5 mins

Beyond Havana: 9 extraordinary adventures in the Caribbean

As Joanna Lumley heads to Haiti and Havana, follow her Caribbean trail and then go even further, to discover best beaches, cultural experiences and incredible nature these fabled islands have to offer...

Anse d’Arlet in Martinique (Shutterstock)

1. Discover Havana and classic Cuba

A vintage American car on the streets of Havana (Shutterstock)

A vintage American car on the streets of Havana (Shutterstock)

Joanna begins her adventure in the atmospheric Cuban capital of Havana. On this two-week holiday with Peregrine, you will too – staying in the legendary Hotel Nacional de Cuba and cruising through the city’s colonial streets in a vintage American convertible.

From Havana, you’ll venture deep into the Cuban countryside, experiencing daily life in the verdant tobacco fields of Vinales, peeling back the curtain on Santiago de Cuba’s ballet culture, wandering the French-infused waterfront of Cienfuegos.

You’ll also dance to Cuban rhythms in Trinidad and go snorkelling in the Bay of Pigs, truly getting under the skin of this fascinating country.

Trip: Cuba Highlights

Who: Peregrine

Type: Small group

When: Oct to May

How long: 14 days

How much: From £2,495 (exc. flights)

2. Swim with humpbacks in the Dominican Republic

A humpback mother and her calf at Silver Bank (Shutterstock)

A humpback mother and her calf at Silver Bank (Shutterstock)

With the UK Foreign Office advising against travelling to Haiti – and Joanna Lumley being robbed at gunpoint while she was there – a visit to this troubled country is not always an option.

But Haiti shares an island another country, the Dominican Republic. Wild adventures are to be had there, too, mostly of the natural kind – such as snorkelling with humpback whales alongside Dive Worldwide.

You’ll spend 11 amazing days at Silver Bank, the scene of the largest gathering of North Atlantic humpback whales on the planet. Between January and April every year, as many as 3,000 whales gather to court, mate and give birth. Not only will you get to view their antics from your comfortable liveaboard vessel, you’ll be able to dive into the warm tropical waters and encounter humpbacks eye-to-eye in their natural environment, on their terms. 

Accompanied by experienced personnel, you'll see mothers and playful calves, swim in bone-rattling whale song, witness courtship dances and more. Now that’s wild!

Trip: Snorkelling With Humpbacks On Silver Bank

Who: Dive Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Jan to Mar

How long: 11 days

How much: From £4,995 (inc. flights)

3. Explore the Caribbean's biggest highlights

Anse d’Arlet in Martinique (Shutterstock)

Anse d’Arlet in Martinique (Shutterstock)

It would be a shame to travel all the way to the Caribbean and not experience all of its charms. This active adventure with Ramblers Walking Holidays packs three varied Caribbean Islands into one amazing trip.

Starting and finishing in Saint Lucia, you’ll hike through the lush rainforest and along stunning coastal paths before taking a short ferry ride to the French-Caribbean island of Martinique, where Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s wife and the first French empress, was born.

After sampling the unique culture and beautiful walking trails here, Dominica awaits. Known as the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’, it is a wild, green island of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, rushing rivers, and sparkling waterfalls. You’ll also get to sample Caribbean flavours here with a Creole cookery class and rum tasting experience.

What more could you possibly want from a walking holiday?

Trip: Caribbean Explorer

Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays

Type: Small group

When: Jan, Feb & Nov

How long: 14 nights

How much: £3,999 (inc. flights)

4. Get under the skin of Jamaica

Fruit stand in St Catherine (Shutterstock)

Fruit stand in St Catherine (Shutterstock)

Venture beyond clichés and discover the true heart of Jamaica - the Caribbean island that has it all - on this week-long adventure with Intrepid.

Jamaica is a land of white sand beaches, a lush interior, delicious native cuisine and an artistic culture that punches well above its weight – and you’ll experience every bit of it on this all-encompassing trip.

You’ll see and hear Rastafari culture on a tour of an indigenous Rastafari village, relax in the refreshing waters of Dunn’s River Falls, and swim the azure blue waters of Seven Mile Beach.

You’ll also stay in a rustic hotel on the edge of the Blue Mountains, relaxing in a hammock or indulging in an in-house massage. From cocktails at Rick's Cafe to a traditional dinner with Montego Bay locals, this seven-day trip will provide plenty of proof Jamaica's truly irie (fine), all right.

Trip: Best of Jamaica

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Oct to Feb & May

How long: Seven days

How much: From £1,175 (exc. flights)

5. Sail through gorgeous Saint Lucia & The Grenadines

A remote cove in the Grenadines (Shutterstock)

A remote cove in the Grenadines (Shutterstock)

What better way to experience the island life of the Caribbean than on this eight-day sailing trip through Saint Lucia and the Grenadines with  Adventures?

