There’s more to the Caribbean than what you’d see from a cruise ship or resort. Here are 8 places you won’t believe exist in the West Indies!
The land of swaying palms and breathtaking white sand beaches is also home to some scenery you’d think wouldn’t be possible in the Western Hemisphere. Venture with us off cookie-cutter resort territory for a bit, and see what else the Caribbean has to offer!
1. Willemstad, Curacao
What is a quaint Dutch town doing in the middle of the Caribbean Sea? Well, Curacao’s history might explain that. This southern Caribbean island was “discovered” by the Spanish in 1499, taken over by the Dutch in the 1500s, and settled by both South Americans and Europeans. Nowadays, people of many different cultures call this constituent country of the Netherlands home.
Take a sunset stroll down Willemstad’s streets as you gaze out into the ocean, and visit the Curaçaosch Museum nearby to learn about this city’s unique history.
2. Arikok National Park, Aruba
A desert-like region, complete with cactuses, covers nearly 20% of the island of Aruba in the south Caribbean. It’s certainly not typical scenery for a tropical island, but it’s a breathtaking sight nonetheless. Explore the rugged terrain via ATV, horseback, or on foot. In addition, there are caves to discover, containing petroglyphs etched by the island’s first inhabitants. And then, after you’ve had your fill of learning and exploring, you can take a dip in the park’s famous natural pools.
3. Pink lakes of Bonaire
Giant salt pyramids sit beside pink lakes at the Cargill salt exportation facility in Bonaire. The salt industry is immensely important to this small Caribbean country, which exports salt all over the world. The unique salt flats pictured above take up an estimated one-tenth of Bonaire’s entire surface area.
4. A drive-in volcano in St. Lucia
The Caribbean has nineteen live volcanoes, one of which has been billed as the world’s only “drive-in” volcano. Sulphur Springs in St. Lucia doesn’t look like a traditional, cone-shaped volcano. This is why you can practically drive right up to the hissing, vapor-spewing thermal pools. Many people dive right into the muddy waters, giving themselves rejuvenating facials with the volcanic clay.
5. Cayman Crystal Caves, Cayman Islands
In the middle of a dense tropical forest, three limestone caves welcome adventurous travelers, filled with stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cave with their crystal-like columns. You can take a 90-minute tour through these caverns to learn more about them and the surrounding wildlife.
Find out more about theses magnificent caves here.
6. Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
Beautiful white sand? Check. Clean, clear turquoise water? Check. Planes flying just overhead? Check. It’s not beauty or charm that makes this beach stand out among the most unique beaches in the world. It’s the fact that it’s located near Princess Juliana International Airport, and jets get insanely close as they come in for a landing. Maho Beach is located in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin.
Main image: Jade Mountain, St. Lucia (Credit: Jade Mountain)