The Caribbean Islands are widely considered a paradise for anyone looking to spend their days lying on a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees and an ocean breeze. If you’re not the lounging type, don’t worry, there are plenty of high-altitude hikes to keep you busy here, too.
You won’t find a mountain on the scale of Everest, but here are a few that’ll keep you in the game if you get tired of cleaning sand out of your shoes.
Mt Liamuiga, St. Kitts
The 3,972-foot mountain tucked away in the northern regions of St. Kitts was once nicknamed Mt. Misery. The name is somewhat of a misnomer because there’s absolutely nothing miserable about it. The two-hour hike to the top is lined with ficus trees and lush rainforest and, though steep, is manageable for even the most amateur of climbers. Once you reach the top you’ll find yourself standing on the rim of a volcanic crater with a perfect view of the surrounding islands.
La Soufriére, St Vincent
Another volcano in the Caribbean, La Soufriére is still incredibly active with the most recent eruption occurring in 1979. The lower half of the climb will take you through rainforests and streams. Once you get to the second half, however, be prepared to scale rocky outcrops of hardened lava before reaching the 4,049ft summit. Add a few extra hours on to your trip for descending down into the crater itself.
Nevis Peak, Nevis
Those looking for a bit of a challenge should scale their way up the muddy slopes of Nevis Peak. Slightly on the smaller side, the volcanic mountain stands at 3,232ft—but don’t let that fool you. You’ll spend three hours traversing steep outcrops of rocks and pulling yourself up ropes and tree roots to scramble your way to the peak. Nevis is often hailed as one of the most beautiful islands of the Caribbean, and it’s certainly one of the greenest, so trust us when we say it’s worth the trip.
Gros Piton, St. Lucia
It’s virtually impossible to see St. Lucia’s twin Piton mountains towering in the distance and not want to climb them. Unfortunately, only one of them is actually legal to ascend. Petit Piton is the steepest, but unsafe for climbers according to the local government. Luckily, Gros Piton is enough of a challenge in itself. The 2,615ft peak can take upwards of six hours to summit, depending on how often you stop and take in the sights. You’re also required to take a guide along with you, just to be safe. Supposedly, one-fifth the people to attempt the climb never reach the top.
Pico Duarte, Dominican Republic
Perhaps the only true climb for mountaineers in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte is a massive, 30-mile hike to the peak of a 10,000ft mountain. The guided trip will take two days to complete, with the help of a pack mule, over varying terrain consisting of flat, rocky terrain and pine forests. Your reward for making it to the top are spectacular views of the northern and southern ocean waters as far as the eye can see.
Pico Turquino, Cuba
Now that Cuba is readily accessible to most Americans, you might consider giving it’s tallest Peak, Pico Turquino, a try. The mountain is the home of Fidel Castro’s army and stands proudly at almost 6,500ft. You’ll have to take a guide with you, and pay a standard fee, but it’s worth it to catch a glimpse of some of the rare wildlife that lives along the trail to the top. The trail resides within Sierra Maestra National Park and many of the animals here are endangered, so watch your step as you ascend.