10 Incredible Bucket List Adventures in the Caribbean
Visit an underwater museum in Mexico
Getting an art fix doesn’t normally involving getting wet, but the extraordinary MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), located between Cancun and Cozumel on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, is well and truly worth making an exception for. Opened to great acclaim in 2009, the “museum” consists of over 500 sculptures on the ocean floor. The first exhibition, featuring haunting life-size statues of human figures, was designed by English sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, and five other artists have since been added to the underwater collection. Sign up for a boat tour out to the site, departing from either Cancun or Isla Mujeres, and view the art either by snorkel or SCUBA.
Ride horses on the beach in Turks and Caicos
Saddle up for an invigorating adventure on the lovely, 40 island-strong archipelago of Turks and Caicos. The capital, Providenciales, known as Provo, is the place to join a horseback tour: outfitter Provo Ponies offers two rides daily—at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm—that take riders down a trail to beautiful Long Bay Beach and the Caicos Banks. The horses love to wade into the shallow waters, and riders don’t have to keep their horses in a nose-to-tail line, but can spread out for a bit of freedom within the group. Afterward, the group returns to the stables, where riders can cuddle and feed a snack to their newfound equine friends.
Kayak in St. Lucia
The dreamy Caribbean isle of St. Lucia is renowned for its romantic resorts and jaw-dropping scenery, most notably the Pitons, twin jade-green volcanic peaks that feel custom-designed for Instagram moments. An indelible way to experience this stunning World Heritage Site is by taking a leisurely kayaking trip along the western coastline. DFH Kayaking offers a 4 - 6-hour adventure tour from Marigot Bay to Soufriere. Not only will you witness the Pitons up close, you’ll also glide alongside lush forests, tranquil bays, and charming villages as you make your way down this gorgeous coast.
Dive Beneath a full moon in Curaçao
Marine aficionados swear by the aquatic wonderland to be found beneath the waves around the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), and an unforgettable way to get acquainted is by joining a night dive around the region’s vast coral reef. Ocean Encounters hosts various night dives, including a “Fluorescent night dive,” in which divers are equipped with special “blue” UV lights and a yellow mask filter, which combined create the effect of making fish glow in the dark. Even more special is a yearly occurrence that takes place in late September/early October, during which the reef’s marine life release millions of spawned eggs, attracting a multitude of kaleidoscopic fish. The best part? The magical event coincides with the full moon.
Explore the tobacco fields of Cuba’s Valle de Viñales
Havana’s abundant attractions speak for themselves, but few visitors venture beyond the charismatic capital. Those that do are rewarded with some of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking scenery, like The Valle de Viñales, a fertile valley situated around a three-hour drive west of Havana. The valley, known for its tobacco fields called vegas, is flanked by soaring mogotes—sheer-sided, conical limestone hills peppered with caves. Consider joining a tour of the Cuevas de Santo Tomás, Cuba’s largest cave system, which includes a half-mile section accessible to visitors and features stalagmites and stalactites, underground pools, and intriguing rock formations.
Learn to Sail in the British Virgin Islands
The BVIs are renowned as one of the most picturesque places in the Caribbean for yachting, and while it can be relaxing to let someone else take the wheel, we also love the idea of playing skipper for a day (or for life). The Offshore Sailing School operates out of Tortola and offers live-aboard cruising courses on monohull and catamaran sailing yachts. Aspiring sailors can earn their US Sailing Basic and Bareboat Cruising certification while savoring the incredible cobalt-blue water and lush landscapes of this stunning island chain for five blissful days. There are also fast-track and bareboat charter courses available—guests sail during the day and stay ashore each night on Scrub Island.
Witness turtles nesting in Nevis
Conservation meets cuteness on the idyllic island of Nevis, where endangered Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles gather to bury their eggs on the white-sand beaches. Four Seasons Resort Nevis partners with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Nevis Turtle Group to help protect sea turtles, sponsoring GPS satellite transmitters to help track migration patterns, and engaging resort guests to observe and participate in the annual nesting. Each July, guests are invited to help look for nesting sea turtles. After nesting, turtles are fitted with a satellite transmitter (a means of tracking the migratory path of the species) and released into the sea. From July through October, guests can also volunteer to assist the Nevis Turtle Group in identifying and marking sea turtle nests for safekeeping.
Experience Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago
Revelers from around the world converge on this island nation each year for one of the Caribbean’s most exciting and popular Carnivals. Held in the capital, Port of Spain, in either February or March, this days-long celebration occurs just prior to Lent, and involves massive parades, elaborate costumes, performances by local calypso and Soca musicians, and steel band competitions, along with plenty of fetes and opportunities to dance the night away.
Hike through a cloud forest in Puerto Rico
Commune with nature on a daytrip to Puerto Rico’s El Yunque Rainforest, part of the spectacular El Yunque National Forest Reserve in the island’s northeast, which is also home to the highest mountain in the Caribbean, the Pico de Toro. Head up the Mt. Britton trail and through the cloud forest for dazzling views atop Mt. Britton Tower. Keep your eyes peeled for rare (sometimes unique) wildlife, like the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot and indigenous tree frogs known as coquis.
Editor's Note: check the Forest Service website for updates on accessibility and recovery efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria that may affect accessibility and opening hours.
Swim with pigs in The Bahamas
You’ve seen the iconic photos on social media; isn’t it time you surrendered to the cult of the Caribbean’s swimming pigs? The porcine stars live on Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island in Exuma, southeast of Nassau. The story goes that a local brought the animals to the island in the hopes of starting up a pig farm, and when the scheme was abandoned the pigs reverted to the wild. Today, the descendants are generally friendly and extremely agile in the water, swimming out to meet the tourist boats that visit each day. Exuma Escapes offers a day tour that takes in three islands and their wildlife-interactions: Big Major Cay; the endangered iguanas of Allen's Cay; and the friendly nurse sharks of Staniel Cay. The tour includes lunch at the iconic Staniel Cay Yacht Club.