Welcome to this year’s Top 25 Things to Do in the Caribbean!
Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
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Welcome to the 2014 Viator Travel Awards: Caribbean Edition! We’re featuring some of the top things to do in 25 of the most exciting places to visit in the Caribbean. The Caribbean spans over hundreds of islands, ranging from tiny to expansive and offering a diverse range of activities. From adrenaline junkies looking for their next daring adventure to shoppers hoping to find that perfect travel souvenir, plus lots of hiking and nature found in between, the Caribbean does not disappoint, regardless of one’s activity level.
The tours and activities highlighted are chosen based on traveler reviews, data from the millions of people who check out Viator.com during the year, and information on which tours in the region travelers book most often. We think you’ll enjoy reading about the array of activities available in each of these places – it’s the little mental vacation we could all use right now – and we also think this list is a great place to start if you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean in 2014.
You’ll find all kinds of activities listed below, including ziplining through jungle canopies, coming face-to-face with the Caribbean’s sea life, horseback riding on white sand beaches, and learning about the unique culture, history, and cuisine of the Caribbean. Join us for this tour of the Top 25 Things to Do in the Caribbean!
1. Watch the sunset from Rick’s Café in Negril
Catch the Sunset
Negril, Jamaica is hands-down the party-town for those that love Caribbean jungle and unspoiled beaches. A highlight of any trip here, however, is watching (and maybe participating?) as the cliff divers jump from impossibly high ledges into the water below at Rick’s Café. Combine the show with some island exploration and you’ve got the Negril Sightseeing Tour with a Sunset at Rick’s Café. Watch the sunset over the Caribbean while the brave dive into the waters below with a cocktail in your hand – it’s a quintessentially Negril experience.
2. Explore the islands of the Bahamas
The Bahamas are many Americans’ go-to Caribbean escape. Just a dip south from the tail end of Florida, the 700 islands of the Bahamas offer unspoiled beaches, great diving, and plenty of active nightlife. What’s more is that they also offer that idyllic Caribbean escape – easily accessible by exploring their outer islands via Exuma Powerboat Adventure. Here, you can feed sharks and stingrays, explore peaceful islands and cays, and feel the adrenaline rush while the wind whips through your hair as you dart around the Bahaman island chain. Another prime exploration choice is the Bahamas East End and Lucayan National Park which offers a real treat for nature lovers. Walk along the mangroves and pines to one of the largest underwater cave structures in the world.
3. Swim with Dolphins
Play with Dolphins
What could be nicer? These gentle creatures of the sea are amazingly strong, graceful, and gentle. In Jamaica, get up close to them with the Ocho Rios dolphin swim or the Ultimate Swim Dolphin Program (also in Ocho Rios) which offers a more hands-on experience. On the other side of Jamaica in Negril, you’ll find the Dolphin Cove experience where you’ll both shake hands with the dolphins and be taken for a swim with them – truly an amazing experience! Tortola in the British Virgin Islands isn’t one to miss out on the dolphin fun, either, and they offer the Tortola Dolphin Discovery Swim which caters to comfort and all ages, so you can be sure the whole family has a good time.
4. Take a sunset cruise
Romantic Sunset in Aruba
Cruising the Caribbean at sunset is one of the best things that you can do while on vacation. Everything about it is what you come to the Caribbean for – beauty, romance, balmy weather, peace, and open skies and seas. An Aruba Sunset Catamaran Cruise or a St Lucia Champagne Sunset Cruise is this idyllic scene realized, though the more adventure-minded sect will want to partake in the wonders of sailing around St Martin during a Tall Ship Sunset Cruise. Or, if you’re in Grand Cayman, excite your sense of taste as well as your sight with a Grand Cayman Catamaran Dinner Cruise.
