With more than 7,000 islands, islets and cays that encompass the Caribbean islands, there is a tropical retreat for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts are sure to find the perfect destination for hiking as they search for cascading waterfalls, or kayaking and diving in warm waters teeming with colorful fish. The three main groupings are the Bahamas with its 700 islands; the Greater Antilles, which include Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic plus the Lesser Antilles, which cover the islands from Puerto Rico to the South American coast.
A low-lying secluded island, just 35 square miles in size greets its visitors with spectacular sunsets, tropical trade winds and a warm relaxed demeanor. Anguilla is part of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles and is mostly made up of coral and limestone, offering few trees or vegetation. Outdoor exploration is boundless. The turquoise waters are ideal for snorkeling, sailing or scuba diving. The flat terrain enables easy exploration aboard mountain bicycles. Trekking is possible using a trail from the beach that leads to the island's rainforest, or the nature walks in the salt ponds to observe the sanctuary's 136 bird species. Guided biking and hiking tours can be arranged.
Known as the Isle of Spice, Grenada offers its visitors more than the exotic flavorings garnered from its rich soil. The pristine beaches, warm waters and tropical setting are enough to keep sun worshippers on the shore. But inland, rewards await hikers who trek to capture the majestic beauty of Grenada's numerous waterfalls, including Annandale Falls, Concord Falls and Royal Mt. Carmel Falls with its 70-foot twin cascades. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Caribbean island's sheltered coves and a host of activities, such as kayaking and bird watching.
An array of close to 20 free public beaches will please even the most discerning of beach goers visiting St. Barthelemy, simply known as St. Bart's in the French West Indies. The beaches at Lorient and popular St. Jean offer calm waters for swimmers of all ages. The Lorient and Grand Cul-de-Sac beaches on the northeast shore abound with windsurfers. Gouverneur in the south provides privacy and Shell Beach in Gustavia, the island's capital affords picturesque sunsets. Gourmands will delight in the charming seaside village's French- and Swedish-influenced culinary offerings. Hiking enthusiasts are kept busy by trails from Flamands to Colombier and from Marigot to Vitet.