From high mountain peaks to shimmering reefs, spicy salsa rhythms to deep rolling reggae, pirate hideouts to sugar-sand beaches, the Caribbean is dizzyingly diverse.
A Caribbean Mosaic
The Caribbean is a joyous mosaic of islands beckoning paradise-hunters, an explosion of color, fringed by beaches and soaked in rum. It’s a lively and intoxicating profusion of people and places spread over 7000 islands (fewer than 10% are inhabited). But, for all they share, there’s also much that makes them different. Can there be a greater contrast than between bustling Barbados and its neighbor, the seemingly unchanged-since-colonial-times St Vincent? Revolutionary Cuba and its next-door banking capital, the Caymans? Or between booming British-oriented St Kitts and its sleepy, Dutch-affiliated neighbor Sint Eustatius, just across a narrow channel?
Azure seas, white beaches, green forests so vivid they actually hurt the eyes – there is nothing subtle about the landscapes of the Caribbean. Swim below the waters for a color chart of darting fish and corals. Feel the sand between your toes at any one of a thousand picture-perfect beaches. Hike into emerald wilderness and spot the accents of red orchids and yellow parrots. Outdoor-adventure enthusiasts make a beeline for unspoilt islands such as nature-lovers’ Dominica and St Lucia’s iconic lush Piton mountains, which send out a siren call to climbers.
The tropical sunlight is infectious. Like birds shedding dull adolescent plumage, visitors leave their wardrobes of gray and black behind when they step off the plane and don the Caribbean palette. Even the food is colorful, with rainbows of produce brightening up the local markets. You’ll also see every hue at intense, costume-filled festivities like Carnival, celebrated throughout the region but particularly in Trinidad. Glorious crumbling Cuba, reggae-rolling Jamaica and Vodou-loving Haiti top the wish lists for travelers seeking unique cultural experiences and Unesco heritage havens.
You can find any kind of island adventure here. With so many islands, beaches, cultures, flavors and waves to choose from, how could this not be vacation paradise? You can do nothing on the sand, party at a resort, explore a new community, hop between islands, discover wonders under the water or catch a perfect wave above, revel in a centuries-old culture (and sway to some of the world's greatest music while you're at it), and then run off to find your inner pirate… Just about anything is possible in the Caribbean.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Caribbean.
El Yunque National Forest is one of Puerto Rico’s crown jewels with nearly 29,000 acres of lush, mountainous terrain scattered with waterfalls, rushing rivers, towering trees and bamboo groves, all opening up to spectacular ocean views. The only rainforest in the US National Forest System, El Yunque (named after the Taíno god, Yúcahu) has 25 miles of trails to suit all hiking abilities. Some are short and paved, others long, steep and overgrown. Almost all gain some elevation; one of the toughest is to El Toro, around 3500ft above sea level. El Yunque has two entrances: the northern side, 25 miles east of San Juan, receives the majority of visitors, while the southern side close to Naguabo retains a wild pristine feel. Due to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017, check the website for up-to-date information on the trails’ status. Embark on hikes (short and sweet, with information boards and tourist hoards, or long and lonely, with coquí frogs for company) through the oxygen-rich mist and gawk at Jurassic-sized ferns. Bring a raincoat and binoculars, too; of the 26 species found here and nowhere else on Earth, you’ll want to keep a sharp eye out for the Puerto Rican parrot, one of the world's 10 most endangered birds. El Yunque National Park's northern side has an array of maintained trails © Infinite_Eye / Shutterstock How to get to El Yunque Since there’s no public transportation to El Yunque, you will need to get here with a private vehicle or on a guided tour from San Juan or Fajardo. Driving from San Juan, there will be signs directing you from Hwy 3 to Hwy 191. Turn south at Palmer and follow the signs to El Yunque National Forest. Take note that some maps still show that you can traverse the forest on Hwy 191, or access El Yunque from the south via this route. However, Hwy 191 has been closed south of Km 13 for years and there are no plans to reopen it. Some road maps also suggest that El Yunque can be approached via a network of roads along the forest's western border. Don’t try it: these roads are unmaintained tracks that often dead-end in serious jungle. Be sure to check the latest conditions of El Yunque's roads before heading out. There's a northern entrance near Luquillo and a southern entrance near Naguabo, both off Hwy 191. The El Portal Visitors Center reopened in 2022 after sustaining structural damages due to hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. The northern side is more visited and has lots of well-marked trails and parking areas; the southern side is wilder and less developed, making for beautiful off-the-beaten-track