The Caribbean is a nature lover’s dream, welcoming visitors in search of the wonders of the natural world – creatures, plants and landscapes unmatched in diversity and beauty.
In a generous tropical climate, the accidents of geology and the action of ocean on land have bequeathed today’s eco-tourists a dazzling Eden of colour, shape and scent.
Those with special areas of interest can take advantage of tailor-made trips arranged by tour companies, hotels or national tourism offices. The establishment of national parks and nature reserves on land and at sea ensure that there are unrivalled opportunities to enjoy the fauna and flora of our unique lands.
Marine LifeAdd to Trip Planner
Look below the surface of the Caribbean and you’ll enter a magical world of marine life, where brilliantly-coloured fish shelter in forests of coral, turtles roam and dolphins frolic.
The tiny marine creatures that have built up their colonies to form coral reefs have also created numerous atolls. Shoals of inhabitants range from parrot fish and puffer fish to boxfish in their bony plates, spiny porcupine fish and various species of flying fish.
The warm waters are also home to barracuda, blue, nurse, shovelnose and smooth hammerhead sharks, swordfish and marlin. Dolphin and porpoise occasionally venture inshore and the reclusive manatee can sometimes be seen prowling the mangroves.
Prawns, crayfish and other crustaceans grow large and there are numerous banks of oysters and mussels. Within the reefs there are few dangers – although you should be careful not to step on the spines of a sea urchin or provoke an occasional Moray eel.
Green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. When Christopher Columbus first discovered the Cayman Islands, he named them Las Tortugas – The Turtles – because there were so many of the creatures that it seemed as if the islands were covered with rocks.
Stingray City is another world-renowned attraction on the Cayman Islands. Here you can swim among these strange creatures and feed them squid by hand. At Shark Ray Alley in Belize, which possesses the second-longest barrier reef in the world, divers can witness dozens of southern stingrays and nurse shark swirl and dance, orchestrated by a divemaster's bag of snacks. And across the Caribbean, you'll have many chances to see the largest mammal in existence. For some, whale watching can be a life-changing experience.
WildlifeAdd to Trip Planner
Our wildlife mirrors the diversity, beauty and wonder of the Caribbean itself. .. from the world's biggest butterfly to the world's smallest hummingbird.
Our mainland countries have rain forest that has been described as 'the earth’s lung'. We are making strenuous efforts to preserve it as a habitat for some of the world’s most extraordinary creatures, and for the benefit of future generations.
Our islands, coral-encrusted outcrops cut off from the outside world, took a separate evolutionary course and are home to unusual creatures rarely found elsewhere.
On land, there are still many survivors of the hunter’s holocaust on the islands, including ancient species such as crocodiles and iguanas. Trinidad, which was attached to South America before the sea cut the link only 9,000 years ago, has the same wealth of species as neighbouring mainland countries – anteaters, pine martens, raccoons, monkeys, the fearsome boa constrictor and a wide selection of snakes, many of them poisonous.
In Venezuela, seven species of the cat family inhabit the forest, including the jaguar, puma and ocelot. You will hear the eerie echoes of howler monkeys and perhaps catch a glimpse of the spider monkey, the long-tailed capuchin and the nocturnal durukuli.
VolcanoesAdd to Trip Planner
Our landscapes range from volcanic mountains, lakes and limestone cliffs to lush green hills, mangrove swamps, deserts and forests. There are outstanding rain forest retreats on the islands of Trinidad, Dominica and Puerto Rico.
Bird WatchingAdd to Trip Planner
Trinidad offers bird-watchers more species than they’ll find in Canada, and the evening flight of the scarlet ibis at Caroni Swamp is worth travelling the world to see. Great Inagua in the Bahamas is home to 60,000 pink flamingos, spoonbills and ducks. Across the Caribbean, you’ll see egrets, sandpipers, terns, parrots and pelicans. Hummingbirds are as common in gardens as they are in the woods and forests.
At Half Moon Caye in Belize, the red-footed booby bird shares its rookery with the magnificent frigate bird. Some 98 species of birds have been recorded on the Caye. These include ospreys, mangrove warblers and white-crowned pigeons; not forgetting the World largest colony of Frigate Birds on Barbuda to name a few.
Jamaica has assigned the 'doctor bird', or red-billed streamertail hummingbird, the title of national bird, and many of the Windward Islands have their own parrots. In Guyana, which has 700 species, macaws fly noisily above the rainforest canopy, toucans and the harpy eagle swoop through the trees, and the cock-of-the-rock flirts with photographers at Kaieteur Falls.
The gardens and forests provide year-round explosions of colour. Passion flowers, orchids, heliconia, hibiscus, poinsettia and palms abound, as well as giant ferns and trees that blossom vivid yellow, scarlet and purple. These are the lands where plants were brought from around the world, and every one flourished: bougainvillea and mango trees, jade vines and stately breadfruit, more varieties of citrus that you thought possible.
Much of the Caribbean’s island wildlife is endemic. Bats abound, yard-long pre-historic iguanas laze in the sun, crocodiles glide through the swamps and fireflies flash in the night. On the mainland, there is an amazing range of animals and reptiles, with the jaguar at the top end of the food chain.
Rivers and MountainsAdd to Trip Planner
The tumbling rivers, mountains and dense rainforests of Guyana and Venezuela are filled with extraordinary natural sights. These include Angel Falls, at more than 3,200 feet the highest waterfall in the world; Kaieteur Falls; and remote Mount Roraima, the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World.
The Caribbean Sea and its massive walls of coral are vibrant with life, home to sharks, barracuda, swordfish, marlin, dolphin, porpoise and turtle. The variety of the Caribbean’s natural world is rich and endless.