Best beaches in the Caribbean, 2018 edition

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Anguilla

It’s the calm long after last year’s storms on every one of Anguilla’s 33 stunning beaches that front more than 12 miles of shoreline. On a typical sunny day, Meads Bay on the northwest coast is camera-ready at sunset and where you’ll find the swanky Four Seasons Resort and Residences, reopening on March 23. “On first glance, Meads Bay looks like a quiet beach with water a million shades of blue that glisten in the sun,” says Nori Evoy, surfer and founder of the popular website anguilla-beaches.com, “but the waves can get wild with swells up to 8 feet high which makes it the best beach on the island for surfers.”

Shoal Bay East is popular with day-trippers who park their towels on the 2-mile strip and then make a beeline to Gwen’s Reggae Grill for a cheeseburger in paradise. Maundays Bay never gets crowded, apart from die-hard swimmers and romance walkers who enjoy the mile-long stretch in front of the elegant Belmond Cap Juluca, slated to open in November.

Puerto Rico

A beach-lover’s favorite with no passport needed to arrive on the island, most of Puerto Rico’s beaches are open, including all of the sandy slivers in San Juan and Condado, the stylish tree-lined suburb just over the bridge from Old San Juan. “Our main task after the hurricane was to clean up the debris and fallen palm trees,” said Carla Campos, executive director, Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC). “The few beaches not yet open will be ready for sun-seekers by the end of March.”

In the metro area, Isla Verde is the most popular beach area, with many hotels dotting the shoreline and plenty of water sports in the surf. Ten minutes from baggage claim to the beach, the sandy strands are surprisingly uncrowded apart from the weekends, when locals take to early morning jogs.

U. S. Virgin Islands

After months of post-hurricane cleanup, most of the beaches have been cleared on all three of the Virgin Islands. In St. Thomas, there are 53 beaches, including Magens Bay north of the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. Ideal for families who come for the calm waves and shallow water, the beach gets crowded by noon when the cruise ships are in port. The only beach on the island with an entry fee — $5 per person and $2 per car — you’ll find amenities like lounge chairs, a restaurant, paddle boats, kayaks and snorkeling gear to rent. Sundays are busy with picnics on the sand and couples saying their “I do’s” along the heart-shaped coastline. Less crowded on the east end, Sapphire Beach is aptly named for the color of the water. Also on the east coast, Secret Harbour Beach is a never-crowded spot for swimming and snorkeling in a protected bay.

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