experiences. Make sure to secure a reservation before heading out. Best time to go to El Yunque El Yunque National Forest has year-round trails but the best time to visit is from mid-April to June to avoid the winter rush and the wet summer. Hurricane season – June through late November – can bring sodden conditions to El Yunque National Forest, with the possibility of trails being closed due to mudslides and flooding, so always check the trail status before you set out. But it’s called the rainforest for a reason – you can expect showers every day. El Yunque's operating hours El Yunque is open from 7:30am-6pm (except on Christmas). There’s no entrance fee, however some attractions inside the park require payment. Attractions in El Yunque There’s more to do at El Yunque then hike. Get that adrenaline pumping by soaring through the verdant canopies on a zipline. Carabalí Rainforest Park offers horseback riding, go-karts, ATV tours and hayrides. There's a host of native flora and fauna at El Yunque National Park © Christian Ouellet / Getty Images Guided Tours to El Yunque There are many San Juan and Fajardo-based tour operators offering day trips to El Yunque. All will transport you to and from the park, highlight the main sights and provide you with a mine of interesting information about its flora and fauna. Camping in El Yunque There are no developed campgrounds or designated camping areas in El Yunque. Primitive camping is allowed along most roads and trails except closed areas, but at the time of research, camping was off-limits until 2021. Check the El Yunque National Forest website for up-to-date information. Normally, tents must be located at least 30ft away from any trail or body of water and at least 50ft from roads and developed picnic sites. Most importantly, campers need a free permit that must be obtained at least 14 days before their visit. Nearby hotels There are several boutique accommodations like Casa Flamboyant, Dos Aguas and the Rainforest Inn on the fringes of El Yunque National Forest, which still feels very wild. Proximity to the rainforest means you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of chirruping coqui frogs and wake to tropical birdsong. Lodging to the north means easy access to Luquillo's beaches – the south is more isolated but both areas are within reach of Fajardo and the Bio Bay. Nearby restaurants Palmer, the colorful strip where Hwy 191 heads south from Hwy 3 toward El Yunque, has some good eating options like Degree 18 Juice Bar, Lluvia Deli Bar and Mi Vida Café & Burger. Inside the park, there are a few cheap-and-cheerful roadside stands and the visitors center will have a cafe.
Founded as the world's first land-and-sea reserve in 1958, this stunning 283-sq-kilometer expanse of reef, cay and sea is world-famous among divers. One of the jewels of the Bahamas, the reserve protects the second largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere, after the Mesoamerican Reef in Central America, ensuring prolific marine fauna below the water and plentiful land-based life on shore. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in conservation terms) it's only accessible by private boat or charter, so getting here can be costly, but most visitors agree it's worth the expense for the spectacular natural environment. Meeting the locals on the Exuma cays ©PJPhoto69 / Getty Images Who to do in Exuma Land & Sea Park Most people who make their way to this idyllic Marine Protected Area are drawn by the wildlife. The reserve is run according to strict No Take principles, meaning nothing can be taken away from, or left on the islands, preserving a pristine natural ecosystem for an amazing variety of marine life, abundant birdlife, and some interesting critters on land. Keep an eye out for rare Bahamian rock iguanas, rodent-like hutias, and stromatolites, created by blue-green algae that have been alive for more than 2000 years. The most thrilling part of Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is under the water, so you'll need to bring your own snorkeling or diving gear (and your own boat) or arrange a boat trip in either Nassau or George Town, the tiny capital of Great Exuma, the largest cay in the Exuma group. Several operators offer diving and snorkelling day-trips in and around the marine reserve, including Dive Exuma in George Town. You can also come on all-inclusive, week-long diving trips that hopscotch around the park's top dive sites. A close encounter with a Caribbean Reef Shark ©Shutterstock / Scott MC Commonly seen marine species include angelfish, eagle rays, reef sharks, Nassau grouper, porcupine fish, clown fish, lobsters and turtles, though there's a chance of spotting bull sharks and other larger critters at several locations in the park. Another perk for divers is the collection of 'blue holes' formed by collapsed undersea sinkholes, which lie dotted around the islands, with several close to Stocking Island. However, the most famous site is Thunderball Grotto, a shallow network of caves and tunnels that will be forever linked to the eponymous 1965 James Bond film. There are also some charismatic non-native animals who have made a name