As winter arrives in North America, holiday seekers escape to the warmth of the Caribbean islands for a December getaway. After all, a Caribbean winter escape makes for a tranquil Christmas retreat or an exhilarating way to ring in the new year!
This southern region beckons with its pristine beaches, luxurious resorts, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing vacation or an adventurous escape, these 14 beautiful destinations offer the perfect setting to make the most of this enchanting season.
From popular choices like The Bahamas to hidden gems like Bonaire, we’ll review the best Caribbean islands to visit in December. We’ll also cover why December is ideal for exploring these tropical paradises.
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1. The Bahamas
The Bahamas, an archipelago of 700 islands and 2,400 cays, offers activities catering to every traveler’s desire for sun-soaked relaxation. Luckily, this destination is a quick flight from most U.S. cities, making it a convenient and sought-after getaway.
Notably, Grand Bahama is the best Caribbean island to visit in December, with warm temperatures and low rainfall. After all, you can expect highs of 80°F and only two inches of rain! Plus, you don’t have to worry about hurricanes on your Caribbean Christmas vacation.
The options in the Bahamas are boundless, from swimming with pigs at Big Major Cay to snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto and visiting pink sand beaches. Or, if your visit extends to the day after Christmas, the Junkanoo Festival in Nassau promises an immersive cultural celebration.
2. Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, spanning 22 miles by only 8 miles at its widest point. It’s best known for the famous Seven Mile Beach and its coral reefs teeming with marine life. In fact, you can find various water activities here, like snorkeling and scuba diving.
Popular spots include Stingray City, Coral Gardens, and the Kittiwake shipwreck. However, for a truly unique experience, don’t miss the magic of Bioluminescent Bay, where you can witness the water light up with natural phosphorescence on a kayak tour.
December is one of the best times of year to visit Grand Cayman for reliable weather. So, escape the colder weather and enjoy average highs of around 84°F. Additionally, rainfall won’t be an issue since this month marks the beginning of the dry season on the island.
Bonaire, located in the Dutch Caribbean near Aruba and Curaçao, is one of the hidden gems on this list. In particular, this island is renowned for its exceptional coral reefs and underwater biodiversity, making it a premier destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
December marks the beginning of the dry season, ensuring clear skies and minimal rainfall while exploring Bonaire’s renowned coral reefs and underwater wonders. The average high in December is around 86°F, while the average low is 78°F.
The island’s commitment to conservation is evident at the Bonaire National Marine Park, making it a paradise for nature lovers. You won’t want to miss seeing Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island that you can visit as a day trip!
Besides underwater activities, Bonaire is also home to one of the best windsurfing spots in the world: Lac Bay. We also suggest visiting the colorful capital city of Kralendijk, the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, and the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary.
4. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is known for its stunning landscapes, including pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and towering mountain ranges. This Caribbean nation shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is celebrated for its vibrant culture, rich history, and warm hospitality.
The Dominican Republic is home to the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, Santo Domingo. However, it’s mainly known for some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, like Punta Cana’s Bavaro Beach and Puerto Plata’s Playa Dorada.
December signals the dry season’s start, inviting visitors to enjoy the island’s natural beauty amid clear skies and pleasant temperatures. With average temperatures ranging from 77°F to 82°F, the weather is ideal for all types of outdoor activities during your Caribbean winter vacation.
Explore Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, hike to the stunning Damajagua Waterfalls near Puerto Plata, or enjoy water sports in Cabarete. You’ll also want to take a day trip via boat to the famous Saona Island, part of Cotubanamá National Park.
Aruba is one of the best Caribbean destinations in December due to its perfect blend of sunny weather, minimal rainfall, and festive atmosphere. As winter graces the Northern Hemisphere, Aruba offers a warm escape with temperatures averaging around 82°F (28°C).
In fact, it’s one of the warmest Caribbean islands in December on this list! This month kicks off the dry season, ensuring clear skies and calm seas for water activities like snorkeling and windsurfing.
The island is also known for its consistently sunny weather and pleasant trade winds. Nonetheless, its diverse marine life and vibrant coral reefs, including the famous Antilla shipwreck, attract diving enthusiasts from around the world.
View the ancient cave paintings at Arikok National Park, lounge on the top-rated Eagle Beach, or stroll through the vibrant capital, Oranjestad. You’ll also want to visit the famous Flamingo Beach, part of the Renaissance Private Island.
6. Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos is known for its pristine beaches featuring powdery white sands and clear turquoise waters. Renowned for its exceptional coral reefs, the islands offer world-class snorkeling and diving experiences, with sites like Grace Bay Beach and the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef.
The destination is celebrated for its luxury resorts, attracting those seeking a sophisticated and relaxing retreat. As you can imagine, hotel rates are at their highest during December and January. So, this island isn’t typically a budget-friendly choice.
December marks the start of the dry season, offering visitors a respite from the hurricane season. You can expect clear skies and warm temperatures, typically ranging from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C).
Anguilla is known for its beaches, especially Shoal Bay East, which often ranks among the world’s best. Beyond the beaches, its lively coral reefs attract snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
To the east of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla is renowned for its luxury resorts and upscale accommodations. Additionally, don’t forget its world-class dining scene, featuring an array of culinary delights ranging from fresh seafood to international cuisines.
The weather in December is typically pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C). Plus, although Anguilla doesn’t reach dry season until February, it still receives much less rain than other Caribbean cities.
Top activities in Anguilla in December include snorkeling at Meads Bay, exploring The Valley, and lounging at Shoal Bay. You can also take a boat trip to Scilly Cay or charter a boat to Little Bay, which is accessible only by sea.
