Famous Caribbean LandmarksJan 26, 2017
The Pitons – Saint Lucia
While Saint Lucia offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world nothing can top the majestic Pitons, the island’s iconic mountains. Said to be the most photographed site in the Caribbean and most famous mountain pair on earth, the Pitons are a must-see for anyone who visits the island. Located just south of the town of Soufriere on the west coast, Gros Piton (771 m / 2,619 ft) and Petit Piton (743 m /2,461 ft) rise regally from the blue Caribbean below. Hiking to the top of Gros Piton is one of Saint Lucia’s most popular tours. Anyone with reasonably good physical fitness can handle the climb.
The Pitons were created less than a million years ago by volcanic activity, which still can be witnessed at the Sulphur Springs volcano located nearby. Amerindians considered the mountains to have mystical powers and early European explorers noted their unique and splendid beauty. In 2004 the Pitons were awarded World Heritage Site status.
Boiling Lake – Dominica
Dominica’s Boiling Lake is a very unique natural attraction and is the second largest of its kind in the world. It is located at an altitude of 2,500 feet within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The only way to reach the lake is hiking a very challenging 7 mile trail that takes about 3 hours each way. The trail takes hikers through a very beautiful rain forest and offers lots of great sightseeing along the way. Besides the steaming Boiling Lake there are numerous vents from which steam and boiling water come to the surface.
Old San Juan – Puerto Rico
San Juan is one of the oldest and most historic sites in the western hemisphere where you’ll find the oldest church, oldest castle and oldest fortress. Ponce de León, who searched in vain for the Fountain of Youth, is interred there in a vault in the San Juan Cathedral. Old San Juan is a great shopping district, but what makes it unique is the Spanish colonial heritage including cobblestone streets, massive old forts and other centuries-old architecture. It also has wonderful ambiance because of the statues, fountains, parks and tree-lined streets. The San Juan National Historic Site, which is located within Old San Juan, includes several historic landmarks which have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These five centuries old fortifications are must see.
The Baths – Virgin Gorda
The dramatic shape of the British Virgin Island’s third largest island, Virgin Gorda, reminded Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman, or “Fat Virgin”, inspiring its name. The Baths is a unique beach with giant granite boulders with amazing grottos in between. Over time the surface was eroded away exposing the granite core of the volcanic island. The erosion continued to isolate the granite into large boulders and round their surfaces. The boulders form natural tidal pools, tunnels, arches, and scenic grottos that are open to the sea. The largest boulders are about 40 feet (12 meters) wide. Since 1990, The Baths has been a BVI National Park as are the adjacent bays and the area is a major tourist attraction, with swimming and snorkeling being the main attractions.
Brimstone Hill Fortress – St. Kitts
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the British and once protected the entire island. It was eventually abandoned and fell to ruins. However, thanks to the dedication of historic societies, the fort has been restored to its former glory. The fort itself is made of black volcanic rock. The fortress sits atop a steep hill that slopes to the shore, offering fantastic views of the sea.
Dunn’s River Falls – Jamaica
Dunn’s River Falls is considered to be one of the most exciting natural landmarks in Jamaica. Approximately 55 meters tall and 180 meters in length it is not just a waterfall but a set of tufa limestone terraces formed by springs over which the water flows directly into the Caribbean Sea. Visitors delight in climbing up the steps in the cascading water starting right from the gorgeous beach working their way up the falls in a chain holding hands with each other to prevent any slipping. The water in the falls is quite pleasant and tropical vegetation creates plenty of cooling shadows. There are numerous pools to relax in along the way. Dunn’s River Falls was featured in the very first James Bond movie released in 1962, Dr. No, which featured Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, and has been a tourist landmark ever since.
Mount Scenery – Saba
Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom (877meters / 2877feett) and is the tiny island’s dominant feature. The island’s vegetation varies with distinctive zones which are related to altitude and precipitation. Dense vegetation with a variety of species covers the upper slopes and summit. The Elfin Forest (cloud-forest) dominates the top of the mountain and is comprised of mountain mahogany, orchids and a myriad of other unique and rare plants. The top of Mt. Scenery is more often than not enshrouded by clouds. At slightly lower elevations rain-forest vegetation is present. Humidity decreases as one descends and the vegetation reflects the drier climate. Hiking the trails on Mount Scenery is one of the most popular activities on the island.
Carbet Falls (Chutes du Carbet) – Guadeloupe
Carbet is a magnificent waterfall with a total height of 245 meters. It is located in the lush rainforest on the slopes of Soufrière volcano and is often considered the most spectacular waterfall in the eastern Caribbean. The first European to see these falls was Christopher Columbus arrived on November 4, 1493. He named the island Santa María de Guadalupe. Carbet Falls has three major steps. The upper step starts at the elevation of some 900 meters; this cascade, which is over 115 meters, is the tallest. The second drop is 110 meters tall. Some hot springs are found near the base of second drop. The lowest cascade is 20 meters tall and has the greatest water volume of all waterfalls in Guadeloupe. Carbet Falls is one of most popular tourist attractions on the island.
Stingray City – Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands offer lots of attractions for water-loving visitors, however, none are as popular as Stingray City. Located on Grand Cayman Island, Stingray City is known for the impressive population of stingrays and the clear, shallow waters which allows visitors to swim with them and even pet and feed them. In the midst of beautiful coral reefs that teem with schools of colorful tropical fish, it also is idyllic location for snorkeling.
Diamond Rock – Martinique
A veritable jewel anchored in the Caribbean, Diamond Rock sits 3 kilometers off the southern coast of the island. At 175 meters in height, it towers majestically over the clear blue sea. While today the rock is a refuge for sea birds, in the past it was the site of numerous clashes between the French and English over control of the Saint Lucia Channel. In 1803 it was even commissioned by the British Royal Navy as the HMS Diamond Rock and for 17 months had 120 troops and several cannons on the island crag from which they would battle the French below. Eventually, the French were able to retake the small island. A habitat for the very last specimens of Lacépède's ground snake on earth, access is today forbidden. But that does not prevent one from stopping at the lookout point at the foot of Larcher Hill or from a boat to get some great views of Diamond Rock. The waters around the island are considered to be one of the finest diving sites on the island.