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Eight Top Caribbean Rivers to Explore

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Saltwater surrounds the region with the Atlantic Ocean to the East and Caribbean Sea to the West. However, some islands boast fresh-water rivers perfect to explore. Here is a sampling of eight Top Caribbean Rivers to Explore:

Martha Brae River, Jamaica
Martha Brae River, Jamaica

1. Martha Brae River, Jamaica.

This 20-mile long river situated on the north coast of Jamaica in the parish of Trelawny (where sprinter Usain Bolt was born) is a favorite site for river rafting tours. The 30-foot long bamboo-crafted rafts resemble those used by farmer’s in the old days to transport their crops to markets in coastal towns. There’s a raised platform on the raft for a couple of passengers to sit and the captains stands behind to steer. The tour takes about an hour, traveling at a drift rather than a dash, with lots of local lore along the way. www.visitjamaica.com


Altos de Chavón, Dominican Republic
Altos de Chavón, Dominican Republic

2. Chavon River, Dominican Republic.

You may have seen this dramatic river on the big screen in movies like Jurassic Park, Rambo and Apocalypse Now. But the best way to see it up close is from the town of Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village. Today, the village is a mecca for artists with studios ranging from silk screeners to weavers located here. There’s an archaeologic museum, the beautiful St. Stanislaus Church and a 5,000-seat amphitheater where plays and musical performances take place with the Chavon River beyond as a backdrop. You can also take tours of the river by boat departing out of nearby La Romana. www.godominicanrepublic.com

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Puerto Rico El-Yunque - Caribbean Tourism Organization
Puerto Rico El-Yunque. Caribbean Tourism Organization. One of the Top Caribbean Rivers to Explore

3. Rio de la Mina, Puerto Rico.

Nearly a dozen rivers, both small and large, run through the El Yunque National Forest, located near Puerto Rico’s east coast. One of these is the 2-mile long Rio de la Mina, most prized for its scenic waterfalls. The falls are easily reachable via the nearly mile-long La Mina Trail, which departs from the Palo Colorado Recreation Area. Here too is the Forest’s visitor’s center and picnic area. The trail and falls are named ‘La Mina’ because decades ago there was a mine here. Rumor has it there’s still gold in the area. Find this coveted mineral or now, a chance to play in the waterfalls on a hot day is a golden opportunity. www.prtourism.com


Indian River Tour in Dominica with Salty Dawg Group
Indian River Tour in Dominica with Salty Dawg Group

4. Indian River, Dominica.

It’s called the Land of 365 Rivers. Yet, one of the best not to miss on this Lesser Antillean island is Indian River, located near Portsmouth to the island’s north. A guided 1.5- to 2-hour boat ride of Indian River, complete with a stop at a bush bar for a cold drink, is one of Dominica’s major tourist attractions. Far from overvisited, it’s the river’s wild nature that holds the greatest scenic appeal. In fact, the its the Bwa Mang trees, with their gnarled limbs and other-worldly root system, that made the river a prime film location for parts of the movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest. www.discoverdominica.com


Balthazar River, Grenada
Balthazar River, Grenada

5. Balthazar River, Grenada.

Located nearly smack dab in the middle of the island, this is the place where great river tubing trips are made. Outfitters offer bright yellow inner tubes equipped with hand grips that visitors sit in for the wet wild glide down the river that spins you in its rapids like an amusement park ride. The trip is punctuated by calm pools that offer a chance to relax and swim. The fact that the river runs through a dense tropical rainforest only adds to the aura of adventure. The activity takes 1.5 hour and finishes with a congratulatory rum punch. www.puregrenada.com    


Top Caribbean Rivers to Explore - Shark River, Trinidad
Shark River, Trinidad

6. Shark River, Trinidad.

A cool way to spend a hot day in Trinidad is letting the waters of this picturesque river wash over you. Locally known as a ‘Trini river lime’, the Snake River boasts many shallow spots for just sitting or wading and further upriver deep crystal-clear pools and waterfalls for swimming. The river, best accessed through the remote village of Matelot on the island’s northern coast, is part of the Matura National Park’s Environmentally Sensitive Area, so there is stunning flora and fauna to see on shore. But don’t worry, sharks haven’t been seen in these waters for years. www.gotrinidadandtobago.com


Running the rapids, Guyana
Running the rapids, Guyana

7. Essequibo River, Guyana.

Some 630 miles in length, this is the largest river in the country. That means there is a lot to see and do along the way. On the adventurous side, there are many rapids and waterfalls. Fishermen will find over 300 species of fish ready to bend a rod. History buffs will enjoy knowing that it was the Dutch that built the first European settlement in Guyana on the lower part of the river in 1615. In 2018, three women became the first humans to kayak the entire length of the river over 10 weeks.                              www.guyana tourism.com


Lamanai Belize. Caribbean Tourism Association
Lamanai Belize. Caribbean Tourism Association

8. New River, Belize.

Ancient Mayan people used this river as a major trading route. Today, it’s one of the best ways to reach the former Mayan city of Lamanai, which dates to the 16th century B.C. The trip is 26-miles long by boat, with plenty of birdwatching along the way. Egrets, Toucans and Boat-billed Herons are a few of the many feathered sites. At Lamanai, see Mayan buildings and artifacts at a small museum. There’s also more recent remains of a sugar mill and brick-lined reservoir. www.travelbelize.org

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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