for themselves at Exuma. While divers are off swimming with sharks elsewhere in the Bahamas, visitors to the Exumas swim with... well, pigs. The feral hogs on uninhabited Major Cay have been living here for well over a decade, and they routinely swim out from the shore in search of food, usually provided by visiting day trippers (if you participate, don't get too close, and use natural plant-based food). Is is a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Aquapig! ©BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock Getting to Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park There are several ways to reach this stunning natural playground, though costly flights and boat fares are an unavoidable part of getting around in the Bahamas. Some high fliers come with their own boats, but ordinary folks usually visit on live-aboard dive trips or day-trips by chartered boat from Nassau, or Great Exuma, the sleepy, 37-mile-long cay at the south end of the Exuma archipelago. While you may not save much money, there are definite advantages to coming via Great Exuma, not least the chance to glimpse Bahamian life away from the main islands. Great Exuma is about 135 miles southeast of Nassau and the island's garden shed-sized Exuma International Airport receives regular flights from Nassau, Rock Sound, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It's a short cab ride from the airport to George Town, the island's diminutive capital, with its scattering of low-rise, pastel-colored buildings. There are a couple of boat trip and dive operators based at the town jetty, and you can find budget accommodation at the motel-style Marshall's Guest House, or posher rooms (and good Italian food) at Club Peace & Plenty. Basking in the sun on Tropic of Cancer beach, Little Exuma ©Julie Zoney / Getty Images The beaches around George Town are no great shakes, but water taxi operators can zip you over to Stocking Island, the gorgeous sand-edged islet to the north of Great Exuma. Bank on around BS$20 for a return trip – just tell the boatman when and where to pick you up. There are beach bars and resort restaurants dotted along the long, lovely beach that traces the north shore, but with the low, scrubby Bahamian vegetation, there's not much shade – slap on the sunscreen. Alternatively, take a taxi to languorous Tropic of Cancer Beach in Moore Hill on neighboring (and linked) Little Exuma. If you have your own boat, it's a different story; mooring fees inside Exuma Land and Sea Park are moderate (from BS$25) and you can kayak and camp on the Hawksbill, Warderick Wells and O’Briens cays inside the reserve if you pay BS$250 for a permit, plus a B$25 daily fee. Make arrangements at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Headquarters on Warderick Wells Cay. If you don't have your own boat, Out Islands Explorers in George Town offers sailing trips, guided kayak trips, and kayak rentals.
Stretching for a mile around a sheltered, horseshoe-shaped bay, Playa Flamenco (Flamenco Beach) is not only one of Culebra’s best beaches, it also makes a regular appearance on the world's best beaches lists. It gets its name from the nearby lagoon, which attracts flamingos in winter. If you plant to visit during this time, you’ll feel like Robinson Crusoe contemplating the clarity of the water. Backed by low scrub and trees rather than lofty palms, Flamenco gets very crowded on weekends and holidays, especially with day-trippers from San Juan, so plan a weekday visit. Alone among Culebra's beaches, it has a full range of amenities. Facilities Services include a collection of kiosks (selling snack food, lunches, rum punches and beer, and renting beach gear), toilets, outdoor showers, lockers, lifeguards, picnic tables and an often jam-packed parking lot. Camping is allowed. The M4A3E8 Sherman tank at Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island is an iconic photo opportunity. ©cdlutez/Budget Travel Tank on Playa Flamenco The iconic rusting tank is at the Playa Flamenco's western end, a legacy of when US troops practiced invasions here. Its swirling green and yellow stripes, the work of local artist Jorge Acevedo, represent a dancing fish. Ferry to Playa Flamenco The most popular – and cheapest – way to Culebra from the mainland is on the Autoridad de Transporte Marítimo ferry service from Ceiba ($2.25 for adults). The service is reasonably reliable, but delays often occur. Buy your ticket and check times at www.porferry.com and get to the ferry terminal at least an hour early. Schedules vary but there are usually at least five round-trips a day; journey times are 45 minutes. On busy weekends, especially during summer, travelers may get bumped by island residents. Playa Flamenco is 2.8 miles (4.5km) from the Culebra ferry terminal and is a straight shot from Dewey. The road is paved and has some inclines, but the destination is idyllic. The main road leading out of town becomes Hwy 251, passes the airport and ends at the beach. By car, the trip takes about 15 minutes; by foot, plan on 40 minutes. Públicos have one route on the island, from the ferry terminal to Playa Flamenco (per person around US$4). As long