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7 Florida hotels that feel like the Caribbean

March 21, 2021
8 min read
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If you're looking for the turquoise water and white sand beaches usually found in the Caribbean, Florida is an ideal destination. The Sunshine State has over 600 miles of beaches and gets almost 250 days of sun year-round.

To satisfy your Caribbean craving, we rounded up a list of amazing beachfront hotels in Florida that have an island vibe.

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The Don CeSar — St. Petersburg

The Don CeSar. (Photo courtesy of The Don CeSar/Facebook)

Feels like: Bermuda

Located on a stretch of private beach in St. Petersburg, The Don CeSar is affectionately called “The Pink Palace” because of its pastel exterior. The property has recently undergone a complete renovation of its 277 guest rooms, six restaurants and lounges, and two heated pools. Built in 1928, the hotel has retained all of its charm; the original archways and art deco style still remain. The food is great too — dine at the newly opened Society Table or grab a drink from the lobby bar that looks like it’s straight out of the pages of "The Great Gatsby." The hotel also has a kids camp, so adults can relax and take full advantage of the services at the Spa Oceana.

Caribbean connection: The white sand and pink exterior of The Don CeSar reminds us of The Hamilton Princess, a luxury hotel in Bermuda. While Bermuda is technically in the North Atlantic, The Hamilton Princess is — like the Don CeSar — nicknamed the “Pink Palace” and has been around for over a century.

Related: A country-by-country guide to Caribbean reopenings

Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort — Marathon

Tranquility Bay in Marathon. (Photo courtesy of Tranquility Bay/Facebook)

Feels like: Jamaica

If you want a hotel that comes with all the amenities of a Caribbean resort, Tranquility Bay is for you. The 200-room resort has a dolphin lagoon and putting green, and offers an array of water sports like kayaking, parasailing and snorkeling. The hotel is situated in Marathon, which is part of a stretch of islands that extends from Key Largo down to Key West. Marathon is also known for having some of the most beautiful beaches and some of the best fishing in Florida. The accommodations at Tranquility Bay include Victorian-style guest houses and suites that face the private white sand beach. Some rooms have full-sized kitchens, making them perfect for a long-term stay.

Caribbean connection: Tranquility Bay’s Victorian architecture and access to activities feels like a Jamaican vacation at Excellence Oyster Bay, a waterfront resort in Montego Bay. Similar to Tranquility Bay, guests of the Jamaican resort can enjoy paddleboarding and scuba diving lessons right at the resort.

Related: 13 of the best beaches in Florida

The Palms Hotel & Spa — South Beach

The Palms Hotel. (Photo courtesy of The Palms Hotel/Facebook)

Feels like: Puerto Rico

The Palms Hotel is a slice of paradise amid the busyness of South Beach. The 251-room resort is located directly on the warm sands of the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s great for a weekend getaway. Grab a coconut mojito from the poolside tiki bar or lounge under one of the many tiki cabanas. The lush landscaping, swaying palm trees and tropical gardens will make you feel like you've been transported to an international destination. The on-site restaurant offers outdoor dining on a covered terrace where you can enjoy meals like the Florida Keys conch chowder that’s made from local ingredients.

Related: Hotel review: Royal Palm South Beach Miami

Caribbean connection: The Palm Hotel’s natural surroundings and quiet luxury brings to mind the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Both properties are set among towering palm trees and provide stunning garden views.

Pelican Grand Beach Resort — Fort Lauderdale

The Pelican Grand Beach Resort. (Photo courtesy of PelicanBeach.com)

Feels like: The Cayman Islands

Fort Lauderdale no longer has a reputation as being just a wild spring break destination. The city is home to several upscale family-friendly hotels, including the Pelican Grand Beach Resort. The property is the only hotel in Fort Lauderdale with a lazy river, and the resort offers a curated list of daily events on the property. The hotel has also partnered with local companies like the Funky Fish Ocean Camp to offer a day program for kids, as well as local scuba diving and boat rental companies to make the most of your stay. At the end of the day, relax on one of the rocking chairs on the wraparound deck that overlooks the private beach.

Related: Complete guide to cruising from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades

Caribbean connection: The Pelican Grand is a family-friendly hotel in an area known for scuba diving and fishing like The Wyndham Reef Resort in the Cayman Islands. Both beachfront resorts have snorkeling, kayaking, and other family-friendly activities for guests.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa — Torch Key

The Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. (Photo courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa/Facebook)

Feels like: Necker Island

If you’re ready to live out your "Swiss Family Robinson" fantasy, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is worth the splurge. The resort is best for anyone looking to get away and completely disconnect from the world. Situated on a private island in the Keys, you can only get there by seaplane or boat. The adults-only resort sits on 4 acres of white sand beach, and while Wi-Fi is available, there are no telephones or televisions in the guest suites. The accommodations include private thatched-roof bungalows with outdoor showers and unobstructed ocean views. There’s fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and sailing for those who want a little more action, but you can also spend your days lounging by the pool.

Related: 8 private-island resorts you can book with points

Caribbean connection: Private and secluded, Little Palm Island Resort and Spa offers the kind of getaway that can be found on Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private island in the Virgin Islands. The two hotels can only be accessed by private boat or aircraft.

The Reach Key West — Key West

The Reach Key West. (Photo courtesy of The Reach Key West/Facebook)

Feels like: The Bahamas

What sets this property apart from other Key West hotels is its beach. The Reach (part of the Curio Collection by Hilton) boasts the only private natural sand beach in Key West, and the nautically decorated rooms and suites all have private balconies for guests to enjoy the outdoors from their rooms. Downtown Key West and Duval Street are steps away, so after relaxing in a hammock, you can check out the historic Hemingway Home, watch a sunset in Mallory Square or snap a picture next to the Southernmost Point buoy. The family-friendly hotel offers a full range of water activities, and the restaurant on-site, Four Marlins, serves local fare like grilled spiny lobster and a Florida favorite, Key lime pie.

Caribbean connection: The Reach is a modern beachfront resort, but it’s also located near historic attractions in Key West just like the Old Bahama Bay Resort in Grand Bahama. The Old Bahama Bay Resort is located in the West End of Grand Bahama Island which is considered the historic capital.

Related: The best ways to fly to the Bahamas with points and miles

1 Hotel South Beach — South Beach

The 1 Hotel South Beach. (Photo courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach/Facebook)

Feels like: Turks and Caicos

Two words: rooftop pool. That’s all you need to know about this swanky hotel, which is the only hotel on South Beach to have a rooftop pool. 1 Hotel South Beach offers fitness classes, personal trainers and complimentary bike rentals so you can cruise your way around South Beach in style. The hotel also has three other separate pools, in addition to direct beachfront access. There’s also a kids club and an electric Audi to shuttle hotel guests around Miami. It’s hard to put your phone down here — every view is more Instagram-worthy than the last. But when you’re ready to relax, head to one of the beach cabanas and drift off to sleep to the sound of the waves hitting the shore.

Caribbean connection: For travelers who want a glamorous beach vacation, 1 Hotel South beach reminds us of The Wymara Resort in Turks and Caicos. Both are luxury hotels that come with draw-dropping pool views and spectacular views of the ocean.

Featured image by Kris Tamburello
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees