To me, the reasons for a Caribbean vacation are obvious, but I feel duty bound to share them with you. There are so many incredible destinations around the world that knowledge that helps you pick your next travel adventure is always going to be useful. Read on for the reasons for a Caribbean vacation and see how convinced you’ll be.
You knew this was going to be top of the list of reasons for a Caribbean vacation didn’t you? There’s no denying, the islands and coastlines of the Caribbean have some of the most stupendous beaches in the world. Can you picture yourself on the resort beaches of the most popular islands or maybe one of the Robinson Crusoe beaches on a tiny uninhabited cay is more your style?
If you have a sense of adventure, there’s plenty of attraction in the Caribbean. Most of the islands are of volcanic origin and some volcanoes are still active. The volcanoes have also generated some wonderful scenic features which make for some great experiences. Fancy a hike to Dominca’s Boiling Lake, a trek up the still smoking Mont Pelee on Martinique or a dip in the hot sulfur springs of La Soufriere on St. Lucia – which also just happens to be the world’s only drive-in volcano.
You could line up a veritable parade of beauty contestants vying for the title of Diving Queen of the Caribbean. There are incredible diving sites right around the region. The Caribbean Sea boasts crystal clear waters, a wealth of shipwrecks and a host of glorious coral reefs. From the pristine areas designated as marine parks to deliberately sunken statues off the coast of Mexico, the Caribbean is a diver’s dream.
With such beauty to feast on with the stunning gifts Mother Nature has bestowed on the Caribbean, it’s easy to forget this region has a very interesting history. Most islands, at one time or another, have been subject to a European power. Much of this colonial history remains imbued in the architecture. As well as large plantation houses, rum distilleries, and sugar mills, there are dockyards and forts still standing, long after the Europeans stopped squabbling over the island realms. And let’s not forget all those tales of buccaneers and pirates and smugglers.
Dab hand at yachting? Setting sail is a wonderful way to experience the charms of the Caribbean. Sail into a secluded cove, use the yacht as a diving platform or weigh anchor and enjoy a sumptuous on-board picnic. Whether you can tie a sheepshank or a double reef leaves you with your knickers in a twist, no matter – yachting is one of the great reasons to choose the Caribbean. Yacht charters are available with or without crews.
If you like the idea of being out on the ocean but yachting doesn’t appeal, how about an ocean-going liner. The Caribbean is one of the most popular cruising destinations. Stopping off at a number of ports gives you a taste of various islands and their unique characters in one easy trip, and with cruise ships these days being resort hotels, theme parks and entertainment venues all in one, it’s like floating around on a mini city.
Let’s stick with the watery reasons to choose the Caribbean as a vacation destination. You don’t have to be on a cruise or sail a yacht to go island hopping. So many of the Caribbean nations are made up of tons of tiny islands. Many of them you can take a small boat out to either under your own auspices, or a friendly local will offer his services. And the best bit is, so many are uninhabited so you have the perfect desert island to yourselves as well as some amazing dive sites where you only have to share the water with the marine life.
Let’s not forget that the Caribbean Sea doesn’t just lap island shores. The Central American countries that boast of (and boast they should!) a Caribbean coastline have beaches just as gorgeous as their island cousins. Some of them (Costa Rica and Belize) are leading the way in eco-friendly holidays, Mexico is a veritable playground, while Nicaragua and Honduras are fast building their tourist infrastructure. And let’s not leave out the northernmost countries of South America have a Caribbean coastline too.
Could there be a more mellow soundtrack for a vacation than reggae? Although its roots are firmly in Jamaica, the sound is popular all over the Caribbean. If you want real homestyle reggae you won’t find it in the clubs and bars where more modern thumping beats have hijacked the original reggae style, so it means finding a roadside rum shack or beach bar. That’s a real hardship hey? ^_^
Of course, reggae isn’t the only sound synonymous with the Caribbean. The sound of steel oil drums being beaten rhythmically doesn’t sound right in your hometown, but somehow is the perfect accompaniment to a fresh seafood dinner overlooking the ocean. Although heard all over the Caribbean, “panning” began in Trinidad and the island remains its spiritual home. To truly appreciate it at is best, head to the panyards of the Trinidadian capital Port of Spain.
