Holidays to the Caribbean are extremely popular. In addition to the many countries that you will find here, there are tropical island paradises to enjoy along with a rich cultural mix of European colonialists, the descendants of African slaves and native Indian tribes. The Caribbean culture is moulded from its geography, and all of its aspects can be associated with the climate and the landscape. The beauty of all this variety is that you can create your own itinerary or alternatively you can choose from the large range of all inclusive Caribbean holidays that are available. So what are you waiting for? This Caribbean travel guide will help you plan your next trip.
Caribbean Travel Guide: Fast Facts
- There is no one standard plug or voltage in the Caribbean. For a complete list of voltage, plugs and socket-outlets on the islands click here.
- USD is widely accepted on the islands, so there is no need to take local currency. If you are running low on funds, ATMs will issue local currency instead of US dollars.
- Barbados has its own currency (Barbadian dollar) and St Lucia and Grenada use the East Caribbean dollar (XCD). Be careful as it can be confusing in which currency prices are being quoted when you're on vacation.
- Beware of Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. This outbreak continues to affect parts of the Caribbean, including Barbados, St Lucia and the Grenadines. Symptoms can take up to 12 days to appear, but usually begin within 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They generally include fever and joint pain. Other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and rash.
- Water is and isn't potable depending on where you go in the Caribbean. So ask first and try to avoid water that is not boiled or bottled.
Top Packing Tips for Caribbean Travel
The best time to visit, primarily when the islands are driest, with low humidity and pleasantly cool nights, is from December through April. Summer and autumn can be stickier, warmer and a little bit wetter – short heavy downpours during this time are quite common. June to November are officially known as being part of hurricane season. Statistically, September, followed by October, are the storm-prone months, although the odds of being caught in a hurricane are slim. It also depends on which island you go to, as some are more hurricane-prone than others.
- Sarongs – From protecting yourself from the hot island sun, to being used as a towel or keeping cool on a cool night, sarongs are a must-have on your caribbean vacation.
- The protection basics – Travellers should stock up on the essentials: sun block, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat.
- Personal safety products – Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip
- Multiple bathing suits: got that? They take longer to dry in the humidity, and there’s nothing worse than pulling on a damp suit!
Caribbean Travel Guide: Top Things to do in the Caribbean
- Dive with Sharks in the Bahamas – If dolphins are a little too tame for you, then why not up the ante and go diving with sharks in the Bahamas? It is not for everyone as you need to be an experienced diver. You also need a reasonable amount of courage; these are not basking sharks but real man eaters; an experience not to be missed.
- Go Jamaican Bobsledding – Loved Cool Runnings? Then the one thing you have to do when you go to Jamaica it’s hit the bobsled track.
- Jamaica: Beyond the Beach – maybe it is time to come back to Jamaica, only this time get yourself off the beach and explore the island.
- Take a Zipline Tour – It seems that you can’t go to the Caribbean without taking part in a zip line tour and Jamaica is no exception.
- Go on a Volcano Hike in St. Kitts – Standing 1166 metres (3792 feet) high, this dormant volcano is an excellent hike through the jungle.
- See Cuba Through a Lens – Traveling to Havana, Cuba can be a trip of a lifetime.
- Explore Luquillo, Puerto Rico – Named after the region’s pre-Columbian chief, who died shortly after the Taino-Indian rebellion of 1513, Luquillo is a booming beach town, located 45 minutes east of San Juan.
- Visit the Montserrat Volcanoes – Montserrat is a spectacular island in itself, but a special feature is the chance to view an active volcano. The volcano erupted in 1995 after lying dormant for thousands of years and part of the island is buried under volcanic ash. It is now monitored from an observatory which you are able to visit and you can take boat tours around the volcano.