Caribbean,  Travel Guide

Caribbean Travel Guide

Warm sunshine, a culture of calm, and adventurous seas juxtaposed with towering peaks, colourful buildings, and dense forests make the mystical Caribbean Islands an incomparable travel experience. The islands dot the Caribbean Sea or West Indies between North and South America, and are known for their exotic resorts and luxury retreats. A favourite with honeymooners and sunset lovers, the islands bear signs of their varied colonial history, although the original inhabitants were Arawak Indians and the Carib tribe. The Caribbean Islands may be classified as Lucayan Archipelago (The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands), Greater Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and others), and the extensive Lesser Antilles (Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Aruba, and Curacao to mention a few). While some of these are independent states, others are still colonies of European countries.

An Introduction

Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, The Bahamas, and Antigua have a relatively flat landscape, while Jamaica, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Cuba, and Puerto Rico boast of lofty mountain ranges. By and large, the waters of the Caribbean Sea teem with beguiling coral reef formations and varied marine life including turtles, colourful parrot fish, moray eels, nurse sharks, and bottlenose dolphins. Tropical climate means that there is a wet season and a dry season, but the islands enjoy warm weather throughout the year. The islands are home to 8% of the world’s coral reefs, diverse landscapes like montane cloud forests, cactus scrublands, and tropical rainforests, and sprawling seagrass meadows. The Caribbean nations have mixed ethnicities ranging from those of African or European descent to Native Amerindians. The popular dialects include Creole, Papiamento, English, French, Spanish and Dutch. Christianity is the dominant religion, while cuisines vary widely across the islands.

Destinations

Turks & Caicos Islands:

This British Overseas Territory comprises of 40 islands and cays. Of the 12 that are inhabited, the primary ones are Grand Turk and Providenciales. Bird-watching and relaxing on the gorgeous beaches of Grace Bay in Providenciales is a must-do. The islands are also a major golfing and water sports destination. US Dollar will work here, and most people speak English. It rains between May and October but the weather is usually hot and dry. You can fly into Providenciales International Airport or sail to Grand Turk Cruise Center. While on the island, taxis and bicycles are always available.

St Lucia:

This British Commonwealth country is renowned for its cone-shaped peaks called Gros Piton and Petit Piton. During the non-rainy months between January and April, tourists also flock to the drive-in volcano, Pigeon Island National Park, Fort Rodney, the Sulphur Springs at Soufriere and the Botanical Gardens. Replete with tropical rainforests and historical sites, St Lucia also offers its fair share of water activities. Marigot Bay is a favourite with snorkelers who prefer shallow waters. You can fly into George FL Charles Airport near Castries or Hewanorra International, close to Vieux Fort. On the island, there are buses as well as taxis, water taxis, and helicopter taxis.

The Bahamas:

 

This archipelago of 2000 islands gets its name from the Spanish word for ‘shallow water’. Bahamians are quite religious, and speak their own version of English. If you’re there on Boxing Day (26th December) or New Year’s Day, you can watch the Junkanoo parade. During this festival the locals don disposable but attractive costumes and listen to African Junkanoo music. Dolphins, sharks, angelfish, starfish, turtles, and manatees course the depths of Bahamian waters. Low-lying hills, flat and long corals, verdant foliage, and beautiful white sand beaches characterise the islands. You will most likely fly into Nassau or Freeport. Spend your holiday going on wild dolphin excursions, touring the caves and historical attractions of Nassau, kayaking, snorkelling, and deep-sea fishing.

Curacao:

This Dutch Caribbean island features striking examples of Dutch architecture and pastel-coloured buildings. Though the local language is Papiamentu, most people speak English. You can fly to Hato International Airport near the capital city Willemstad. Popular attractions include national parks, Curacao Sea Aquarium, Hato Caves, Curacao Ostrich and Game Farm, Fort Nassau, and the floating market of Willemstad.  Mambo Beach is the most popular party venue but there are numerous other beaches and bays.

Dominican Republic:

Located on the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is an adventurer’s dream come true. The place is knows for its array of deserts, mountains, mangrove swamps, and tropical rainforests. Spectacular colonial architecture may be observed at Zona Colonia in the capital city Santo Domingo. Fishing villages, sugar plantations, and glorious walks along the white sand beaches are other attractions. Take part in the Carneval celebrations, go whale watching or frolic at Playa Rincon while you are here.. You can also go kitesurfing at Cabarete or white-water rafting at Jarabacoa, and marvel at the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua.

Accommodation

Grace Bay Club and Gansevoort Turks and Caicos are top choices in Providenciales, while Jade Mountain in Soufriere is great for honeymooners. We also recommend The Reef at Atlantis on Paradise Island for its fantastic waterpark, and Rosewood Baha Mar in Nassau for its onsite sports facilities and excellent spa. Baoase Luxury Resort lets you make the most of Curacao, and Zoetry Agua Punta Cana offers the best introduction to the Dominican Republic.

Food & Drink

The Caribbean Islands are synonymous with rum punch and various rum-based liqueurs, based enjoyed at scenic seaside bars and restaurants. Seafood is a must-try, and highlights include the enormous grouper, the tender flying fish, and many kinds of shellfish. Signature dishes feature roast pork in the Dominican Republic, and souse and conch in the Bahamas.

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