A Caribbean native shares the under-the-radar islands you should visit if you’re trying to avoid tourists
The Caribbean is home to much more than white sandy beaches crowded with tourists, palm trees, and clear water. The diverse region, which is compromised of over 700 islands, is filled with volcanoes, black-sand beaches, and hot springs.
Riselle Celestina has explored that wide range firsthand.
“Each Caribbean island is different from the next,” she told Insider. “We might have a lot in common, but accents, the way people talk, the way people look, the way people dress to stuff like cuisine and landscapes are all completely different.”
HELLO 👋 My name is Riselle and I’m not perfect 👌 And that is totally ok. Social media has a way of making us want to look more successful, younger, sexier than we are IRL. It has become an escape from reality with a touch of real life scenarios. While there is nothing wrong with that, I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed by what social media is doing to the self esteem of women everywhere. So, I would like to share with you some of my truths just in case you may have formed an unjust opinion of me. 🖤 Yes, my photos are altered. I use an app to get those bright Caribbean colors. My body, however is the way you see it, every single cellulite and fat roll that comes with it. 🖤 I have obsessed (and sometimes still do) about the total of likes and followers my account has. Sometimes I get frustrated by the slow increase in numbers and have to remind myself that likes and followers are not currency and the numbers are not a reflection of me or my work. 🖤 I don’t care if you see me in the same outfits a thousand times. My wardrobe is limited and my empty bank account does not exactly allow me to splurge on outfits for the gram. Besides, I’m not a fashion blogger. 🖤 Speaking of the poor state of my financial situation, unlike what most people think, I do NOT make a living from blogging, vlogging or sponsored posts but hope that changes one day. 🖤 I strongly DISLIKE the word Influencer and don’t like being called one. 🖤I am often ignored by brands and destinations. Perhaps because I don’t have the numbers or because they don’t know how hard I’ll actually work for them. Whatever the reason, I believe that my big break will come as long as I continue to work hard. Conclusion:It’s easy to get caught up in all that smoke and mirrors that is social media. I for one have decided not to compare myself with others and just be me. What is your take on it all? #womenempowerment #motivationmonday #realtalk
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Celestina was born and raised on the island of Curaçao, but today she calls St. Martin home. She’s traveled across the entire Caribbean and explored dozens of islands.
Her blog, The Traveling Island Girl, showcases both the stereotypical Caribbean experience and the lesser-known destinations and activities.
She shared with Insider some of the best remote places she’s traveled to while exploring the region.
Visit Celestina’s home of St. Martin, where you get two destinations on one island.
Celestina moved to St. Martin 19 years ago.
“It feels more like home than any other place I’ve been to,” she said.
It’s compromised of two countries: the northern French side, Saint Martin, and the southern Dutch side, Saint Maarten. Celestina said traveling to the opposite side of the island is like visiting an entirely different country.
“If I want to get away, I can easily just drive over to the French side and feel like I’m somewhere else,” she said. “It’s a gem in the Caribbean.”
Celestina noted that in recent years, the island has become more popular with tourists and cruise ships. However, there are still lesser-known places across the island that visitors can discover.
She suggested skipping places like Mulley Bay Beach or Orient Beach and opting for lesser-known beaches, such as Petite Plage Beach, or hiking to Happy Bay Beach.
From St. Martin, take a day trip to Tintamarre Island.
Tintamarre Island is a remote island off the coast of St. Martin.
While you won’t find any hotels, restaurants, or shops, it’s the ideal remote day trip.
The island is just two miles away from St. Martin’s coast. Visitors can snorkel with sea turtles, explore the island’s red rock cliffs, or enjoy its sandy beaches.
Celestina recommended packing a picnic because there aren’t spots to buy food or drinks on the island, but visitors will be welcomed by wind, sandy, and a serene environment.
There’s a reason Anguilla has been continuously named the best Caribbean island.
From the coast of St. Maarten, Celestina can spot Anguilla, and it’s been calling her name ever since the territory closed its borders in March.
The British overseas territory is filled with remote beaches. Since the island doesn’t cater to mass tourism, it’s much less crowded than some of its neighboring islands.
The entire coast of the award-winning island is public land, and since few travelers journey to the island, you almost always have the beach to yourself, Celestina said.
“Especially in the summer, it would be normal for you to be on one of the top beaches in the world by yourself,” she said. “It is an absolutely gorgeous place, the people are nice, and it’s never crowded.”
Visit the five square miles of Saba, also known as the “unspoiled queen.”
