NATURE

General

The Caribbean region is a treasure trove of eco-attractions with a vast array of flora and fauna. Volcanic mountains, lakes and limestone cliffs, rainforests, mangrove swamps and coral beaches all contribute to the nature of the Caribbean islands. The region has taken great steps in recent years to protect its natural habitat by creating reserves where visitors can not only enjoy the environment but also participate in exciting soft adventure options such as zip wiring through the rainforest and jungle biking.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching is a truly rewarding experience in the Caribbean. Few people realise the great number and range of birds that can be found. The region’s tropical surroundings, rich fauna and natural stopping-off point on migratory routes, make it a natural haven for all types of birds. From the pink flamingos on Bonaire and The Bahamas to the colourful Scarlet Ibis of Trinidad and not forgetting the World largest colony of Frigate Birds on Barbuda to name a few.

Whale watching

Whale watching is very popular and humpback and sperm whales and other dolphin species are regularly spotted between January and March. From the Windward Isles, especially Dominica, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe to St Kitts & Nevis. Appropriately regulated, these trips can contribute to saving the Caribbean whale and dolphin population. See www.wdcs.org

Exploration

The Caribbean offers some of the world’s most diverse terrain. From the rainforests of Dominica to the magnificent waterfalls of Guyana or the stunning mountains of the Morne La Selle in the La Visite National Park in Haiti; to Angel Falls – one of the world’s highest waterfalls and the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. Perfect for hiking and walking. From a gentle stroll to full day treks off the beaten track, there are routes to suit everyone. Some of the tougher challenges can be found in Belize, particularly noted for its diverse wildlife, or exploring the spectacular Kaieteur Falls in Guyana.

The Caribbean holds rich rewards for thrill-seekers looking for adventure with off-road safaris, rainforest treks and zip-wire tours mainly on larger, more mountainous islands like Jamaica and Saint Lucia. Walkers can stride out across jungle-covered volcanoes on Guadeloupe, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis or through rainforests on Saint Lucia, Dominica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountains lend themselves to hiking and cycling, but many other islands also cater for bikers. Saint Lucia has an excellent network of mountainous bike trails while Barbados offers scenic bicycle tours. Adventurers can also fly through the trees on a zip-wire in Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Antigua

Belize is another country ripe for exploration, as is Venezuela, with mountains, jungles, rainforests, rivers and waterfalls. On Montserrat walkers can follow trails across hills and woodlands to the backdrop of the active Soufriere Hills volcano.

Dominica’s Waitukubuli National Trail is the Caribbean’s first long distance trail, which passes through the indigenous Carib community and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park that includes the world’s second largest Boiling Lake.

Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains are not only for hiking, but full of history as the place where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara took refuge. In Curaçao, visitors can hike, bike or jump on a horse to explore the Christoffel park, home to the island’s highest point Mount Christoffel – while on Bonaire, walkers can climb Mount Brandaris.

Haiti is another place that offers unspoilt landscapes, challenging hikes and amazing views. But for those who prefer four legs to two, horse-riding is a good way to soak up the sights

Most islands have riding stables and it is easy to arrange trips ranging from a few hours to a full day. In some places, such as Jamaica for example, one of the highlights is plunging into the sea on your trusty steed for a swim and literally riding the waves!

Bird-watching is another area where the Caribbean’s reputation is growing. Dominica, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana are well-established haunts, but Cuba, Grenada, Anguilla and Antigua are also becoming known.