Many would-be vacationers have a conventional idea of the Caribbean typified by images of sunny skies, umbrella drinks, and palm trees. Certainly this is a delightful picture, but only one of many that make up the real Caribbean.
One of the most amazing aspects of the Caribbean region is its diversity. Every island is unique, with contrasting landscapes, ecosystems, ethnicities, and foods. Because every island has something different to offer, travelers are sure to find an island in the Caribbean to suit their taste.
...more than thirty major islands to choose from...
Finding your Caribbean niche does take some discernment, however, because features such as swinging nightlife, tranquil campgrounds, and top-notch golfing and diving, are not available on every island. In addition to choosing your very own paradise based on each island's recommendations, other factors may influence your choice. Reported crime rates of certain cities, current political conflicts, or language barriers are some such factors. For example, there are certainly parts of Kingston, Jamaica that have higher crime rates and should be avoided. Or you may want to take into account the fact that while all visitors are made to feel welcome in the French West Indies, you might feel more at home if you speak French.
The Dominican Republic is not currently experiencing any backlash from the political conflicts across the border in Haiti, but it is an issue of concern that could deter some from visiting. Because many travelers spend most of their vacation time relaxing on the Caribbean's beaches, reading up on the popularity of each beach as well as what it offers to visitors may help you to choose the perfect vacation site for you; likewise with attractions and annual events.
But with more than thirty major islands to choose from, there is virtually no concern that couldn't be addressed simply by knowing your travel priorities, doing your homework, and choosing your destination wisely. Regardless of your ultimate island choice, you'll find that this unforgettable region has an easygoing pace, a wide variety of activities and recreation options, and, of course, the gorgeous tropical weather that has made it famous.
The temperate weather of the Caribbean is one of the region's major enticements. With idyllic temperatures and steady breezes year-round, a vacation here is almost always paradise. Most of the islands in the Caribbean experience warm, humid conditions with trade winds that keep things comfortable. Average temperatures range from 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. However, much of the Caribbean does lie inside the Atlantic hurricane belt, which engenders concern among many potential visitors.
The risk of a major storm is always a possibility during hurricane season, but improved technology now provides plenty of advance notice, which makes hurricanes almost entirely avoidable. Even if a hurricane does come through the region, most islands rarely get a direct or damaging hit. More often than not, the heavy precipitation of the storm outskirts is the worst that most islands receive. If you'd like to eliminate the risk altogether or if you're only able to visit during the hurricane season, consider a more southerly island such as Barbados or Aruba. Both of these islands lie outside the hurricane belt and are at virtually no risk of hurricane exposure.
...things move at a slower pace in the Caribbean...
The absence of metropolitan development, interstate highways, and some modern conveniences is thought by many to be a charming attribute of the islands and an integral component of the local attitude that encourages travelers to "get away from it all." Certainly, things move at a slower pace in the Caribbean, where "island time" is pretty subjective. This means you may have to wait longer for the little things that you're used to having instantaneously back home; but take comfort, you will quickly adjust to this way of life, and most vacationers find it has a tremendously relaxing effect.
While a few chain restaurants and hotels have made it onto some of the more developed islands, the vast majority of establishments in the Caribbean are individually owned. While the inhabitants of the islands tend to be content people who enjoy their lives tremendously, the economic conditions of the islands may not come close to that of the United States or a comparably developed nation. Road conditions and sanitation outside of major cities may not be up to the standards to which you're accustomed, but you don't have to sacrifice safety and security to visit the islands.
You may quite enjoy the rustic nature of many Caribbean islands, but if you desire the predictability of a developed, westernized atmosphere, you may opt to visit one of the more metropolitan cities in the region such as San Juan in Puerto Rico, Nassau in the Bahamas, or Montego Bay in Jamaica. In any case, the choice is certainly yours: you can spend an entire vacation in the islands without ever leaving the protected resort-owned property of an all-inclusive beach resort, you can venture among the native population and stay in a rural cottage, or you can try your luck at an exciting casino hotel in a big city.
...variety of activities and recreation options...
The islands of the Caribbean are filled with intriguing people, rich culture, exquisite cuisine, and intoxicating music; and while there's plenty to see and do on each of the islands, not every island will be perfect for visitors looking for a family-friendly atmosphere or music-driven nightlife. Accordingly, you should go to Grenada expecting a calmer atmosphere; and visit San Juan expecting a livelier, outgoing island.
The Caribbean also encompasses a variety of physical landscapes; if you want to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Aruba, Barbados, and Antigua are excellent choices, but if you're looking to explore the rain forests, check out Puerto Rico or the British Virgin Islands. With a little research, you can easily find what you're looking for in the Caribbean. There are mountains to climb with on-site camping and nature trails, and lush rain forests to explore. There are sandy deserts sprinkled with scrub-trees, cacti, and boulders. There are gently rolling hills covered in waving grass, and sugarcane crops guarded by majestic 19th-century plantation houses. From cave exploring to sport fishing to shopping, the Caribbean boasts both adrenaline-pumping adventures and relaxing outings.
Deciding on the perfect island getaway isn't difficult for travelers who know what they'd like to get out of their vacation. A bit of research will help you find an island that meets all of your requirements and may even exceed your expectations. By clicking on the links to your left, you will find details such as the location of each island, more specified weather information, attractions, and more on the Caribbean's vacation hot spots. Take your time going through them to find the location that's just right for your trip.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.