One of the great joys of a sailing charter in the Caribbean is the chance to just ‘be’; to focus on sailing from port to port, watch the sunrises and sunset on deck and maybe stop off for a drink at an oceanfront bar. If you want to return home feeling refreshed, there’s no reason for a rigid itinerary or cramming too much into the trip.
That being said, you may want to get to know a bit more than the shorelines of each island. You may be accompanied by active teens or even a shopaholic or two. Here is our list of the best things to do in the Caribbean – there’s a little something for everyone, allowing you to plan one carefully-chosen activity for the entire group or help each member decide on their must-see or must-do excursion to complement the sailing experience.
We also recommend reading about the islands you plan to visit to find out what makes them unique. Planning your trip is half the fun, and you’ll find that having a deeper understanding of each island’s history and culture makes your time there even better.
If you happen to be moored on an island that has a rainforest, the chance to explore this fascinating type of eco-system is a great way to balance out your time on the water. Research the island’s national parks to plan a simple hike. St. Lucia, for example, is famous for its lush rainforest. Grenada has the seven sisters waterfalls and of course Jamaica has its Ocho Rios- be sure to bring your swimsuit!
You can choose to load up your backpack and set off on your own to explore a park (do stick to the trails) or contract a local tour company to be your guide. Aside from walking or hiking, islands with spectacular interior wildlife often offer various types of tours, which brings us to our next category.
Inland Adventure Sports
When you’re in a place as colorful as the Caribbean it can be great to add a one of a kind adventure experience to the amazing surroundings. These are the kinds of things that can really make for great photo opportunities and family memories- what better way to get out of your routine? Check out river rafting, zip-lining and canopy tours. Some can even be booked in advance, for the entire group.
Unique Swimming and Water Adventures
You’ll be able to moor in special snorkeling spots on your own, and these alone make for fantastic (and virtually free!) days in the Caribbean. But, if your group wants to take it to the next level, you can swim with dolphins, sting rays or even whale sharks.
Then there are the adrenaline-pumping water sports to try out, like Flyboard, surfing, windsurfing, water skiing and jet skiing. Kayaking and paddle boarding are a bit gentler although they still require a good deal of balance and skill.
The divers in your group will of course have their pick of famous dive sites, and there are ubiquitous dive operators near all worthwhile locations.
Opportunities for Relaxation
For the less thrill-seeking member of your group, there are plenty of ways to make your sailing charter into an even more-relaxing experience. Spa treatments are readily available in both smaller oceanfront establishments and larger resorts- they are a good way to relax sore muscles from sailing. You can sign up for a full Spa day or just pick and choose your Spa treatments based on healing rituals of the Caribbean. This makes for a more authentic experience; the Rosewood in Little Dix Bay’s Spa menu, for example, offers treatments like a Salt Island Scrub, Virgin Gorda Goat Milk and Honey Wrap and Natural Neem Leaf Facial.
There are also yoga, Pilates and meditation classes available (among others) for those who wish to add a holistic element to their time in the Caribbean. The islands’ laid back vibe and pristine natural beauty lend themselves perfectly to rest, revitalization and even spiritual awakening.
You can make your own cultural expedition out of wandering through each island’s ports and villages, strolling through the streets and chatting with shop owners or stopping for a meal in a local restaurant. Or, plan to stop in a larger city to visit museums and sites of interest. Places like San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. George in Grenada are full of fascinating history. You’ll be able to visit pirate museums, rum factories, spice plantations and many other interesting places depending on which islands the winds take you to.
Shop Till you Drop
Shopping isn’t for everyone but most groups have at least a few people who want to take home some good souvenirs. From local crafts to natural beauty products and designer brands, the Caribbean definitely has its fair share of shopping opportunities. The US Virgin Islands are completely duty-free, offering great shopping. The French-Dutch Island of St. Martin/St. Maarten also has many boutiques and designer shops. According to Frommer’s it’s a virtual shopping mall on the Dutch side. You can read more shopping advice from Frommer’s here.
The Gourmet Caribbean
Caribbean cuisine is an adventure of flavors, spices, fresh seafood and exotic fruits. You can sample it from street corners and beachside shacks or prioritize a visit to an upscale restaurant- for some, a vacation simply wouldn’t be the same without experiencing the ‘foodie’ aspect of the destination. If this is you, you can take a look at TripAdvisor’s list of Best Restaurants in the Caribbean or just ask around on each island for the best fine dining experience.
So there you have it, a quick list of what to do in the Caribbean. This will give you an idea of what there is to do if you ever decide to tear yourself away from the sun, sea, sails and sand!