While the Caribbean has long attracted visitors from all over the world, the region is full of hidden gems.
Below, discover three lesser-known destinations that allow travellers to discover their very own slice of crowd-free paradise. From exploring the world’s second largest barrier reef in Belize to discovering Arawak Indian caves, these secluded, sublime destinations offer Caribbean culture and tradition away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
Andros, The Bahamas
The largest island in the Bahamas archipelago, Andros is a haven of wildlife, nature and eco-friendly experiences. Offering guests a chance to uncover the raw beauty of The Bahamas, away from the island’s capital, Nassau and Paradise Island, Andros is the nation’s best kept secret.
Here is how to experience the very best of Andros:
Explore the Diverse Ecosystems of West Side National Park
Established in 2002 and expanded in 2012, West Side National Park sprawls across 1.5 million acres, making it one of the largest protected areas in the region. Located on the western half of Andros Island, this marine protected area encompasses a rich tapestry of coastal wetlands, tidal creeks, coastal mangrove forests, and expansive coastal zones. Notably, it is home to the most productive marine nursery in The Bahamas, providing critical habitat for a wide range of marine species. Anglers flock to its waters to seek the elusive bonefish, while the park also serves as a sanctuary for the endangered West Indian Flamingo. Conservation efforts within the park focus on preserving its pristine ecosystems, promoting sustainable recreational activities, and engaging local communities in environmental stewardship. Visitors can explore its natural wonders, observe wildlife, and learn about the importance of wetland conservation in this ecotourism hub.
World Class Fly Fishing
On Andros, land and water intertwine. Mangrove cays, endless miles of sandy flats, and winding creeks and channels traverse the largest island in The Bahamas. Tarpon, permit, and bonefish swim these waters. They’re easy to miss, and fishing for them requires a trained eye. Led by an expert guide, visitors can enjoy a day out on the flats, traversing the waters in search of the catch.
Androsia Handmade Batik Factory, North Andros
Andros’ world-famous batik fabric and garment manufacturing factory is located near the Andros Lighthouse and has been in business since 1973. It is the centre of production for Androsia, the brightly coloured authentic Bahamian hand-dyed cotton fabric, with designs inspired by elements found in the island’s environment and Bahamian culture. The company’s name, found on each yard of fabric, represents the Island of Andros and its people, known as Androsians.
Batik lessons are offered (with prior arrangement), where visitors can tour the factory, watch the artisans as they wax, cut and dye these beautifully coloured fabrics, and make a two-yard piece of batik to take home. Self-guided tours are available Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. An outlet store on the premises offers visitors great bargains on Androsia garments, fabric, jewellery, books, craft items, baskets, carvings, souvenirs, and more! The fabric can also be purchased throughout The Islands of The Bahamas.
Place to Stay:
Kamalame Cay Resort, North Andros
Located just off the world’s third-largest Great Barrier Reef in the transparent waters of The Bahamas, Kamalame Cay is an intimate, family-run, dog friendly, private island is home to individually appointed, bougainvillaea-draped bungalows, cottages, beach houses, and villas. Scattered across 97 acres of flowering jungle, coconut palm groves, and deserted white sand beach, each of the cay’s oceanfront residences is utterly secluded and offers an unplugged experience that turns the focus to the beauty of the natural environment. One where days are filled with ocean swims, world-class diving, snorkelling, and fishing, rounds of tennis, bicycling the island’s white sand roads, kayaking lush mangrove tributaries, and lounging by the freshwater pool.
An isolated island paradise outfitted with the only overwater spa in The Bahamas, an international wine and spirits list, the region’s finest cuisine, and an alfresco cinema, Kamalame Cay blends barefoot luxury and laid-back charm with untouched tropical splendour and the ultimate in privacy.
Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
Barbuda is one of the two major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Whilst Antigua may get most of the attention, this lesser-discovered island, only accessible by boat, with its pink sandy beaches, reef-lined water and endless palm trees, is worth the trip.
