Dazzling shorelines, tasty food and friendly people; the Caribbean islands whisk together the ideal recipe for a dose of pampering escapism. Its warm waters, every shade of blue humanly imaginable, relinquishes extraordinary expeditions whether beneath or atop. But beyond the palm-fringed beaches, sometimes perched in the forests, are the true bastions of the islands’ remarkable and momentous history. Towering as tangible reminders of the region’s colonial past; today the forts of the Caribbean welcome visitors to roam centuries of striking architecture, re-learning secrets and scandals stored inside its brick walls. Constructed in historic times of conflict, hundreds of years later adventurers and families survey the well-preserved sites relishing the accompanied panoramic views.

While the list of Caribbean forts stretch as long as the region itself, here are five fantastic forts you can eagerly explore with the help of Relaxcation:

1. Fort Frederick, Grenada

Lodged in the centre of the island’s capital city, St. George, Fort Frederick is a bastion type fort mounted on Richmond Hill. This grand historical site is a major attraction and a true exemplification of Grenada’s eventful past. Originally constructed by the French in the 1700s, Fort Frederick was later a key role in the British-French duel over the spice island. Dubbed the ‘backward facing fort’ , Fort Frederick gains its sobriquet for having its canons facing in-land rather than out at sea. This backward facing ploy was devised to prevent an in-land attack in the way the French had previously succeeded. Today Fort Frederick provides its visitors with a sweeping 360 view of the island in every direction. Snap the panoramic view of the harbour before turning your eyes to surrounding lush green vegetation at your next visit to this historical Fort Frederick in Grenada.

2. Fort Shirley, Dominica

Discover Dominica’s chronicled past with a visit to its renowned fort situated in the Cabrits National Park. Sitting on a picturesque peninsula, Fort Shirley is the island’s well-maintained and arguably most significant fort today. Furnished with alluring stone walls and dramatic rows of canons, this 18th century fort is a historical site to several of Dominica’s battles and invasions. The 8th West India Regiment in 1802, where African slave soldiers protested for three days resulting in the emancipation of all British African slaves five years later, is Fort Shirley’s most distinguished revolt. The fort’s expansive Officer’s Quarters has since been restored and appropriated to an event site, hosting weddings, conferences and concerts. Home to breathtaking views of Prince Rupert Bay and mountains from afar, Fort Shirley is Dominica’s historical blast from the past.

3. Fort King George, Tobago

Standing high overlooking Scarborough and the Atlantic Ocean, Fort King George is Tobago’s most preserved fort and historical site. Sister isle to Trinidad, Tobago has a tumultuous history of its own worth discovering. Caught between the battling hands of Britain and France, Fort King George was first initiated in the 1700s by the British before losing power to the French. With years of name changes to keep you dizzy, this fort’s memorable past is testimonial to the island’s merit. Standing in Scarborough, visitors gain historical insights along with sprawling views of city and sea at Fort King George. Enjoy a uniquely Tobagonian history lesson in the barrack guardhouse-turned-museum, following your exploration of this colonial fort on your next trip to Tobago.

4. Fort Amsterdam, Curaçao

Curaçao’s capital city, Willemstad, is home to one of the island’s long-standing structures and oldest forts. Built in the 1600s, the trapezium shaped Fort Amsterdam stands as a monument in the capital district of Punda. Fort Amsterdam survives as the oldest fort built by the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) whose purpose stretches beyond militia. This historical site also served as headquarters for the DWIC, later housing the Fort Church, the former General Secretary and the Governor’s Palace. Included in the island’s UNESCO World Heritage Site for the area of Willemstad, Fort Amsterdam currently makes space for a Protestant museum, welcoming visitors to the heart of the island’s history.

5. Fort Fincastle, Bahamas

Overlooking the city of Nassau, the largest and capital city of the Bahamas, is the 18th century Fort Fincastle. Named after Viscount Fincastle, Lord Dunmore’s second title, Fort Fincastle strategically towers Bennett Hill protecting Nassau’s spectacular harbour. Erected from limestone cut from the Queen’s Staircase, this 126 ft paddle shaped fort ascends the island’s highest point. This of course offers visitors with sublime views unparalleled. Today Fort Fincastle continues to impress families and travellers with the captivating history and vistas of the Bahamas. Earn a vivid view of the Queen’s Staircase as you admire the fort’s picture-perfect vantage points on your next Caribbean exploration.

The Caribbean’s turbulent past and battles of ownership provides history buffs and adventurers alike with bewitching views and chilling tales revealed in its forts. Standing hundreds of years later, though its purpose has changed, its grave history remains a reminder of the region’s background and its people’s shining resilience. While this short list compiles five, the Caribbean region is home to a slew of stimulating forts ready to be re-discovered. Are you?