Renowned for its stunning coastline, Barbados features pristine white-sand beaches like Crane Beach and Rockley Beach. The island’s historic capital, Bridgetown, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colonial architecture and historic landmarks like St. Ann’s Garrison.
Barbados is also recognized for its distinctive cuisine, influenced by a mix of African, British, and Caribbean flavors. Indulge in the vibrant atmosphere and fresh seafood at Oistins Fish Fry, a popular Friday night tradition.
The weather during this month is particularly inviting, with temperatures ranging from 73°F to 87°F (23°C to 31°C), providing a comfortable climate for travelers. Don’t miss the chance to snorkel at Carlisle Bay or sunbathe in the powdery pink sands of Crane Beach.
Other top things to do in Barbados include visiting Harrison’s Cave, touring St. Nicholas Abbey, or going on a rum tour. Moreover, if you have extra time, we suggest Andromeda Botanic Gardens, a tranquil horticultural gem.
9. Saint Martin
St. Martin is renowned for its dual nationality, governed by France in the north (St. Martin) and the Netherlands in the south (St. Maarten). This unique coexistence creates a harmonious blend of European and Caribbean influences, evident in the island’s cultural diversity and culinary excellence.
December signals the dry season’s start with pleasant temperatures (75°F to 85°F or 24°C to 29°C) and lower humidity. Enjoy the excitement of watching airplanes land at Princess Juliana International Airport while unwinding on the shores of Maho Beach.
Or, enjoy the pristine white sands and turquoise waters at Orient Bay. Apart from the beaches, we highly suggest dining in Grand Case, the “Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean.” Also, don’t forget Loterie Farm, an eco-friendly nature reserve with zip-lining, hiking trails, and a serene pool area.
Situated off the coast of Venezuela, this Dutch Caribbean gem is renowned for its vibrant capital, Willemstad. In fact, this city earned its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
Curaçao boasts pristine beaches, exceptional diving spots showcasing rich marine life, and a unique blend of European and Caribbean cultures. In December, while North America embraces winter, Curaçao’s temperatures typically range from 77°F to 88°F (25°C to 31°C).
During your visit, relax at Grote Knip Beach, snorkel at Tugboat Beach, and take a boat trip to Klein Curaçao. Outdoor adventurers will also want to hike to the summit of Mount Christoffel, the island’s highest point, for panoramic views of Curaçao’s diverse landscapes.
While exploring Willemstad, we recommend sampling Curaçao’s diverse culinary scene. Try local dishes like Keshi Yena and Stoba, and enjoy refreshing drinks like Blue Curaçao liqueur.
Jamaica is renowned for its vibrant culture, reggae music, and natural beauty, making it a popular destination year-round, especially in December. Blessed with warm temperatures ranging from 77°F to 88°F (25°C to 31°C), the island offers an inviting escape from colder climates.
Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios are some of the most popular areas to stay on the island. Of course, Ocho Rios is home to the iconic Dunn’s River Falls, a natural staircase of cascading water that invites adventurous travelers to climb its terraced rocks.
Or, for more of a beach vacation, stay near Seven Mile Beach in Negril or Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, where powdery sands meet turquoise waters. If you find yourself near Kingston, don’t miss the Bob Marley Museum, a pilgrimage for reggae enthusiasts.
Conclude your Jamaican adventure with a journey to the mystical Blue Mountains, where coffee enthusiasts can tour plantations and revel in the stunning landscapes.
Grenada, known as the “Spice Isle,” is celebrated for its lush landscapes, aromatic nutmeg plantations, and beautiful beaches. It sits just north of South America, in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea.
It’s one of the best Caribbean islands in December thanks to delightful temperatures ranging from 77°F to 88°F (25°C to 31°C), making it perfect for outdoor adventures. Of course, Grand Anse Beach is the most famous attraction here, a postcard-perfect stretch of white sand.
Nonetheless, other popular activities include the stunning Underwater Sculpture Park, Annandale Falls, and Concord Falls. Rum lovers will want to tour River Antoine Rum Distillery, the oldest functioning water-powered distillery in the Caribbean.
Spice enthusiasts can explore the fragrant spice estates, while history buffs can visit Fort George for panoramic views of the capital, St. George’s. December also brings the festive spirit alive, with the Carriacou Parang Festival showcasing local music and culture.
13. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is celebrated for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant music scene, and historic landmarks. Located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. With this in mind, Americans don’t need a passport to visit!
Its prime location ensures a pleasant tropical climate throughout the year, making it a popular destination to escape the winter cold, particularly in December. With temperatures ranging from 73°F to 85°F (23°C to 29°C), visitors can enjoy the island’s warmth and festive atmosphere.
Top attractions include the historic Old San Juan with its colorful Spanish colonial architecture, the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay in Vieques, and the lush El Yunque National Forest. Puerto Rico is also renowned for its beautiful beaches, such as Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island.
14. Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia, a picturesque gem in the eastern Caribbean, is renowned for its lush landscapes, volcanic peaks, and immaculate beaches. Nestled between Martinique and Saint Vincent, this tropical paradise is a sovereign island nation within the Lesser Antilles.
In December, Saint Lucia becomes a sought-after destination due to its ideal weather, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 84°F (24°C to 29°C). This makes it an appealing escape from the colder climates.
Visitors can revel in the festive atmosphere and partake in various holiday events. Top attractions include the iconic Pitons, a pair of towering volcanic peaks, the Sulphur Springs in Soufrière, and the enchanting Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens.
The island offers various water activities, such as snorkeling in Anse Chastanet, exploring Pigeon Island National Park, and experiencing the vibrant local culture in the bustling town of Castries.
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