When the weather at home turns cold and gray, consider jetting off to one of these idyllic island destinations for an active warm-weather escape.
As the warm summer breezes retreat and the colors of fall begin to dominate the landscape, your thoughts might turn to escaping the cold in search of some winter sun. The Caribbean offers that—plus picture-perfect beaches, relaxation, and active excursions. It’s such a perfect destination for a winter retreat, in fact, that we’re dedicating a three-part article series to this sunny locale.
Travelers who want more than just toes in the sand can certainly find it in the Caribbean. Set your island dreams in one of these five idyllic island spots that offer both postcard-worthy landscapes and engaging outdoor activities for the active traveler.
Cades Bay, Nevis
If you’re craving a low-key adventure and want to avoid the crowds, traveling to the island of Nevis is the Caribbean equivalent of heading “off the beaten path.” Here, there are no all-inclusive resorts and no cruise ships, just deserted beaches and donkeys roaming wild along the single-lane asphalt roads.
Federated with neighboring St Kitts, Nevis’s variety of natural vistas is intoxicating. One of the highlights is the view from the peak of the majestic Mount Nevis; a 3,200 feet (975 meters) dormant volcano which rises from the shores of the island and dominates the surrounding landscapes.
For those with a head for heights, the challenging rainforest trail that wends its way to the summit is a must (so take a durable backpack for hiking).
Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
Referred to as “the Caribbean’s most beautiful bay” by prolific American author James A. Michener, St. Lucia’s Marigot Bay is a haven for the adventurous traveler. Surrounded by forested hills on three sides, the area’s picturesque beauty is undeniable and offers a spectacular backdrop for a multitude of outdoor activities such as sailing, hiking, and snorkeling.
Base yourself at the luxurious Marigot Bay Resort & Marina where chalet-style accommodations provide panoramic views out over the ocean and easy access by boat to the world-famous Pitons.
The Sierra Maestra, Cuba
Rising abruptly from the southeast coast of Cuba, the Sierra Maestra mountain range played a big role in the island’s rich history. Serving as the base from which Fidel Castro led a revolutionary war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, the region boasts an unruly beauty—most notably in the stunning cloud forest of the Parque Nacional Turquino and at the island’s highest point, the peak of Pico Turquino which sits 6,476 feet (1,974 m) above the waves.
A cycling tour is one of the most popular ways to experience the region with a number of tours combining colonial city stops with rural stays in local casas particulares (private B&Bs). A clean/dirty divided packing cube is the ideal addition to store extra layers in your saddle bag.
If spending your vacation time exploring the underwater world is your idea of heaven, then the vibrant island of Bonaire is the perfect choice. Renowned for its wealth of offshore dive sites, the world-class marine park just off the coast of the island’s capital, Kralendijk, offers reef and wreck diving in gin-clear conditions.
To truly submerse yourself during your stay, check into the Belmar Oceanfront Apartments. The property has 5-star PADI (Professional Association of Driving Instructors) facilities on-site and offers guided shore dives as well as personalized training. Take a packable duffel to transport your dive kit to and from the beach.
Hadicurari Beach, Aruba
Ever seen a Caribbean island from the sky? While you’re likely to catch sight of the region’s aquamarine coastline as your flight lands in paradise, the best way to appreciate its tropical beauty is to enjoy a bird’s eye view…while skydiving over Aruba.
Experience an adrenaline-fueled 40-second descent over the glistening waters of the Caribbean Sea, before gliding over the island’s pristine shores. The emerald isle of Aruba has one of the best skydiving operators in the Caribbean and boasts rugged, untamed landscapes that look picture-perfect from the air.
Inspired to get active in the Caribbean? Stay tuned for next week’s post on pacing tips to get you ready for your trip.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Visit Nevis: The Caribbean's Coolest Island Escape
Hidden Gems: 8 Riviera Maya Spots Unknown to Tourists
6 Smart Packing Tips for a Caribbean Cruise