In their 1989 hit “Kokomo,” The Beach Boys paid tribute to the inherent beauty of the Caribbean islands:
“Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go.”
That ballad to the beach bum lifestyle didn’t mention casino gambling, but for thousands of tourists visiting the Caribbean every year, sand and sunshine are happily supplemented by slot machines and stud poker.
The region colloquially known as “The Caribbean” actually contains hundreds of islands represented by dozens of national governments. And depending on where you touch down, your next seaside vacation can include a full-fledged Las Vegas style casino resort.
Sure, you’ll likely be spending your days out enjoying all the natural beauty and fun filled activities that the Caribbean has to offer. But when the sun has set and the stars come out, why not keep the action going with a run at the blackjack or baccarat tables?
Combining a Caribbean vacation with the casino is a perfect way to double down on your entertainment value. For all of the charms an island can offer – culture and cuisine, and adventures of every sort – the afterhours scene can get a bit stale. If dancing the night away at the club or drinking your pals under the table doesn’t hold the appeal it did during your younger years, enjoying a “night in” at a Caribbean casino can be a great way to enhance the stay.
Many visitors to the islands, even regulars who show up every summer, aren’t aware that the Caribbean is home to a few of the most interesting casinos in the international gambling industry. That’s understandable of course, as the area is rightfully known for its pristine white sand beaches, exquisite blue waters, and eclectic cultures. But for those who have made the discovery, Caribbean casinos are ranked right there among the area’s top attractions.
Take a look below for a tour of four Caribbean casino vacation spots where you can play by day or night.
1 – Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba
The very first lyric of “Kokomo” is Aruba, so it’s only fitting that the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in Palm Beach takes top billing on this list.
A classic Caribbean beachside resort, the Aruba Marriott is home to the island’s largest casino property in the Stellaris. The venue spreads 500 slot and video poker machines, along with 32 table games, over 18,000 square feet of floor space.
In the pits you’ll find classics like craps, blackjack, and roulette, plus more modern games like Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. But the centerpiece of the table game menu, as is the case in any Caribbean casino, is the local favorite Caribbean Stud Poker. This five-card game played against the house perfectly blends the elements of skill and luck, creating an action-packed game that moves at a quick pace.
Even better for players, all Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Caribbean Stud Poker tables at the Stellaris Casino offer a progressive jackpot. If the cards align and you catch the perfect hand, you can walk away with a truly massive life changing score.
Stellaris Casino also has a state of the art race and sportsbook onsite, which gives guests a chance to plunk a few bucks down on their hometown teams competing in NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL contests.
The casino is joined with the Aruba Marriott, a stunning property situated directly on the Palm and Eagle beaches. You’re only a few steps away from the gorgeous Caribbean Sea’s swimming and sun tanning, and an array of cabanas and umbrellas ensure that comfort is always close at hand.
And these accommodations don’t rest on their laurels based on the oceanfront access. As a AAA Four Diamond award winner, the Aruba Marriott is included among an elite group of luxury resorts scattered throughout the Caribbean islands.
Matt Knights, who serves as hotel manager, spoke about the importance of earning AAA Four Diamond accreditation:
“We are honored to receive the AAA Four Diamond Award and will continue to create memorable experiences unique to each guest to ensure lasting customer satisfaction and loyalty to the Aruba Marriott.”
This place was designed to be an adult playground of sorts, and while the little ones are certainly welcome, finding a babysitter and making it a romantic rendezvous is the best play.
If saltwater isn’t your thing, the H20asis pool is an adults-only area that comes complete with a swim up bar. For dinner, Ruth’s Chris Steak House is where American fare can be found, while the Caribbean cuisine at seafood hotspot Atardi offers a taste of local flavor. And be sure to visit the exclusive Tradewinds Club for a cigar and a sip of brandy.
All in all, you can’t go wrong visiting any of Aruba’s casino resort destinations – but Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is by far the best option on the island.
2 – Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in The Bahamas
Upon opening in 1998, the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in The Bahamas immediately became the Caribbean’s most desirable gambling destination.
The property encompasses all of Paradise Island, a sandbar located off New Providence island where The Bahamas’ capital city Nassau can be found.
As the name suggests, Atlantis Resort was designed to replicate the mythical sunken city of Atlantis. To that end, the interconnected towers are modeled to look like castles, and the entire property is woven together with a 141-acre aquatic waterscape. Guests can frolic with new friends at Dolphin Cay, take the Tour of Turtles, or wander the waterways while encountering more than 200 species of Caribbean marine life.
The scenic beauty of this seaside resort simply can’t be understated. Everywhere you look there are swimming pools, beaches, waterslides, and other amenities designed to take full advantage of Atlantis Resort’s picturesque Paradise Island location.
All of this is a product of resort magnate Sol Kerzner, who made a billion-dollar investment in Paradise Island over a decade ago. At the time, Forbes magazine described Kerzner’s influence on Atlantis Resort in a glowing profile which highlighted the property’s singularly unique features:
“Kerzner has showered $1 billion so far on Atlantis (including the acquisition price) for such things as a new 1,200 room tower with giant bronze blue marlins that appear to leap from the roof, an 11 million gallon aquarium housing 50,000 fish and other slippery creatures, and the 5,000 square foot “Bridge Suite” that retails for $25,000 a night.”
But while luxury accommodations are certainly on offer here, Atlantis Resort was built to be budget friendly as well, with the goal of making it the perfect place for a family vacation.
And while the kiddos are cavorting on the beach, parents can play all of their favorite casino games in the only casino on The Bahamas. Technically speaking, Bahamian law forbids casino gambling, but that restriction is limited to citizens of the country. Thus, visitors who make their way to Atlantis Resort have full access to a truly spectacular casino facility that rivals many of the Las Vegas megaresorts.
