A reggae concert in Jamaica
Casio Abreu/flickr

The Best Caribbean Islands for Nightlife

By the Frommer's Staff

Nighttime is sleep time on the British Virgins, Montserrat, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Barts, Dominica, Bonaire, St. Vincent, and all of the Grenadines. The serious partier will probably want to choose one of the following destinations.

Two women hang out at a Dominican bar
Blemished Paradise/flick
The Dominican Republic
Large resort hotels in the Dominican Republic evoke a Latino version of Las Vegas. If cabaret shows aren’t your thing, there are enough dance clubs in the major towns and resorts to keep nightclubbers busy for weeks. The tourist areas of Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo are sprinkled with casinos, and the island’s ever-developing north shore contains its share of jingle-jangle, too.
Two dancers take the floor in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Generation Base/flickr
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico contains all the raw ingredients for great nightlife, including casinos, endless rows of bars and taverns, cabaret shows with girls and glitter, and dance clubs that feature everything from New York imports to some of the best salsa and merengue anywhere. The country’s gaming headquarters lie along the Condado in San Juan, although there are also casinos in megaresorts scattered throughout the island. The casinos here are the most fun in the Caribbean. Each contains lots of sideshows (restaurants, merengue bars, art galleries, piano bars, and shops) that can distract you from the roulette and slots. Puerto Ricans take pride in dressing well at their local casinos, which enhances an evening’s glamour. (Note: You can’t drink at the tables.) If you’re a really serious partier, you’ll have lots of company in Puerto Rico. Be prepared to stay out very late; you can recover from your Bacardi hangover on a palm-fringed beach the next day.
A reggae singer belts out a song
Cassio Abreu/flickr
Many visitors are drawn here by a love for the island’s distinct musical forms. Foremost among these are reggae and soca, both of which are performed at hotels, resorts, and raffish dives all over the island. Hotels often stage folkloric shows that include entertainers who sing, dance, swallow torches, and walk on broken glass. There are also plenty of indoor/outdoor bars where you might actually be able to talk to people.
A popular bar in St. Maarten
Bruce Tuten/flickr
St. Maarten/St. Martin
This cosmopolitan island has an active nightlife, with 14 casinos (on the Dutch side) and countless beach bar/restaurants featuring live soca or reggae. Nightclubs are often indoor/outdoor affairs, with pools, international DJs, and statuesque servers hoisting bottles of champagne ablaze with sparklers.Peop
The lit up outside of a casino in Aruba
This island has 10 casinos, each with its own unique decor and each with a following of devoted gamblers. They offer cabarets and comedy shows, dance floors with live or recorded music, restaurants of all degrees of formality, and bars. The casinos are big, splashy, and colorful, and, yes, people even occasionally win. Drinks are usually free while you play. The legal tender in most of Aruba’s casinos is the U.S. dollar.
An outdoor party on the streets of Willemstad, Curacao
Chika Watanabe/flickr
Although outdistanced by Aruba, the action spinning around the island’s casinos makes this one of the southern Caribbean’s hot spots for gamblers. Salinja, a sector of Willemstad, has lively bars where locals and visitors drink and party until the wee hours, and live jazz often fills the air.
A Michael Jackson impersonator entertains a nighttime crowd
Oakley Originals/jpg
Bridgetown is home to rum-and-reggae cruises, as well as oversize music bars like Harbour Lights. Otherwise, a host of bars, British-style pubs, dozens of restaurants, and dance clubs (both within and outside large hotels) beckon from St. Lawrence Gap or the crowded southwest coast.