The Caribbean holds a level of wanderlust that's hard to rival. After all, where else will you find idyllic beaches just a stone's throw from volcanoes, tropical rainforests and towering mountains? These are islands packed full of surprises. We've shed some light on some of our favourite things to do in the Caribbean below. So whether you're a nature lover, passionate beachgoer or history buff looking for a little culture, there's an island and Caribbean villa holiday for you.
It just doesn't get better than Caribbean beaches, the idyllic coves and bays spark instant wanderlust! Just seeing some beach snaps is enough to send you into a tropical daydream. The palm trees swaying in the sea breeze, azure seas caressing the white sand – this is paradise. Ticking off all those things to do in the Caribbean starts with a day at the beach. So why not make a start in Barbados? Accra is a brilliant beach for families, with shade, soft sand and shallow waters. You'll have plenty of space to spread out and relax here. Mullins offers more fun for all ages, but snorkellers and jet skiers will find the adrenaline rush they crave.
Silver Sands takes the watersport fun to another level - this is where professionals visit in search of the perfect swell. Surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing competitions are held here each year. You could become the Silver Surfer on your Barbados villa holiday. Paynes Bay is a long stretch, winding its way along the coastal greenery. Those turquoise waters have never seemed more inviting! Smooth and calm, this is the ideal spot for a cooling Caribbean dip. The turtles often seen here certainly enjoy their swim and time on the sand, so keep your eyes peeled for our shelled friends.
Sandseekers won't find many sweeter spots than Sugar Beach! A stretch of Caribbean coastal gold, tucked between the Gros and Petit Pitons. So just sit back, relax and enjoy the views. If you're seeking that secluded spot, look no further than Anse Mamin. A cosy cove, tucked away behind rainforest and tropical palms. This is a beacon of untouched beauty, although its sunloungers and beach restaurant are a subtle addition to your amazing beach days. Marigot Bay is home to plenty more quiet bays and tranquil coves. With white sand and exotic trees lining the beach – where better for sandy seclusion?
Feel like a film star for the day, with a trip to 'James Bond Beach'. You won't feel shaken or stirred here! In fact this is the ideal beach for a little 'me time', as you lay back and enjoy the peace and quiet. Dr. No was filmed on this idyllic stretch, so it's heaven for spy-lovers. Top it all off by sinking your teeth into the catch of the day, at Moonraker Jamaican Bar and Grill.
Dreaming of action packed days on an idyllic Caribbean beach? Doctor's Cave is the perfect prescription for adrenaline-seeking beach lovers. Parasailing, jet skis – take your pick of the thrills. Maybe a glass bottom boat trip sounds like a better way to enjoy life on the waves? Time your visit right and you could be watching one of the most beautiful sunsets you've ever seen.
One of Antigua's most brilliantly named, Jabberwock is a beach that more than lives up its characterful title. The stretch feels like the perfect middle ground between lively and laid-back. Never too crowded, but with plenty to do – Jabberwock should satisfy even the most difficult to please. Wind and kite surfing conditions are ideal, if you're tempted out onto the shimmering sea.
Dickenson Bay offers a little taste of home, alongside its tropical flavours. You'll spot red phoneboxes standing out among the palms – but with views like this, we highly doubt you'll be feeling homesick any time soon! Generally bustling, you'll also find quiet spots on this beautiful bay. Carlisle Bay is about as idyllic as they come. This curving arc of fine gold is flanked by azure waters and rolling hills, decorated with lush greenery. Snorkelling fanatics will definitely feel like they've struck gold here. Pop your mask on and watch the colourful fish dancing their way through the waves.
As luck would have it, you don't have to stray far from the Casa de Campo Resort when you're in the mood for sand, sea and sun! Turquoise waters gently lap at the silky shores of the resort's very own private beach, Minitas. This is the spot to relax and unwind, lie back on a sunlounger and enjoy a signature cocktail from the Coco Mar bar, and with wet and wild watersports to boot – you'd be forgiven for never leaving the resort!
Just off shore, the idyllic islands of Catalina and Saona await. Here you'll find plenty to see and do, with Catalina boasting an underwater museum and shipwreck – a match made in heaven for budding diving enthusiasts. Saona island is part of the East National Park and is overflowing with coral reefs and palm-fringed beaches. Find your own personal slice of paradise and while away the day in beautifully warm seas and on sun-drenched sands. Beyond the beach there's a turtle recovery centre and lagoon filled with flamingos too!
