22 November 2017
For sun, sea, sand and sensational sights head to the Caribbean. No two Caribbean islands are the same, with each offering unique experiences. To help you choose, here we present Aruba, Barbados and Cuba – three top trending Caribbean island destinations.
Aruba is one of the Caribbean’s top beach destinations, with acres of pristine white sands. One of the most famous is Eagle Beach near Oranjestad, a popular motorised water sports and turtle watching spot. The iconic Palm Beach is ideal for families with its calm clear waters and lively haunts like Moomba Beach Bar, where you can enjoy live music. For somewhere out of the way head to Arashi Beach in the north-west, where you can find the local attraction the California Lighthouse.
Family fun is easy to find in Aruba. Learn about migratory birds like the Groove-billed Ani at wetland preserve the Bubali Bird Sanctuary or discover thrills and spills at the unique Splash Park Aruba, where the rides are all inflatable. For the adventurous, Aruba delivers. View sea life like parrot fish while snorkelling in the shallow waters of Mangel Halto Beach, scuba dive into sunken shipwreck the SS Antilla near Oranjestad or take advantage of professional-grade wind and kite surfing facilities.
Experience a faster pace of life in Cosmopolitan Oranjestad, the island’s capital. Listen to world- famous DJs at popular night spot the 7 Club Lounge, see traditional dancing at the city’s weekly Bon Bini Festival or pick up luxury brand items from the likes of Prada and Rolex at the bustling malls which line L.G. Smith Boulevard. With various other sites from the National Archaeological Museum and colonial structure Fort Zoutman, to volcanic Hooiberg Mountain, Aruba always fascinates.
Barbados is known for its friendly locals, along with its unique cultural, historical and natural attractions. Savour one of the Island’s most famous exports at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, which has been open since 1703 and offers cocktail mixing sessions. Explore colonial-era Barbados with a trip to the Sunbury Plantation House, known for its spectacular façade and antique furniture. Stroll along idyllic streams and ponds at the Andromeda Botanic Gardens, which houses over 600 exotic plant species.
Thrilling pursuits await in Barbados. Surf in the choppy waters of Bathsheba Beach, where global competitions are often held, or see the underground streams, pools, stalagmites and stalactites of Harrison’s Cave on an eco-tour. Barbados provides excitement for all ages. Take your kids to meet pelicans, monkeys and iguanas at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, relax on the sugary-white sands of the iconic Platinum Coast or ride off-road vehicles through the rugged terrain of Joe’s River Forest.
The island’s capital, Bridgetown, is a must for your itinerary. Visit UNESCO-listed historic Bridgetown and see ornate colonial-era structures like the ‘Parliament Buildings’. Buy some of the freshest produce in the Caribbean like coconuts at the open-air Cheapside Market. See the legendary Chamberlain Bridge, one of Barbados’ most instagrammable spots. Follow in the footsteps of everyone from cricket champions to anti-slavery campaigners by strolling along National Heroes Square.
Cuba is the ultimate under-the-radar destination, due to its cultural isolation during Communist rule, so expect plenty of unique experiences. Travel back in time with every foot you set on the island, as 1950s-era American cars pass you by. Take in the vivid graffiti and street art which dots the island’s concrete façades. Meet one of the 20th Century’s most infamous figures with a trip to the Che Guevara Mausoleum. Trek to the Bay of Pigs, a site of major historic importance which is also known for its white-sandy beaches, intriguing fauna-like moon jellyfish and vibrant flat coral stands.
Bucket-list worthy sites await in Cuba’s capital Havana. A must-see is Fusterlandia, an impoverished neighbourhood transformed into a dreamy folk-art wonderland by Cuban artist José Fuster. Check out Plaza de la Revolución, a colossal city square featuring an iconic mural of Che Guevara and governmental seat the Palace of the Revolution. Sample one of Cuba’s legendary cocktails by ordering a mojito at popular watering hole La Bodeguita del Medio. See one of the world’s unique burial sites at Colon Cemetery in John Lennon Park, with its intricate granite monuments.
Various other one-of-a-kind attractions lie throughout Cuba. Hike through the peaks of the Guaniguanico mountain range in the west. Have a picnic at the Casa de Caridad Botanical Garden in Viñales, which is known for its orchids. Admire architectural marvels like the Baroque-style Havana Cathedral, and take your kids to see life-sized dinosaur statues at Baconao Park or to meet gentle dolphins at the Delfinario marine park in Varadeo; the possibilities are endless!