Sure, we vacation to get away from it all and kick back—especially on cruises where everything is at your beck and call. But as you travel, you may also find that you’re discovering and learning new things while you’re enjoying your well-earned time off, especially in the Caribbean.
From the amazing spectacle of marine bioluminescence to underwater sinkholes hundreds of feet deep, many Caribbean islands boast unique (and historical) sights that will wow you and the whole family. This part of the world is one of the most biodiverse regions for you to explore and there are ample ways to get there. Who knew a vacation could be so educational?
Check out the natural wonders that await when you set sail to the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean:
The Pitons – Castries, St. Lucia
This Eastern Caribbean island’s twin volcanic spires—Le Gros Piton and Le Petit Piton—make up the iconic view from St. Lucia. The hulking, green peaks rise from the sea—side by side—reaching 2,526 feet and 2,437 feet respectively. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the surrounding Pitons Management Area, travelers can take a boat through Pitons Bay to see them or explore the fascinating geology—including hot springs and fumaroles (openings in the ground emitting steam and gas) by hiking the mountains themselves.
Bonaire National Marine Park – Kralendijk, Bonaire
Bonaire National Marine Park is a diver’s dream. It covers more than 6,600 acres, from the shoreline to a depth of 200 feet, and features both coral reefs and mangroves. This protected area is also the oldest marine reserve in the world, providing a home to almost every species of hard and soft coral in the region, plus everything from seahorses to massive moray eels. There’s plenty of nature to study up close if you snorkel or take a dive—you will more than likely end up in a colorful school or two.
Dean’s Blue Hole – Nassau, The Bahamas
Located near Clarence Town on Long Island of The Bahamas, Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s second deepest blue hole (a sinkhole filled with water), reaching a depth of 663 feet. It’s a great known spot for underwater adventure; after all, it’s known as one of the best diving and snorkeling sites and provides the opportunity to see large tarpons and turtles. Not only is Dean’s Blue Hole a truly unique geological feature, but it’s also a stage for fascinating human feats as the home to an annual international free-diving competition.
The Baths – Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The geological wonder and must-see attraction of the British Virgin Islands, The Baths is a series of ancient boulders by the north shore that create shallow pools of translucent blue water. Adventurers can climb through the national park’s crevices and grottos as they safely make their way around the maze of boulders. Look for the Cathedral Room, a small, natural pool tucked in a must-see cave that is understandably the most photographed part of The Baths.
Bioluminescent Bay – San Juan (Vieques), Puerto Rico
The Bioluminescent Bay is a captivating sight to see thanks to its bright, glowing waters visible each night. What causes this natural phenomenon? A concentration of organisms known as dinoflagellates, or “dinos,” produce a burst of blue light when they come in contact with another organism—you can even take a kayak tour for a closer look! Recognized as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, Bioluminescent Bay is located in the south of Vieques, an island off the east shore of mainland Puerto Rico.
When you’re planning your next vacation, keep these natural wonders of the Caribbean in mind! And if you’re ready for Royal Caribbean to whisk you away to these one-of-a-kind sites, head here.