Here is how to experience the very best of Barbuda:
Discover Ancient Caves
Darby Cave, located three and a half miles north-east of Codrington Village, stands at 300 feet in diameter and around 70 feet deep with eight-foot long stalactites that overhang. Home to several species that are indigenous to Barbuda, the sinkhole is adorned with petroglyph drawings along the walls left behind by the Arawak Indians.
Stroll along picturesque beaches
Those who prefer to spend time by the beach can head to one of Barbuda’s secluded beaches; Princess Diana Beach is a beach fit for the royals as a previous favourite of Princess Diana, home to rolling white sand and calm, azure water. Those looking for a peaceful escape can relax on Pink Sand Beach, famed for its distinctive, pink-coloured sand, composed of coral and white sand.
Located around five kilometres south of the town of Codrington, Martello Tower is the most intact historic sight on Barbuda. The 56-foot-high tower features thick walls and a raised gun platform. Adventure travellers can also explore the ‘highlands’, running along the east side of the island; these are the wildest and least developed part of Barbuda. Visitors can spot fallow deer and wild boars or even find the island’s famous red-footed tortoises and endangered whistling ducks.
Place to stay:
Situated behind a hidden beach, Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel offers panoramic views of the surrounding turquoise waters. Each room and suite features luxurious amenities while the hotel’s restaurant serves delicious cuisine made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the bar has a variety of tropical cocktails. Rooms are from $890 per night per bungalow reserved on a double occupancy basis.
Belize is home to a kaleidoscope of natural beauty, incredible history and some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife, marine life and natural wonders. With a modest population of 380,000 people, visitors can marvel at Belize’s outstanding beauty and explore some of its most intriguing undiscovered locations without seeing another soul for miles.
From hiking to Mayan sites and snorkelling through the enchanting Belize Barrier Reef (the second largest in the world), to admiring the exotic birds and immersing oneself in the sounds of the lush rainforest, Belize is the perfect destination for those adventurers, solo travellers, couples, or families keen to disconnect and reconnect to the natural world.
Here is the best spots to visit in Belize:
Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world
Belize has preserved the natural beauty of its barrier reef for generations, with it being the second largest reef in the world, there is no doubt it is one of Belize’s most prominent natural wonders. From schools of fish to turtles, stingrays and nurse sharks, there is ample opportunity to explore the protected reef which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reef wraps around the full 185-mile stretch of the country and forms a lagoon along the coastline which not only protects the shore from large waves, but also creates the perfect habitat for an array of vibrant marine life. Another spot for avid divers and snorkelers is The Witconcrete Wreck, the weathered ruins of a concrete ship which sank off the coast and has now become a top dive site in Belize. Over time this wreck has created a natural, protected habitat for Belize’s vivid marine life, making it a paradise for divers and explorers.
The Great Blue Hole
The mesmerising deep blue hole off the coast of Belize is certainly one of most captivating must-see spots to explore. Located close by to the centre of Lighthouse Reef, an atoll approximately 100 km from the mainland city of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is the largest geological formation of its kind in the world, boasting approximately 300 meters wide and over 120 meters deep. This natural wonder of Belize is a haven for divers and sightseers alike, equally a flight from above is a must. For the most spectacular views, Tropic Air will fly guests directly over the Great Blue Hole, not only providing an aerial shot of the blue abyss, but a keen eye will also spot manatees, rays, sharks, dolphins and an array of other marine life.
For explorers keen to learn about Belize’s rich Maya history and culture but want to avoid the crowds, the ancient Maya city of Caracol is a wonderful must see. Nestled amongst the jungle and mountains in beautiful natural surroundings, located in the heart of the Chiquibul Nature Reserve in the Cayo District, Caracol is considered one of Belize’s best preserved Maya archaeological sites. Discovered in the depths of the jungle in the 1920’s, Caracol attracts hikers and explorers to its immense temples, grand pyramids and royal tombs without the masses of tourists. The site rests 500 metres above sea level, so visitors can marvel over the spectacular views overlooking miles of the protected Chiquibul forest and at summit level, a keen eye will spot the border between Guatemala and Belize.