The Caribbean might be known best for its beaches, but there’s so much more to this region than crystal-clear waves and white sand.
While the Caribbean has long been a popular getaway for travelers who want to relax on the beach of a tropical island or do some scuba diving, many destinations in the Caribbean also offer an abundance of culture, history, food, and more.
The Caribbean might not be the first region you think of for a city break or a non-beach vacation, but these destinations offer so much more than just beautiful beaches (although they certainly have those too!)
These are 5 of the best Caribbean islands that offer more than beaches:
1. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for culture and history. This island is part of the United States, so Americans who are visiting do not need a passport.
It’s also very accessible from the United States, with many affordable nonstop flights from cities all over the country.
San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is a beautiful city with colorful cobblestone streets, old churches, and historic forts and citadels to explore. The city also has great dining and nightlife.
Cuba is one of the most fascinating destinations in the Caribbean, and it’s possible for Americans to visit this intriguing country.
Havana, the country’s capital, is a vibrant city with so much to see and do. The city is known for its colorful architecture, brightly-colored vintage American cars, and exciting nightlife. You can spend your days exploring the city and learning about Cuba’s history, and your nights sipping cocktails and listening to live music including jazz, mambo, and salsa.
In addition to Havana, Viñales is another great destination to visit. This mountainous town in the countryside is known for its many outdoor activities like horseback riding.
3. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean and it has so much to offer tourists.
In addition to the great beaches and resorts that the Dominican Republic is best known for, it’s also home to one of the best cities in the Caribbean: Santo Domingo.
This capital city dates back to the late 15th century, and is packed with history including colonial cathedrals and old forts. It’s also one of the most dynamic modern cities in the Caribbean, with great museums, dining, and nightlife for visitors to enjoy.
4. Saint Lucia
While Saint Lucia is an island in the Caribbean that is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this small country also has a lot more to offer, including excellent hiking.
The striking Pitons, two volcanic peaks on the southern side of the island, are famous for their dramatic views. They also have great hiking trails, and you can even climb the smaller of the two peaks. There are many other hiking trails around the island.
In addition to hiking, Saint Lucia is also a culinary destination known for its unique West Indian cuisine.
5. Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is an underrated destination in the Caribbean that is known for hosting one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world.
The biggest celebration occurs in Port of Spain, the country’s capital city, although other parties are held around the country. The celebration occurs in February on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
The festival is marked by colorful costumes, exuberant dance performances, calypso music, and raucous fetes (parties.) If you are looking for a cultural experience and festival like no other, visiting Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival is sure to be memorable.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com