There’s so much a cruise has to offer: the onboard options, the ports of call and the food. Of course, one of the very best things about cruising is visiting all the ports of call and the unique adventures each one offers.

A typical week-long cruise offers at least three ports of call – and usually more than that. In each port, you’ll find your typical port fare: shopping, beaches, snorkeling and site-seeing. But what if you’re looking for more? Through some fun research, we’ve found the Top 10 Caribbean Excursions.

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1. Aquaventure Water Park. Located at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas, this spectacular 141-acre water park features 20 million gallons of water, high-speed water slides, a river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a kids’ water-play fort and 11 different pools. This facility is open to all overnight Atlantis guests, but you can purchase day passes from your cruise ship or the resort itself. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind waterpark.

Bioluminescent Bay in San Juan. Photo credit Yelp.

Bioluminescent Bay in San Juan. Photo credit Yelp.

2. Bioluminescent Bay Kayaking. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, spending the evening navigating a kayak through mangrove channels to Laguna Grande is truly a magical experience. Why magical? Well, this water is home to the Pyrodinium Bahamense – microscopic plankton that produces natural light when you touch them. Every stroke of your paddle or dip of your hand into the water creates a glowing trail of sparkling light. Only a few of these lagoons exist in the world and this is one of the best. 

3. Cave Swimming. Along the Maya Riviera Coast in Mexico are several places where you can swim in underground caves and rivers. Near Cozumel, Mexico lies Rio Secreto (Secret River), a collection of ancient Mayan caves and an underground river. Only discovered in the last decade, this subterranean world is a marvel and wonder. You’ll traverse almost 12 miles underground wearing a wet suit, water shoes and headlamp (with helmet) to see stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Photo: Bahamas4u.com

Photo: Bahamas4u.com

4. Swimming with Whale Sharks. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. And while they are, in fact, sharks, swimming with them is a once in a lifetime experience. In season, you can swim with these gentle giants in Mexico, Honduras, and Belize.  For Belize and Honduras, the best time is early spring (March to May). In Mexico, the summer months are your best bet.

5. Whitewater Rafting. For the adventure seekers out there, you can always try your hand at Whitewater Rafting. Jamaica offers several options for this. In Ocho Rios, the Rio Bueno River offers exhilarating and exciting rapids. You’ll be able to experience the rapids and even a break mid-way down to go some swimming – you’ll even get to go over a small waterfall.  In Montego Bay, the Great River offers Grades I-IV and different adventure options. The Grade I & II option is safe for children (4 and up) and offers the chance to experience the rainforest and glide down the river. For more excitement, the Grades III & IV offer waterfalls on the wild, untamed part of the river (you must be in good health and at least 12 to tame this river rapid adventure).

photo Chukka Adventures

photo Chukka Adventures

6. The Blue Hole. If you’re a certified scuba diver, the Caribbean offers one of the most stunning dive sites in the world. In fact, Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself declared it one of the top 10 scuba diving sites in the world and the Discovery Channel placed it on the ‘The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth.’  On your dive, you’re likely to see several species of fish and Caribbean reef sharks. At times, Bull Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks are known to make appearances.

7. Bobsledding. Yes, we’re still talking about the Caribbean here. Have you ever seen the movie Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team? Well, in Jamaica, you have the chance to try bobsledding for yourself. Near Dunn’s River Falls, you can take a ride down a 1000-meter long track installed into the side of the mountain. This attraction is rated as one of the top attractions in Ocho Rios by TripAdvisor.com.

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8. Horseback Riding in the Ocean. This is the stuff movies are made of: riding a horse through sparkling, crystal-clear waters. Many islands offer this incredible encounter: Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominican Republic and more.   Most of these experiences offer a land and sea deal – first, you ride your horse along sweeping coast lines taking in the breathtaking views and then you ride the horse through the surf and into the water.

photo Shore Excursions Group

photo Shore Excursions Group

9. River Boarding. Yes, River Boarding. You’ve heard of surfing and paddle boarding; in Montego Bay, you’ve got river boarding. You get a board and you lie on it, riding the current. With a guide in small groups, you’ll literally ‘board’ the river, truly experiencing the currents, twists, turns and falls of the river. You’ll go through seven sections of rapids on your tour and your tour ends as the river drops you into the Caribbean Sea.

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10. Swimming with Sting Rays. So, there are a lot of ‘swimming with’ adventures on this list, but there’s lot of unique options only available in the Caribbean waters. This one takes place in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Stingray City is located in the northwest corner of the island and gives you the chance with stand and swim with sting rays in about 3 feet of water. These gentle creatures will swim with you, give you a ‘massage’ and even a kiss for good luck. Feeding a sting ray is a unique sensation – imagine your vacuum cleaner had dull teeth and you’ll get the idea. You can book this through your cruise ship or through private companies like Shore Excursions Group.

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