5. Snorkel under the sea
Try Snorkeling in the Caribbean
Much of the unspoiled beauty of the Caribbean lives below the surface of the water. Underneath lightly rippling waves is a world of colorful coral and active marine life. A snorkel trip is a fun way to ensure you see the wonders of underwater life in the Caribbean. Consider an Aruba Snorkel and Half-Day Cruise your chance to see what Aruba’s waters have to offer. If you’re in Nassau, there’s the Nassau Snorkel Bahamas Adventure where, if you’ve got the nerve, you can opt to swim with sharks! St. Maarten is another Caribbean destination that’s filled with great underwater adventure options. Try the St. Maarten Shore Excursion: Rock ‘n’ Roll Snorkel and Sightseeing Tour, where you’ll drive your own two-person inflatable to all the hot snorkel spots. Or, take a mellow ride out to Creole Rock on the Sand Dollar Half Day Tour.
6. Zipline through the jungle
Ziplining is a great way to explore the outdoors of the Caribbean islands. Get the adrenaline pumping on a Punta Cana Zipline Canopy Adventure and you’ll see what life is like atop the forest canopy. Or, if you’re in Puerto Rico, pop over to the Zipline Canopy Eco-Adventure from San Juan for a day filled with adventure.
7. Go horseback riding on the beach
Horseback riding on a Caribbean beach is like something out of a romance novel. Truth be told, though – it really is pretty great. Ride along the beach in Ocho Rios on the Heritage Beach Horse Ride or, in the Dominican Republic, check out the Zipline and Horseback Riding Combination Tour, which regularly is favorite by our travelers. Alternatively, there’s the Scenic horseback riding tour from San Juan where you can discover the rugged countryside of Puerto Rico, as well as the Fort James and Beach Horseback Ride from St John’s which affords you incredible views of the St John’s Harbor.
8. Go underwater in your own personal sub in the Bahamas
Because, let’s be honest: what could be better than checking out the underwater world in your own personal submarine? Well, you can experience this once-in-a-lifetime event in a Nassau SUB Bahamas Adventure where you’ll pilot your own mini sub!
9. Make the most of your time in port
With so many different islands to explore, cruising is a popular way to explore the Caribbean, allowing visitors to see more in a single trip. But with so much to see, time in port is valuable. Make the most of limited time with tours that let you see and do a lot in a short amount of time. Check out the Nassau Shore Excursion: Bahamas Snorkel Adventure and see the best of the underwater world of the Bahamas without going too far from port. In Grenada, try the Grenada Shore Excursion: Self-Drive Boat and Snorkel Tour where you’ll head out into the best snorkel spots in Grenada with you as captain of your own inflatable ship! Want to see all of Barbados, but only have a day? On the Barbados Shore Excursion: Barbados in a Day Tour you’ll see the highlights of Barbados including the Barbados Wildlife Reserve with their famous Green Monkeys and snorkel off the calm west coast waters. See the most of St Kitts on the St Kitts Shore Excursion: Discover St Kitts Tour. You’ll see the famous landmarks and get some time to spend shopping or splashing in the crystal Caribbean water. Discover the Dutch West Indies with a fabulous tour of St Maarten. The St Maarten Shore Excursion: Island Sightseeing Tour from Philipsburg. On it, you’ll discover the best aspects of both the Dutch and the French side of the island.
10. Go island hopping on a day trip
Enjoy some Island Hopping
Few other things are as nice as exploring the Caribbean on an island-hopping day trip. If you’re on St Martin, consider a Day Trip to the Island of the Prickly Pear from St Martin where you’ll sail aboard a 63’ catamaran to uninhabited and unspoiled islands. Also leaving out of St Martin is an Anguilla Day Trip where you’ll have the chance to discover one of the most beautiful island experiences in all of the Caribbean. If this idea appeals to you, but you’d like to pack a little bit of snorkeling in there as well, consider the Anguilla Day Trip from St Maarten: Catamaran Sail with Snorkeling at Shoal Bay. Alternatively, you can also choose to do a Saba Day Trip from St Martin where you’ll discover a beautiful rugged island filled with peaks to rival the opening scenes of Jurassic Park. If you’re in Puerto Rico, however, and want to explore the best of the Caribbean, see the Culebra Day Trip by Catamaran from Fajardo. You’ll experience some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico. The Bahamas offer some of the most interesting islands and unexplored cays in all of the Caribbean, and leaving from Nassau is The Bahamas Island-Hopping Cruise from Nassau where you’ll collect shells at Green Cay and explore picturesque Rose Island.
