New year. New adventures. Bring it on! But where do you go? For some, the decisions of where and when have already been made. Kudos to you for getting a head start on your travel plans. However, for those of you who are still sorting through research and weighing your options, that’s OK too. There’s a lot to consider and it can be overwhelming making a commitment of that magnitude. So, to help you along in this process, I’ve compiled a list of 6 gorgeous Caribbean destinations you should consider visiting in 2018.
Trinidad & Tobago
Two for (almost) the price of one. And we’re not just talking about the number of islands. Trinidad and Tobago is one of those rare Caribbean destinations that offers two very different experiences. As the most southern nation in the archipelago, getting to T&T might be a bit of a pull, depending on your origin, but this is one long haul flight that will definitely be worth it. Often referred to as the ‘NYC’ of the region, Big Sister Trinidad is one of the most industrialized islands in the Caribbean with a bustling capital city, pumping nightlife, diverse cuisine and the BEST, most EPIC Carnival in the world. In contrast, Little Sister Tobago is known (and loved) for its rich culture and slow paced, authentic island vibe made even better by its many secluded beaches and postcard perfect views. Whether you want to start with the hype and end with the chill or vice versa, it’s just a quick 20 minute flight or 3.5 hour ferry ride to hop between the two.
Hiking. Hashing. Diving. Tubing. And waterfalls galore. Grenada is where you go when you love being out in nature and beautiful beaches (as ah-mah-zing as they are) just aren’t enough. Beyond this Caribbean destination’s gorgeous white-sand and blue-water coastline, the island is home to the Grand Etang Forest Reserve with its many waterfalls, including the famous Seven Sisters; the Balthazar River, with its exciting river tubing excursions; and the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Garden, which is perfect for diving and snorkeling. Curious about what else you can do while you’re on the island? Check out this list of 10 you must do in Grenada. And, if you need a change scenery, hop on the Osprey ferry service and spend a couple days on neighboring Carricou where you’ll most likely be one of a handful of tourists on the island!
History. Art. Culture. And just a little bit of intrigue. Cuba has it all. And then some. You could easily spend hours walking through Old Havana taking in the eclectic mix of architectural designs that seems to span every era. Or spend a Sunday soaking up the colorful local art and live music on the Callejon de Hamel. Rent a mint condition classic car and cruise through the narrow streets. And of course, hop on a bus tour and take in the contrast of the serene and scenic Viñales Valley. No matter what experiences you indulge in, they will be steeped in history and usually topped off with a passionate, Cuban-centric perspective that will make this trip very unique. Check out Island Girl’s Guide to Cuba to discover all the cool things you can do while on the island.
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
There’s the small island experience, and then there’s St. Vincent & The Grenadines. With a population of under 110,000 spread across several picturesque islands, SVG is one of those Caribbean destinations you go to when your primary goal is to fall off the radar during the day and catch up on sleep at night. There’s not much of a party scene to speak of, especially during the off season (Aug to early Oct) when most of the larger hotels and restaurants close down. Daytime activities lean toward eco-adventures, such as hiking the towering La Soufriere volcano or touring St. Vincent’s many waterfalls. Even if the idea of all that walking doesn’t float your boat, you can spend some soaking and sunning at the Owia Salt Pond or head west and enjoy a brief (and offbeat) tour of what used to the be the set of the hit movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. If however you’re partial to white sand and clear water beaches, schedule the majority of your stay on beautiful, Bequia where you’ll happily spend your days laying out on Princess Margaret Beach. Either way, walk with some books, several long playlists and a lot of sun screen because you’ll need it.
If you’re contemplating Caribbean destinations, chances are Jamaica is under consideration. Home to legends like Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, Jamaica would be a place of interest for many even if it wasn’t blessed with natural beauty. But it is. Clearly, Jamrock won the lottery and its littered with beautiful beaches, lush forests, and a proud culture you can’t help but admire and adore. If you do make it to this iconic island in 2018, I strongly recommend giving yourself enough time to split your stay between Kingston’s city life and the more popular tourist hubs. While in Kingston, be sure to schedule a day trip to Portland and cruise down the Rio Grande on a bamboo raft because, ‘Why not?’. However, the majority of your itinerary should be dedicated to the western part of the island. There you can indulge in cliche but mandatory experiences like jumping into the Blue Hole (Ocho Rios), snorkeling at Doctor’s Cave Beach (Montego Bay) and relaxing on 7 Mile Beach (Negril).
Looking for an island with a healthy variety of outdoor activities that can cater to a diverse range of interests? St. Lucia is it. You can journey to Soufrière in the north of the island one day to dive alongside the Pitons or hike to its highest point. Then spend the night down south at the Fish Fry hosted in Gros Islet. If you’re into natural therapies, spend a few hours at the Sulphur Springs soaking in the hot baths and slathering yourself in the soft, gray mud before washing off and cooling down under the powerful force of Diamond Waterfalls. Into history? Take a tour on one of the many pirate themed ships the sail along the coast every single day, or venture to Pigeon Island for a self-guided tour of the fort that delivers spectacular views.
If you’re among the restless wanderlusters still unsure of your travel plans for 2018, you should check out at least one of these Caribbean destinations. The region’s diverse population and varied terrain lend themselves to a range of unique experiences so you’re bound to find an island that has the vibe you’re looking for. Maybe it’s on this list, maybe its not, but I do hope this list gives you a good head start.
Whatever you decide though, here’s to getting those passport stamped in 2018! Wheels up!