Just imagine the gambling options to be found throughout 100,000 square feet of gaming space. I’m talking about an expansive selection of 850 slot and video poker machines, a pit area with 90 table games on tap, a dedicated poker room, and a race and sportsbook serviced by industry leader CG Technology.
Table game enthusiasts have all of their favorites to choose from, including roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat, Let It Ride Progressive Poker, Three Card Progressive Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em Progressive Poker.
If you prefer poker, a nonstop schedule of cash games and tournaments offers all the bluffs and bust outs you could ask for.
And you don’t have to stay indoors to get your gamble on, as Atlantis Casino brings the action poolside at its adults only Cain at the Cove. Here, you can dive into the heated pool before looking to get hot with a few well timed double downs at the blackjack table.
This casino is a marvel for the senses too, incorporating local artwork and décor with instantly recognizable hand-blown glass sculptures from the renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
For a bit of exercise, head out for a round on the 18-hole Championship level golf course known as the Ocean Club, before retiring to enjoy Atlantis Resort’s collection of 13 bars, nightclubs, and lounges.
The most popular hotspot on Paradise Island is Aura, a 9,000-square foot club operated by the Hakkasan Group. The music is always thumping at Aura, so for a quieter ambiance, try Dragon’s Ultra Lounge or the Moon Club – which combines its lounge with a wall to wall saltwater aquarium.
And for a slice of the local culture, I highly recommend taking a taxi – or better yet, walking across the connected footbridge – to visit nearby Nassau. This bustling capital city is home to culinary delights like the conch, a local delicacy, and all variety of fish, shrimp, and other seafood. The Bahamian people are also among the friendliest in all of the Caribbean, so tourists feel safe and welcomed when wandering the city streets.
3 – Hard Rock Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic
The Hard Rock Café brand is known worldwide for combining nostalgia and kitsch, but when you visit a Hard Rock Casino resort, the digs are stepped up to luxury status.
That’s especially true at the Hard Rock Casino Punta Cana, which is located on the sugary white sands of Macao Beach in the Dominican Republic.
The 1,787-room property stretches out along 121 acres of waterfront wonderland, and as Hard Rock’s first all-inclusive resort, guests don’t have to worry about a thing from the moment they check in. From the high-end Rock Star Suite, to the Rock Spa where pampering comes on command, 15 swimming pools and an assortment of bars, restaurants, and other services – Hard Rock Casino Punta Cana really does have it all.
For those reasons, the venue has received the prestigious AAA Four Diamond award in each of the last seven years. That’s a point of pride for operators, including Rafael Chapur of the All-Inclusive Collection:
“We are beyond thrilled Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana has been recognized by AAA for providing exceptional customer service, innovative all inclusive amenities and world renowned accommodations.
Each of our all inclusive Hard Rock Hotels continue to deliver true luxury experiences for guests of all ages.”
To get an idea of the venue’s scenic wonders, check out this live webcam which captures the view from guest rooms out toward the Caribbean Sea. You can’t do any better than that when it comes to oceanfront amenities in all of the Dominican Republic.
That’s true for gambling as well, what with Hard Rock Punta Cana standing out as the largest casino on the entire island. I’m talking 45,000 square feet of gaming floor spreading 41 table games (blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette), 450 slot and video poker machines, and an inviting 5,000 square foot race and sportsbook.
High rollers are welcomed to the Salon Prive VIP area, where the stakes and the action intensify. And if you time your trip just right, poker players can hop into a tournament during the Punta Cana Poker Classic, a major stop on the international circuit.
The casino itself is top notch, but it’s the other amenities that make Hard Rock Casino Punta Cana such a special place to visit. A tour of the Oro nightclub involves taking an elevator, as the posh lounge covers two stories and 10,000 square feet.
At mealtimes, you’ll have nine restaurants covering the culinary spectrum to choose from, including the Brazilian inspired steakhouse Ipanema, Asian delicacies at Zen Teppanyaki, pizza baked in a brick oven at Pizzeto.
And you can’t leave without putting in 18 holes at the Cana Bay Beach Club and Golf Resort, which features a challenging course designed by Jack Nicklaus himself. While the guys are out golfing, ladies have Rock Spa – and its 60,000 square feet of sensory delights – at their disposal.
Hard Rock properties are all about the music too, so the Punta Cana property makes sure guests have a never-ending lineup of headlining acts to provide the soundtrack.
One visit to Hard Rock Casino Punta Cana is all it takes to make it your favorite place for gambling and gallivanting in all of the Caribbean.
4 – Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino in Curaçao
At first glance, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino in Willemstad looks like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book – and I mean that in the best possible way.
The historic capital city of Curaçao, Willemstad, still boasts the architectural and design influences of its Dutch colonial era. That means pastel color schemes that cover every stripe on the rainbow, and a quaint, village-like vibe.
At the attached Carnaval Casino – the largest and most modern in all of Curaçao – guests can enjoy every form of gambling between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Blackjack and Three Card Poker make up the bulk of the table game selection, while slot spinners will find more than 375 machines onsite, and even a full-fledged bingo parlor.
Beachgoers will enjoy a private lagoon area that separates swimmers from the rollicking waves of the Caribbean, which is a nice touch. Massive cruise ships regularly show up to unload passengers at the Willemstad port, so I always recommend spending a day exploring the city center. And be sure to take a stroll across the magnificent Queen Emma Bridge, which arcs over the entire island.
The Caribbean is always a popular vacation destination. Now you can plan to enjoy some great casino action on your next vacation by staying at one of these 4 Caribbean casino vacation spots.