Dominican Republic Named Best Caribbean Destination for Adventure!

Haiti, Dominica, Bonaire and Puerto Rico Island also winners

Whether on land or at sea, the Caribbean is very literally a paradise of outdoor adventure. These 10 Caribbean destinations – voted as the best for adventure by USA TODAY 10Best readers – are sure to get you off the beach lounge and out enjoying Mother Nature at her finest.

  • Barbados

    Climb down into a cave, surf the waves of gorgeous “Soup Bowl Beach” in Bathsheba, swim with bathtub sized leatherback turtles, zip high speed on a cruise around the island or sink into the reefs on a submarine excursion.  Barbados has it all on land and in the sea. Acres of natural areas and historic site parks lend ample opportunity for hikes of all levels of challenge. From horseback riding to deep sea fishing, adventurers find variety and thrills on Barbados.
    Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority - UK

  • Saba

    Small but pointy, Dutch island Saba appeals to avid hikers with its aptly named Mt. Scenery trails covered with tropical fauna. Hikes can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days on the uncrowded island. The trails range from moderate to extreme. Surrounding the volcanic island, Saba Marine Park preserves its underwater scenery near shore to 200 feet deep. About a half mile offshore, depths plunge to 1,000 feet and more, for an entirely different dive experience.
    Photo courtesy of Saba Tourist Bureau

  • Tobago
    Trinidad & Tobago

    Trinidad’s little sister island has a big reputation for scuba diving, seasonally with giant rays on Manta Reef. For snorkelers, Nylon Pool is incredibly crystal clear. Pristine reefs and underwater gardens of coral and sea fans mesmerize. On land, hiking trails riddle the island’s vast acreage of natural areas, which include a rainforest and a mountain lake. You can take to the mountains on a bike or mount a horse for exploring. Tobago’s culture in itself is an adventure: The island adheres to traditions such as goat racing and old-time wedding celebrations.
    Photo courtesy of Go Trinidad and Tobago

  • Vieques
    Puerto Rico

    This Puerto Rican island takes you away from the mainstream and leaves you with little to do but outdoor pursuits. In other words, it is an adventurer’s haven. The reefs and marine life beg for diving and snorkeling, but you can also explore them by see-through canoe or stand-up paddleboard. Other patent Vieques experiences include mountain biking around the island and into the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge or kayak fly fishing for tarpon and bonefish.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Ambergris Caye
    Belize

    With its adjacent Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley snorkeling venues and proximity to the famed Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef Atoll diving site, Ambergris Caye realizes some of the most dynamic underwater sightseeing in the region. In addition, the island makes a good jumping off point for excursions that search for manatees or take you into the Belize mainland jungle. Steeped in Maya culture, Belize boasts ruins and tours, one that has you tubing through the black-out darkness of ancient sacrificial caves.
    Photo courtesy of CTO – Demian Solano, Belize Tourist Board

  • Puerto Rico Island
    Puerto Rico

    From its vibrant cities to its mountain tops, Puerto Rico oozes adventure of both the cultural and recreational brands. Your adventure can be as tame as walking cobblestone streets into the past and exploring a colonial fort in Old San Juan or as extreme as mountain climbing in the Cordillera Central. In between, adventurers can snorkel and dive, explore caves, go zip lining and rappelling, surf, do a rugged ATV tour, go rock climbing, hang glide and go flightseeing by plane or helicopter.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Bonaire

    Bonaire has wisely kept its tourism scene low key, thereby preserving its natural treasures, most famously its stellar scuba diving.  The greatest beauty of diving here is the ability to get to dive sites from shore in many places. Additionally, the island’s Washington Slagbaai National Park affords opportunity for hiking, biking, rock climbing and rappelling.  Some 400 caves take explorations underground. More than 200 species of birds, including flocks of pink flamingoes, bring life-listers to the island.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Dominica

    Dubbed “The Nature Island,” Dominica is one of the Caribbean’s most unspoiled spots, which means rampant opportunity for adventure in the wilderness. Hiking is big on the island, an island lush with waterfalls, a “boiling” lake, warm springs and protected subtropical forest. The 115-mile Waitukubuli National Trail circumnavigates the 29-mile-long island, segmented according to various degrees of difficulty. In addition, adventurers can revel in superlative snorkeling and diving, whale watching and other on-the-water activities.
    Photo courtesy of Dominica

  • Haiti

    Traveling to and around off-the-radar, enigmatic Haiti is in itself an adventure. Its dramatic countryside of mountains, caves and waterfalls make it even more so. A rocky horseback climb to the towering Citadelle Laferriere fortress is a defining Haitian experience as is a stepping stone river crossing to the surreal turquoise pools and gushing waterfalls of Bassin Bleu. For hikers, La Visite National Park offers a glimpse of local beauty and culture that takes the better part of one day.
    Photo courtesy of Rafaelle Castera - Photographer

  • Dominican Republic

    Adventures graduate to epic in the natural caves, mountains and waterfalls of DR. At the extreme end of things, adrenaline junkies suit up in harnesses and helmets to climb waterfalls and plunge feet first into the rivers below or horseback ride into the rainforest and rappel down into a cave. Slightly tamer, you can learn to surf or kiteboard. Softer still, zip line through a monkey jungle, swim with humpback whales, tube down a river or bike down a mountain.
    Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

It was a tight race between Dominican Republic and Haiti, two nations sharing the same island, for the top spot, but in the end it was DR that won the crown.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Caribbean Destination for Adventure are:

  1. Dominican Republic
  2. Haiti
  3. Dominica
  4. Bonaire
  5. Puerto Rico Island
  6. Ambergris Caye, Belize
  7. Vieques, Puerto Rico
  8. Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago
  9. Saba
  10. Barbados

Additional nominees in this category included Andros, Caicos Islands, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Nassau Paradise Island, St. Croix, St. John, St. Kitts and Tortola.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Mark Rogers and Chelle Walton (10Best) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of Caribbean travel.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

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Chelle Walton

Chelle Walton