For many, the mere mention of the Caribbean conjures up images of palm trees and oh-so-inviting white sandy beaches. Understandably, a lot of people are looking to relax with a cocktail and overlook all the other things the Caribbean has to offer. Looking for something a bit different when planning your Caribbean holiday? Here are just some of the hidden treasures within your grasp:
1 Zip line tours above the forest canopy offer a unique and truly stunning view of the lush rain forests of south-west Antigua, and will awaken the adventurer in you: a variety of lines and high bridges will give you a new perspective, something the resort barflies will never see.
2 January to March brings the mating and calving season of humpback whales in the Bay of Samana, on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Discover your hidden David Attenborough and witness up to five thousand of the world’s humpback whales come back here every year to mate in peace!
3 The aptly named Pig Beach, on the Out Islands of the Bahamas, is the place to go swimming with, you probably guessed it, pigs. The faint-hearted or porcine-phobic can feed them from the boat, or you can jump right in and swim alongside them.
4 Goldeneye isn’t just the name of an action-filled James Bond film: it’s the beach-side estate where Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, lived and wrote all the James Bond novels. And even the private airport is named after him. You can sip a martini – shaken, not stirred, of course – at the Goldeneye resort, or save up and stay at the original private Fleming Villa. And just around the corner is Firefly, Noel Coward’s Ocho Rios home.
5 The Garrison Savannah racetrack, just outside the capital, Bridgetown, hosts some of the best racing in the Caribbean including The Sandy Lane Barbados World Cup in March, with plenty of other racing fixtures throughout the year. It’s very popular with Bajans and a bug hit with tourists.
6 North of Kingston, trek up to the highest peak of the Blue Mountain, the 14 mile hike will take a couple of hours and opinion is split about the best time to go — some brave explorers start the hike at 2 am to catch the sunrise from the summit, others leave around 8 am to get the best views on both sides of the hike. If you want a real taste of Jamaican life you can stay on one of the many farms or coffee plantations surrounding the Blue Mountains and enjoy lovely home-cooked meals and the best tour guides you could ask for. You’ll soon feel like a part of the family.
- The British brought camels to Jamaica in the eighteenth century to work on the sugar plantations, and they’re still there. You can book a camel-back or horseback trek through stunning rainforest scenery while touring some of Jamaica’s oldest plantations, and hop off afterwards for a quick tour on foot.
- And if all this activity in the Caribbean sunshine isn’t quite hot enough for you, the Moruga Scorpion from Trinidad has a real sting in the tail. It’s not what you think: the world’s hottest pepper will have even the biggest fans of spicy food running back to the shade to cool down with a perfectly chilled beer.
So if you can bear to drag yourself away from the most spectacular beaches in the world you’ll find a wealth of culture beyond sunbathing and rum which will have you clamouring to return for years to come!
Images by Steven Depolo and cdorobek used under the Creative Commons License.
Liam Teall is a travel enthusiast and writer from Ipswitch. When he does find himself stuck at home he is partial to the odd Netflix binge.