You’ll venture way beyond the resorts, hopping through the hidden coves and secluded beaches of Saint Lucia and the Grenadines. There’ll be plenty of time for swimming and snorkelling – some of the Caribbean’s best sites are here – as well as for tucking into tasty Creole cuisine.

And since you’re staying in a comfortable air conditioned catamaran, the amenities of your home-away-from-home are never far from wherever adventure takes you.

Trip: Sailing Saint Lucia & The Grenadines

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Oct to Apr

How long: Eight days

How much: From £1,249 (exc. flights)

6. Trek Waitukubuli National Trail in Dominica

Dominica’s lush countryside (Shutterstock)

Dominica’s lush countryside (Shutterstock)

Experience the best sections of the Caribbean's first and only long distance walking trail, the Waitukubuli National Trail, on this small group walking holiday with World Expeditions. 

This extraordinary jungle trek winds through slopes carpeted with rainforests, descends dramatic gorges, crosses rivers and takes in spectacular waterfalls. Along the way, it showcases Dominica’s incredible virgin forest and the best of its nature, culture and local lifestyles.

Expect old plantations, coastal cliffs, farms and small villages. Keep your eyes peeled for the exotic flora and fauna, too. Your incredible adventure ends with an Indian River boat trip to explore the mangroves and wildlife.

Trip: Trek The Waitukubuli National Trail Dominica

Who: World Expeditions

Type: Small group

When: Mar, Apr, Nov & Dec

How long: 11 days

How much: From £2,890 (exc. flights)

7. Explore the most fascinating Caribbean islands

Nelsons Dockyard in English Harbour on Antigua (Shutterstock)

Nelsons Dockyard in English Harbour on Antigua (Shutterstock)

From Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua to the breathtaking Pitons of Saint Lucia, this island hopping adventure with World Expedition will introduce you to the history, culture, cuisine and nature of some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful islands.

Your journey begins in Antigua, known for its stunning beaches, gentle village life and historic monuments. A short ferry ride away lies the tiny volcanic island of Montserrat.

Further afield is Dominica, the Caribbean’s ‘Nature Island’, where you’ll explore the Indian River mangroves and wetlands, and encounter outstanding biodiversity, rich flora and unusual fauna in the UNESCO-protected Morne Trois Pitons National Park.

Finally, a speed boat will whisk you away to the the stunning mountain peaks, lush rainforest and perfectly turquoise water of Saint. Lucia. Get ready for a truly extraordinary adventure.

Trip: Caribbean Experience: Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica & Saint Lucia

Who: World Expeditions

Type: Small group

When: Mar, Apr, Nov & Dec

How long: 12 days

How much: From £2,890 (exc. flights)

8. Enjoy a birdwatching bonanza in Trinidad

A ruby-topaz hummingbird in Trinidad (Shutterstock)

A ruby-topaz hummingbird in Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Just off the north coast of South America, Trinidad is the perfect island for encountering both South American and Caribbean birdlife.

On this extraordinary birdwatching trip with Wildlife Worldwide, you’ll spend seven nights at world renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre enjoying Trinidad’s dazzling array of birdlife.

Home to about 400 bird species, you can expect to spot tanagers, hummingbirds and euphonias from the verandah (glass of rum punch in hand). Visit the east coast to watch leatherback turtles laying their eggs, see extraordinary oilbirds at Dunston Caves and the marvellous spectacle of scarlet ibis coming in to roost at Caroni Swamp.

Trip: Easy Birding In Trinidad

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Mar to Apr

How long: Eight days

How much: From £2,945 (exc. flights)

9. Cycle through the best of Cuba

A local cycling through Trinidad in Cuba (Shutterstock)

A local cycling through Trinidad in Cuba (Shutterstock)

Jump in the saddle and experience Cuba up close and personal, on this 'revolutionary' cycling holiday from Havana to Trinidad with KE Adventure Travel.

Cuba really lends itself to exploration by bike. Your adventure starts with a cycle tour through the faded elegance of Havana before heading out to Vinales, with its striking limestone outcrops, rising above emerald-green farmland.

A mix of superb and never-too-challenging cycle rides on quiet backroads takes you east to Trinidad where you’ll have a day off the bikes to explore amongst its narrow streets and grand colonial buildings before cycling to Cienfuegos and the beach resort of Playa Jibacoa.

Trip: Cuba: Buena Vista Cycling

Who: KE Adventure Travel

Type: Small group

When: Jan, Mar, Nov & Dec

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1,745 (exc. flights)

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