It’s easy to just settle into the white sand and spend your entire Caribbean vacation on the beach. But if you don’t put on some hiking shoes and get moving, you’ll miss some of the most unique vantage points and beautiful scenery in the islands. Here are five of the best hikes in the Caribbean to get you going.
1. The Pitons, Saint Lucia
These twin volcanic peaks offer amazing views of the island and beyond. But, the hiking is going to be strenuous. Gros Piton, the taller of the peaks, rises 2,600 feet above sea level and ascends through rainforest and volcanic boulders. You’ll want a guide for this 6-hour round trip adventure. You can find one here. Unless you’re a pro, stay away from Petit Piton, which is incredibly steep.
2. Concord Falls, Granada
Concord Falls is situated on the edge of the forest reserve on the western side of the island and offers three waterfalls you can visit. The easiest is the lowest, with a paved road taking you all the way to the water. Stop for a dip, before you move on to the second falls, Au Coin, about a 45-minute hike away. You’ll cross an old nutmeg plantation and head deep into tropical forest. Hike some more, and you’ll hit the third and highest falls, Fontainebleau, which thunders 65 feet down into a plunge pool. That trek can take an hour or more, and it has some slippery boulders that make it a little dicey toward the end.
3. Leinster Bay to Waterlemon Cay, St. John, USVI
This is a short hike, just three-quarters of a mile, but it leads to the best snorkeling spot on St. John. The Leinster Bay trail begins near the end of the road to the Annaberg Ruins, a 19th-century sugar plantation. Follow along the shoreline, and you’ll wind up at Waterlemon Beach. From there, it’s a short swim to Waterlemon Cay, where you’ll see rays, turtles, and crazy colorful fish. So, don’t forget to pack your snorkel, mask, and fins.
4. Shirley Heights, Antigua
This hike will lead you to the most famous view in Antigua. Leave from English Harbour in Nelson’s Dockyard National Park and begin your climb. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the southern island of Guadeloupe and the active volcano Montserrat. It’s a bit of a tough climb, but so rewarding. And there’s a great restaurant and bar up there, the Shirley Heights Lookout Bar & Restaurant, so you can refuel before you hike back down.
5. Guanapo Gorge, Trinidad
This isn’t so much a traditional hike as it is a nature adventure. You start by hiking through a rainforest, but before long you’re floating through a fast-moving river. You’ll hike past abandoned cocoa and tonkabean estates for an hour or so, before you reach the Guanapo River, where you can plunge into a deep pool, swim through gorges, and admire the natural rock formations. Definitely, pack a lunch and your swimsuit, or you’ll be hungry and disappointed.
Whichever hike you choose, be sure to carry lots of water, wear good hiking shoes, and a broad sun hat. That way, you’ll be able to focus on the breathtaking scenery and make the most of your nature adventure.