Are you looking for some great books about The Caribbean to read for travel inspiration? Then read on for the 10 best Caribbean novels…
Dreaming of palm trees, white sand, and clear blue water? You can be in the islands of The Caribbean in just a few minutes thanks to the magic of reading. Join me, Liz Alden, and Peta and Jonas on an escape to The Caribbean. No sunscreen required.
The Caribbean, as travellers tend to think of it, is made up of 16 independent countries and 24 dependencies. There’s a huge variety of cultures within the islands – everything from predominantly French lifestyles to the native peoples. One can visit active volcanoes or perfect, palm-tree studded beaches.
Despite the variety of cultures and landscapes, tourism is a huge industry all throughout the Caribbean. It’s easy to find a quiet beach bungalow or an all-inclusive resort, no matter where you want to go.
Not ready to book a trip just yet? Let’s go exploring the islands through books about The Caribbean!
“I read; I travel; I become.”– Derek Walcott –
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Great Books About the Caribbean
1. 10 of the Best Books About The Caribbean for Travel Inspiration
1.1 Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
1.2 How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
1.3 Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
1.4 Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
1.5 Love Scammed by Rilzy Adams
1.6 The Night in Lover’s Bay by Liz Alden
1.7 Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
1.8 Circle of Bones by Christine Kling
1.9 Sweethand by N.G. Peltier
1.10 Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood
2. In Summary – 10 of the Best Books About The Caribbean
3. Trip Planners for The Caribbean: Related Blog Posts
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10 of the Best Books About The Caribbean for Travel Inspiration
1. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Ready to travel not just to the Caribbean, but through time? This historical fiction by the author of Jurassic Park is set in Jamaica in the 1600s. With treasure, action, and ships to commandeer, this book is perfect for readers who are looking for adventure and mayhem in the lawless Caribbean.
Jamaica is south of Cuba and west of Haiti and is the third largest island (behind Cuba and Hispaniola). In the early 1600s, the island was under Spanish rule. Around 1660, the British invaded and claimed the island for itself. In the years that followed, the warring countries supported piracy against the other, making the city of Port Royal known as a haven for piracy and illegal activities.
“Crichton’s ultimate adventure.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Pirates Latitudes has the loot: Gore, sex, action….A lusty, rollicking 17th century adventure.” —USA Today
2. How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
You may know it as the 1998 romantic comedy starring Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs. But first, it was a woman’s fiction novel written by Terry McMillan. Stella, a high-powered single mother, takes a luxury vacation to Jamaica and meets Winston, who gets her rethinking about what it means to be a woman, mother, and professional.
McMillan also wrote Waiting to Exhale and A Day Late and a Dollar Short, both of which were made into movies.
Today, Jamaica has been an independent nation for sixty years and has a major tourism industry. The island has a complex and mixed ecosystem, with lush jungles and white sandy beaches.
“Terry McMillan is the only novelist I have ever read…who makes me glad to be a woman.”—Washington Post Book World
“A sexy handbook of self-realization.”—The New Yorker
3. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Two stories intertwine in this historical fiction set in Cuba. In the 1950s, Elisa belonged to Cuba’s high society, often protected from the country’s problems until her family had to flee during the revolution. Her granddaughter, Marisol, living in present-day Miami, travels to Cuba to fulfil Elisa’s last wish: to have her ashes scattered in her home country.
Marisol discovers lost lovers and family secrets amongst the beauty of Cuba.
Most well-known for its political standoff with the United States, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and has an authoritarian government, leaving it a difficult place for most Americans to travel. But Cuba is steeped in romanticism, an old-school trip back in time.
“Next Year in Havana reminds us that while love is complicated and occasionally heartbreaking, it’s always worth the risk.”—NPR
“A sweeping love story and tale of courage and familial and patriotic legacy that spans generations.”—Entertainment Weekly
4. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
Protagonist Andrew Yancy chases around the Florida Keys and the Bahamas to try to discover the origin of a suspicious arm – and intends to prove murder. Hiaasen writes satirical adventure comedies with death just a few steps behind.
A short trip east of Florida lies the Bahamas – 700 low-lying islands. The Bahamas is diverse, with remote islands down south, the cruise ship and resort haven of Nassau in the middle, and the big game fishing tourism up north.
Sailors can spend years exploring the islands. I’ve spent six weeks total in the Bahamas, and plan to spend a majority of the 2022 winter there.
It’s easy to get to and hard to leave!
“Inspired . . . Another marvelously entertaining Hiaasen adventure.” —Publishers Weekly
“Hiaasen is laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly entertaining.” —Thomas Gaughan, Booklist (starred)
5. Love Scammed by Rilzy Adams
This is my favourite book about The Caribbean on the list. Monae is passing through Miami airport, expecting to meet up with her newly coupled best friend for an anti-Valentine’s day vacation in the Turks and Caicos. Instead, she realizes she’s been set up on a weekend-long blind date with Hudson.
