The Caribbean features prominently on the bucket lists of many seasoned travelers. In addition to its vast swathes of stunning coastline, its islands are awash with impressive European-inspired architecture, hiking trails waiting to be explored, and an abundance of rare and fascinating flora and fauna.
From Barbados to the Turks and Caicos Islands, we provide an overview of some of the most captivating destinations in the Caribbean.
World famous for its picturesque beaches and coastal landscapes, Barbados ranks among the Caribbean’s most popular destinations.
Named after the Greek mythological princess, Andromeda Botanic Gardens was created to serve for both pleasure and for botanic research purposes. Situated between the parishes of St. John and St. Joseph just 300 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, this six-acre estate features more than 500 plant species, including a plethora of tropical flowers like frangipani, giant Mexican sunflower, and bougainvillea, as well as fruit trees like Barbados cherry, banana, and bread fruit.
The award-winning Atlantis submarine tour ranks highly among recommended attractions, enabling vacationers to experience a 40-minute-long underwater adventure. Once the hatches are secured and the call is made to dive, the submarine descends 150 feet, previously the remit of scuba divers. With a knowledgeable copilot narrating, and alerting participants to the amazing sights outside their window, amazing memories are created as visitors are piloted among vivid coral formations and colorful marine life.
2. British Virgin Islands
Although the British Virgin Islands were badly affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the government has done an impressive job of rebuilding them. Visitors can expect year-round sunshine and temperatures hovering in the high 20s Celsius, although the best time to visit the islands is from mid-September through November, after the threat of hurricanes has passed, but before the winter crowds.
In the British Virgin Islands, the pace of life is laidback, the British way of life reflected in local traditions and customs. Seafood is plentiful here, with cuisine following a Caribbean flavor, with goat, chicken, and beef dishes often accompanied by rice and peas, the quintessential Caribbean side dish, along with sweet potatoes, fried plantains, yams, lentils, and beans.
For decades, sailors have been attracted by the sheer beauty and diversity of the lush, mountainous British Virgin Islands and their pristine beaches and natural wonders. Whether booking a daylong yacht excursion or chartering a boat for a week, sailing tops the list of things to do here, enabling visitors to explore the islands by water.
The Baths on the island of Virgin Gorda are a popular attraction. Created by volcanic activity, they boast a tiny but incredibly pretty beach, dominated by vast slabs of granite with sun-dappled passages and little caverns in between them. The Baths are reached via a hike traversing a desert-like landscape, with visitors meandering through serpentine passageways listening to the roar of the thundering surf just a few yards away.
3. Turks and Caicos
Boasting beautiful white sand beaches like Grace Bay, the Turks and Caicos Islands are home to one of the world’s largest barrier reef systems, its collection of coral islands offering unforgettable adventures for scuba divers and snorkelers. Whether visitors opt to spend the bulk of their time underwater or on land, the Turks and Caicos present an idyllic retreat for those seeking maximum comfort in a luxury setting.
Accommodation prices reflect this, particularly during the peak winter season.
The Turks and Caicos are a paradise for scuba divers, with many vibrant reefs to explore. Spread across some 80 miles, the barrier reef is regularly visited by dive boats from Providenciales, with several dive shops offering open water courses for beginner scuba divers. Some of the region’s greatest dive spots are found at Northwest Point, West Caicos Marine National Park, French Cay, and in the Princess Alexandra National Park.
4. Saint Lucia
With its mountainous landscape, crystal clear waters, and picture-perfect beaches, Saint Lucia ranks among the world’s most sought-after honeymoon destinations. From the 2,000-foot-high Piton mountains, which boast UNESCO World Heritage Site status, to tropical rainforests and palm-fringed beaches, St. Lucia’s landscapes are green, lush, and incredibly biodiverse, making it a hotspot for nature lovers.
The twin volcanic cones of the Pitons rise steeply from the Caribbean sea, making them one of the most recognizable natural wonders of the whole of the West Indies.
Enveloped in pristine forest that supports many rare species of flora and fauna, Gros Piton is the higher of the two, standing 2,619 feet high. It is possible for visitors to hike to the summit without a guide, enjoying views that more than repay the effort.
With the spectacular Pitons as its backdrop, Sulphur Springs is an active geothermal zone where visitors can get close to vents belching sulfurous steam and bubbling mud pools. Here, seasoned guides will reveal how the Caribbean basin was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. On the way back from the crater, visitors can indulge in a muscle-soothing dip in pools fed by the mineral-rich warm springs, which are revered for their healing and restorative properties.