as there's room, passengers can flag them down anywhere along the route. The fare remains the same, regardless where you get on. This could be the view that greets you each morning at Flamingo Beach. ©cdwheatley/Getty Images Can I stay on Playa Flamenco? So far, Culebra has shunned the advances of any major hotel chains, so the island offers apartments or homestays rather than hotels and resorts. There are a few good accommodation options close to Playa Flamenco itself. Camping Culebra Playa Flamenco is the only place you can legally camp in Culebra. Campsites are in five zones: A is closest to the food kiosks while E is closest to the beach and therefore the most popular. Outdoor showers have limited hours; bathrooms are open 24/7. Reservations aren’t typically necessary and camping gear can be rented. Villa Flamenco Beach Gentle waves lull you to sleep and you wake up to one of the best beaches on the planet just outside your window: this six-unit home-away-from-home is an absolute winner. There are self-catering kitchen facilities and inviting hammocks, and friendly owners Violetta and Juan are on-hand to offer island advice. Closed from the beginning of October to mid-November. Culebra Beach Villas This is the only accommodations complex on Playa Flamenco. There are 33 self-catering apartments with kitchens for two to eight people. Each villa is individually owned, decorated and maintained and some are in a better condition than others. The setting is stunning, of course, though you’ll want to stock up on provisions in Dewey. Wi-fi in the reception area only.
If you need a reason to hire a water taxi, Isla Culebrita (Culebrita Island) is it. This small island, just east of Playa Zoni, is part of the national wildlife refuge. With its six beaches, tide pools, reefs and nesting areas for seabirds, Isla Culebrita has changed little in the past 500 years. The north beaches, especially the long crescent of Playa Tortuga, are popular nesting grounds for green sea turtles – you might even see them swimming near the reefs just offshore. The Isla is also home to Faro Culebrita. Built in 1886, it was one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the Caribbean when it was shut down by the US Navy in 1975. Currently in ruins, it is earmarked for extensive repairs. A well-marked path leads you there – the lighthouse itself is off-limits but the vistas are picture-postcard perfect. Bring a lot of water, sunscreen and a hat if you head for Isla Culebrita – there's little shade here. And don't forget snacks and snorkel gear! How to get to Isla Culebrita Unless you've chartered a boat (or have your own), round-trip water taxis from Culebra are the only way to see Isla Culebrita. These cost around US$65 per person, including beach gear, hammock and snorkel set. Water taxis There are a number of reliable water taxis who will take you to Isla Culebrita, but if they are booked, you'll often find captains along Dewey's waterfront. H2O Water Taxi Captain German offers round-trip boat service to Culebra's nearby cays. Beach and snorkel gear often included in his rates. Phone 787-685-5815 or email email@example.com. Cayo Norte Water Taxi Licensed Captain Louis Padrón offers tours and water-taxi services to Isla Culebrita, Cayo Norte and Cayo Luis Peña. Phone 787-376-9988. Can I stay on Isla Culebrita? As Isla Culebrita is uninhabited, there are isn't anywhere else to sleep on the island. The nearest hotels are on Culebra. Beaches There are several beaches on the island, though most people will only visit one or two in a day. West Beach This is where the majority of water taxis from Culebra Island will moor up. It's a lovely narrow stretch of twinkling sand on the west of the island. Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach) The diamond-dust sands of this crescent-shaped beach on the north coast is used by sea turtles as a breeding ground, hence its name. At the head of the beach are a number of rocks which absorb the waves and create warm tidal pools, known locally as the Jacuzzi. Trash Beach Strong winds and undercurrents can mean that Trash Beach lives up to its name — it's where flotsam, jetsam, driftwood and plastic tends to end up if the conditions are right. However, this isn't always the case. If you're lucky, it's a glorious stretch of isolated sand on the east of the island where the waves can boom theatrically. East Beach Although it's close to Trash Beach, this smaller slice of paradise doesn't suffer from the same issues and has a decent pedigree among snorkelers. You'll also find two of the lagoons nearby. South Beach This secluded stretch of shoreline is the least visited, but affords some of the best snorkeling. Cayo Luis Peña It may be less visited than Isla Culebrita, but Cayo Luis Peña can be a good, cheaper alternative. You’ll pass this small cay of peaks, rocks, forests and coves just a few minutes before the ferry arrives at Culebra’s dock. This island is part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge and has a collection of small sheltered beaches and snorkeling all around the island. Luis Peña is a short kayak or water-taxi trip (fares from US$40 per person) from Culebra.
