Heading to the Caribbean might make you think you are about to be surrounded by lush tropical landscapes bursting with flowers and fragrance, but like all other parts of the world, the Caribbean region also has a time of flowering plants and trees, and a down time when there are few flowers to be found. The spring, as is the case with most locations on the planet, is ripe with opportunity to see the different Caribbean islands at their very best.
In fact, a spring visit is a great time if you are a big fan of birds and blooms. Yet, one of the best ways to guarantee that you see all you hope to see is to head to the different botanic gardens on some of the best islands. Botanic or botanical gardens are places where large collections of living plants and trees (usually natives) are cultivated as both preservation and education. Many also play host to native insects and birds, as well as some mammals.
If you are an avid birdwatcher or flower fan, you probably know that you are going to encounter many wonderful sights while traveling anywhere in the Caribbean, but the list below are some of the top, “must see” spots for birds and blooms in the Caribbean this spring.
The gorgeous island of St Lucia is home to the Grand Pitons, the two enormous volcanic peaks that are also tagged by the United Nations as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Little wonder that the island’s Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens is at the top of most lists of must-see destinations for fans of birds and blooms. It is, quite literally a “drive in volcano” as you are entering the spot between the Pitons. Here you find an immense and stunning natural waterfall, and a garden robust with plants and flowers.
The massive 200+ acre botanical gardens feature more than 300 kinds of orchids and is home to a wonderful collection of specimen trees, including palms. The site has a popular Japanese garden and whether you wander freely or you take the guided tour, it is a must-see during the glory of the spring season in the Dominican Republic.
As one of the trendiest spots to visit in the entire Caribbean region, Barbados is also home to some of the finest beaches. It also features more than one world-class botanical garden. There is Andromeda Gardens with hits six acre shade garden and abundance of native and tropical trees. This site features a massive banyan tree as well as a lily pond teeming with live. The island is also home to the small Hunte’s Garden site that exists within an actual sink hole. Surrounded by native palms of extraordinary height and size, it is a place packed with tropical flora.
There is also Welchman Hall Gully, and it is where you may be able to sit and await the arrival of the island’s native green monkeys who are hosted with a feeding station on the property. There is also a unique opportunity to see an authentic nutmeg grove at this park.
The island of Dominica is not as well-known as many others, and yet just a few short steps from the enormous cruise ship stop is the island’s 50+ acre botanical garden. Noted for its collection of specimen trees, it is home to a banyan, groves of towering bamboo, and a collection of palms. It is also home to a sculpture garden, including a sculpture that cleverly “recycled” a bus crushed by a falling tree during one hurricane season.
The Nevis Botanical Gardens are more formal and are framed by amazing views of Mt. Nevis although they are just a short distance from Charlestown. With orchid terraces, a huge collection of native and tropical shrubs and trees, and several lily ponds, they are stunning. More formal than other sites, they are only five acres in total size and date all of the way to the late 1700s. They include a tropical vine garden, a rainforest conservatory, and you can even enjoy a bite to eat or visit the herb gardens.
The stunning landscape of Jamaica often comes as a surprise to those who envision it as a spot full of beaches and resorts. It is home to Hope Botanical Gardens that is full of island flora and fauna. It features a charming animal collection that is a delight to most kids who pay a visit, and the Chinese gardens are noted for their beauty and visual appeal.
A true botanical garden, this property is home to thousands of specimens. The garden of an artist, it is (as the garden’s site explains), “animated by the creativeness and visions of his creator who has been caring and healing the plants for more than 50 years and now shares this dream with everyone who walks through this magic world.”
The Phantasea Tropical Botanical Gardens are an absolute essential for fans of orchids. There are more than one thousand varieties housed here, along with a massive collection of native and tropical plants. There are winding paths and plenty of spots to sit and savor the views. Self-guided tours are easily enjoyed by visitors of all ages, and if you are eager to see some unique palms, this is your spot.
As you can see, there are scores of spots where you will be able to take a leisurely, usually self-guided, tour of native gardens and grounds. While a formal botanical garden is always a delight, you should know that there are many luxury rentals in the destinations above where you can be surrounded by your own private gardens. Each of the islands listed has an array of beachfront or secluded spots where a beautifully designed villa sits among groves of palms or beautifully tended gardens. They can make for an unforgettable destination or getaway, and if you are paying a visit to the Caribbean this spring, take time to choose a luxury villa that allows you to savor the local flora and fauna from the moment you wake until long after the sunset.