The island of Saba topped Celestina’s list of lesser-known Caribbean destinations.
“Saba is one of those islands that’s quickly overlooked because it doesn’t have beaches, but its underwater world is famous,” she said.
The island gets its nickname, the “unspoiled queen,” from its pristine nature. It’s home to rainforests, coral reefs, and the dormant Mount Scenery volcano.
While most people head to Old San Juan when traveling to Puerto Rico, Celestina said visitors should consider inland Aibonito.
Celestina said that Aibonito is filled with “waterfalls, rainforests, and a little bit of chilly weather.”
Inland Puerto Rico is much more isolated than nearby towns like Old San Juan, but visitors still get the best of both worlds.
From Aibonito, beaches are still only an hour away. The area is known as Puerto Rico’s horticultural hub, where local businesses sell an array of beautiful flowers, plants, and fruit trees.
In Aibonito, a trip to Cañón de San Cristóbal is a must. It’s a 5.6-mile canyon teeming with waterfalls, springs, and a diverse range of plants and flowers.
Take a trip to Curaçao, where Celestina was born and raised.
Celestina said that visitors looking for remote areas in the Caribbean should head to Curaçao’s western side.
Curaçao is known as a city island of the region, so it can get pretty crowded, but on the western side, visitors will feel like they’re in a more isolated place.
This area known as Banda Abou has breathtaking beaches, as well as churches, museums, and historic architecture.
Oh Curaçao. You will always be my home but I had to bounce. Back to my current island home I go. Stay Dushi, Curaçao 🇨🇼 ⠀⠀ ==================================== ⠀⠀ Here’s what you need to know about my place of birth Country status: Constituent Country of the kingdom of the Netherlands. Language: Papiamentu. Official language: Dutch. Capital: Willemstad Population: over 160,000 Size: 171 square miles Currency: Netherlands Antilles Guilders or Florin (NAF) ⠀⠀ Planning a visit? Ask me your questions below. ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ . . . ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ #curaçao #dutchcaribbean #travelcaribbean #lesserantilles #caraibes #handelskade #korsou #ydk #yudikorsou #thetravelingislandgirl #caribbeanhotspots #caribbeanseason #visitcuracao #curacaotb #willemstad #traveldeeper #passportready #traveldestination #destinationfocus #caribbeantravel #traveltiptuesday
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Or you can head to Little Curaçao, which is a tiny sandbank off the coast of Curaçao.
It’s a quaint island with a lighthouse, which makes it ideal for a remote day trip or overnight camping excursion.
Head to the volcanic island of Nevis for its peaceful atmosphere.
While its sister island, St. Kitts, is more well-known, Nevis is home to many beautiful spots.
The island contains more than resorts. Sprinkled throughout the tropical land are dozens of waterfalls and volcanic beaches.
“I don’t think people realize how much you can do on Nevis,” Celestina said. “It’s a quiet little place that’s really beautiful.”
While most visitors flock to Nevis during the winter to escape the cold, consider visiting during the off-season, when hotels and Airbnb rentals often offer lower accommodation rates.
The island is filled with centuries-old sugar mills and other spots teeming with history. Celestina added that she has never had a bad meal on the island and that all the locals were extremely welcoming.
Explore isolated waterfalls and hot springs on a trip to Dominica.
“It’s not one of the first islands you think about when you say ‘Caribbean,'” Celestina said.
Dominica is known as the Island of Nature because it’s filled with rainforests and picturesque waterfalls.
It’s a destination that’s perfect for people who love adventure, and it’s not as popular as some of the nearby islands.
While you might not spend your vacation on Dominica lounging on white sandy beaches, visitors can fill their itineraries with diving, hiking, and relaxing hot springs, all without crowds of tourists.
St. Barts might be known as a spot for the rich and famous, but if you go during the off-season, it’s much emptier and more affordable.
St. Barts, also called St. Barthélemy, is a French-speaking Caribbean island.
It’s known for being a luxurious destination, but Celestina said that in less-popular travel times, it can be a more approachable place to visit.
“When it’s out of season, it’s more accessible to everybody,” she said. “And a lot of people tend to forget that.”
If you’re not there during high season, restaurants and shops might be closed, but you’ll have the island to yourself, Celestina said. All 14 of the island’s beaches are open to the public, and they’ll likely be empty during the off-season months.
According to US News, the best times to visit the island are between April and June, when fewer tourists are there but the weather is still calm.
“You really get to see the island,” Celestina said.
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