When you think of the Caribbean what springs to mind?

Beaches?

Scuba diving?

Cocktails?

Me too. And when I think back to the trips I’ve taken to the Caribbean, this is immediately where my mind wanders because it’s a feature of the region that is actually incredible. The beautifully temperate waters of Negril’s 7 Mile Beach in Jamaica, or the perfect white sand of Barbados and, well, most everywhere else!

But there is actually more to do on Caribbean islands than simply sit on the beach, go parasailing, and sip mojitos. As unlikely as that seems, it’s true.

If you plan a trip to the Caribbean please, by all means, plan as much time on the beach as you can because it is sensational, but you can also mix it up a bit with these activities when your skin starts to turn from a healthy watermelon glow to a concerning tomato crimson.

Take a Rainforest Hike

When it comes to islands, there is always a bigger story than the first 50 metres of the shore. As the earth breaks through the water level, it often continues to rise in the form of mountains and rainforests. This was true when I had my honey moon on Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, and it was true all over the Caribbean.

El Yunque in Puerto Rico might be the most famous option (and one of the more challenging hikes) Seeing Concord Falls in Grenada involves a rainforest hike, and walking through the Guanapo Gorges in Trinidad is unforgettable. The hike there includes a river adventure, as you’ll actually be hiking and drifting through the gorges in and out of rainforest surroundings. Further south, St Kitts is known for having one of the more gruelling hikes up Mount Liamuiga, and St Lucia is simply covered in mountains.

st kitts form the cruise ship
Mt Liamuiga dominates the skyline of St Kitts from the sea

Take A Submarine Tour

We tend to think of submarines as being somewhat sinister. This is perhaps warranted given that they’ve been used as some of humanity’s nastier weapons. But not all submarines are meant for warfare, and it just so happens that you can use them for underwater tours in the Caribbean. Tourism submarines have a lot more windows than warships to allows you to spend some time among colourful reefs, marine life, and shipwrecks without having to get scuba certified.

Try Snuba Diving

Yes, you read that right, that is not a typo. Another alternative to learning scuba diving is snuba. And no, Simpsons fans, it was not invented by Mr…Snrub (yes, that will do).

Snuba is the love child of scuba diving and snorkelling, where you have a regular dive mask, but instead of a short snorkel pipe binding you to the surface, the pipe is connected to a long tube that goes up to the surface allowing you to dive much deeper without needing to come up for air.

Snuba in Aruba

Try Your Luck At The Casinos

Luxury resorts dominate the coastline of most Caribbean nations, but did you know many of these have a penchant for gambling? I was very surprised when arriving in St Maarten to see, right as I exited the cruise port a large, assuredly Caribbean-looking casino ready to welcome my tourist dollar. Unfortunately, my time was limited as I only had a day but I was surprised to see how common these casinos were on the island.

On the opposite end of the scale, Atlantis resort and Casino is surely the grandest casino of the Caribbean, located in Nassau in the Bahamas. The complex is more than a casino though, boasting a full water park as well. But with the price being well over $100 just to enter, it was a bit out of our budget.

Some people love casinos for the chance to make money for nothing and to beat the house, I like casinos for the experience. I could just as easily gamble real money without even leaving my home, but what’s the point? In a real casino, whether that be in gargantuan billion-dollar facility in Las Vegas, at a small Caribbean casino near the beach, or at the on board casino of the cruise ship, I’m getting an experience I’ll remember, even if that means losing (or as I see it, spending), a small amount of money.

Atlantis Nassau Bahamas from the bridge
Atlantis – truly is a behemoth
Atlantis Nassau Bahamas-2
Unfortunately this is about as far as we got

Take a tour of a rum distillery (Barbados)

Everyone knows that rum runs like a river in the Caribbean. It’s as plentiful as water and almost as cheap. And where there’s local rum, there are distilleries. Mount Gay Distillery do an excellent tour in Barbados. It costs $15, but the samples at the end are more than generous and will get you fairly loose, so don’t plan anything too rigorous afterward.

Watch a game of cricket

This was an easy thing to think of as an Australian, where cricket is one of our major summer sports. However, I would wager that most Americans didn’t even know cricket is the major sport for many Caribbean nations. In fact, the West Indies cricket team has been recognised since 1928 and is made up of 16 Caribbean nations with another 6 to potentially join in the future.

Matches are played all over the Caribbean, but more commonly in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana. Considering the bulk of the tourism in the Caribbean is from North America, a game of cricket would be a superb alternative thing to do for someone looking to experience a little of the local culture.

Explore The Smaller Islands

If you really thought about it, you could probably name about 10 Caribbean destinations that you’d like to see. And even though there are hundreds of islands in the region, some of the best are hardly touched by visitors offering ample opportunity to explore and relax sans hordes.

Obviously, time is always a factor, and if you only have one day on St Kitts and Nevis because you are on a cruise, you will probably spend your day on St Kitts, being the major island. But if you’re in the Virgin Islands, St John or St Croix are just a short ferry ride away from St Thomas and are less crowded with just as much beach and just as many cocktails. A few other the lesser-known islands to keep an eye out for could include Vieques, Saba, and Anegada, just to name a few.

Magens Bay St Thomas with palm tree silhouette
Magens Bay in St Thomas – still pretty good I guess.

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