11. Groove to the sounds of reggae in Jamaica
Jamaica is known for being the birthplace of the famous reggae singer, Bob Marley. Many people come from all over the world to explore the rich jungle interior and beautiful beaches of Jamaica, and, while doing so, oftentimes seek out the origins of reggae and the life of Marley. Consider the Jamaica Combo Tour: Dunn River Falls and Bob Marley’s Nine Mile in order to get the most out of your Jamaican experience. Or, if you’re docking in Falmouth, consider the Falmouth Shore Excursion: Bob Marley Experience and give yourself a peek into the rich heart of Jamaica while learning about Marley himself. If you find yourself in Montego Bay, you can still find the heart and soul of reggae in the Jamaica’s Spirit of Reggae – the Bob Marley Experience from Montego Bay tour where you’ll visit Nine Mile where Marley lived, loved, and played his signature music. Ocho Rios has two options: the Bob Marley Reggae Explosion tour where you’ll visit Mt. Zion, see Marley’s final resting place, and discover the heart of reggae; and the Kingston Day Trip from Ocho Rios with Bob Marley Museum where you’ll visit the nation’s capital and the Bob Marley museum.
12. Go off-roading and ATV riding
Take an off-road adventure
Off-roading and ATV riding is a blast, and there are few better places to do it than in the Caribbean. Riding through the countryside gives you a unique look at your host country, and it makes for a fun and exciting day out. If you’re in Jamaica, look for the Jamaica ATV Off-Road Adventure to Sandy Bay which will give you adventure and a nice tour of popular Sandy Bay. Or, if you’re coming from Ocho Rios, you can explore panoramic views of the Caribbean while on an Ocho Rios ATV Safari. In the Dominican Republic, a Punta Cana Half-Day Dune Buggy Adventure puts you in the driver seat to explore the beach and coastline of the beautiful Dominican Republic.
13. Go duty free shopping in St Thomas
One nice thing about visiting international waters are the duty free stores that help you save by avoiding tax on both local and luxury goods. In the US Virgin Islands, consider a St Thomas Shore Excursion Shopping, Sightseeing, and Beach tour where you’ll explore some of the best of St Thomas including Magens Bay before doing a little shopping. Or, if your time is limited and you just want to get into the thick of it, try a St Thomas Island Tour and Shopping experience. You’ll see the highlights of St Thomas and still visit the must-see shopping centers.
14. Splash in Dunns River Falls in Jamaica
Horseback riding on the beach
Jamaica has more attractions than you can shake a stick at, and the premier attraction is Dunns River Falls, spectacular waterfalls that draw visitors from the world over. Check out the Ocho Rios Shore Excursion: Dunns River Falls and Horseback Riding Tour if you’re porting in Ocho Rios – it’s a great way to see a lot in a relatively little amount of time. Or consider the Dunns River Falls and Ocho Rios Shopping Tour for those of you who are looking to score a bit of Jamaican handicraft while touring the Caribbean.
15. Hike the El Yunque Rainforest on Puerto Rico
The El Yunque Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest in the U., home to indegenouis plants and animals like the Puerto Rican parrot and tiny coquis tree frog. Added bonus: The Loquillo Beach borders this wet wonderland. Check both of them out on an El Yunque Rainforest and Luquillo Beach tour from San Juan. Or take a guided tour through the El Yunque Rainforest and see the rich flora and fauna and the giant orchids that make this rainforest unique on the El Yunque Rainforest Hiking tour from San Juan.
