Most people choose to vacation in the Caribbean to take advantage of white sand beaches, seaside resorts, and fruity cocktails, but the string of islands have much more to offer. Arguably the world’s most stunning tropical playground, the Caribbean is made up of individual countries each with their own culture, cuisine, and natural wonders. Ever thought about swimming with pigs or soaking in natural hot springs in the middle of jungle? The Caribbean has everything you need for a fantastic island vacation.
Sure you can lay poolside for a week or book a cruise and explore each island’s port town, but why not dive a bit deeper and go home with more than a tan and a cookie-cutter experience? Whether you’re interested in nature, sea animals, or just want to party, these Caribbean must-dos will get you out of your comfort zone and provide you with plenty of memories.
1. Carnival in Trinidad
Forget about Rio, no one celebrates carnival like they do on the tiny islands of Trinidad and Tobabgo. The annual event is held prior to Ash Wednesday and attracts more than 200,000 revelers who come to party with the locals. Carnival is all about the extreme so be prepared to dance in skimpy costumes, parade down the streets, eat delicious food, and party late into night (or next morning). Lent begins on Ash Wednesday so carnival is a time to indulge and let loose before the period of penance, reflection, and fasting begins. Need something sooner? Don’t worry because there’s no shortage of events during the summer months.
2. Swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman
Fascinated by stingrays? Always dreamed of seeing one? Tours in the Grand Cayman take it the next level by letting you touch and swim with these fascinating creatures. The Stingray City United on Grand Cayman takes guests to the Stingray City Sandbar where you can stand on the sandbar and make friends with the ample stingrays. One package includes access to their impressive National Geographic exhibit.
3. Hike Gros Piton in St. Lucia
When you Google “Caribbean” chances are an image of St. Lucia’s Gros Piton will pop up. The jutting mountains on the edge of the ocean are one of the most iconic sites in the Caribbean. Skip your hotel gym and challenge yourself with the climb up Gros Piton. At 786 metres, the peak is the island’s second highest and takes about five hours to climb. You’ll be rewarded for your effort with spectacular views of the island’s landscape and the ocean at the peak. Afterward, cool off and relax on the picturesque beach in Soufrière, the seaside town at the base of Gros Piton.
4. Natural hot springs in Dominica
Not everyone makes it to this remote, wild island between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Dominica is known as the Caribbean’s Nature Island, a title it easily lives up to. The island is full of volcanoes, incredible hiking, untouched diving spots, and most notably, natural hot springs. Tia’s Hot Springs outside the capital city of Roseau offer multiple pools for all-natural soaking with easy access to the nearby Screw’s Natural Sulphur Spa and Glo Chaud.
5. See the bioluminescent in Puerto Rico
This magical experience takes place at night off the tiny island of Vieques to the east of Puerto Rico’s mainland. Hop aboard the boat and watch in amazement as the bioluminescent organisms come alive and light up the water with their blueish-green light. The tour with Island Adventures allows you to swish your feet in the water to see the bioluminescent come alive around you and provides plenty of information and history on this natural phenomenon.
6. Swim with pigs in The Bahamas
You’ve heard of swimming with dolphins and stingrays on an island vacation, but pigs? The Bahamas are famous for their population of wild pigs that happily live on the stretch of beach locally nicknamed “pig beach.” The pigs regularly hop in the water for a cooling dip to escape the island heat. You can feed and swim with the pig population, but since the pigs have become popular it’s best to shoot for an early morning visit to beat the crowds.