With a fabulous choice of supervised tours, expert-led trips and adventures to be had, there are plenty of natural world holiday ideas in the Caribbean. So if you’re seeking to discover some of the worlds’ most incredible creatures, stunning sea life and beautiful natural wonders, the Caribbean islands have everything you need to live out your very own Attenborough exploring fantasy.
The Caribbean covers a wide geography and is, therefore, a destination filled with wild contradictions, amazing nature and vast ever-changing landscapes. Some islands have a flat terrain and are not volcanic, others possess astounding rugged panorama. The climate across the region is also exceedingly varied, from tropical to sub-tropical, with varying wet and dry seasons, humidity, winds and temperature. This makes the Caribbean truly remarkable for the diversity of its wildlife, fauna, terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Underwater marvels include shark encounter dive trips in the Bahamas and awesome wreck diving in Aruba. Or how about swimming with turtles in Barbados or witnessing the curiosity of stingray city just off the Cayman Islands? Elsewhere on land there are the numerous Caribbean waterfalls to explore, such as the beautiful Belaine Falls in St. Vincent and of course the opportunity to climb the Dunns River Waterfalls in Jamaica. St. Lucia offers dramatic volcanic rock climbing amongst the rainforest environment and all the wildlife that that brings. On the other hand, St. Kitts and Nevis’s quiet, sandy beaches are a precious nesting refuge for Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles.
As natural world holiday ideas go, Tobago has a suitcase full, within its enchanted rainforest you’ll find wonders such as the Buccoo Swamp, Arnos Vale Nature Reserve and the Caledonia Bird Sanctuary – a protected area for birdwatching and nature walks alongside the Orinoco River. The Dominican Republic is also host to a huge amount of natural treasures. Nicknamed ‘The Nature Island of the Caribbean’, you can discover hidden waterfalls, snorkel at the champagne reefs and swim with the Sperm Whales. Not to be missed, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a biodiversity hotspot. Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, with its mangroves and tidal flats, is a haven for wildlife; Little Water Cay is the top spot to see the Island’s Rock Iguana and at certain times thousands of Greater Flamingos can be seen.
About 13km off the coast of Mexico’s Cancun you’ll find Isla Mujeres which is famous for its rainbow coral reefs and the profusion of wildlife. Also in Cancun is Nichupte Lagoon, home to swamp-loving reptiles, birds and crocodiles. If you head to Mexico’s Riviera May instead, you can see Iguana scuttling around the Mayan ruins in Playacar and the Orange Yellow Sulpher Butterflies in the Yucatan Peninsula. If you’re lucky you may even see a Grey Fox.
Moving down to the southern Caribbean isle of Grenada, with its volcanic lushness, there are plenty of natural world holiday ideas here. Stroll through the fruit-filled gardens and see the cocoa beans drying out in the sunshine, or head to the Grand Etang National Park for views over the volcanic crater lake and emerald green mountains.
Visitors to the Cayman Islands will find themselves literally face-to-face with nature – from bat caves, blue iguanas and parrots, to stingrays and rare orchids – this destination has wildlife in abundance and even boasts more species than the Galapagos. At the Botanic Park, you can find out more about the Island’s blue iguana breeding programme, which has rescued the species from almost oblivion to around 700.
2 Natural Wonders of the Caribbean
In addition to all of the amazing wildlife mentioned above, there are also some unique natural wonders in the Caribbean that you simply cannot see anywhere else. These two are a couple of our favourites.
The Pitons, St Lucia
Towering high above the sea in St Lucia, the gargantuan twin volcanic peaks called The Pitons dominate the skyline of the Island and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gros Piton is 2,530 feet high and although the taller of the two, is easier to climb than the slightly shorter Petit Piton, a mere 2,438 feet. If you don’t have much climbing experience, you’d still be able to get to the summit, as long as you’re accompanied by a certified guide.
This just has to be one of the most breath-taking natural world holidays. The best time to capture the Pitons is between the months of September to November when they are lusciously green due to the season’s rainfall. The two sloping-sided cones can be seen as you arrive to the Island by boat or if you travel to the south western coast by road. Understandably these two colossal spires are absolutely iconic to this destination and are represented by two triangles on the Island’s flag.
Another great vantage point, where you can really get a sense of scale, is Jalousie Beach, which is situated right between each Piton. To reach it, you have to go through the luxury resort, but you do have public right of way. The sand here is naturally volcanic black and slopes down into the rich coral waters, which are pristine and as clear as glass.
Related: KITESURFING IN ST. LUCIA AND BARBADOS
Pitch Lake, Trinidad
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pitch Lake can be found in the village of La Brea in the south west of Trinidad. The word ‘pitch’ is another word for ‘tar’, and this is exactly what this lake is made of, around 10,000,000 tons of the stuff! This is by far the largest naturally occurring asphalt deposit in the world and was re-discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595 when he used some of the tar to repair his ship.
This natural world holiday idea is not only a great tourist attraction but is also highly significant to the indigenous people of the Island. Folklore has it that the lake was formed following a fight by two rival tribes. The victorious tribe unfortunately got carried away with their celebrations and ate the sacred hummingbirds. Legend has it, that in retaliation, the winged gods opened up the earth and created a lake of pitch to consume the whole village.
On approach, you’ll find a black, moving lake and if you wait a while you’ll see the asphalt moving with a slow ‘stirring’. At the lake’s centre, the tar reaches over 350 feet deep. In areas it is possible to walk on it, yet you can feel it ‘give’ underneath your feet. Anything really heavy can sink into it fairly rapidly. Massive holes do appear and then re-fill themselves in a few days. The lake can swallow anything it chooses and that has been known to spit out prehistoric trees and ancient pottery.
The best way to see Pitch Lake is with a local guide who can take you across and show you the softer areas. Try to avoid visiting during the rainy season as some of the rivers flowing towards the lake become quite ferocious. Also, another tip: wear shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting stained black!
See More: Tobago holidays
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