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 American tribes.
The Caribbean culture is molded 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.
- Currency: 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). And Cuba has its own currency. 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.
- 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.
- Power: Power is based on the US 120V/208V 60Hz or International 230V/400V 50Hz depending on the country.
- Entry: To enter, you will need a U.S. passport valid for at least 6 months after your departure date.
- Getting Around: The best way to get around is by public transport or renting a car!
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- When to visit the Caribbean: 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 is 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.
Budget: It is possible to book cheap accommodation in the Caribbean. It really depends on the island. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican have great budget rentals and if you look for rental accommodation over hotels you can travel for cheap.
Mid Range: There are many mid-range all-inclusive resorts and regular hotels that can range from $100 per night for a room to possible deals of $1500 per week/per person for an all-inclusive resort.
High End: The sky is the limit for hotels and resorts in the Caribbean as it is the playground for the rich and famous. Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, and Iberostars are good choices for high ed accommodation.
Food in the Caribbean is as diverse as the islands are themselves. But staples definitely include rice, beans, and seafood.
Caribbean food is a fusion of African, Creole, European and Latin American.
In Jamaica indulge in the spicy Jerk cuisine and in Peurto Rico embrace dishes based on plantains. Grand Cayman is fast becoming the food capital of the Caribbean with Caribbean traditions fused with a European flair.
Coconut sauce is also widely used in Caribbean Cuisine and when visiting Cuba, you must have a tamale.
Getting to the Caribbean: Many Caribbean islands have direct flights from Canada, the United States, and Europe. If there isn’t a direct flight, most will fly through Miami or a main hub on the American mainland.
You can check for the best flights to the Caribbean Island of your choice on Skyscanner.
Transportation: It is more difficult than you’d think to get from island to island. You can’t just island hop in the Caribbean.
Normally if you want to travel from one island to another, you will have to fly back to Miami for a flight.
Or you can take a Caribbean cruise to see many different islands at once.
Public Transit: Most islands have public transit but they are mostly used by tourists. Be prepared for buses to be crowded and there is usually no fixed schedule.
Hiring Private drivers, renting a car or booking tours through your hotel is the most common way to get around a Caribbean island.
Car Rental: To rent a car, you must be at least 21 years old and have a U.S. driver’s license as well as proof of auto insurance. If you are under 25, you will usually get an Underage Fee applied to your rental cost.
The Caribbean is warm to hot no matter what time of year you go, so you don’t have to worry about packing in layers or for cold weather.
You may want to pack smart casual clothing for nights out and dining and a pashmina scarf or sweater for evenings and air-conditioned hotels.
- 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: sunblock, 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, RFID wallets 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!
Things to Do
- Swim with Stingrays: Take a luxury yacht to Stingray City in Grand Cayman Island do get up close to these beautiful creatures.
- Swim with Horses: In Jamaica take horseback riding to a new level and swim with them in the Caribbean Sea.
- Havana: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage City of Havana and take a classic car tour along the Malecon to Old and New Havana.
- Green Grotto Caves: See where the slaves of Jamaica hid from their captors and learn of Jamaican history.
What not to Miss
- Thunderball Grotto: Swim into this beautiful grotto to see where James Bond’s Thunderball was filmed.
- Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico is coming back strong after the hurricane and these are the reasons you cannot miss visiting!
Places to Stay
Iberostar Grand Packard: This luxury resort in Havana, Cuba overlooks the Malecon and is just minutes from Old Havana.
Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman: As luxurious as it gets in the Caribbean. Located on 7-mile beach.
Hyatt Zilara: The adults-only all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay Jamaica has it all with watersports,
Whenever we travel to the Caribbean we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices as well as great customer service. We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to the Caribbean you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.