Caribbean Vacations that Blend Luxury and Adventure
By Brandon Strain
Although the islands of the Caribbean are best known for their white sand beaches, there are other things to do there besides lying out in the sun. For those who seek adventure and physical activity, islands in the region can provide as much as you can take. Hiking, diving, surfing, fishing, biking, and sailing are popular activities on most of the islands. In this article we will discuss the very best places to enjoy each of these activities.
Diving in the Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman was the first island in the Caribbean to offer recreational diving. It has been one of the world's premier dive destinations for over half a century now. At last count, there were two hundred dive sites and forty professional diving operations that offer lessons and equipment to divers of all ages and experience levels. The waters of the Caymans are famous for their warmth and clarity. Divers can discern the colorful variety of marine life at depths of up to 100 feet.
For those who are interested in even more challenging and adventurous diving expeditions, Grand Cayman has two sister islands, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, which are located about ninety miles from the main island. Both are popular destinations for serious divers and for nature lovers. Bloody Bay Marine Park on Little Cayman is widely considered one of the best and most challenging dive sites on earth. A wall of coral that begins at a depth of around twenty feet can be explored to depths of up around six thousand feet. Of course, no human being has ever made it that far!
Hiking in the Dominican Republic
For those who enjoy hiking, backpacking, and mountain-biking, no island in the Caribbean can compare with the Dominican Republic. Home to the highest mountains in the region, La Pelona (10,150 ft.) and Pico Duarte (10,420 ft.), active tourists will surely get their money's worth. We recommend the guided tours, since the lush countryside of the Dominican Republic can be quite challenging, even for experienced hikers. On the average tour you will be expected to ford streams and small rivers, skirt coffee plantations, cabbage fields and villages, and climb through forests to heights of up to 5,500 feet. They are quite rigorous and are not recommended for beginners.
Surfing in Barbados
As you might imagine, there are many great beaches for surfing in the Caribbean, so picking just one isn't easy. In the end, we decided to select an island that is famous for its challenging surfing conditions. Because of its location and orientation, the east coast of Barbados is known as the welcome mat for the Atlantic Ocean.
On a typical day, waves swell to between two and twenty feet. For professional surfers, September through December is the best time to catch the biggest, fastest, and gnarliest waves. The two most popular beaches during these months are Soup Bowl and Parlers. During the off season, from December to March, more consistent, though considerably smaller waves can be found on the island's western coast, at Half-Moon Fort.
Fishing in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Aruba
The two most popular types of fishing in the Caribbean are deep sea fishing and bonefishing. If you are interested in renting a boat for a half day or full day excursion, Aruba and Puerto Rico are your best bets. These islands have some of the most challenging and affordable deep sea fishing in the region. Finding a boat is a breeze. Just ask around at any beachside bar, marina, or harbor.
Since fishing is an important part of the island economy, there are experienced fishermen everywhere in the Caribbean. Marlin, barracuda, albacore, and sailfish are the most powerful and difficult fish to boat in the region. Inexperienced and younger fisherman should ask the captain to stick to mackerel, wahoo, and mahimahi waters.
For those who like to stay closer to shore, the Caribbean also offers bonefishing, which is a bit like fly fishing. The fisherman stands in water up to his knees and casts his line into the tidal flats where schools of bonefish congregate. Some of the best bonefishing can be found in the Bahamas, especially on the so-called Out Islands. The sport is slightly more challenging than fly fishing because the bonefish is faster and more powerful than most species of salmon or trout.
Sailing in the Virgin Islands
Both the British and the US Virgin Islands are famous for their sailing competitions. Each year, thousands of professional sailors come to compete in the Rolex Cup Regatta, which is held on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Not to be outdone, the British Virgin Islands are home to dozens of sheltered marinas and pristine islands that are only accessible by sea. Guests can charter boats, hire a skipper, and explore these islands at their leisure.
One of the world's most beautiful and exotic destinations, the Caribbean offers something for every type of traveler. Discover your perfect trip now.
Brandon Strain is a freelance writer who writes about travel and leisure topics and options such Caribbean cruises
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.