16. Taste the flavors of the Caribbean
Many different cultures have called the Caribbean home through our world’s long history, and the rich remnants of these histories can be found most prevalently in the culinary traditions unique to each island. If you’re in Puerto Rico, try tasting the many flavors of San Juan’s colorful markets with an Old San Juan Food Tour. If fun in the sun is your thing, party Caribbean style on a Bermuda Rum Cruise, or, if in the Bahamas, try the Nassau Food Tasting and Walking tour – it highlights the best assets of Caribbean cuisine and gives you some great history of the islands as well.
17. Set sail for adventure
Go for a Swim!
Sailing in your blood? A St Lucia Catamaran Day Sail will entice you with stunning cliffs, Caribbean-blue waters and a stroll through the lush Diamond Botanical Gardens. St Maarten has the Tango Caribbean Dinner Cruise where you’ll see the island from a distance and feast on some traditional Caribbean fare before dancing on deck to the rhythms of the Caribbean. More fun can be had off of Aruba with the Catalina Bay and Antilla Ship Wreck Snorkel Cruise because, after all, what could be more exciting than exploring the underwater world of a shipwreck? The Bahamas offer more snorkeling adventures with an Island Snorkel Cruise from Freeport with Lunch where you’ll sail aboard a 45-foot catamaran. And if sailing is really in your blood, consider taking the Nassau Sailing Adventure with Optional Sailing Lesson. Avast, Captain! This is what living in the Caribbean is all about! And if you’re in Barbados, you can hit the open waters with an Explore and Discover Barbados Tour with Boat Cruise. You’ll swim with Green Sea Turtles and see Barbados key highlights like Bridgetown and Cherry Tree Hill.
18. Go on a safari in the Dominican Republic
Hold on and get ready for a bouncy, rocking drive when you go on a safari ride. You’ll head out in a topless vehicle and leave the paved roads of the Caribbean behind. As you off-road through an island, you’ll get the opportunity to see less-travelled parts of the Caribbean that are ripe with lush trees, wildlife and gorgeous vistas. If you’re in Puerto Plata, consider the Dominican Outback Safari or depart on the Dominican Republic Mega Truck Safari to see how the locals live and get the chance to visit sugar cane fields.
19. Explore the historical sites of the islands
While visiting the Caribbean, it’s easy to forget that it’s not all about the beach. With cities that were used as forts during World War II (San Juan) to cities that are hippie havens (Ocho Rios), you’ll find alleyways, cobblestoned streets, and rows of restaurants and bars to explore if you’re an intrepid traveler. A Nassau Historical City Tour will give you special insight into the key landmarks of Nassau and of the Bahamas in general if you’re in the area. See the Pink Palace, the Queen’s Staircase, and many more attractions on this tour. A Rum Distillery and Old San Juan Half-Day Tour is a great way to check out Old San Juan, and the National Historic Preservation site that is Old San Juan is special in-and-of itself – it’s a whole town that’s been designated a National Historical site – it’s a must see.
20. See two sides of one island in St Maarten and St Martin
Sounds funny, but it’s true. Though the Caribbean islands are, as a general rule of thumb, quite small, the inhabitants of St Maarten and St Martin just couldn’t settle on one nationality so they picked two. Today the island is shared by descendants of French and Dutch colonists with each side governed separately so that one island is really two countries. Start your foray off on the right foot with a St-Martin and St Maarten: Sightseeing Tour of the French and Dutch Sides of the Island. That will give you a good grounding. Then, on St Martin (the French side), try a Rock ‘n Roll Snorkel and Sightseeing Safari of St. Martin where you captain an inflatable and see the highlights of St Martin. On the Dutch side of things, you can explore the open water with a St Maarten Sailing and Snorkeling Tour: Tintamarre Island, Creole Rock and Lunch in Grand Case, or play pirate in a St Maarten Shore Excursion: Pirates Day Cruise St Maarten Shore Excursion: Pirates Day Cruise.
