ended by cliffs. Keep your eyes open and your cam­era charged as grace­ful pel­i­cans fly from the beach to the sea and back.

Cu­ra­cao

A bonus for beach-hop­pers, Playa Kenepa on the west side of the is­land is re­ally two beaches rolled into one. The big­ger beach, known as Grote Knip, is car­peted in white sand while the more in­ti­mate Klein Knip is fa­vored for snor­kel­ing. These bucket-list beaches are never crowded, apart from lo­cals. Half­way between the two beaches is an un­der-the-radar cliffside look­out point.

British Vir­gin Is­lands

Lo’Blolly Bay is a blind­ing white beach guarded by Horse­shoe Reef that, at 18 miles long, is the Eastern Caribbean’s third-largest con­tin­u­ous coral reef. A bo­nanza for bone fisher­men and nir­vana for scuba divers, the east end of the beach is home to springs bub­bling from coral beds and piles of conch shells that once were pi­rates’ trea­sures.

Turks and Caicos Is­lands

Long Bay Beach is a world away and a short drive from the more pop­u­lar Grace Bay Beach. A good bet for fam­i­lies, the water is so clear and shal­low, you can eas­ily walk (or ride a horse) hun­dreds of feet be­yond the shore­line. The beach is big with kite­board­ers and stand-up pad­dle­board­ers and worth a re­turn visit at night when the moon­scape re­flected on the still water is mys­ti­cal.

St. Lu­cia

De­spite its name, Pi­geon Is­land is con­nected to the main­land and there’s nary a pi­geon in sight. A placid al­ter­na­tive to Re­duit Beach across the bay, the beach is pop­u­lar with carb-cravers who rave about the ro­tis and Pi­ton beer at Jambe de Bois, a rus­tic water­front cafe.

Cay­man Is­lands

It’s no sur­prise that the best-kept beach se­cret is on Lit­tle Cay­man. Point of Sand is the pret­ti­est sandy perch this side of a post­card. The beach is prime for snor­kel­ing and swim­ming.

An­tigua

Ren­dezvous Bay Beach is one of 365 beaches on the is­land, within the na­tional park. The 30-minute trek along a foot­path from Fig Tree Hill, English Har­bour or Carlisle Bay, or a boat ride from English Har­bour, is well worth the ef­fort.

Aruba

Baby Beach near San Ni­co­las is a de­light­ful half-moon in a la­goon. Un­crowded above the waves, down un­der bus­tles with a kalei­do­scope of bar­racuda, par­rot fish and squid that hang out to­wards the in­let. On a clear day, Venezuela can be spot­ted in the dis­tance.

BRITISH VIR­GIN IS­LANDS TOURIST BOARD

Lo’Blolly Bay beach.

CU­RA­CAO TOURIST BOARD

Cliff divers try Playa Kenepa.

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