A Variety of Diversions
The perfect place to enjoy by a cruise ship
The Western Caribbean is a favourite for people who enjoy eco-type activities, including hikes through the jungles, climbs up waterfalls, and nature walks to explore the unique flora and fauna that can only been found on these Western Caribbean islands.
Just about every cruise line visiting the Western Caribbean will offer a variety of interesting shore excursions. These will often include pub crawls in places like Key West, Florida where participants visit several small and funky bars to sample the various drinks that made them famous. In Key West, don’t miss the Hog’s Breath Saloon, a place of national renown.
Another popular Key West excursion is the Harley tour where participants get a chance to display their wild side via Harley motorcycle. You must have a valid motorcycle operator’s license to participate, however.
In Belize City, one can go cave tubing or bottom fishing or even zip lining through the jungle canopy.
In Grand Cayman, don’t miss a visit to Stingray City where you can have a one-on-one encounter with these graceful creatures. A rather unique excursion in Grand Cayman is a visit to a world class skateboarding facility called Black Pearl Skate & Surf. This park contains facilities for both experienced and novice skateboarders and will even provide lessons, making it a great place to visit if you’re travelling with children who love the sport.
If your cruise is making a stop in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, don’t miss out on a chance to visit Dunn’s River Falls. You can climb the falls, up a series of rocks, or you can take the easy stone staircase up. Your reward is a chance to luxuriate under the cascading waterfalls, feeling the cool spray all around you. Be aware, though, that this climb is not easy, and even taking the stone stairway up can be treacherous. The rocks can become slippery and falls are common. So, this might be something to skip if there are very young children or people with mobility or other health issues in your party.
The Western Caribbean also has lots on tap if you just want to laze around on a sandy beach for the day. Costa Maya in Mexico was designed as a cruise ship resort. The entire area right around the pier area has been developed into a place where cruise ship passengers can enjoy an entire day of diversions without ever needing to set foot in a taxi. There is a huge pool complex, complete with a swim-up bar. There are restaurants with all sorts of entertainment options. There are playground and water play areas for the children, and lounge chairs and sandy beach areas to enjoy. Most of the facilities are free and were designed specifically for cruise ship passengers.
Costa Maya is the western Caribbean’s first port designed exclusively for cruise ship passengers. It is also the closest port that allows access to many of the less well-known Mayan sites in the Yucatan, including both Chacchoben and Kohunlich.
The whole Costa Maya region is centred on a small tourist town in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It has two small villages, Majahual and Xcalak. Costa Maya is located between the more popular tourist areas of Cancun and Belize, is largely undeveloped, but it is growing rapidly. The only recent setback was due to the particular violence of Hurricane Dean.
Cozumel is probably one of the best diving locations in the entire Caribbean and has been ranked as one of the top five dive destinations in the world. It has calm waters and white sandy beaches, which are fringed by a spectacular reef system. It is also a great spot for snorkelling, water sports and other seaside activities.
The only town in Cozumel is San Miguel, which is quite small and quaint. The locals gather in the plaza, especially on Sunday evenings, just to socialise and have a good time. There are several restaurants and other nightspots in town.
Cozumel is a particular favourite of cruise ship passengers and when a ship is in port, the town comes alive with tourists.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are the other two, in both geographical area and population density. It is located about 480miles south of Miami, Florida and a mere 150miles south of Cuba. The Caymans offer a temperate climate year-round, with the rainy season being May through October. The average yearly temperature hovers around 79°F or 26°C, making Grand Cayman the perfect holiday destination at just about any time of the year.
A British dependency, the Cayman people are descendants of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh seamen who settled there and married Jamaican immigrants who were already living on the island. English is the universal language, so communicating will never be a problem. As well as the local currency, the Cayman dollar, the US dollar is also readily accepted.
