If your idea of a great vacation involves adventure, adrenaline, and taking a break from the ordinary, then the Caribbean islands are calling your name. While the region’s pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters tend to call to mind images of lounging on the beach with a colorful cocktail in hand, the islands are also a playground for adventure sports enthusiasts.
We’ve teamed up with global cruise line Royal Caribbean to highlight eight unforgettable adventure sports that are sure to make your next island getaway nothing short of epic. Whether you’re an experienced thrill seeker or a newbie adventurer, you don’t want to miss these experiences on your next Caribbean vacation.
Brushing up on your superhero skills? You’ll want to add kiteboarding to your arsenal of adventure sports. Blending elements of windsurfing and wakeboarding, kiteboarding traces its origins all the way back to China circa the 13th century, when sails were used to propel travelers’ canoes. Several centuries and technical innovations later, kiteboarding today ranks among the most exhilarating sports, with its combination of high-speed surfing and serious airtime for jumps and tricks. While the sport requires a certain amount of physical fitness to operate the kite and board, beginners can get the hang of it by taking a lesson taught by a local expert.
With its smooth cross-shore trade winds and warm waters, Barbados offers great kiteboarding for all levels. There are several kiteboarding schools located around the island, and beginners will do well at the sheltered Freights-Bay, while experienced kiteboarders will love the wavy conditions at Silver Rock and Long Beach.
Taking sci-fi dreams to new heights, the flyboard is a techie thrill seeker’s dream come true. Powered by pressurized water connected by hose to a nearby jetski, flyboards let their riders soar more than 25 feet above the water—and even dive below the surface and shoot back up, superhero-style. Marty McFly would be proud.
Give the see-it-to-believe-it sport a try in St. Maarten, where the protected waters of Simpson Bay provide a great backdrop for trying your hand at flying. Check out Flyboard St. Maarten for rentals and lessons, and make sure someone in your crew is positioned onshore to take lots of pictures of your crazy feats. After soaring high above Simpson Bay, be sure to wander through the colorful, busy streets and sample the delicious French and Creole flavors that define St. Maarten’s cuisine.
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There’s just something undeniably cool about surfing. In 1778, Captain James Cook recorded the first written description of the sport. He described a surfer as someone with the “most supreme pleasure while he was driven so fast and smoothly by the seas.” While mastering the art of surfing takes balance and practice, even beginners can experience the supreme pleasure of catching a wave along the many surf-friendly beaches in the Caribbean.
Gentle trade winds, miles of pristine coastline and hundreds of offshore reefs: Puerto Rico is home to world-class surf that attracts professional wave riders from around the globe. There are also plenty of spots mere mortals will be able to surf too, located near charming beach towns like Rincon and Aguadilla. Rent a board, book a lesson, and get ready to hang ten.
If flyboarding or surfing feels a little too risky for your crew, try parasailing: a great alternative for kids and anyone who may not be an athlete, but still wants an ocean adventure. Parasailing is the equivalent of a great beach day with an even better view: you and your companion will be strapped into a harness on the back of a small boat and then rise high above the ocean waves as a colorful parachute propels you forward. There are plenty of ways to experience the underwater adventures of the Caribbean, but parasailing is the best way to take in a truly unique bird’s-eye view of the stunning scenery.
The lush natural beauty of St. Kitts makes a perfect vista for parasailing. Take in the natural beauty of this mountain island as well as historic sites like Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, a former British fortress now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is perfect for those eager to put their upper body strength and balance to the test. SUP is quite a core workout even in flat waters. If you’ve mastered your balance on the board, try a yoga session at sea. The budding sport combines yoga sequences with the fluidity of the water for a balance-enhancing workout.
Aruba is a great place to try SUP and SUP yoga. Check out the calm waters of Palm Beach for rental options and great conditions to practice your balance. Once you’ve mastered your downward seadog, celebrate at one of the plentiful bars and restaurants along the west side of the island.
Combining elements of water skiing, surfing and snowboarding, wakeboarding is all about balance. Riding on a short board towed behind a motorboat, wakeboarders can catch impressive air by leaping over the waves while performing spins and tricks. Newbies can just enjoy the thrill of getting up on the board and zooming past the shoreline.
Wakeboard rental shops can be found on several Caribbean islands, and you can’t go wrong catching some air along the coast of St. Lucia. With its stunning volcanic beaches and the twin peaks of the Pitons as your backdrop, there’s no shortage of postcard-worthy landscapes to take in as you cruise behind your guide boat. Beginners will get the hang of wakeboarding techniques with a quick lesson before grabbing the tow rope.
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Scuba divers love the Caribbean, and for good reason. From warm waters ideal for coral reefs to thrive to the hundreds of species of marine life that make their home in these incredible underwater environments, scuba divers will feel like kids in a candy shop amongst the Caribbean’s many reefs. And while certification requires divers to master the sport’s breathing techniques and complete about five offshore dives, the effort is well worth it.
Head to Honduras for some of the world’s best dive sites. Located 30 miles off the coast, the Honduran island of Roatan boasts some of the most diverse coral reefs in the whole Caribbean. From undulating sea fans to giant barrel sponges to turtles, stingrays and even sharks, a dive into the shallow reefs along Roatan is an unforgettable experience.
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Originally created thousands of years ago by Eskimos for hunting and fishing expeditions, modern kayaks let you get up close and personal with aquatic life. Nearly anyone can paddle around calm waters in a kayak, making it a perfect entry-level sport for new adventurers and families. Just sit down, grab your paddle and life jacket, and off you go!
The pristine coastline of Curacao is a perfect spot for your crew to kayak. From bay tours that take you to great snorkel locations to kayak trips through the Spanish Water (Curacao’s largest lagoon), there’s no shortage of stunning sites to take in as you skim along the water’s surface. Or try a night kayak tour to experience the thrill of the ocean by moonlight!
Get your adrenaline pumping and make your next island vacation unforgettable by trying a new sport. Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line with ships that feature FlowRider surf simulators, zip lines, rock climbing walls and even RipCord® by iFLY® sky-diving simulators for an endless array of memorable onboard experiences! Royal Caribbean is the perfect choice for thrill seekers looking to take their travels to the next level, so book your next awe-inspiring adventure by visiting RoyalCaribbean.com today.