A third of millennials are willing to spend £5000 on their summer holiday, and it’s easy to see why. One place with a huge draw to tourists all over the world is the Caribbean. It’s the pull of cerulean seas and skies to match; of powder white sand between the toes and dewdrops falling from over-sized plants in subtropical rain forests tucked away on tiny islands. There are bottle-nose dolphins, a kaleidoscope of coral and then there’s that breezy yacht life out on the shimmering waters. The Caribbean is a heady mix of spice and rum, of relaxation and fun and of outdoor adventure and colonial history. Thinking of exploring the Caribbean? Here are four reasons why you should.
1. Swim with pigs, snorkel with sea fans and dive among diesel engines
Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, there’s many a Caribbean island that will lure you out into the ocean. If it’s your first foray into underwater sightseeing, snorkelling the calm waters around Jamaica is the perfect place to start. On Jamaica’s west coast, Negril is home to Booby Cay where shallow bright blue seas teem with a prism of tropical fish and even an old shipwrecked anchor and cannon. North of Negril you’ll find Half Moon Beach, a glorious spot to snorkel straight from the shore among purple sea fans, damsels and tangs.
Looking for something even more extraordinary? Head to the talcum powder white sands of the Exumas in the Bahamas and take a boat across to legendary Big Major Cay, an Instagram-worthy island where you can swim with the friendly jumbo pigs that call this island home.
If you’re already serious about diving, there’s nothing like an underwater journey around the shipwrecks that have sunk across Barbados. SS Stavronikita is the most famous, and here you can swim among the myriad mackerel and barracuda swarming the masts of the wreck. In Carlisle Bay, the 120 foot sunken Bajan Queen makes for an extraordinary dive with a spiral staircase to explore and two intact diesel engines. It’s also great for snorkellers as just a few feet from the surface of the water you can see some of the wrecks too.
2. Discover misty covered jungle and perfect peaks
Visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you’ll be rewarded with a verdant island of rain forests, rock pools and waterfalls. Look out for the St. Vincent parrot and crested hummingbird hiding out in the 10,000 acres of the Vermont Nature Trail or scale the inimitable bamboo bridge to Dark View Falls for cascading waterfalls and natural swimming pools.
If it’s bucket list adventure you’re after then head to St Lucia and scale great heights at the iconic Pitons, legendary twin peaks overlooking the southwest coast. While Petit Piton is for the more advanced hiker, Gros Piton, although the taller of the two, has the easier climb. Through rain forest, jungle mountains and white and red cedar trees ascend 2,619-foot to breathtaking views of coconut groves, royal blue seas and faraway islands.
3. Experience a different kind of nighttime adventure
As the sun goes down the islands come to life with laid back beach bar vibes and sultry salsa in ‘party ’til sunset’ clubs. But there’s also a different kind of evening adventure to be had. Kayak or swim by night at Puerto Rico’s Mosquito Bay and you’re met with a bioluminescent bay filled with single-celled microorganisms called dinoflagellates.
This phenomenon is only found in five bays throughout the world and the organisms make the waters glow an extraordinary electric blue and bright white as though you’re swimming among a multitude of stars. Or if you fancy staying on land, head to Nevis for turtle nesting season between June and October and join an after-dark patrol to watch Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles burying their eggs on the beaches.
4. Go on a Caribbean culinary journey
Whether it’s rum and reggae at a beach shack overlooking the sea or a lively introduction to the famous Friday night Fish Fry at Oistins in Barbados, you’re in for some culinary treats on all the Caribbean islands. Turks & Caicos is famous for its delectable conch; Grenada’s Spice Island is renowned for its exceptional cocoa and rich nutmeg, bay leaf and ginger flavours; and on St Barts, you can expect exceptional French cuisine. Food and drink tours are an unmissable experience in the Caribbean, whether you take a culinary tour through Nassau or visit a rum distillery in Jamaica.