Locals claim that the magnificent Bahía Mosquito (Mosquito Bay), a designated wildlife preserve located on the island of Vieques, about 2 miles east of the town of Esperanza, has the highest concentration of phosphorescent dinoflagellates (algae) not only in Puerto Rico, but in the world. When movement disturbs these creatures, a chemical reaction takes place in their little bodies that makes a flash, a trait scientists speculate that dynoflagellates have developed to ward off predators. As such, a trip through the lagoon is nothing short of psychedelic, with the movement of your kayak, paddle, electric boat, even fish, whipping up fluorescent-blue sparkles below the surface. Touring the Bahía Mosquito (Mosquito Bay) You can drive east on the rough Sun Bay road from Esperanza and stop for a view (parking well back from the water and mangroves). However, an organized trip will give you far more opportunity to really take in the spread of phosphorescence. Guides offer a wealth of information on the phenomenon as well as the flora and fauna. Look for birds including pelicans, frigate and cuckoos. In the waters below, small sharks and rays are among the fish stirring up the light show. Abe's Snorkeling & Bio-Bay Tours and Aqua Sunset Tours – the latter offering trips in a crystal-clear canoe, which makes an already magical experience extra-special – are two good outfits. Ensure to book tours with operators who only use kayaks or electric motors, as anything else will damage the bay's fragile ecosystem. Reservations for tours are essential in high season, and the best time to go is at new moon. There’s another inlet to the east, Barracuda Bay, that’s also filled with dinoflagellates, but tour operators don’t venture out that far. Swimming in the Bahía Mosquito is illegal. Hotels near Bahía Mosquito (Mosquito Bay) The island of Vieques has plenty of accommodation options for travellers. For Bahía Mosquito, the town of Esperanza, just 2 miles to the west, makes for a great base, which boasts boutique hotels in the hills and guesthouses lining oceanfront Calle Flamboyan. For proximity to the Bay, Acacia Guesthouse and El Blok are two good options, both a 40-minute walk (or 7-minute taxi ride) away. Those counting the cents might alternatively consider Bananas, Esperanza’s original budget guesthouse.
Even in a country that abounds in waterfalls, Reach Falls stands out as one of the most beautiful places in Jamaica. The white rushing cascades are surrounded by a bowl of virgin rainforest; the water tumbles over limestone tiers from one hollowed, jade-colored pool into the next. It’s possible to walk, wade and swim your way up to the edge of the falls, by an unmarked jungle path some way below the main entrance. Do I need a guide? Once you enter the falls, guides will offer their services – crucial if you want to climb to the upper pools, which we highly recommend (there’s a little underground, underwater tunnel a bit up the falls known as the rabbit hole; plunging through is a treat). Excellent local guides Leonard Welsh (849-6598) and Kenton Davy (438-3507) can take you and point out plants and wildlife along the way if you choose to hike to the falls. The Mandingo Cave, the crown jewel of the falls, can be accessed at the top of the cascades, but you need to bring climbing shoes and be prepared for a long climb. It'll involve clambering up slippery rocks, over neon-green moss and into cool mountain pools of the freshest spring water but it's well worth the effort. In some areas you can dive under watery tunnels and through blizzards of snowy-white cascading foam. How much does it cost? The entrance fee is $10 per adult, $5 per child (11 and under). How do I get there? The turnoff to Reach Falls is well signed just over a mile (2km) north of Manchioneal. Any Port Antonio–Manchioneal route taxi can drop you; it's a further 1.8 miles (3km) uphill to the falls.
High on the White River, Jamaica's heavenly Blue Hole is a vision and is an undisputed highlight in Ocho Rios. To reach this popular spot, make your way up a series of magical falls (one measuring 20ft high) and blue pools surrounded by forest, with ample opportunity to swim, dive and swing off ropes 15ft in the air and into the water. There is an entry fee to enter. The Blue Hole is open from 8am to 5pm. Guides accompany you through the cascades on a well-marked trail (with steps and ropes where necessary for safety). The tiny cave climb under one of the falls is safe but isn't for claustrophobes. The guides are excellent and are attentive to both kids and more senior visitors who might be uncertain on some of the climbs. For those who arrive unprepared, vendors sell jelly shoes at the entrance. There are also refreshment stands. Remember, take nothing you aren't happy to get wet. Safety at the Blue Hole While no official accounts of leptospirosis have been confirmed at the Blue Hole, they have been reported. The leptospirosis bacteria can occur in any body of water and is always a concern when doing water-based adventure activities. The bacteria can enter the body through the eyes and nose or via cuts or abrasions, or by swallowing contaminated water. Life jackets are also available for those who want to enjoy the falls but aren't strong swimmers.
