Let me begin by gushing about my experiences traveling the Caribbean islands. The white sand is beautiful and softer than any yellow sand could ever be. The water is a gorgeous crystal clear blue where in places you can walk out to the depth of your chin and still see your toes. The water is warm enough to swim even in the cooler months. The tropical storms that frequent other islands just aren’t quite as nasty around here.
So why does this make the top ten? Well, aside from the beautiful swimming, snorkeling and sailing, the Caribbean islands have been fraught with turmoil over the past 300 years–and with turmoil comes ruin and wreckage.
Take the RMS Rhone, which was a British packet ship wrecked in 1867 off the coast of Salt Island, one of the British Virgin Islands. If you don’t scuba now, you should get your certification and check this place out–it is well-preserved, relatively safe to dive, and a great piece of history.
On Virgin Gorda you can explore a copper mine that was closed down in 1862 for low prices–151 years later the penny has virtually no copper in it due to its value. Ah, irony. Watch your head for fallen rocks…
While you are in the British VI, remember that the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas were once host to pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as Dutch plantation owners. While these eras are set a little far back from the traditional Steampunk/Victorian eras, our Victorians did like to explore old architecture. For example, jump over to Tortola and you can visit both an abandoned 18th century stone windmill (Mt. Healthy National Park) and The Dungeon (Fort Purcell).
However, I found the Bahamian islands fairly entertaining–if you are headed for Nassau, make sure you stop by the Pirates Museum, which has lots of great information about the scoundrels of the sea. On Nassau you can also visit the Cloisters, which were imported stone by stone in the early 1900s from France, where they were originally built in the 1400s.
And then the modern vacations begin–wherever you go in the Caribbean, I recommend you try sailing–a favorite Victorian pastime. There are also several companies that run glass-bottom-boat tours and submarine tours. They aren’t as dark and gloomy as the Victorian era, but you can still get a feel for the newly discovered life beneath the sea. Make sure you pick up a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea before you go!