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The ultimate guide to hiking in the Caribbean: Top trails and tips

Written by Fiona

February 05 2024

The Caribbean usually conjures up images of calm, turquoise waters, miles of golden sands and gently swaying palm trees. But did you know it is a great destination for walkers?

The Caribbean is not just a paradise for beach lovers. Its lush jungles and rugged mountainous interiors are crisscrossed with a huge number of excellent hiking trails, while the many islands boast a diverse variety of landscapes, from gently rolling hills and shaded jungle paths to dramatic clifftop trails and majestic volcanic peaks.

If the idea of combining the traditional tropical joys of a beach vacation with something a little more adventurous, then the Caribbean is the perfect choice. Board a cruise from Galveston or jump on a plane from Miami and discover some of the best hiking opportunities the Caribbean has to offer.

The Waitukubuli National Trail, Dominica

Dominica is beloved by nature lovers and is probably one of the best islands in the Caribbean for hiking. Known as ‘“Nature Island”, it boasts one of the longest hiking trails in the region in the form of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

Clocking in at 115 miles this remarkable walkway stretches across the entire island and passes through a wide variety of scenery, including deep jungle, picturesque waterfalls and miles of breathtaking coastal cliffs. It is a great way to explore the UNESCO-listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park and an amazing adventure for keen hikers.

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

The wonderful, exotic expanse of El Yunque in Puerto Rico is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest system, making it a unique and exciting destination for hikers looking for something a little different for their next vacation.

Well-marked trails wind their way through lush vegetation and past beautiful waterfalls. Exploring the forest also offers the opportunity to get up close to Puerto Rico’s fascinating wildlife.

One of the best trails on the island, La Mina, leads you up to the stunning La Mina Falls, where you can relax and refresh yourself after a tough hike with a dip in the pool at the bottom. 

The Pitons, St. Lucia

The stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Pitons is an icon of the Caribbean and a wonderful place for adventurous hikers. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are both absolutely stunning, with Gros Piton, in particular, offering a challenging trek with spectacular panoramic views of the island and the Caribbean Sea from the top. 

The Valley of Desolation, Dominica

Another gem in Dominica, The Valley of Desolation is a surreal, otherworldly landscape of boiling mud ponds and colourful hot springs. The trail leads you through Titou Gorge and across some truly unusual volcanic landscapes, making this a completely unique hike and one well worth discovering. 

Tips for hiking in the Caribbean

Hiking in the Caribbean is a little different from many other destinations. The hot, humid climate means you will need to be even more aware of staying hydrated, while sturdy hiking boots are vital to cope with the rugged, uneven terrain.

Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are essential given the amount of sun, and it is extremely important to check out reports on trail conditions, as rain, flash floods, and even hurricanes during the season can have a huge impact on the viability of Caribbean trails. 

The Caribbean is a wonderful hiking destination and offers a wonderful variety of fascinating trails and landscapes. Going beyond the beaches and embracing a more adventurous Caribbean vacation experience is a great choice for nature-loving families. 

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