Jamaica and Barbados aren’t the only Caribbean countries out there. Get to know the “lost” islands of the Caribbean– the ones “less-traveled”.
What are the “lost islands” of the Caribbean?
The “lost islands” of the Caribbean are countries in and around the Caribbean Sea that are much less visited by tourists than, say, Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. They are like undiscovered gems, or buried treasure. They don’t often show up in news articles, and aren’t widely promoted for tourism.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
If you’ve ever heard Madonna’s famous song, “La Isla Bonita,” you’ve heard about Ambergris Caye (also known as San Pedro Island). Madonna loved it for a reason: it’s peaceful, quiet, and undiscovered by most. Situated near the coast of Belize, this large atoll is famous for quiet beaches, sailing, and snorkeling. If you love to go snorkeling and diving, you’ll be ecstatic when you see the abundant sea life of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. In addition, this island is located near the famous Belize Blue Hole, another famous dive site.
If you’re looking for more things to do on this “lost island” besides snorkeling, try exploring Mayan ruins in the Marco Gonzalez archaeological site, shopping in the Belizean Arts Gallery, or booking a catamaran to cruise through the coral reef.
Part of the ABC islands group (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) located off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire is known for being one of the few Caribbean islands that are virtually hurricane-free. And as if that weren’t reason enough to visit, Bonaire is an amazing island for diving and snorkeling. Bonaire National Marine Park almost completely surrounds the island. This world famous park has over 6,700 acres of thriving coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves.
Pronounced “kur-uh-sow”, or “Kyuor-uh-sow”, this Caribbean island is “lost” simply because many people just don’t know where it’s located! Like Bonaire, it belongs to the ABC islands. These lie among the Lesser Antilles islands in the southern Caribbean Sea.
There’s plenty to do in Curacao. Start at Willemstad, the country’s capital. Walk along the harbor and take in the crisp sea air as you gaze on the colorful Dutch colonial buildings that line the streets. The historic part of the city is now a World Heritage Site. You can explore with a guided tour, on foot, or hop on a strange-looking vehicle called a tuk-tuk to zoom around town!
More likely than not, you’ve never heard of Saba, one of the lost islands of the Caribbean. These “Unspoiled Queen” is simply brimming with untouched wild rainforest and rugged volcanic hills. Belonging to the Dutch West Indies, this island is small, but incredible. Measuring just 5 square miles, it is home to just 2,000 people. That means that you’ll probably have the awe-inspiring black-sand beaches to yourself.
Because so much of Saba is unspoiled by infrastructure and development, wildlife thrives there. Over 150 unique species of fish have been found around the island, living among spectacular underwater towers of volcanic rock. However, the island is most famous for its birds. The rocky cliffs and sheer bluffs provide the perfect places for them to thrive. BirdLife International has even designated the country of Saba as an “Important Bird Area”.
Obviously, visiting Saba for ecotourism is a no-brainer. You can indulge in activities like scuba diving, hiking, and climbing to see nature at its finest.
Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory, really deserves more attention than it gets. Like Saba, it is home to lush, untouched rainforest, hot springs, and active volcanoes. It also has beautiful, white-sand beaches. And the best part about this little-known island? It’s not on most people’s radar– so you’ll probably have those extraordinary jungle trails and beaches all to yourself.
Known as the “Spice Isle”, Grenada is filled with the scent of nutmeg plantations, fresh ocean breezes, and tropical fruit. Besides being the home of some of the world’s rarest creatures, this lost island has excellent beaches. In addition, it’s home to Grand Etang Lake, a unique crater lake in an extinct volcano.
Saint Kitts & Nevis
This dual-island nation lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Both islands are mountainous and feature black volcanic sand or golden sand beaches. You’ll find dense tropical rainforest, towering volcanic slopes, and exciting jungle trails for your next adventure. In addition, these islands are now home to the green vervet monkey, brought by the French a few centuries ago.
Dominica is a little island with some BIG attractions– boiling lakes, lush rainforests, gorgeous waterfalls, and steamy geysers. Located between between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante, it is sometimes called “the nature island of the Caribbean”. You can experience world-class diving, snorkeling, and hiking there. Largely unspoiled by development, Dominica is one of the last untouched inhabited islands of the Caribbean.
Locals refer to this island as Statia– which is certainly easier to pronounce. This special municipality of the Netherlands is in the northern Leeward Islands area of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands. It features breathtaking hiking trails around its volcano, plus small volcanic sand beaches. In addition, you can find many unique dive sites in the waters that surround Statia. These include everything from coral reefs to shipwrecks.
Advantages of visiting the lost islands of the Caribbean
There are plenty of advantages to visiting islands that aren’t as popular for tourists. The first is that they will be MUCH less crowded, of course! So if having the beach to yourself is your thing, head to one of the lost islands of the Caribbean!
Secondly, these islands may be less expensive to visit, as far as food and accommodations go. Remember, the more popular the location, the more hotels can drive prices up.
Third, these islands will give provide you with experiences you simply won’t get elsewhere. Instead of overly-priced tourist-trap excursions, you’ll get to indulge in activities that the locals enjoy. More than likely, these activities will cost a lot less than they would in say, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).
Find out which Caribbean island is right for you by keeping up with Key Caribe magazine!
Main image source: Wikimedia Commons