The waters that launched Brooke Shields’ movie career are by any measure one of the most beautiful spots in Jamaica. The 180ft-deep (55m) “Blue Hole” (as it is known locally) opens to the sea through a narrow funnel, but is fed by freshwater springs that come in at a depth of about 131ft (40m). As a result, the water changes color through every shade of jade and emerald during the day, thanks to cold freshwater that blankets the warm mass of seawater lurking below. The seemingly bottomless pool of turquoise water is nestled in a protected cove and surrounded by forested cliffs. Blue Lagoon is a definite bucket-list trip in Jamaica © Westend61/Getty Images How to get to the Blue Lagoon From Port Antonio, it's about a 17-minute drive on Fair Prospect Rd to Folly Rd with a turn off at Blue Hole Road. Park at the beach. Since this area is public land, there is no entrance fee. You can swim at the entrance to the lagoon, or take a boat tour (around US$30) on a short ride past some glitzy seafront villas to nearby Cocktail Beach (where parts of the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail were filmed) and rustic Monkey Island. Note that if it's been raining heavily, runoff water from the hills turns the lagoon a murky green.
The limestone rock of the Bahamas is pock-marked by blue holes–deep vertical 'caves' created by the collapse of limestone sinkholes. Over the centuries, these eroded hollows have filled with rain and seawater, creating unique aquatic ecosystems all over the Bahamas, including in this fascinating national park on Andros in the Out Islands. Many offshore sinkholes can be explored by divers, but Blue Holes National Park is the best place to explore this remarkable geological phenomenon on land–and by explore, we mean 'throw on your swimsuit and dive in'. The clean, inviting waters of an Andros blue hole ©Shutterstock / Trae Rollins Exploring Blue Holes National Park Most tropical archipelagos were created by volcanic activity but the islands of the Bahamas were formed when a massive plateau of prehistoric limestone subsided into the sea. This twist of geology has created perfect conditions for the formation of blue holes, with water constantly dissolving new hollows beneath the bedrock (you'll find similar geological conditions along the cenote -filled coast of Yucatán in Mexico). Visitors to the Bahamas will find blue holes on many islands but Andros is the easiest place to get close to blue holes on land. This 40,000-acre national park comprises vast tracts of Caribbean pine and coppice forest pitted with dozens of blue holes–more than 50 at the latest count, but future sinkholes are forming all the time below the surface. Trails and info boards introduce you to the flora, fauna and geology of these unusual ecosystems, but for most people, the big attraction is being able to swim in the cool waters of these idyllic-looking natural swimming holes. The most accessible blue hole is Captain Bill's Hole, with a swimming deck, toilets and a high platform for leaping into the water. It's easily reached from Andros Town, following a lane that leads inland off the Queens Hwy near Mapen's Store. Rainbow Blue Hole, to the east of the Queens Hwy, is also very accessible. Other blue holes take a bit more effort to reach; marine explorer Jacques Cousteau put the sinkhole known as Cousteau's Blue Hole on the map in the 1970s after releasing dye into the water to prove that the blue hole was linked by underground channels to the sea. The blue expanse of Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island, the world's second deepest blue hole ©Lora B / Shutterstock With a mask and snorkel, you might spot some of the blue holes' unique cavefish, which have evolved to thrive in these unusual conditions. However, the best blue holes for aquatic life are offshore–the dive center at Small Hope Bay Lodge on the fringes of the national park can arrange dives to several blue holes offshore from Andros that are teeming with marine life. Travel on from Andros to Long Island via Nassau, and you can explore Dean's Blue Hole, the second deepest blue hole in the world, which drops 203m, right off the beach. It's an amazing site for scuba and free-diving, opening onto a chamber that is vastly bigger than the bottleneck opening at the surface. Getting to Blue Holes National Park Coming from Andros Town, the access road for the park heads west off the Queen's Hwy along Leroy Hanna Dr from the settlement of Love Hill. Scooters and cars can be rented for exploring. Ask locals to point you towards the tracks leading to specific blue holes. To reach Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island, you'll need to fly into Deadman's Cay airport via Nassau.