Caribbean wonders

It’s not always easy to take yourself away from the beautiful beaches but here are 10 must-do experiences that will make your Caribbean holiday more memorable

Wingfield estate, St. Kitts

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Combine culture with an exhilarating zip line experience at Wingfield Estate, the site of an historic sugar plantation and rum distillery in the picturesque foothills of St. Kitts’ central mountain range.

Rum production began here in 1681, maybe even earlier, but the old distillery laid undiscovered until 2013, making Wingfield the oldest intact distillery in the Caribbean.

A network of zip lines will take you soaring high over the rainforest, the Wingfield River and the estate, reaching speeds of up to 50 miles an hour.

Great Blue Hole, Belize

Hidden Belize

Whether you see it from the air or dive right in, the Great Blue Hole is equally as breathtaking. This 300-metre-wide, 125- metre deep sinkhole is part of a larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve system, the second largest reef in the world. Thousands of years ago it formed as a limestone cave but as sea levels rose, the cave system flooded and collapsed, creating a vast, circular shape in the deepest shade of blue. Home to nurse sharks, giant groupers and numerous species of reef sharks, it should be on every scuba diver’s bucket list, both for the experience of diving deep into the dark hole but also for the tropical marine life and corals in the shallow waters surrounding it, which are also great for snorkelling. Alternatively, get stunning aerial views and Insta-worthy photographs on a helicopter or small plane tour.

Dark View Falls, St. Vincent

Swim in the cool, clear natural pools of Dark View Falls, just an hour’s drive north of Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are two waterfalls to enjoy. To get to the first, it’s an easy 10-15 minute hike before crossing the Richmond River via a bamboo bridge, followed by another shady walk. Here you’ll find a pool with a gazebo, picnic area and viewing platform. To reach the higher falls, which has a larger pool, it’s a more arduous, steeper hike, but one worth every step.

Waitukubuli National Trail, Dominica

Hidden Dominica

Walk the Waitukubuli National Trail, named after the indigenous name for the island, which translates to ‘Tall is her body’.

Known locally as WNT, this 114-mile trail runs the length of Dominica from the southern tip, Scotts Head, to the Cabritts National Park in the north. Along the way you’ll pass through villages, farmland, old plantations, lush rainforests, deep gorges, steaming sulphur springs and waterfalls, allowing you to fully absorb the island’s culture, traditions and its natural wonders.
Highlights include the Boiling Lake, Morne Diablotins (Dominica’s highest mountain), and meeting the indigenous Kalinago people. With numerous benches and shelters for rest stops, the trail can be split into 14 smaller walks, each one taking a day to complete.

Bio Bay, Cayman Islands

Kayak under the stars to Bioluminescence (Bio) Bay on the north side of Grand Cayman, one of only a handful of places in the world where you can experience this phenomenon. Best seen on dark nights, bioluminescence is the emission of light from extremely high concentrations of bioluminescent phytoplankton which, when disturbed, emit a burst of light to scare off predators. You can also view the spectacle from an electric catamaran with a low-level deck, allowing you to dangle your hands and feet over the side and swirl them through this sparkling wonder.

Blue Mountain, Jamaica

Hidden Jamaica

Climb the peak of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain, a UNESCO heritage site and the home of the island’s famous Blue Mountain Coffee.

Jamaica’s highest peak, at 2256 metres, is well marked and not too steep but can take up to five hours to conquer, depending on your pace and how many times you stop to admire and photograph the mesmerising views. Many hikers spend the night before at Whitfield Hall and set off early for the six-mile trek to the summit for sunrise.

For a less strenuous but equally enjoyable Blue Mountain experience, spend the day at Holywell National Park, an hour’s drive from Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.

Sulphur Springs, Saint Lucia

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Hidden st lucia2

Take a dip in the hot springs and pamper yourself in the bubbling mud baths at Sulphur Springs, just south of the town of Soufrière, once the capital of Saint Lucia and home to Gros Piton and Petit Piton, two now-dormant volcanoes.

Here, an active geothermal area has created steaming pools of water rich in minerals and baths of healing mud. (It’s best to take a dark-coloured swimsuit for the mud bathing experience). You can also take a guided tour of the volcano and learn how the entire Caribbean basin was formed. If the conditions are right, enjoy a rejuvenating back and shoulder massage in the nearby waterfall.

Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada

Scuba dive, snorkel or take a tour in a glass-bottom boat at the world’s first underwater museum, listed as one of National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World.

Created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in 2006, there are 75 striking works of art covering 800 square metres, 5-8 metres down on the floor of the Caribbean Sea. The site is now listed as one of National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World. In a marine protected area, the sculptures are made from long-lasting and pH neutral cement, textured to allow coral polyps to attach themselves and encouraging marine life to flourish.

Entrance fees help fund park rangers to manage tourism and fishing quotas.

Pebbles Beach, Barbados

Hidden Barbados

Pebbles Beach, near Bridgetown, is worth a visit any time of day and any day of the week, but time it right and you’ll get to see the magnificent racehorses from the racetrack at Garrison Savannah taking a swim in the ocean here. Several days a week at sunrise these majestic creatures are walked, bathed and groomed as part of their training. The grooms might even let you pet the horses and take their photographs.

Despite its name, the beach is of soft white sand, not pebbles, and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you’re there, check out Cuz’s Fish Stand, which serves the island delicacy, ‘cutters’, salt bread buns stuffed with fish, tomato and lettuce.

Pink Beaches, Barbuda

Hidden Barbuda

Barbuda could well be the Caribbean’s ultimate pristine destination, with a small population and just a scattering of buildings.

Its Pink Sand Beach is known to be the pinkest of all the region’s beaches, due to the high levels of coral reefs along the coast.

The pink hue is visible when shells have been deposited by surging waves and the colour is at its deepest between October and January. Those staying in Antigua can take the 90-minute Barbuda Express Ferry from St. John’s. Harbour