I like Caribbean cruises for a number of reasons, most of all because it gets me out of the cold winter and into sunny weather where I can just where a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. I also love the way you only unpack once, while visiting multiple diverse island countries, all in a single trip.
That said, like most people I suspect, I always thought that the time restrictions of a cruise would prevent me from having any in-depth island adventures. While there are some limitations placed on each island visit for sure, with some careful planning you can experience some amazing, active, outdoor Caribbean activities.
If you’re like me, you want to get out there and live life… by hiking lush green mountains, snorkeling warm blue waters, kayaking through mangroves, mountain biking in a tropical setting and more… Well, our latest Caribbean cruise is proof that you can experience amazing outdoor adventures while on a cruise! Take a look at our itinerary and diary briefs from a recent 10-day Caribbean cruise, and see for yourself what’s possible:
- Day One: The Bahamas – We took it easy here, just wandered around on the island and beach at a leisurely pace. We really needed to get used to the sun and heat - Seriously, its been a long winter and we’re not used to getting an overdose of vitamin D like this.
- Day Two: A Sea Day – Again, we took it easy, simply wandered around and explored the ship. We’re starting to get used to the heat and the brightness of the sun.
OK, so you’re probably starting to wonder when the excitement begins - Here we go…
- Day Three: St. Thomas, USVI – Here’s where our outdoor activities began… We joined a local tour company for a 5-6 kilometre Kayak, Hike and Snorkeling Adventure in a Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary.
- As the name implies, we kayaked through mangrove lagoons, hiked on a small Cay and snorkeled in it’s protected bay. We saw starfish, sea urchins and more in the shallow waters and along the shoreline. We also saw a few fish, a lobster and a Conch while snorkeling in the warm shallow waters.
- Day Four: Martinique – Our adventure picked up speed here as we rented a car and drove to an east coast peninsula where we enjoyed a 6 kilometre hike and a visit to plantation ruins - all in a National Park. I will also mention that the temperature heated up here as well…
- The well-maintained and marked loop consisted of dry forest trails, coastal paths and mangrove tracks, with a constantly varying elevation. We had fantastic views from a number of observation points – We were repeatedly in awe of the spectacular rocky coastline with it’s multi coloured blue water bays and inlets. From a light house peak, we also had fantastic views of the mountainous island itself.
- The 17th century plantation ruins were very interesting, as we learned about colonial trading, slavery and more. We could see the stone remains of a Greathouse along with close to 10 other buildings set magnificently on a hillside overlooking a beautiful bay.
- We made it back to Fort De France in time for some shopping, looking for some European influenced styles.
- Day Five: Grenada – This was the highlight event of the cruise. I went alone with a local guide for this one – 10 kilometres of glorious rainforest hiking that began in a National Park at the centre of the island and ended near a quite coastal village along the coast.
- The trail was (fortunately) dry and steep as we hiked the highest mountain peak in the area. We enjoyed amazing views of the Park’s lake and lodge / museum, as well as the island itself. We could see St. George’s, along with the east coast and the mountainous north. This is what Caribbean hiking is all about!
- From the mountain peak, we headed way down into the jungle on a cross island adventure. It was muddy and tough going as we journeyed up-and-down hills and valleys which included several rivers that we rock-hopped our way across. The second highlight of this hike was coming across a fairly remote un-visited waterfall in the rainforest – A great place for a rest and to listen to the chirping of the birds.
- We made it back to St. George’s in time to purchase some rum, vanilla as well as local spices - It is the ‘spice island’ after all!
- Day Six: Bonaire – Giving the legs a bit of a break, we joined a local boat / tour operator for an unforgettable snorkelling experience off the coast of a nearby island.
- We cruised to two different locations not far from shore for some “drift” snorkelling where we kind-of floated along with the current. We just had to stick our masks in the water to unveil another / foreign world – We could easily see 20-30 feet deep, and my senses were on overload with the large variety of fish, coral and sponges that were everywhere… We saw turtles as well – What an experience!
Time to wind it down now…
- Day Seven: Curacao – Once again, we joined a local tour operator who took us on an ‘island tour’. This tour included a visit to some Caves as well as the Distillery for the famous Blue Curacao liqueur. Of course, we still had plenty of time to wander around the clean town of Willemstad, with it’s pastel coloured buildings and European-like look and feel.
- Day Eight: Sea Day – Time to rest, relax and enjoy the ship’s food.
- Day Nine: Sea Day – More time to rest and reflect upon the amazing adventures that we had enjoyed.
Now you know… You can enjoy all the benefits of cruising, which includes meeting people, nightly entertainment and plenty of food that you don’t have to prepare or clean-up after yourself, as well as being able to experience active outdoor adventures at each island stop!
Travel safe and "enjoy your day in the sun!" - Be sure to protect your head, face and eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays by wearing an Urban Canairie hat whenever you're enjoying the great outdoors in the Caribbean. The hat is ideal for hiking, kayaking, boating as well as everyday sight-seeing.