Top three hidden gems of the Caribbean for families

As a top destination for cruises and tours, the Caribbean has no shortage of enticing tropical landscapes and attractions. The region’s predictably warm, balmy weather and aquamarine sea attract visitors year-round. And yet, the Caribbean still harbors some lesser-known places which can offer a more low-key excursion. These are not the types of places you’ll find all-you-can-eat buffets or “tourist trap” restaurants and souvenir stands. These are hidden gems.

Away from the attractions most tourists flock to, these three places still exude untouched natural beauty. Visitors can dine in solitude or swim in pristine waterfalls. These three quiet escapes provide alluring tranquility amid the natural beauty of the islands.

the Caribbean for families

1. Dominica: Isle of Delights

Dominica is an island whose beauty is founded on its unspoiled natural setting. The island has been subjected to much less development than many of its island neighbors. Made up mostly of rainforest, the island is known for the abundance of deep green jungles filled with exotic flora and fauna. The island boasts over 365 waterfalls, springs and rivers, all of which beckon visitors inland from its soft sandy swaths of beach.

The island’s rugged inland terrain is marked by volcanic activity, providing warmth for several hot springs and even a boiling lake unfit for swimming but frequented by intrepid hikers. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a World Heritage Site that features a mix of Dominica’s tropical flora and fauna and volcanic rock formations. The hit film “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed on and around Dominica, adding to its mystique as an island of intrigue and drama. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of Captain Jack Sparrow might be disappointed — he is, after all, a fictional character — but might be delighted by the actual sparrows in the sky, as Dominica is a hotbed for tropical bird-watching.

2. Saba: Suspended in Time

Because the island of Saba receives fewer than 25,000 visitors a year, it manages to maintain a timeless natural mystique. The nearby islands, St. Maarten and St. Bart’s, just a stone’s throw away, are both frequented by major cruise companies making them far more crowded than Saba. Visitors will first notice that Saba is lacking in resorts and fancy shops. There are no designer retailers to be found. However, Saba makes up for the lack of posh shopping by offering up its own variety of lushness in the form of gorgeous nature and eco-tourism.

Saba represents the original, raw beauty of the Caribbean, prior to commercialism and human intervention. The beauty of Saba is not limited to its lush hills or secluded beaches — it extends underwater to the surrounding sea. Saba is actually one of the world’s top destinations for scuba diving and is considered among the best spots on earth for underwater exploration. For such a tiny island, Saba boasts a dizzying diversity of beautiful aquatic life. Adventurous visitors can spend the morning underwater exploring Saba’s rocky reefs, and then in the afternoon ascend its tallest peak, Mount Scenery. Above water and below, Saba’s ecology is inspiring, timeless and well-preserved. Its beauty highlights the fragility of a region impacted by heavy tourism.

3. Los Roques: Radiant and Lovely

Officially under the jurisdiction of Venezuela, Los Roques is an archipelago that is designated as a national park. The magnificent marine ecosystem of Los Roques is protected by the national park status, and is just a short hop from the capital city of Caracas. Los Roques has become a popular destination for nature lovers seeking to explore its unique flora and fauna. The island welcomes tourists who support its small local economy and offers several friendly inns. Visitors can also opt to stay in posadas, which are former houses of island fishermen and have been renovated for use by tourists. The Los Roques experience is both more rugged — and more radiant — than many other destinations in the Caribbean.


About the Author: Louise Barnes is a travel writer and author of several books about Caribbean history. She enjoys exploring options for Caribbean excursions on Expedia where she finds deals on vacation packages.

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