With its varying hues of blue, the waters of the Caribbean attract waterbabies and water adventurers of all ages.
By Lisa Mullins Bishop, Caribbean Edge Staff Writer
There is much to do both above and below this tranquil sea: swimming, snorkeling, waterskiing, jetskiing, sailing, and kayaking are just a few of the water sports visitors to the Caribbean can enjoy.
Snorkeling is a wonderful way for all ages to experience the fascinating underwater world of the Caribbean. Here you'll see all types of exotic fish, colorful sponges, and beautiful coral. Many islands like St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands have marked underwater trails that snorkelers and scuba divers can explore. Signs along the trail describe the array of marine life living there and point out special places along the way so underwater explorers can learn about this magical underwater kingdom. Most larger hotels offer snorkeling instruction and equipment or you can seek out one of the many vendors along the beaches.
Board sports such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, and surfing are very popular in the Caribbean. The year-round trade winds create wonderful conditions for these exciting sports. Windsurfing has been a favorite here for years while kiteboarding is a hot new sport that is gaining a large base of loyalists. Kiteboarding uses a smaller board than the one used for windsurfing.
Surfing has become one of the most popular water sports on the islands thanks to the warm water swells and sheltered bays that have become a paradise for surfers. The Virgin Islands, Barbados, and Cabrete in the Dominican Republic are excellent spots for these sports because of their reliable winds. The ideal conditions attract experts from around the world. But anyone can enjoy these sports. Most larger hotels offer equipment and instruction and there are numerous vendors who can set you up with what you will need.
Many adventurous types choose to view the beauty of the islands suspended from a colorful parasail. Parasailers are treated to a bird's-eye view of tropical splendor: white sand beaches, blue waters, exotic flora and fauna. Those wishing to try this exciting sport can find vendors offering instruction and equipment on most of the Caribbean beaches. Larger hotels and resorts sometimes have onsite vendors as well.
For those wanting to play above the water, try waterskiing or jetskiing for an exciting ride. Vacationers can rent a jetskis for a solo ride or wave runners that can accommodate from 2 to 4 riders. Operators can usually be found at the larger hotels or along the most popular beaches.
CANOEING AND KAYAKING
Mangroves and lagoons are found on many Caribbean islands, and one scenic and peaceful way to explore them is by canoe or kayak. Guided tours are available that take visitors along the coast and the tranquil inlets.
The Caribbean is known for its wonderful sailing. Vacationers can enjoy a day sail on a powerboat, sailboat, catamaran, or trimaran (a fast sailboat with three parallel hulls). Both bare boat and crewed boats are available. Those wanting to learn to sail can climb aboard special charters that specialize in sailing instruction.
With some of the best scuba diving spots in the world, the Caribbean is a must-see destination for scuba divers from around the globe. The Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Curacao have a variety of interesting dives. Stingray City off Grand Cayman is a spot where divers can swim with dozens of tame stingrays. It's an easy, 12-foot dive and snorkelers can also enjoy the experience thanks to the crystal-clear waters. Buck Island Reef National Monument, located off St. Croix in the U.S, Virgin Islands, is an 850-acre national park has corals, sponges, and more than 250 species of fish. Snorkelers can follow the marked underwater trails and learn more about the various types of marine life. In the British Virgin Islands, divers can explore Cane Bay's coral canyons and drop offs. The HMS Rhone, a mail ship that went down off Salt Island in 1867, is another favorite of divers. It served as the filming location for the motion picture, The Deep. The Curacao Underwater Marine Park a 12-mile undersea wonderland of protected coral reefs and shipwrecks. The Tugboat is covered in orange tube coral. Divers can see black coral. Banda Abao on the southwest coast runs from the lighthouse to Kaap St. Marie and offers dives for all levels of experience.
Watersports by Island: