Start Your Travel Plans for The Exciting South Caribbean Using This Guide
An incredible and diverse set of islands and coastal regions that surround the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean is a popular vacation spot. Full of beaches, sunshine, and resorts, the Caribbean has plenty of unique attractions for the whole family.
Much less known is that the South Caribbean islands offer vacationers just as much diversity and fun but often with smaller crowds and lower prices.
Travelers seeking natural beauty, sandy beaches, diving opportunities, warm weather, and cultural diversity will find this and more in the South Caribbean Islands of Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, Aruba, Barbados, St Vincent, and Grenada. This travel guide will provide descriptions and highlights of each of these incredible islands in order to assist travelers in choosing which islands to visit and in planning the South Caribbean vacation of a lifetime.
Trinidad & Tobago
Less than seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago are a study in contrasts. With relatively few tourists, visitors to these islands will bask in the unspoiled charm and distinctive landscapes. Tobago is vibrant and alive with annual carnival celebrations, a jazz festival, and gorgeous white sandy beaches. A center of Creole culture and commerce, Trinidad is the larger of the two islands. The birthplace of the steel drum and the limbo, Trinidad has beaches, flora and fauna, and flamingos. Here are some highlights that anyone planning a trip to Trinidad and Tobago should be sure to check out:
- Caroni Wetlands Boat Tour
- Buccoo Reef Glass Bottom Boat Cruise
- Asa Wright Nature Center
- Pigeon Point Beach, Tobago’s most popular beach
The C in the ABC islands, Curacao combines the charm of an old European settlement with rugged desert landscapes and picture perfect bays and coves. Sunshine, white sand, blue waters, and coral reefs make this island a paradise for divers, snorkelers, and swimmers. Just 12 degrees north of the equator, sheltered from hurricane season, and with temperatures in the mid-80s year round, Curacao can be visited at any time of the year. A trip during shoulder season, from May to November, is a great way to avoid the crowds and find good deals. A floating pedestrian bridge, a picturesque pier lined with colonial Dutch buildings painted pink, blue, and yellow, and plenty of outdoor cafes, shops, and nightclubs can be found in the World Heritage City of Willemstad, built in 1888. Here are some highlights of the Island of Curacao:
- Mushroom Forest, a famous dive site where coral looks like mushrooms
- Blue Room Cave, underwater air filled chamber lit by the sun
- Superior Producer Shipwreck, a popular dive site
One of the most popular Southern Caribbean Islands, Aruba is an exotic island paradise with luxurious resorts, music festivals, beaches, and natural rock formations. The capital, Oranjestad, hosts an annual carnival, a reggae festival, and a folk dance and music festival. The weather is warm and dry with only 17 inches of rain a year, and it lies outside of the hurricane zone. Aruba has a long and rich history. It was settled in 1513 by Spanish colonists who nicknamed it Useless Island. Tourists are attracted to Aruba by its many beaches, limestone landscapes, underwater visibility, and fun activities for kids. Here are some of the must-see attractions in Curacao:
- California Lighthouse, at the north end of Aruba
- Natural Pool (Conchi) formed by rocks and volcanic stones, very remote area in east Aruba
- Aruba Ostrich Farm, fun for children
- Hadicurari Beach, known for its fisherman’s huts and great for windsurfing
- Palm Beach, resort area on north coast
- Arikok National Park
Anyone looking for rich culture, natural beauty, and classy resorts should check out the island of Barbados. At this beach paradise, visitors can partake in kite surfing, scuba diving, water sports, catamaran cruise tours, snorkeling, and more. Known for its excellent rum, this former British colony is the place for snorkeling with turtles, visiting botanical gardens, indulging in English fish and chips, and, of course, tasting rum. Hurricanes are rare, so the shoulder season lasting from July through November is the best time to visit Barbados. Independent from Britain since 1966, quite a few remnants from the period of British colonialism can still be found such as afternoon teas, cricket matches, and horse races. Here are some of Barbados’s best attractions and activities:
- Bathsheba Beach, on the west coast, is ideal for surfing and photography
- Dover Beach, on the south coast, for swimming, surfing, sailing, jet skiing
- Carlisle Bay, on southwest coast, for shipwrecks, wildlife, swimming, and snorkeling
- St. Nicholas Abbey, rum distillery with tours of plantation home, museum and gardens available
- Hunte’s Garden, an array of plants within a gully
- Harrison’s Cave, a mile long cave
St Vincent and the Grenadines
The stunning views of nature are a great reason to check out St Vincent and the Grenadines, located north of Trinidad and Tobago. St Vincent is the main island, and the Grenadines are a chain of 32 smaller islands and cays. Nature lovers seeking to get away from the crowds and commotion of everyday life will love the islands’ white sandy beaches, nature trails, charming thatched roof cottages, tropical flowers, coral reefs, and tranquil atmosphere. On the island of St. Vincent is Le Soufriere, an active volcano with a lake in the crater. Climbing it is a challenging adventure but well worth the effort. The best time to visit St Vincent and the Grenadines is from May to June or in November, when prices are more affordable compared to the peak season. Hurricane season, from July to September, should be avoided. Here are some highlights that visitors should be sure to check out:
- Salt Whistle Bay beach, with white shoreline, and palm and grape trees
- Botanic gardens, the longest standing botanical garden in the Western Hemisphere dating back to 1765
- Tobago Cays, small uninhabited isles at east end of Mayreau known for underwater sites
- Canouan, a tiny island with world-class spas, luxurious resorts, and breathtaking coral reefs
Known as “the Spice Island” because of its famous spice plantations, Grenada is a charming and beautiful place to visit. In addition to its gardens, plantations, and factories, it also has 45 beaches, waterfalls, lakes, and gardens. The pinks, yellows and greens of St. George’s colonial buildings are the most beautiful of the Caribbean. Often overlooked, Grenada is best visited in December after the rainy season ends but before the arrival of the crowds. January through April is peak season, and hurricane season falls during the summer and fall months. While in Grenada, visitors should be sure to try the local cuisine, tour the spice plantations, and visit the historic sites. Here are some highlights of Grenada not to be missed.
- St. Georges Harbor, a landlocked water-filled crater left by a volcano
- Fort Frederick, built in the 1700s by the French and the English
- River Antoine Rum Distillery, the world’s oldest rum distillery
With its beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, historic sites, and cultural diversity, the Caribbean is a terrific destination for adventure or for relaxation. In particular, the islands of the South Caribbean are hidden treasures that all travelers are sure to enjoy.