Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Caribbean Islands
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Caribbean. Despite raising a child with insane wanderlust, my mother has never been out of the U.S. and I’ve been doing research and saving money in hopes of taking her on vacation sometime within the next few years. Knowing what I know about my mother, I think that a beach destination will be most fitting for her first international excursion. Last week, while procrastinating on dissertation-writing (what else is new?) I fell into a google wormhole of researching places in the Caribbean and I thought I would share.
If you’re thinking of planning a trip to the Caribbean, you might have trouble narrowing down your island options. To help you out, here’s my handy guide. Hopefully, it will tell you everything you need to know about this large group of unique islands.
Relaxing on a beach and sipping fruity cocktails for a couple of weeks is a great way to recharge your batteries and forget about all the stresses back at work and in your everyday life. There are lots of different islands and archipelagos out there – not sure which one is best for you? Well, I can heartily recommend the Caribbean! One of the best things about the Caribbean is that it is made up of so many different islands. In fact, there are around 7,000 islands that make up 13 sovereign states and 12 dependencies. So, as you can tell, there are a lot of different islands to choose from! Sure, the choice might be quite overwhelming at first, but if you do your research correctly, you will be able to find the perfect one for you and your family.
Fancy exploring the rainforest during your trip to the Caribbean? Well, the island of St. Lucia is perfect for you! This mountain is highly mountainous and the majority of its mountains are covered in dense rainforest. But don’t worry, this island isn’t only for adventurous hikers – it also features some stunning beaches. You’ll find them at the northern and southern ends of the island. Many people head to St. Lucia for a romantic getaway, but there is also a great choice of family friendly hotels and resorts as well. While you’re staying on St. Lucia, you should visit Pigeon Island. It’s actually no longer a true island, as a causeway was built between the two, but it features lots of hiking trails and the remains of the 18th-century Fort Rodney.
The Cayman Islands
There are three islands that make up this British dependency. The largest island, Grand Cayman, is known for its great choice of beach resorts and water sport activities. You can find things to do here on this website. As you will see, there is a great selection of activities that will keep every family busy! One of the most popular activities on Grand Cayman is scuba diving at the site of the USS Kittiwake. This is a wreck site and when you scuba dive down, you will see the remains of the US Navy submarine rescue ship. When you are ready to chill out, head to Spotts Beach in Bodden Town. If you are lucky, you might spot some sea turtles!
Bermuda is picture-perfect thanks to its crystal-clear waters and pretty beaches. You will find quite a few stately homes on the island, and these give the island a very British feeling. Another thing you will immediately notice is that this island is extremely small – it’s just 20 by 2 miles! But, thankfully, that doesn’t mean you will be at a loss for things to do. There are a few shipwreck sites that you can dive down too just off Bermuda, including the Mary Celestia and the Minnie Breslauer. The National Museum of Bermuda makes for a really interesting day out for the whole family. It takes a look back at the interesting maritime history of the island. The kids will love exploring Crystal Cave, an underground warren of caves that are filled with many naturally formed cave formations.
Anguilla is another of the British Overseas Territories that are located in the Caribbean. Like may of the other islands, this one is known for its expansive beaches and gorgeous scenery. It has most of the same things going for it that all the other islands do, but there is one great advantage that Anguilla has – it isn’t overpopulated and never feels like it is overrun by tourists. When you are ready to hit the beach, Meads Bay is possible the most popular of them all, and for good reasons. There are a few reputable bars and restaurants that line the beach and other great facilities. You can also make friends with dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Anguilla St Maarten.
Nevis is the smaller neighbor of St Kitts, but that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked in favor of its larger cousin. Nevis is a great destination for sports enthusiasts, and you can get involved with all manner of sporty activities, including golf, kayaking, and tennis. There are also lots of horse riding trails around the island as well. There’s plenty of history on the island as well, such as the Hamilton Estate. This ruined estate was once owned by the wealthy Hamilton family who made their fortune through their sugar plantation. When you are ready to chill out by the ocean, grab a sweet cocktail on the sands of Pinney’s Beach.
Love reggae music? If so, then you should definitely make a beeline for the island of Jamaica! Jamaica has a very unique culture, one that it is very easy to experience when you are on the island. There are lots of bars and cafes that host regular live music nights, where local musicians will perform their best reggae beats. There’s a rich art scene on the island as well and some of its most renowned painters and sculptures, including the likes of Albert Huie and Edna Manley, are on show in many of the island’s galleries. It’s also the best island to go to if you want to experience a diverse nightlife. There are lots of clubs and bars where you can certainly keep on dancing till dawn!
Antigua’s weather is always perfect, so most of its locals and tourists spend their days sunning themselves on the many beaches. There’s a lot more going on in Antigua than on its sister island, Barbuda. You’ll find a greater choice of hotels, resorts, and activities on Antigua, that’s for sure. This is another Caribbean island that has excellent snorkeling conditions, and you’ll also find a lot of opportunity to go out kayaking and scuba diving. The town of St John’s has lots of pretty Creole buildings and is known for its excellent shopping. It’s also worth checking out Nelson’s Dockyard, a former British harbor. Horatio Nelson once lived and served here and the harbor is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The British Virgin Islands
Another archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, the British Virgin Islands are made up of four large islands and about 50 other much smaller ones. In total, 15 of the British Virgin Islands are inhabited. Here’s a quick round up of the four big islands, each of which is well worth a visit!
- The island of Tortola is covered in green mountains and lined with pristine, sugar-white beaches. The very cute Apple Bay Beach is a very popular spot for surfers. Even if you don’t want to get amongst the surf, it’s still fun to watch all of the pros bobbing around on the waves. If you want to discover the island’s history, then you should spend the day at Fort Burt. It dates back to the 17th century and has some brilliant views of the harbor below.
- Virgin Gorda is the second most populous island of the British Virgin Islands and is a paradise for visitors. The Copper Mine is a large national park that features a few hiking trails and lots of remains of 19th-century copper factories. If you ask the locals, they will tell you that copper was first discovered on the island. Little Fort National Park is another large park, and it’s situated on the site of a former Spanish fortress.
- While most of the British Virgin Islands are quite mountainous and rugged, Anegada is the complete opposite – it’s as flat as a pancake! It’s only a small island and doesn’t attract crowds of tourists, so it’s the perfect destination for a peaceful retreat. Visit its gorgeous salt flats to see the beautiful flamingoes.
- The island of Jost Van Dyke might only cover four square miles, but it packs a whole lot of personality into such a small space! Jost Van Dyke became very famous in the 1960s when lots of A-listers, such as Keith Richards, used to frequently visit. The celebrities don’t come back anymore, so it’s not just a deluxe destination for jetsetters anymore. You’ll find a few bars and restaurants and a beautiful oasis of beauty. This isn’t the place to come if you want an active holiday – it’s best for those want to chill out to the max!
So, there you have it. As you can see, each of the islands in the Caribbean has its very own personality and activities for you to dive into. Which one you choose will largely depend on whether you want to relax or get stuck into an active holiday!