The insider’s guide to six lesser-known ports


Kelly
Seven types of whales can be seen right off the coast almost year-round from the Caribbean island of Dominica.
If you think you’ve seen all the Caribbean has to offer, think again. Though perhaps the world’s most popular cruise destination, there are still hidden gems in the Caribbean that make for some of the best ports of call you’re likely to encounter in the region – so put these six lesser-known cruise ports at the top of your must-visit list.

Grand Turk: Though Grand Turk is certainly on the tourism map, most visitors to the Turks and Caicos opt for the more developed island of Providenciales, keeping Grand Turk a quiet and charming Caribbean port. The best offerings here include unbeatable white-sand beaches and renowned diving and snorkeling along the world’s third-largest coral reef. Take a walk around Cockburn Town to admire its historic architecture.

St. Kitts: The interaction of tourists and locals on St. Kitts creates a charm often missing on more tourism-soaked islands in the Caribbean. Basseterre is the only real city on the island, offering a mix of upscale shops and West Indian architecture. There are also great opportunities for eco-tourism on the island, around its rainforests and dormant volcano.

Marigot, St. Martin: The capital of St. Martin, the town of Marigot blends French and Caribbean influences into a charming island haven. Visitors can enjoy sidewalk cafes, boutiques, and an open market filled with fruits, fish, and spices. Other attractions include the ruins of Fort St. Louis, the Rum Museum, La Ferme des Papillons (a butterfly farm), and the view from the top of Pic du Paradis.

Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Though the largest of the Grenadine islands, Bequia is still small and fairly quiet. With a strong nautical past, sailing is a popular pastime on the island, though those who prefer land will find plenty to enjoy. Tropical bays and beaches are perfect for relaxing, while restaurants and shops can be found in Port Elizabeth. The Spring Estate can also be visited to see the ruins of an 18th-century sugar mill.

Dominica: The natural attractions on this island are unlike any other in the Caribbean. Its untamed interior boasts lush vegetation, waterfalls, hot springs, and other wonders. In Roseau, Dominica’s attractive capital, visitors will find handicraft centers, several historic buildings, and the Roseau Museum. Take a hike on the island to visit sparkling freshwater pools, or explore one of Dominica’s beautiful national parks.

Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe’s cruise port is adjacent to Pointe-a-Pitre, the island’s major city. Be sure to visit a few of the city’s many outdoor markets, for which Pointe-a-Pitre is well known. The black sand beaches in northern Basse Terre are noteworthy for their prime snorkeling and scuba diving, particularly around the Cousteau Underwater Park. A still-active volcano can also be seen on the island, part of the UNESCO-designated Parc National de la Guadeloupe.