Caribbean stirs your imagination. The land of dark-roast espresso, rum, and reggae has certain cockiness about it. A montage of memories is created for those spending sunny days exploring the black sand beaches, glowing bays, volcanic mountains, and historic forts. The excitement of discovering hidden waterfalls, the hysteria over music, and the sense of triumph at having explored the marine life have no peers. More importantly, Captain Jack Sparrow doesn't hold sway.
If you had to zero in on some really special destinations in the Caribbean, you can count on these seven popular places.
#1. Puerto Rico
An island nation with 270 miles of beautiful beaches is capable of many surprises. This Caribbean beauty glows at night, literally. The Mosquito Bay in the Vieques Island holds the record of being the brightest bioluminescent bay. From playing beach volleyball at Playa Isla Verde (called the 'Copacabana of Puerto Rico') to discovering nature trails and waterfalls in El Yunque rainforest, your wandering soul will have its fodder.
#2. British Virgin Islands
Just 129 miles east of Puerto Rico lie these virgin islands. Travelers are lured not to watch the rich and famous setting sail on their yachts, but they come here for year-round sunshine and for the Tortola Island with lush mountains and white beaches. So what if you can't make it to Sir Richard Branson's private island (Necker Island), there are other lures waiting for you. A trek through caves formed of volcanic lava is a rare experience. During the 20-minute trek to Devil's Bay National Park, you climb over boulders, cross tidal pools, and enjoy the view.
#3. St. Lucia
Watching two volcanic mountains rising out of the ocean is magical, especially before dusk. If this World Heritage Site offers a dramatic view, the beaches with black volcanic sand are not far behind. Just when you thought golden beach, calm waters, and photogenic hills of Labrellotte Bay sum up your experience in St. Lucia, you are tempted to take an aerial ride on open-air gondolas through a forest reserve. Also note that St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival can really pep up your days in this Caribbean island.
#4. US Virgin Islands
For those coming to St. Thomas Island, the experience of kayaking through mangrove lagoons or climbing the 17th-century Blackbeard’s Castle remains etched for long. The bright-colored houses in the Frenchtown reminds you of Santorini in Greece. St. Croix, one of the three islands, is home to emerald beaches and the much-admired Fort Christiansvaern. The hiking trails in Virgin Islands National Park are favorite among travelers for they lead to snorkeling spots and birdwatching destinations.
#5. Cayman Islands
Long stretch of white sand in Seven Mile Beach is a scene to watch, especially during the day when cool blue waters lap onto the shoreline. Jackson’s Bight and Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman are considered among the best diving spots in Caribbean. The reward for going under water includes an encounter with Eagle Rays and Caribbean Reef Sharks. For true foodies, Calypso Grill is an appealing venue and its crispy mango shrimp is appetizing. Grilled fish at Chester’s Fish Fry and rum cake at Tortuga Rum Co. are equally irresistible.
Dominica is dramatic. Its wooded hills, sulphur springs, and waterfalls are as exciting as its traditional village (Kalinago Barana Autê) where history has something interesting to reveal. Trekking through untamed rainforest and the second-largest boiling lake in the world is a priceless moment. While the idea of diving and snorkeling turns you on, a quiet boat ride along the mangrove-lined river is very soothing. Jeep safari in Dominica means a visit to the Botanical Gardens, a close encounter with the national parrot, Sisserou, and a drive through the mountains.
As Bob Marley describes it, Jamaica is a “soulful town” with “soulful people.” This tiny island may have its share of beaches, mountains, coral reefs, tropical forests, and waterfalls, but more than everything else, it's the music that makes Jamaica what it is. A visit to the Bob Marley Museum is a must and exploring the music frenzy after dark is not to be missed. When the streets of Kingston are taken over by the Dancehall music parties, the entire town find its reggae rhythm.
Published On: Monday, September 21st, 2015