A whirlwind through the island's entire history, Arlington House is the perfect starting point for your cultural discovery. This 18th century building has been transformed into a museum, telling Barbados's fascinating story. From early settlers on the island, through colonial rule and marauding pirates arriving on the shore.
If it's those island beginnings that really interest you, head to Holetown. A monument to the first English settlers marks their 17th century arrival. Maybe it's the colonisation and pirate invasion that piqued your interest? Main Guard House is home to an impressive collection of cannons, used to protect Bajan shores. Sugar also played a key part in the island's past, with its production once important to the island. Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill is one of only two restored mills in the Caribbean. And if you travel between December and April you'll get a glimpse at how sugar cane was ground in times gone by.
Although its name might be a little misleading, Pigeon Island National Park is one of the best spots on St. Lucia. You won't find any pigeons here! And it's no longer an island, since a causeway joined it to the mainland years ago. What you will find are hints of history and stunning natural beauty, on an inviting strip of hills and beaches. Get your cultural fix by hiking to Fort Rodney. From its hilltop position the fort became invaluable in protecting from invasion. Today the lookouts here simply admire the blue ocean below and sparkling Rodney Bay.
Culture vultures with a sweet tooth can find twice the fun at Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park. The perfect spot to satisfy your cravings! This is your gateway to St. Lucia of the past, home to a working mill and plantation. Learn how sugar cane syrup is produced and cocoa is prepared, before exploring the traditional Carib village.
Jamaica is littered with fascinating monuments, with each one acting as a piece of Jamaica's historic puzzle. A trip across the island feels like a treasure hunt in many ways. And there's plenty of gold on Jamaican shores! From relics of colonial rule, to forts that have stood more than the test of time. Learn how the other half lived, at Rose Hall's Great House – a restored plantation house, close to Montego Bay. Wander through the colourful gardens, watch the waves dancing across the sea below – this is culture with a dash of beauty.
An island as desirable as Jamaica needed to be protected, especially during the days of conquerors and marauders. So expect to spot plenty of forts as you explore. Fort Charles is one of the most impressive, even surviving the earthquake of 1692. After this show of strength, Charles became key in the island's safety. In its pomp it was home to more than 100 canons and a garrison of 500 men. History and horticulture lie within National Heroes Park, where the seven key Jamaican figures are celebrated amid the greenery.
One of the Caribbean's finest colonial relics sits on Antigua's shores. Built during British occupation, Nelson's Dockyard once protected English Harbour from enemy invasion. You won't have to worry about pirates or French conquerors today, so just enjoy the beauty of this restored monument. Name after Lord Nelson, dive into the past at his former home. Now the Dockyard Museum, there's plenty of little delights through its doors.
Shirley Heights has the enviable task of keeping watch over this famous dockyard and the equally impressive Falmouth Harbour. The views here are picture perfect! The military fort and lookout point make the trip to the top even sweeter. And if you're searching for something sweet, Betty Hope's Sugar Plantation won't disappoint. Founded in 1650, this was an agricultural and economic powerhouse on Antigua.
The Dominican Republic's culture is as diverse as its landscapes. Made up of a mixture of influences from around the world, you'll find European, African and Taíno traditions are celebrated across the country. From the mesmerising Merengue dance to El Carnaval de la Vega festival and the signature dish Sancocho, witnessing (and tasting) these customs first-hand will give you authentic experiences to treasure long after you've returned home.
Santo Domingo, or 'La Capital' as it's affectionately called, is a must-see for culture vultures. One of the oldest and most dynamic cities in the Caribbean, it received the UNESCO stamp of approval in 1990 and holds a wealth of wonder within its walled, historic core. Zona Colonial is a maze of pedestrianised streets teeming with 16th century architecture and a magnificent cathedral that was the first to be built in the 'New World'. Wander through cobblestone alleys, learn a thing or two in the multiple museums and finish up with a well-deserved meal at one of the many restaurants.
Get back to nature in style, at The Barbados Wildlife Reserve! A mini safari among the mahogany trees, you'll find plenty of animals in their natural habitat here. And the highlight has to be the green monkeys. A sociable species that's most likely to be spotted when it's their turn to eat. So make sure your feeding time's a little earlier in the day and arrive before the afternoon begins. The reserve is also home to parrots, cayman, tortoises and so much more.
