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SPOR T S & ACTIVITIE S


FOCUS ON: SPORTS & ACTIVITIES CHOICE


The Caribbean offers an incomparable choice of activities on land or at sea and the hardest


part is simply deciding what to choose. The Caribbean Sea is aquatic heaven with


waters full of tropical fish that make them ideal for sport and game fishing trips offered from most islands,


Grenada and Barbados, with regular fishing tournaments. Divers should head for Belize, which has one of the longest barrier reefs in the Americas, or The Bahamas, famous for blue holes and shark diving. Other prime sites include the Cayman Islands and Bonaire, along with wall diving in the Turks and Caicos and reefs and underwater pinnacles at St. Eustatius and St. Kitts. Alternative marine encounters include


swimming with dolphins in The Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and Jamaica or with stingrays in Antigua, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.


Additionally, dolphin or whale-


watching trips are offered from Dominica, the Turks & Caicos and the US Virgin Islands. Sailors can find near-perfect conditions in Antigua, famous for its annual Sailing Week, and The Bahamas. The beautiful scenery and calm trade winds make the waters around the British Virgin Islands perfect for beginners, while more experienced sailors can tackle the challenging conditions around the Grenadine Islands. Windsurfing and kite- surfing are popular along the shores of Barbados’s east coast and Antigua, noted for their excellent conditions, while


the


sport of kayaking is also gaining in popularity. Golf is arguably the top land


sport for visitors to the Caribbean and it’s easy to see why, with courses in diverse locations that


include a former coconut grove, an ex-sugar plantation and in the foothills of a mountain. Many Caribbean courses are the work of some of the golf world’s designer greats, including Greg Norman who designed the Sandals Emerald Reef Course on Exuma; and Robert Trent Jones Senior, whose courses include the Carambola course on the US Virgin Island of St. Croix, the course at Jamaica’s Half


particularly Jamaica,


Moon Resort, and the Dorado Beach course on Puerto Rico. His son Robert Trent Jones Junior has also designed a number of Caribbean golf courses, such as the Four Seasons course on Nevis as well as the Royal Westmoreland course on Barbados. Cricket is the national game of English- speaking Caribbean islands such as Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad. International matches are often staged on the islands of Saint Lucia, Grenada and also in Guyana. Most islands have good tennis facilities and Antigua’s annual Tennis Week draws leading tennis professionals. Several hotels have good sporting facilities and Buccament Bay Resort on St. Vincent even has its own Liverpool FC soccer school and Pat Cash Tennis Academy. The Caribbean’s high-profile sporting successes and the Usain Bolt effect, have sparked an interest in track and field events, which are held in the modern stadia of the larger nations. On a more modest scale,


marathons


attracting local participants and visitors are also held on islands including the Cayman Islands, Nevis, Barbados and Montserrat. Horse-racing is a popular pastime with regular meetings on Barbados, Trinidad,


St. Kitts and Nevis while polo


matches are held on Jamaica and Barbados. The Caribbean is also building a reputation


for adventure thanks to the mountainous terrain in some areas that lends itself to off- road tours and eco-safaris. Exhilarating zip-wires have sprung up on islands including Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbados, while bikers, hikers and walkers are increasingly discovering the rugged hinterland of Puerto Rico, Guyana and Cuba. Trails explore Dominica’s untamed terrain – it boasts the Caribbean’s longest walking trail, the Waitukubuli – while on Saint Lucia there are hiking paths to the top of the Pitons and trails on Guadeloupe lead to La Soufriere, one of the most active volcanoes in the region and the highest point in the Lesser Antilles. Cycling is another popular option with rides


through Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, along scenic cycle paths in Barbados and following Saint Lucia’s excellent network of mountainous bike trails. Saint Lucia also hosts a triathlon. But


for something more extreme, try


flyboarding in Martinique where intrepid adventurers are propelled underwater or into


Above: Grenada’s underwater sculpture park


the air while standing on a flyboard (similar to a wakeboard) or slide down rocks and clamber over waterfalls on a canyoning trip in Guadeloupe. For those with a head for heights, why


not take a helicopter ride over St. Martin to soak up the fabulous views. Or, for the more adventurous, opt for paragliding and sky diving – alone or on a tandem sky-dive. Alternatively, relax on a leisurely raft trip


along the rivers in Jamaica, Guyana and Venezuela or opt for a tubing or white-water rafting adventure. Birdwatchers will also be spoilt for choice as


Jamaica,


the varied birdlife has given the Caribbean a global reputation. Trinidad and Tobago are regarded as one of the world’s top bird-watching spots, boasting more bird species than Canada, and tiny Barbuda lays claim to the world’s largest colony of frigate birds, while Haiti’s Pic de Macaya mountain and Etang Saumatre saltwater lake are a magnet for numerous bird species. The region also has one of the highest concentrations of endemic parrots,


with


The Bahamas, Cuba, St. Vincent, the Cayman Islands, Dominica and Bonaire having their own distinct varieties. And for an equally gentle


activity, folk dancing is also an intrinsic part of Caribbean culture, drawing on the African roots and established rituals of islanders. Some islands stage special tourist shows where local dance troupes dress up in traditional costume to perform the routines.


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