Worldwide UNESCO has 981 world heritage sites which are locations of ‘outstanding universal value’. The Caribbean has seventeen sites meriting world heritage status which are so culturally and naturally unique that their preservation is imperative. For a tourist this means distinctive and unique experiences which is what traveling is all about. We have hand picked the top 4 places which we believe to be the most unmissable UNESCO Sites in the Caribbean.
We start in Belize, a small country on the north east coast of Central America. For divers, the Belize Barrier Reef is a once in a life time experience with the rep for being one of the most spectacular dive sites in the world. The second largest barrier reef in the world with 65 different corals alone and over 500 different fish species. Belize has 30 kilometers of coral reef and several atolls with crystal clear water and breathtaking diving. The most visited site is Blue Hole which is an underwater sink hole left behind millions of years ago when the glaciers melted. It is 304 meters across and 122 meters deep and really is a snorkeling and diving paradise.
History and architecture lovers are drawn to the small archipelago of Bermuda in the North Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina. In 1614 the British created their first Caribbean settlement here in St George’s Town. The town has been preserved and is much the way it was 400 years ago, with quaint 17th century buildings set around King’s Square. St George Town has been of strategic importance to the British for centuries. The town started life as a fort and there are fascinating military buildings and installations. You can take a tour on the Olde Towne Railway around the most notable buildings but if you are really into history, there is a recommended self guided walk which you can cover in your own time.
Cuba, off the coast of Florida, has been growing in popularity over the years to become one of the Caribbean’s most intriguing destination. It has several world heritage sites as its history is as long as it is colorful. Old Havana and its fortifications is quite remarkable. Over 500 years old it has retained many of the original town planners original vision and architecture. Check out some of the best Baroque and neoclassical buildings to be seen in the New World. Outstanding examples are the Iglesias Cathedral, The Palace of the Segundo Cabo. The street life and lively culture makes a stroll through these ancient streets an adventure in itself with music and rumba a feature of daily life in old Havana.
While in Cuba it is worth traveling to another UNESCO site, the Vinales Valley in the Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba. This lush red earthed valley is the fruit and vegetable basket of Cuba. Farmers still plow and tend their crops with oxen. This area is famed for its tobacco plants, the source of the famous Cuban cigar. Life is filled with music and dancing and it is possible to get to know the locals with registered homeowners offering board and lodging to tourists.
The landscape is one of Vinales natural values and was home to the original indigenous Taino people. Huge dome like mountains, mogotes (haystacks) rise out of the rich green plains and these are networked with caves, some of which are available as accommodation. There are many different hikes throughout the area with the five hour ‘Wonders of Vinales’ one of the more popular.
Which UNESCO sites have you visited in the Caribbean?