They tour the island, enjoying sunset sails and rum tastings. The romance is loving, sexy and funny. The author herself lives in Antigua.
Turks and Caicos is just south of the Bahamas, and the two island nations are often grouped together. It’s quieter than the hotspots of the Bahamas, with long sand beaches and resorts.
6. The Night in Lover’s Bay by Liz Alden
This is a FREE prequel short story for my series Love and Wanderlust. It’s set in a fictional bay in Antigua, where Marcella and Seb are working as crew on a superyacht. Seb is Cuban-American, and teaches Marcella, the yacht chef, a thing or two about Caribbean cuisine. Add in a beach party and things get hot quickly.
This is a prequel, so there is a to-be-continued ending. Marcella and Seb return in The Second Chance in the Mediterranean to find their happily-ever-after.
Antigua and Barbuda are an island nation formerly under British rule. Tourism is a majority of the income of the country, and during our visit, we enjoyed touring the inner island via a zip line, snorkelling out on the reefs, and drinking the punch, a pungent rum drink.
7. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
A historical fiction based on a real-life heroine, Island Queen is the story of Doll, a woman born into slavery in Montserrat who became a powerful entrepreneur in The Caribbean. This novel follows her life growing up as a child in The Caribbean and the fights she took on as a free woman, traveling between the Caribbean Islands and to London to fight for her rights and freedoms.
With ten children, grandkids, and competing interests from men, this story is one of strength and relationships.
Montserrat is a small British Territory in the Eastern Caribbean. It’s been nicknamed the Emerald Isle, as its green landscape reminds visitors of Ireland and a large population of islanders has Irish ancestry. Many Irish indentured servants inhabited the island under colonial rule.
Today, the economy and tourism industry in Montserrat remains small. The only regular flight comes from the nearby island of Antigua.
“Riveting and transformative, evocative and immersive…by turns vibrant and bold and wise, discovering Dorothy’s story is a singular pleasure.”—The New York Times
“Passionate, headstrong, and loyal, Riley’s version of the real-life Dorothy Kirwan Thomas legend will make readers fall in love with this overlooked ‘hidden’ queen.”—Kaia Alderson, author of Sisters in Arms
8. Circle of Bones by Christine Kling
In the first thriller novel of The Shipwreck Adventures series, Maggie, a former marine, is sailing the Caribbean on her boat before starting a new job in Dominica. When she rescues a naked man swimming near Guadeloupe, she doesn’t expect to be dragged into a treasure-hunting adventure looking for lost submarines and exposing secret societies.
This adventure is based on the real-life disappearance of the French submarine Surcouf in the Caribbean Sea during World War 2.
Dominica is an island in the Eastern Caribbean with the least tourists per year out of the Caribbean islands. The country is underdeveloped, but that means that more of the natural beauty shows through. During our trip, we saw hot springs, waterfalls, and visited Kalinago Territory, where the indigenous Kalinago people live and sell crafts.
9. Sweethand by N.G. Peltier
Heading to the other side of the Caribbean, we adventure to Trinidad and meet pastry chef Cherisse. When Cherisse stands up as the maid-of-honor opposite Keiran as best man, the friction that’s been between them their whole lives starts to ignite.
Peltier is Trinidadian, and her romance novel shows everyday life in Trinidad and a peek at the music industry in Trinidad. Queue up a soca playlist for this one!
Trinidad is the largest island in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is only a few miles away from the coast of Venezuela, and is rich in oil and gas resources. To celebrate Carnival Caribbean-style, Trinidad is a must-do!
“A zizzy and charming Trinidad set contemporary romance that absolutely hits the spot.” —K.J Charles
10. Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood
For something much darker, turn to the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood’s Bodily Harm tells the story of journalist Rennie Wilford. Her life’s falling apart – she’s broken up with her boyfriend and had her apartment broken into. For a reprieve, she asks for an assignment in the Caribbean.
What’s supposed to be a fluffy travel piece turns into a nightmare as the fictional island she visits devolves into a coup and Rennie is imprisoned. It’s dark, gritty, and violent.
“Romance and adventure by a female Graham Greene.” —Marilyn French
“It knocked me out. Margaret Atwood seems to be able to do just about everything: people, places, problems, a perfect ear, an exactly right voice.”—Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
In Summary – 10 of the Best Books About The Caribbean
We hope you enjoyed this list of 10 great books about The Caribbean. These are the perfect books for those planning to travel to the Caribbean on a vacation, or if you are just dreaming of tropical islands with white-sandy beaches and azure water.
Have you read any of these books about the Caribbean we listed above, or do you have a favourite we should add to the list? Please let us know in the comment section below.
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TRIP PLANNERS FOR THE CARIBBEAN: RELATED BLOG POSTS
Want more info to help you plan your Caribbean trip? Check out all the articles we’ve written on travel in The Caribbean below and continue planning your trip.