The Caribbean comprises of over 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays. The region is renowned for its diversity of terrestrial and marine flora and fauna amongst which is eight percent of the world’s coral reefs. With all these natural resources at its disposal, the region offers unparalleled sightseeing opportunities. Additionally many historic landmarks going back several centuries add to the sightseeing experience.
One of the most enduring pictures of the Caribbean is its gorgeous beachfront scenery from pristine white sand dotted with palm trees to the pink sands of the Bahamas, the black sand of St Lucia lapped at by clear warm blue water. Although some Caribbean beaches are a little rougher than others, they all provide sightseers with stunning views, idyllic places to laze in the sun and valuable opportunities to indulge in some water sports.
Lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests and natural landmarks of the Caribbean isles are the other much lauded attractions. Among them are active and dormant volcanoes in the Lesser Anitilles group of islands. The most visited is probably La Soufriere the ‘drive in’ active volcano in St Lucia. The regions’ different forest types with flowering plants and tree species are also a joy to explore. Many have hiking trails. St John’s National Park in US Virgin Islands and El Yunque the 28,000 acre rainforest in Puerto Rico are some of these. Limestone caves are also among the popular natural attractions here while Harrison’s Cave in Barbados is one of the most visited. The largest of its kind, visitors board an electric tram to explore the vast cave system that has spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, a 40 foot waterfall and clear pools and streams.
Among the waterfalls is Diamond Mineral Falls in St Lucia. The result of underground sulphur springs, the waterfall is famous for changing colours throughout the day. Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica, a series of waterfalls dropping from 600 feet is a very popular natural attraction.
The Caribbean’s coastal and underwater scenery as well as marine life is probably its biggest attraction. The caverns and tidal pools among the huge boulders by the sea in the British Virgin Islands referred to as The Baths is a favourite with snorkelers and explorers. Sting Ray City in the Grand Caymans where divers encounter hundreds of tame stingrays at 12 feet has been an extremely popular sightseeing destination for a long time. Non divers get to ride out to a sand bar to snorkel or just stand in the shallow water among the sting rays. Bio Bay a shallow bay surrounded by mangrove forests in Vieques is famous for its micro organisms that emit a blue green light reportedly stronger than a flashlight. Sightseers can swim, kayak or take a trip on an electric boat to see this astounding sight. Buck Island Reef in St Croix has been called ‘the finest marine garden in the Caribbean Sea’. This extraordinary coral reef system is made up of several species of hard coral supports more than 250 species of fish and other marine creatures including leatherback, green and hawks bill turtles. One of the most prominent underwater sights however is the Belize Great Barrier Reef, the longest in the Americas.
The abundance of colonial historic sites means that the Caribbean offers some of the most interesting historic sightseeing. The colonial cities of Havana, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the fortifications of St Juan Puerto Rico, the city of Willemstad in Curacao, St Kitts Brimstone Hill Fortress and the town of St George in Bermuda are the most prominent Caribbean historic destinations. The sites date from end of the 15th century to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Accessed only by boat, Parrot Cay Turks & Caicos provides much sought after privacy and seclusion and offers a thousand ha area and a mile long beach to explore and enjoy the sun and sea. As the only Turks & Caicos beach resort guests can enjoy spacious modern accommodation and a relaxed lifestyle. This Turks & Caicos Luxury resorts offers exceptional services and facilities and Asian inspired therapies to sooth, restore and nourish and guests leave knowing they have had a one of a kind holiday experience.
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Caliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered.