When most people think of the Caribbean, they probably think of sipping cocktails on beautiful beaches while soaking up the sunshine. It’s a fairly accurate description, as many people visiting the Caribbean are looking to relax and unwind from the stresses of life by enjoying the sun, sand, and blue skies.
However, the Caribbean has much more to offer than just relaxing by the beach. It has all kinds of amazing outdoor activities awaiting visitors – and we’re guessing you might be one of them!
From high octane water sports to exploring lush tropical forests, there is no shortage of exciting things to see and do for those seeking some adventure during a trip to this region.
Of course, with so many options to consider, finding the best Caribbean islands for adventure can be difficult!
But that’s where we’re here to help! We know this region well, so here’s our handy guide to the best Caribbean islands for adventure!
THE TOP EIGHT CARIBBEAN ISLANDS FOR THRILLSEEKERS
- Pig Beach
- St Kitts
Dominica is one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure, with a mostly unspoiled natural landscape begging to be explored. This island nation flies under the radar for many, meaning fewer crowds of tourists but still plenty of activities on offer.
Hiking is especially popular here, with Dominica being one of the few Caribbean islands to have a long-range hiking trail.
Waitukubuli Trail offers a hike – the longest in the Caribbean – that outdoor enthusiasts will love, giving the chance to explore the vibrant tropical forests throughout the island. It is not one for less experienced hikers though, as this spectacular 115-mile trail takes two weeks to complete!
Another incredible hiking trail is Boiling Lake. This eight mile trail takes just a few hours to complete, and offers the chance to take in the world’s 2nd largest hot lake in the world – an opening in the Earth’s crust which emits gases and steam!
Other fun activities to enjoy in Dominica include kayaking along the bays and coves throughout the island coast, biking through the hiking trails, and even the chance to swim beneath the gorgeous waterfalls here. Like many Caribbean islands, Dominica also has lots of great coral and shallows that are perfect for snorkelling adventures.
To sum up: Dominica is one of the Caribbean’s untouched islands and has unbeatable outdoor adventures and hiking.
Although a popular spot for relaxing beach holidays, Barbados is also an amazing place for outdoor fun and adventure.
If water sports are your thing, then Barbados is well worth visiting. This country is home to some of the best surfing conditions in the world. It’s easy to find surfing spots suitable for every experience level here, from beginners to more experienced surfers.
In the northwest of Barbados lies Duppies, a spot renowned for its laid back ambience and friendly locals, with waves suitable for most levels. To the east is Soup Bowl, a spot that is popular for long boarding along the coast.
Silver Sands Beach, located to the south, is a great area for beginners looking to learn how to surf, as is the nearby Surfers Bay.
You’ll also find all kinds of other water sports in these areas, including jet skiing, parasailing, wakeboarding, and more.
For some inland fun, Welchman Hall Gully is teeming with tropical flora and fauna. Located at the heart of the island, you can visit the tropical gully through a self-guided tour that takes less than an hour. Expect to see the troop of green monkeys that live in the tropical forest here.
Harrison’s Cave is another impressive landmark found at the centre of Barbados. This eco-adventure park has a huge limestone cave with various steams and pools within. Explore the majestic limestone crystalline formations throughout the cave, which has a large natural passageways making it easy to navigate.
To sum up: Barbados is one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure if you’re looking for watersports or world-class surfing. It’s got some great inland activities too.
3. Pig Beach
Is there anything more adventurous than swimming with pigs on a tropical island paradise?
We are hard pressed to find anything more unique and exciting than swimming in crystal-clear waters alongside a colony of friendly pigs, which is exactly what you can experience on Pig Beach.
This beach is on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay in the Bahamas, and offers an experience like no other. That makes it one of the most impressive adventures to enjoy during a visit to the Caribbean.
Various boat charters are available, taking around 2 hours to get to the island, which is home to around 50-70 feral pigs. These pigs have become something of a phenomenon, with the friendly animals swimming alongside tourists in the pristine coastal waters surrounding the island.
The pigs love attention and you’ll get the chance to feed them while enjoying a dip in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s the perfect photo op!
To sum up: How about swimming with wild pigs on an uninhabited Caribbean island? That’s what you’ll get at Pig Beach in the Bahamas!
Although the smaller island of St Kitts and Nevis, Nevis is still an island that offers ample outdoor adventuring. From challenging hiking trails to an abundance of watersports along its beautiful coastline.
At 985m, Nevis Peak is an extremely rewarding hike that has some truly spectacular panoramic views of the rest of Nevis as well as neighbouring St Kitts. The volcanic peak dominates the entire island, with its rolling slopes wrapped in vibrant green vegetation.
While the mountain trail seems gentle from afar, it does become challenging at higher elevations. There are some points where you need to use pre-rigged ropes to get higher, and you’ll need some reliable gear, so it’s not one for inexperienced hikers.
To sum up: This pretty little island has fantastic watersport opportunities. But it’s the challenging hike up Nevis Peak that makes it one of out best Caribbean islands for adventure.
