Featured Caribbean Hotels
The sun-kissed islands of the Caribbean offer astonishingly diverse Caribbean holidays that include such activities as lounging on the beach, visiting a rain forest, learning about colonial culture and diving among the extensive system of fringing reefs. Each island offers its own charms for exciting holidays, but a few common features of Caribbean travel include stunning beaches, beautiful weather, laid-back culture and world-class partying reminiscent of the U.S. South Beach scene.
Choosing a single destination could prove your biggest challenge when booking a Caribbean holiday. Many destinations offer exhilarating jungles to explore, tours of sugar plantations, deep-sea fishing, dune buggy off-road excursions, mountain biking, catamaran sailing and close encounters with dolphins in the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Best Time to Visit Caribbean Destinations
Caribbean weather is tropical and warm year-round, but holiday trips are most popular from the middle of December until the middle of April when northerners escape wintry weather or book Christmas holidays without the sleighs and reindeer. Trade winds keep the islands cool throughout the year, but hurricane season could be a factor in your planning. Hurricanes rarely hit the same islands in consecutive years, and the season runs from 1 June to 30 November. Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Cayman Islands fall outside the hurricane belt and seldom experience intense, life-threatening storms.
Things to Do and See in the Caribbean Islands
Imagine that you're an island-hopping pirate and latter-day buccaneer devoted to partying, treasure-hunting and exploring. In the Caribbean's more than 7,000 islands, you can leave your worries and focus on relaxing and having a good time. Things to do and see include the following activities and attractions:
Festivals and parties are a way of life in the islands, and you can find exciting celebrations throughout the year from Carnival in the spring to unique Christmas celebrations under the palm trees.
- Colourful Reefs
Colourful reefs in the Caribbean include The Baths, a series of underwater grottoes, caves and pools, and Bioluminescent Bay where the sea creatures glow when disturbed.
- Rain Forest
The Caribbean's rain forests have thousands of acres of animal and plant life, cool rivers, hiking, fishing and extraordinary scenic attractions that include spectacular waterfalls, green canyons and volcanic peaks.
- Bespoke Tours
Speciality tours include destinations popularised by Jimmy Buffett, the pirate of partying, and tours of the scenic shooting locations for Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise. Book a cruise, climb a waterfall, explore limestone caves where a pirate's treasure might be hidden away or visit historical communities like Bob Marley's home while sampling local rum drinks.
- Bob Marley Museum
When visiting Jamaica, the Bob Marley Museum is an essential stop because reggae is king on the island and Marley is the acknowledged king of the musical genre. The Kingston home where Marley recorded from 1975 to 1981 ranks as the city's most visited attraction.
- Stingray City at Grand Cayman
A visit to Stingray City allows you to swim with stingrays that are accustomed to humans and often wrap their wings over tourists in the waist-high water.
- Swimming with Sea Turtles
The giant turtles in Barbados are peaceful and impressive, and visitors can snorkel and watch huge turtles glide below their feet.
- Cuban Time Warp
Step back into history in Cuba where streets and automobiles remind visitors of the 1950s before the island's communist revolution, and nightclubs offer glimpses of the big-band era's glamour.
Exotic fruits and vegetables native to each island, the cultural background of the indigenous people and influences from the native Arawk and Carib Indians help to determine the culinary style of each of more than 7,000 islands. Food plays central roles in local festivals, family gatherings, holidays and restaurants. Spanish, Dutch, French and British settlers brought their own culinary roots to the islands, and African, Amerind, Arab, Chinese and East Indian influences followed rapidly in the islands' hotly contested histories. Characteristic herbs include spicy peppers and green seasonings for curries and stews in oil-based marinades. Popular dishes include Jamaica jerk chicken, goat stew, salty fish, ceviches and callaloo, a dish that contains various leafy vegetables and okra.
One of the region's most interesting culinary facts involves the diet of colonial ship crews. These crews depended on wild boar and feral cattle on the islands, and the meat was smoked and preserved for sailing on a wooden frame called a buccan by the native Caribbean Arawk tribe, which came from the French words boucane and boucanier. Island hunters used the frames so extensively that all ship crews in the islands became known as buccaneers.
Holidays to Caribbean destinations remain high on most people's must-see lists. Visitors can stay in shacks on the beach, budget hostels or five-star resorts with all the amenities for the well-heeled traveller. Regardless of which island, vacation package or accommodation you choose, the locals will welcome you warmly, offer unique spins on how to enjoy holidays and recommend hassle-free holiday options that include partying, diving, swimming, snorkelling, spicy food and spicy music.