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Palm-fringed beaches and ripe bananas, rum punches and reggae, tropical sunshine and James Bond mystique – the Caribbean has long been a byword for paradise

Top 10 Caribbean travel experiences

Blue skies, bluer waters, palm trees and cocktails... all true, but there's a lot more to the varied islands of the Caribbean. Ditch your beach towel and do something less boring

  1. Wander Old Havana, Cuba – the crumbling capital of Cuba is an intoxicating mix of colonial architecture, seafront promenading, mojitos and pulsing salsa bars. Some of the centre's old mansions have been renovated and are now stylish hotels, making for an atmospheric stay.
  2. Island-hop through St Vincent and the Grenadines – board the mailboats with the locals (and their families/luggage/chickens) for Caribbean 'cruising' with a more human feel.
  3. Dive Bloody Bay Wall, Cayman Islands – just off Little Cayman island the sea floor makes a dramatic plunge, dropping 2,000m – and producing one of the most vibrant, wildlife-rich dive sites in the region.
  4. Visit volcanic Montserrat – in 1995 a massive eruption decimated the capital of Montserrat, and much of the population was forced to flee; now, the crater still rumbles but travellers can visit the island (volcanic activity permitting) to see the dramatic smoke plumes and fascinating lava flows.
  5. Hike up the Pitons, St Lucia – known as a honeymoon hub, St Lucia also boasts some of the Caribbean's most dramatic scenery; the steep hike up the Pitons is one of the best treks in the region.
  6. Explore Jamaica’s coffee country – the rolling Blue Mountains offer a different facet of this chilled-out island; hike amid lush greenery and butterflies to find small clapperboard farm villages and great views.
  7. Kayak through phosphorescence, Puerto Rico – on Vieques
    Island there are bays that bloom with bioluminescent plankton – swim or paddle here at night to watch the micro-organisms put on a dazzling watery light show.
  8. Experience Mardi Gras, Trinidad – the Caribbean's biggest party takes over Trinidad every February/March. Expect outlandish costumes, loud calypso tunes and no sleep!
  9. Walk and whale-watch, Dominica – the Caribbean's 'nature isle' is lush, green and undeveloped, and perfect for hiking. Head inland to trek around dormant craters, or sail offshore to see breaching whales (best November to March).
  10. Learn to sail, British Virgin Islands – BVI's calm and sheltered waters are the perfect place to get to grips with jibs and main sails. Take lessons to earn a competent crew qualification, or hire a skipper to do the hard work for you.


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