And while we’re on the subject of music, let’s add in yet another of the sound reasons to go on vacation in the Caribbean. Calypso! Like steel panning, calypso started in Trinidad, where it developed in the mid-20th century. It is said to be heavily influenced by the medieval French troubadours, which makes sense and pertains well to Trinidad because their famous annual carnival has some distinct French themes. Which brings us to -
Whatever you might call them, a lot of the Caribbean islands have an annual carnival, many around Easter and Lent. They are a wonderful mixture of European and African themes and each and every one is a riot of colors, sounds and aromas. The Trinidad Carnival is generally considered to be second only to the Rio Carnival, with costumes and floats just as outrageous and outlandish.
With so many coastlines – continental and island, it’s no surprise there’s heaps upon heaps of opportunities for water sports in the Caribbean. From simply fun banana boat rides to diving, kayaking, sailing, water skiing, paragliding, parasailing, power boating, deep sea/game fishing and jet skiing, you can have a blast. Costa Rica and some select islands have surf beaches and some of the windward islands (as opposed to leeward islands, not the country) live up to their reputation and are good locations for windsurfing.
If you want to experience the magical nature of the tropical rainforests you don’t have to venture to continental South America. Ok, so the expanses of this incredible habitat don’t compare in size to the Amazon Basin but the Caribbean forests are just as gorgeous, just as fascinating and just as packed with wildlife. Costa Rica and Belize especially are making the most of their forests offering eco-stays and thrilling trips and experiences, but other islands like Dominica, Tobago, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic offer hikes and ziplines too.
If you love wildlife you’ll find plenty of good reasons to visit the Caribbean. With the rainforests (and other natural features) comes a wealth of wildlife. The marine life is amazing and you can swim with dolphins in various places and go on a whale viewing cruise in others. If you can’t dive and see the fish and other underwater life, you’ll find glass bottomed boat tours all over the place. Protected turtle breeding sites are in various locations and the rainforests are full of howler monkeys and all sorts of other creatures. Birdlife is as colorful and as exotic as the islands and Tobago is particularly boastful about the huge range of species.
The Caribbean is an accessible location but with all its majorly beautiful and exotic attractions, it’s no surprise A-listers are regularly spotted in the islands. There’s plenty of luxury and glamorous accommodation for the rich and famous, and you’ll find most stars like to visit during the northern hemisphere winter. Deserving of a mention are Necker Island – owned by Sir Richard Branson, Goldeneye, the former home of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming in Jamaica and Sandy Lane in Barbados. Any number of former grandiose plantation houses have been transformed into elegant and stylish top-notch accommodation, so if you fancy some celeb spotting, there’s plenty of places to choose.
It’s no good lauding somewhere as being an exceptional destination if the food doesn’t live up to the billing. The food of the Caribbean doesn’t have the finesse of French cuisine or the homeliness of American food, but it is a highly distinctive cuisine that has been hugely influenced by the roots of the African brought to the islands as slaves, their colonial masters and the abundance of fresh produce, seafood and spices found naturally around the region. Seriously, if you love seafood and spicy food, you’ll be in seventh heaven. And, the best experiences of true Caribbean cuisine are in roadside shacks and shackle-down beach bars , not fancy gourmet restaurants in hotels.
You can’t have food without the drink right? The islands ship in wines and there are breweries making beers in the region but of course, there’s one spirit that just screams Caribbean – rum! Caribbean rum is a legacy of the sugar cane industry and practically every island nation has an own brand and distillery. You aren’t just restricted to a tour of the world-famous Bacardi factory in Puerto Rico, as rum distillery tours are found all across the islands. Of course, you have to salute the rum with a pina colada on the beach!
Naturally, you want to know if fantastic weather is one of the reasons to choose a Caribbean vacation. Of course it is. All those other fabulous reasons I’ve listed are simply made even better by the gorgeous climate. Yes, there’s a rainy season, and yes, it’s a hurricane area but, majorly, the Caribbean is sublimely tropical – just understand the weather of the island that’s your heart’s desire.
Ready to book? Which Caribbean island or nation would you most love to visit?
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