The Caribbean isn’t all white-sand beaches and tropical rum drinks. So, while you should pack plenty of swimwear, consider bringing hiking boots with you on your next Caribbean vacation. The lush tropics and soaring peaks here are home to some of the most unique biodiversity on the planet, and plenty of thigh-burning hikes. Here are 10 of the best places to hike in the Caribbean.
Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, Jamaica
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park comprises over 100,000 majestic acres an hour outside Kingston. Most people associate the region with the popular Blue Mountain Coffee, but hikers flock here for the nine miles of trails, some even daring to climb the treacherous Blue Mountain Peak, which at 7,401 feet is the country’s highest point.
La Visite, Haiti
This national park in southern Haiti is the ideal spot to experience the country’s mountainous terrain. Take the hike from Furcy down to Seguin through the natural pine forest for views of the Caribbean Sea and curious rock outcroppings.
Caroni Lagoon National Park, Trinidad
This national park was created to preserve Trinidad’s diverse wildlife. Hike through the mangroves and you might spot herons, egrets, flamingos and shorebirds. Some even report spotting tree boas. Nature lovers should also check out the Caroni Bird Sanctuary and Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary nearby.
Grand Etang National Park, Grenada
Winding roads lead all the way up to Grand Etang National Park, which at 1,900 feet is home to four of Grenada's highest peaks. Home to monkeys, armadillos and tropical birds, the park is centered around the lake, but two popular trails are to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and the other to Mount Qua Qua, which offers panoramic views of the park.
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Cuba
Along the north coast of Eastern Cuba, this UNESCO World Heritage Site seeks to conserve some of the rarest endemic species of flora and fauna in the Western Hemisphere, including the endearingly cute Cuban solenodon. It is named after the German scientist who conducted meticulous scientific studies here in the early 1800s. Ranging from sea level to 4,000 feet, the park has all types of terrain from forests to mangrove swamps to rivers and lagoons.
El Yunque, Puerto Rico
With more than 22 miles of trails (some short and paved, others long and steep), El Yunque National Forest is a popular choice for novice and experienced hikers alike. The 29,000 acres of tropical rainforest boast mountain views, gushing waterfalls and native coqui frogs that many visitors hear throughout the park.
Lucayan National Park, Bahamas
This 40-acre park on Grand Bahama Island is where the remains of the island’s earliest inhabitants (the Lucayans) were found in 1986. Though there are overwater boardwalks and trails along the mangroves, most visitors flock to the Lucayan Caverns, the world’s longest trail of underwater caves. Two foot paths lead to Ben’s Cave and the Burial Mound Cave.
Pigeon Island National Landmark, St. Lucia
This tropical 44-acre reserve was initially an island, but in 1972 a causeway was built, connecting it to the mainland. There’s a bounty of historical landmarks here, including 18th century military ruins. There are two beaches on the island, but the most popular hike is to Fort Rodney which offers panoramic views of the ocean and Rodney Bay.
Central Forest Reserve National Park, St. Kitts
Head deep into St. Kitts’s rainforest for the chance of spotting different monkeys, birds and blooming flowers. There’s a maze of hiking trails for visitors to navigate and explore in the cool shade of the lush tree canopies.
Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Established in 1976, this national park on the Dominican Republic’s northeast coast highlights the history of the indigenous Tainos and caves dotted with their petroglyphs and pictographs, which can be reached by foot or boat. Trails lead past sinkholes, stunning hills that jut out of the bay and a mangrove forest along the coast.