21. See the magic of St Lucia
St Lucia has gorgeous vistas and natural beauty around every corner. It’s repeatedly voted one of the most visually stunning islands in the Caribbean. See all that St Lucia has to offer with a visit to the town of Soufriere. Magical Soufriere – A Tour of St Lucia is a great half-day tour, while the adventurous sort will appreciate Land and Sea Adventure to Soufriere, St Lucia where you’ll see banana plantations, sulphur springs, waterfalls, and more. Or, if you have limited time and are just planning on doing a shore excursion, check out St Lucia Shore Excursion: Soufriere Island Delight. You’ll see the best of St Lucia and have no trouble getting back to your port of call in time.
22. Go tubing down a jungle river.
Get the adrenaline pumping as you float through the jungle waters of the Caribbean heartlands. Jamaica has several great rivers that make for exciting water adventure. The Jungle River Tubing Safari from Montego Bay goes from relaxing to adrenaline-pumping. Ocho Rios has the White River Valley Tubing Safari which is 5-star rated and offer spectacular views the whole way down. There’s also the Rio Bueno Kayaking Adventure in Jamaica if you’re looking for something more active than tubing, and the Falmouth Shore Excursion: Jamaica River-Rafting Adventure on the Rio Bueno makes for a great shore excursion if you are tight on time. If you’re stopping in Dominica, be sure to check out the Dominica Shore Excursion: River Tubing Safari and see the rivers and lush vegetation that makes this one of the most intriguing Caribbean islands.
23. Learn to dive (or hone your open water skills)
Learning to explore the underwater depths is one of the charms of any water-centric vacations, and there’s no better place to do it than in the Caribbean. The water’s warm and there’s plenty to see.
There’s an Introductory Diving in Aruba tour, which you can use to get certified in open water scuba diving in just one day, or, if you find yourself in need of certification in Grand Cayman, there’s the Grand Cayman Resort Dive Course. Either will get you out and exploring the wonderful world under the sea. After certification, you can move on to the Bermuda 2-Tank Certified Scuba Dive which cherry-picks the best of Bermuda’s underwater world. The Bahamas also have a 2-tank extended dive option with the Nassau Shore Excursion: 2-Tank Dive Adventure, in which you’ll explore all things aquatic.
24.Explore an island cave
Explore a cave!
Discover the mysteries of the underwater world for yourself in the Dominican Republic with an Adventure Day Trip to Fun Fun Cave. You’ll explore magnificent underground tunnels and enjoy a full day of horseback riding as well. Barbados offers visitors the ever-famous stalagmite and stalactite-filled Harrison’s Cave. Spend the day on a Barbados Shore Excursion: Natural Wonders and Harrison’s Cave Tour and you’ll see all the wonders that Barbados has to offer. Jamaica’s got the Green Grotto Caves, and an Ocho Rios Shore Excursion: Green Grotto Caves where you’ll don hard hats and see these incredible limestone formations and learn about the Jamaican countryside. And if you’ve found yourself with a hankering to do a little caving in Puerto Rico, check out the Rio Camuy Cave Park and Arecibo Observatory from San Juan. You’ll explore a cave that’s millions of years old, see the location of the James Bond film Goldeneye, and visit a world-renown observatory.
25. Escape to Grand Cayman
There are so many great things to do in the Caribbean that we just had to squeeze in one more. The Cayman Islands are as beautiful as they are exotic, and a trip to Grand Cayman isn’t one to be missed. From swimming with stingrays at Stingray City to white sand beaches and even culinary competitions, Grand Cayman is a premier Caribbean getaway.
To see all of the island, a Grand Cayman Tour is in order. You’ll visit Georgetown and “Hell” (a group of short black limestone formations), but for something truly unforgettable, swim with (and feed) stingrays at Grand Cayman Stingray Sandbar and Reef. Or, for another incredible adventure, take a ride aboard a real-life submarine! The Atlantis Submarine Expedition let’s you explore the depths of the ocean like you’ve never before imagined (unless you’re a naval submarine operator, that is).
- Viator Travel Team
Top 25 Things to Do in the Caribbean: 2014 Viator Travel Awards by Viator Travel Team from Viator Travel Blog