Are you an adrenaline junkie? Or simply someone looking for something more out of your Caribbean vacation than just beach-basking and swimming under the sun?
If so, ziplining in the Caribbean just might be the perfect way to add some thrills! Many Caribbean countries have adrenaline parks that include ziplines. However, not all Caribbean nations have mountains to facilitate this exhilarating attraction. The flattest Caribbean islands– Anguilla, Aruba, the Bahamas, Bonaire, the Turks & Caicos and Cayman Islands– don’t have any ziplines at all.
However, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to zipline in the Caribbean on islands like Puerto Rico, Antigua, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, St. Martin, and St. Lucia. Here are some of our favorites:
“The Monster” in Puerto Rico: the longest zipline in the Caribbean
Until recently, “the Monster” zipline in Puerto Rico was the longest zipline in the entire world. Now, that title goes to the recently built Jebel Jais Flight in the United Arab Emirates.
Head to Toro Verde park in Orocovis, Puerto Rico for an unforgettable flight through a lush, green jungle. The park features 8 different cables and several hanging bridges, among other adrenaline-inducing activities. The longest cable, dubbed “the monster”, carries you over 1,200 feet off the ground. You’ll soar for a distance of over 7,000 feet and reach speeds of up to 95 mph. depending on your weight. While most zip lines last 20-30 seconds, you’ll enjoy a trip on this one for over 2 minutes.
13 Zipline Tour in Antigua
If you simply can’t get enough ziplining to satisfy your needs, head to the Caribbean island of Antigua. North of English Harbor, you’ll find the Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour. You can choose from varying packages, from 6 ziplines to 13. The park’s website states that they have something for riders of all ages– and participants have ranged from 4 to 99 years old!
You can also combine the zipline tours with other activities, such as swimming with stingrays and kayaking.
Belize: Jaguar Paw and Barton Creek
About an hour from Belize City, there’s a nature reserve called Jaguar Paw. The area is heavily forested, and also contains deep caves. You can begin your ecotour by tubing on the lazy river that floats through the cave tunnels. Then, you’ll hike to several ziplines and soar high above the jungle. The Jaguar Paw tour will give you a great view of the Caribbean rainforest from both below and above!
Barton Creek offers a similar experience. Barton Creek cave is located on family-owned property and is open to tourists who want to explore it by kayak, on foot, and by zipline. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belize’s Cayo District.
After exploring Barton Creek cave, you can hike through the jungle to the top of the cave, where you can fly over the forest on a zipline about 650 feet long.
St. Martin: the world’s steepest zipline
St. Martin is the island to visit if you’re looking for some real thrills. Rainforest Adventures, located on the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin (Sint Maarten), opened a new zipline in 2017. The view from the zipline launchpad is breathtaking: you can see St. Martin in its entirety, plus the turquoise glow of the Caribbean Sea around it. You can see several surrounding islands from there as well.
You’ll drop about 1,000 feet in elevation as you soar down from the island’s highest point in the mountains. Zipliners have purportedly reached speeds of up to 56 mph at Rainforest Adventures.
Dragon’s Breath in Haiti: World’s longest zipline over water
This breathtaking zipline over the Caribbean Sea is a popular attraction with tourists arriving in Haiti’s Labadee port. You’ll drop about 500 ft from the starting point. As you fly, you’ll be treated to fantastic views of the beach and harbor. The only downside is the cost: travelers have reported costs of about $76 per person, per ride.
Luckily, however, this excursion has plenty of pros: you’ll get to do a smaller, practice zipline first to learn correct body position to avoid discomfort and injury, and you can choose to fly Superman style (head first) or in a sitting position. So, although it may look intimidating at first, even first timers can enjoy it!
Big Timba in Jamaica
Big Timba, measuring 1,600 feet long, was once the longest zipline in the Caribbean (that title now goes to the Monster in Puerto Rico). Lethe Estates features an ecotour that includes a fruit-tasting break and incredible views of the Great River and lush Jamaican rainforest and farmland. You can reach speeds of up to 40 mph on the 5 ziplines in the park, including Big Timba. They also have a 250 foot long jungle swinging bridge that you’ll walk across between ziplines.
Tips to Zipline in the Caribbean
You may be tempted to keep your flip-flops or sandals on when traveling straight from the beach to your ziplining excursion. Swap them for some comfortable tennis shoes! Most ziplines have “closed-toe shoes only” as their number 1 rule, since backless and toeless footwear tends to slide off into the abyss upon being involved in any airborne activity.
In addition, can you imagine trudging up the side of mountain or crossing a wobbly wooden bridge in your flops? They’ll flip right off your feet and flop between the slats of the bridge (pun intended).
EVERY zipline tour provider will have you sign a waiver before you strap up. Usually, that means that they’re not liable for any injury that may occur while you use the ziplines. So, keep yourself safe and follow any and all directions that tour guides may give you.
Zip lining is generally a safe activity, and even kids can participate. However, sometimes the thrill of the experience can make it tempting to let go, or grab hold of cables or ropes. Pay close attention to safety instructions and keep gear like helmets, gloves, and jackets on if they are provided.
Can I take pictures?
Resist the urge to bring along cameras and cell phones for taking pictures, because high speeds can cause you to lose your grip on them.
Most zipline tours will sell you professional pictures. Depending on the price and quality, they may be worth it. You may even have the option of using a Gopro camera on a helmet to capture your experience (call ahead to find out if you can bring your own).
Main image source: Richard Hazel