Canouan, St Vincent and the Grenadines © WTG / Christine Modschiedler

Powdery white sand and turquoise waters are everywhere in the Caribbean islands. With more than 7,000 islands to choose from, we pick the best for every traveller, whether you're a thrill-seeker, a romantic or a history lover.

The West Indies (named after Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492 and believed he had reached the Indies) have something for everyone. Whether travelling with children or on your honeymoon, in search of adventure or tranquillity, there is an island in paradise for you.

Best for lovebirds: St Vincent and the Grenadines

For a secluded and romantic Caribbean getaway, head to the private-island resort of Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines. Surrounded by warm, crystal-clear waters and untouched nature, this small island offers tranquillity, intimacy and breathtaking scenery.

Best for families: Antigua

With 16 tropical hectares (40 acres) crammed with pedalos, bikes, volleyball, steel bands and limbo dancing, Jolly Beach in Antigua is perfect for families. Large resorts have organised activities for children. A rainforest canopy zip-line tour, on Fig Tree Drive in the southern end of the island, will please both kids and adults. 'Stingray City Antigua', in Seaton's Village, offers an opportunity to interact with stingrays in safe and controlled conditions.

Best for adventurers: Dominica

Away from tourist crowds, Dominica is built for adventure. With dense tropical forests and mountain peaks, the island offers lush, green landscape, waterfalls and a river. Wildlife highlights include whale watching, scuba-diving on Castaways Reef and canoeing at Freshwater Lake. Best of all activities, though, is the hike through Morne Trois Pitons National Park to the Boiling Lake, the second largest actively boiling lake in the world. You'll start with a swim through the secluded rock pool at Titou Gorge and end with the sulphurous pools of the Valley of Desolation.

Best for culture vultures: Cuba

Cuba is the Caribbean's largest, most diverse island. With unprecedented changes continuing apace since the withdrawal of Fidel Castro in early 2008, it's also the most dynamic. Walking around historic Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is like a trip back in time. Visit the Museo de la Revolución for a historical context of modern Cuba.

Best for watersports lovers: Bonaire

With clear waters, undisturbed coral and arguably the best diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean, Bonaire is an island devoted to watersports. September/October is the best time to go for the spectacular coral spawning. Don't miss a plunge under Town Pier, one of the top critter dives in the Caribbean, to see seahorses, frogfish and turtles. Bonaire's warm, dry and breezy climate also makes the island an ideal location for sailing and windsurfing.

Read our bitesized guides to the world's most beautiful islands:
Bitesized guide: Indian Ocean islands
Bitesized guide: Asian islands

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.