Key West is a popular US hot spot for people of all ages and is a frequent port of call for ships embarking on Caribbean cruises. The island is about 2 miles wide by 4 miles long and takes the form of a coral inlet that stretches southward all the way to Miami, Florida.
Many famous people have lived in Key West and most have left their mark here, in the form of museums, restaurants and hotels.
Key West is a mix of entertainment venues and is home to a wide variety of artist types who sell their wares around the Mallory Square area, where all the cruise ships dock. Mallory Square is a place where both residents and visitors alike gather to watch the sun set. Here you’ll also find a wide array of entertainment, including street jugglers, musicians, food vendors and clowns.
Labadee, Haiti is located on a remote peninsula on Haiti’s northern coast. It is part of Hispaniola, the island that is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Travel to Haiti has declined in recent years due to the political unrest that has been prevalent in this region, however, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line took on a major development project turning Labadee into a private resort complex, exclusively for its cruise ship passengers. They are the only visitors who get to experience the natural beauty of this island paradise in total safety and security.
There are a variety of things to see and do on the island, including taking narrated coastal tours that provide details of the life and customs of the Haitian people. Hiking trails take visitors past 200-year-old ruins and snorkelling excursions are also offered, which take guests to nearby Amiga Island where they snorkel among submerged anchors and cannonballs. You may also be lucky enough to see a variety of pottery and other 16th century artefacts.
Guatemala is located in Central America, between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It shares borders with Mexico to the north and Belize to the northeast. Both Honduras and El Salvador share its southeast border. This is a mostly mountainous region, with a hot tropical climate. It has a rich and distinctive culture with strong Mayan and Spanish influences, though the cities have a predominantly European influence, mostly German.
Guatemala is a relatively small country and has varied topographical features. Most of the country is mountainous and volcanic in origin, but there are lush tropical rain forests in the north and fertile plains in the south and east. There are also many beautiful lakes and rivers.
The country is very much favoured by adventure travellers, because there are many activities to try, including hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking. There are also ruins to explore, volcanoes to hike and mountains to climb.
Belize is a lively Caribbean hot spot located on the northeastern tip of Central America. It is a mix of both Central American and Mexican cultures that has both ancient Mayan ruins and an extensive coral reef system that just begs for exploration.
Belize is especially noted for its eco-sensitive philosophy and a good one-fifth of its land mass is set aside as protected nature reserves. A good percentage of its coastal waters are also protected.
Belize is known as one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World, probably because of it having the world’s second largest barrier reef. The “cayes” that lie off the coast of the Belizean mainland are also noted for their extensive coral reefs that contain some of the most spectacular underwater gardens in the world. The sea life here is probably among the most varied in the world, making this a hot spot for both snorkelling and scuba diving. The country is also quite popular for fishing, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing.
Cancun has long been known as the party town where US college-kids head during the spring break. It is known primarily for its miles and miles of sandy white beaches, as well as its party atmosphere. Well, it’s all that, but a whole lot more too.
Cancun is a Caribbean paradise that is rich in Mayan influences. It has a natural and cultural beauty that is highlighted by its stunning turquoise Caribbean waters, lined with beautiful white sand beaches and amazing offshore reef system. Cancun is the ideal place for a variety of water-related pleasures, including snorkelling, diving and parasailing, not to mention swimming.
Honduras would seem to have it all, pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, fascinating ruins to explore, challenging rivers to raft and lush jungles to hike. It’s a relatively undeveloped region that offers much to do and all at prices far below what you might expect to pay in better-known resort areas.
While in Honduras you can go river rafting, take scuba tours and hike the breathtaking mountains. You will also discover the unique brand of Honduran hospitality, which lets you know that you are a welcome visitor.
Honduras is best known for its eco-tourism opportunities. It’s a vibrant country that Mother Nature has been very kind to. In fact, everywhere you turn, you can see examples of her handiwork, whether it’s the lush jungles or the majestic mountains, the pristine rivers or the deep blue of the ocean. There is truly something here to please everyone.