5. St Kitts
While visiting Nevis it would be rude not to stop by St Kitts, the neighbouring island that has its own share of outdoor activities to enjoy. Given that over one-quarter of St Kitts’ landscape is a designated national park, it’s safe to say the island has plenty of beautiful places to discover.
This is thanks to the country’s strong emphasis on conservation efforts, leading to much of the natural rainforest being protected habitat. As a result, the rainforest has become a sanctuary for all kinds of tropical plant life and wildlife.
A hike through the island’s various trails will see you spot all kinds of exotic animals, including the green vervet monkey. These colourful primates were first brought to island in the 17th century as exotic pets and now out populate humans!
Sadly, they are viewed as a pest my most residents, although they do offer a great chance to see monkeys up close and personal.
Another fun activity for adventurous visitors is climbing Mount Liamuiga. While most of St Kitts’ hiking trails are gentle and easy to navigate, Mount Liamuiga is a much more challenging trail, with the 1,210m dormant volcano taking around 2 hours to hike.
However, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful scenic routes and panoramic views that you can find in the Caribbean.
To sum up: St Kitts will have you monkey spotting and hiking up volcanoes. If that doesn’t sound like a Caribbean adventure, we don’t know what is!
6. Cayman Islands
We could talk extensively about the best Caribbean islands for snorkelling – and we have previously! – but let’s keep it brief here. The Cayman Islands offer some of the best spots for underwater adventures in the region. Expect to see stingray, barracuda, angelfish, blue tang, butterfly fish, lionfish, groupers, snappers, turtles and more!
Of the three islands that make up the Cayman Islands, the largest island Grand Cayman offers some truly exceptional snorkeling. This island is home to the capital of George Town, which is very tourist-friendly while also being close to most of the best snorkeling spots.
Perhaps the most interesting snorkeling area around George Town is the Wreck of Cali. A freighter ship carrying thousands of bags of rice that sunk in the 1940s. The wreckage still rests underneath the shallow waters nearby the beach.
This means you can easily wade out into the shallows with snorkeling gear and explore the rust ruins of the vessel, with all kinds of fish, eels, and octopus now calling it their home! This sight is close to George Town and suitable for all levels, making it a good spot to visit with kids.
Moving towards the northern portion of George Town is Cheeseburger Reef, a hilariously named reef that is approximately 150 yards from the coastline. The crystal clear waters here are only 10ft deep and are a great spot to snorkel with sea turtles – an incredible experience we cannot recommend enough. Spotts Beach is another superb spot for swimming with sea turtles.
Finally, be sure to consider the appropriately named Stingray City, one of the most popular snorkeling attractions on the Cayman Islands. While typically packed with tourists, Stingray City is a mesmerizing sandbar filled with friendly stingrays that glide through the shallow waters. The experience at Stingray City is one of the top reasons the Cayman Islands makes it into our list of the best Caribbean islands for adventure!
To sum up: The Cayman Islands gives you the opportunity to snorkel amongst shipwrecks, spot sharks and get up close and personal with stingrays. It’s adventure with an A+!
While much of Haiti continues to recover from the catastrophic earthquake in 2010, the island is still one of the best places in the region to explore. And visiting here means your tourist money goes into a country that really needs it.
Haiti’s mountains dominate much of the island, not only offering spectacular views but also some excellent places to hike.
One of the best parts of hiking these mountains is the scenic country roads that take you there, giving a chance to see the island’s diverse landscape that includes dense jungles, sprawling coastal plains, and expansive river valleys.
You can hire a tour guide to navigate these routes, but if you enjoy high octane fun then you’ll want to try off-roading through Haiti’s majestic countryside. This gives you a fun way to see all the charm of rural Haiti, as you traverse various trails while visiting vibrant villages throughout the island.
La Visite National Park is one of the best places to see much of Haiti, with the park taking around half a day to explore by foot.
Bassin Bleu is a beautiful natural water sight northwest of Jacmel that’s worth visiting, and gives you the the chance to cool off from the hot Haitian sun in three natural water pools. Bassin Clair, one of the three pools, even features a 10m cascading waterfall!
To sum up: Haiti has huge mountains, dense rainforests and a spectacular coastline. This is the place to be for off-roading adventures, breathtaking hikes, and swimming in jungle waterfalls.
Martinique is a small island that makes up part of the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. It’s something of a hiker’s paradise, with much of the island covered in ‘traces’ – a type of trail used by early inhabitants of the island.
These traces stretch out into every direction, sprawling for hundreds of miles throughout the island. They offer the perfect chance to explore the island as the trails intertwine with various landscapes, from rugged mountain paths to tropical forests to sandy beaches.
Boat tours will allow you to explore the beautiful coastal areas of Martinique, which are blessed with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. You may even find yourself swimming with turtles and tropical fish along the calm coastal waters of the island.
Those seeking challenging trails will want to visit Mont Pelee, an active volcano on the north end of the island. Or Pitons du Carbet (the Cabaret Mountains), a range of mountains that are popular for hiking and rock climbing.
To sum up: Martinique is one of the Caribbean’s lesser visited regions. It presents the opportunity to hike, swim, and rock climb in stunning surroundings, but without the crowds.