10 Bucket List Caribbean Experiences to Book Right Now
It can be easy to spend one day after the next admiring delicious sunsets on any one of the postcard-perfect Caribbean islands, but there's so much more waiting for you.
The Caribbean is rife with experiences that can be done no place else. Go swimming with gentle whale sharks off the coast of Cancun or hike the majestic twin peaks, better known as Gros Piton and Petit Piton in St. Lucia. Here are 10 bucket list-worthy experiences across the islands that you've got to book before your next tropical vacation.
Puerto Rico's expansive El Yunque makes a good bucket list item if only because it's the sole tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. It's also the largest rainforest in the Caribbean, boasting cascading waterfalls, colorful tropical birds, even ancient petroglyphs created by the region's indigenous Taino tribes. Spend a day hiking into this protected rainforest to explore the lush foliage and native wildlife, then cool off with a refreshing dip at Luquillo Beach.
BOOK NOW: Viator, from $95
Stingrays may have a rotten reputation, but they're as gentle as they come. They also love the attention they receive from island visitors making a stop at the shallow sandbars in Grand Cayman's North Sound, known fondly as Stingray City. The slippery stingrays know that tour boats bring tasty treats, like clams and shrimp, so they're happy to welcome guests with sloppy wet kisses. Make time for Starfish Point, home to massive coral-colored starfish in clear, knee-deep water.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $56
Don a snorkel, face mask and giant plastic fins for a swim with graceful sea turtles in Barbados' Carlisle Bay. Several species call Barbados home, including leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles, but green sea turtles are most prominent just off the island's shores. Set sail from Bridgetown for a gentle cruise to the sea turtle sanctuary. Adventurous visitors can also explore sunken wreckage that's created artificial reefs for a diverse array of tropical sea life.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $55
Thanks to consistent trade winds and gentle, lapping waves, Bonaire is one of the absolute best spots in the Caribbean for kitesurfing, particularly for beginners eager to sail across stunning, azure waters. Book a two-hour lesson and you'll be up on a board in no time. Given kitesurfing is still a relatively under-the-radar activity, you may find yourself with a flat section of turquoise water and sugar-soft sandy beach nearly all to yourself.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $195
For many, a swim with whale sharks is the thrill of a lifetime. These giants may be among the largest living fish species – growing to more than 40 feet in length – but these slow-moving vegetarians are as gentle as little lambs. These majestic (and massive) sea creatures swim off the coast of Cancun between mid-May and mid-September, making it a must to book a snorkeling tour to get up close and personal with these happily non-predatory fish.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $179
St. Lucia's majestic peaks – Gros Piton and Petit Piton – are among the most recognizable mountains in the Caribbean (likely the most photographed, too). Hiking to the top of Gros Piton (2,691 feet tall) is among the most popular activities on the island. In four hours, you can hike both Pitons and savor summit views so glorious it's no wonder this pair earned a place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The climb is moderate to strenuous, but worth every step for this bucket list-worthy achievement.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $156
There's no need for a face mask and flippers when swimming with horses in Jamaica, though you may want to wear a swimsuit. Here, a guided horseback ride entails a trail walk along the beach and through the backcountry, then a swim in the warm and gentle Caribbean Sea. Horses are strong swimmers and, yes, they enjoy a refreshing splash in the water as much as any of the guests. It's also a fun vantage point for seeing this tropical island.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $89
Enjoy a day trip to Aruba's De Palm Island for refreshing tropical libations, snorkeling, water slides and a visit with a flock of vibrant pink flamingos. Or, book a day pass to Renaissance Aruba's private island, home to postcard-perfect Flamingo Beach. Here, hotel guests (who can access the island for free) and visitors alike can feed flamingos and take plenty of gram-worthy photos. A shuttle boat regularly goes between the island and the hotel.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $87.06
Not everyone is cut out for scuba diving. Fortunately, in St. Maarten, island guests can skip the scuba wear and descend the clear sea waters in a 12-passenger submarine (a bright red one, to boot). Stay dry as you navigate the Caribbean Sea in search of vibrant coral reefs and exotic marine life, like stingrays, pufferfish and starfish. Keep your eyes peeled for an underwater shipwreck at Little Bay. Submarine pilots give guests a thrilling scuba-like experience, only minus the wetsuits and flippers.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $25
It may be just a hole, but at nearly 1,000 feet wide, it's incredible. The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is a giant marine sinkhole that's mysterious and widely considered among the most amazing places in the world. Diving is a popular way to explore the Great Blue Hole, but there's just something (albeit pricey) about seeing it from above by way of a fly-over tour in a helicopter. Nearby, the Belize Barrier Reef System, which was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, teems with marine life and wows from up above.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $1,000
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