If you're a lover of Flora and not as interested in the Fauna, discover the pick of the Bajan plantlife at Flower Forest. Exotic palms, plants and shrubs – there's so much to enjoy here. And you never know when you'll stumble across a breathtaking viewpoint. The lush landscape of Barbados awaits around plenty of twisting paths, guiding you out to the stunning scenery.
Who'd have thought that Barbados could be just as beautiful beneath the surface? The limestone cavern of Harrison's Cave is natural architecture at its very best. Still active to this day, water passes through and fills the glistening pools. And the temperatures even sit around 27°C! So you won't miss out on that Caribbean warmth, as you explore underground Barbados. If all of the above ticks your holiday boxes, surely there's nowhere better than Animal Flower Cave? These beautiful coastal caverns even offer views out to sea.
A volcano, waterfalls and two towering mountain peaks, St. Lucia is Caribbean beauty at its very best. In truth, the island never seems to have an off day! The great outdoors here always seems to sparkle. It would be a crime not to put the Pitons at the top of the bill. Tall, photogenic and with an irresistible charm, these volcanic mountains are St. Lucia's superstars. Their peaks tower over the rest of the island and you can enjoy the same enviable views if you're prepared to hike. The Pitons are covered in lush rainforest, which draws hikers all the way to the top.
If the Pitons are the star performer, the island's supporting cast has to be one of the strongest in the Caribbean. Soufriere's drive-in volcano lets you travel right up to the crater! And if you did brave the Piton hike, perhaps a soak in the hot springs or a mud bath will cure all those aches. Diamond Botanical Gardens are a nature lover's best friend. Tropical plantlife meets cascading waterfalls, with hot springs thrown in too.
Brilliantly blue in places, splashes of lush green in others – Jamaica packs a colourful Caribbean punch. And you'll find the perfect shade of each at the Blue Mountains. The island's longest mountain range will leave you feeling anything but blue. This is the kind of natural beauty that really puts a spring in your step, which you're going to need if your sights are set on Blue Mountain peak! A seven mile hike to the top of Jamaica's highest point ticks off all of those wonderful sights you expect to see. From tropical plants to sea views, these are blues and greens that should always be seen.
The Irie Blue Hole feels like a little piece of paradise, tucked away from the rest of the world. This is your chance to take a dip in the brilliantly blue waters! Swimming below the tumbling waterfall, you'll truly feel like you're back to nature. It's probably best that we've left the Enchanted Gardens for last. With their exotic plantlife and more cascading falls, these gardens really do live up to their name. Prepare to be enchanted…
If you're not keen on the idea of gruelling seven mile treks, then you'll love Mount Obama. Although it's Antigua's highest point, your journey to the top isn't a taxing one. It's more of a chance to stretch your legs. With paths twisting their way through the Jungle, expect to fill your boots with spectacular scenery before you even reach the peak.
You'll often hear people saying that you can't improve on nature and Antigua is where this all begins to make sense. There's been no better architect than the crashing waves here. The limestone arch of Devil's Bridge is the perfect example, shaped by the waves and sea over several centuries. Mother Nature's artistic flair is also proudly displayed at the Pillars of Hercules. Carved into the cliff face, these are best seen by sea – so hop aboard or grab your snorkel for this exhibition of natural beauty.
Biggest of the bunch, the Dominican Republic is like its own mini continent! One for the adventure lovers – take a walk on the wild side and explore one of the Caribbean's most dramatic and diverse destinations. Between tropical beaches, luscious rainforests, rushing waterfalls, sweeping savannah and brooding mountains, outdoor activities are where it's at! Little ones will love monkeying around in treetops, while families can enjoy group boat trips through magical mangroves and across coastal lagoons. From gentle strolls and horseback riding to adrenaline-pumping jet skis and zip line courses, getting close to nature can be as relaxed or heart-racing as you want.
A wealth of wonderful wildlife awaits too, and with 25% of the Dominican Republic covered by national parks and nature reserves – the list of animals and reptiles who have taken up residency is almost limitless. Bears, flamingos, iguanas, turtles, armadillos, flying squirrels, toucans and sloths are just a handful of highlights. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled! The action doesn't stop on dry land either, as whale watching excursions bring you up close and personal to the majestic underwater mammals. Plus you can expect regular visits from playful bottlenose dolphins too.
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