The Caribbean is one of those places that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The blue seas, the white sand beaches and alluring winter sun makes pretty much everywhere else seem very drab. It also doesn’t have to cost the earth if you don’t want it too, and I should know I spent six months hopping from one island to another. From lively festivals to peaceful sunsets here are 10 reasons why I think you should visit the Caribbean…
The diving and snorkelling
The Caribbean is brimming with beautiful marine life including bottlenose dolphins, coral, rays, turtles and rainbow-coloured tropical fish. Hiring the equipment is easy and reasonable and there are also plenty of places offering tuition. The sea is warm and blissfully clear, making discovering reefs, tropical fish and turtles a pleasurable pastime.
The blissfully pale shimmery stretches of sand and the sparkling crystal clear waters are obvious pulls when it come to visiting the Caribbean. Throw in the glorious weather and you have one idyllic holiday location. The weather remains pretty good all year round, only breaking for the occasional storm or hurricane.
As well as the beautiful beaches, the Caribbean offers a huge range of accommodation types ensuring you’ll find something that is tailor-made for your needs. Whether you want a family-friendly place, an uber-luxurious Caribbean property located in an UNESCO world heritage site or an all-inclusive adult’s only resort you’ll find it in the Caribbean. On a budget? Head for Tayrona National Natural Park (in the Colombian northern Caribbean region) on the beach at San Juan del Cabo you’ll find huts renting hammocks for around £1 a night.
Festivals are very important in the Caribbean and they reflect the rich cultural diversity and history of the region. If you love colour, costume and carnival then you’ll revel in the Trinidad and Tobago festivals. With the steel drum bands and all night partying and dancing you’ll have a whale of a time. The revellery at Noo Saro-Wiwajoin being the forefathers to Notting Hill Carnival. The brilliant sunshine and sandy beaches just add to the festival ambience.
Want to find more festivals? Try music festivals like the St. Lucia and Barbados Jazz and Jamaica Reggae Festivals to the lesser-known Mashramani in Guyana, Surifesta in Suriname and Gimistory in Cayman Islands and the more religious-based festivals like Hindu celebrated Phagwa and Diwali and Muslim Id-Ul-Fitr in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.
If you think the carnival is colourful then you should see the sunsets, displaying every colour imaginable over shimmering reflective waters. Basking in the sunset makes for a very relaxing end to a beautiful day. Make sure you have a tropical juice cocktail to hand and notch up the indulgence points.
There are a huge range of restaurants in the Caribbean with ranges suitable for all tastes. This is especially helpful for children and fussy eaters. If you fancy indulging in some traditional Caribbean delicacies then you certainly have a treat in store. The seafood is especially fresh and delicious. Traditional Caribbean food is a fusion between African, Amerindian, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine. As you can imagine the spices and the fusion of tastes are delectable, though a lot of the food may be too hot for some palates. Make sure you try some plantain, fresh fish, spicy rice or how about some jerk chicken?
The cluster of Caribbean islands and islets amounts to around 7000! They all vary greatly and if you really want to experience Caribbean culture then it is essential that you explore. Think of the socialism of Cuba, just stones thrown from the financially centred Cayman Islands. St Kitts is bustling with Brits and tourism and is a hive of activity, whereas across the channel sits Sint Eustatius the sleepy serene Dutch-affiliated island.
The region is well set up for a spot of DIY island hopping with ferry routes running between islands and car hire rentals on the more developed islands.
Visitors to the Caribbean always comment on the people when they return. No matter which of the islands you visit, you’ll find that the majority of people are exceptionally friendly, happy-go-lucky and amazingly laid back. Being surrounded by chilled-out people all day certainly helps with the holiday relaxation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to party though.
To find centuries-old culture
The Caribbean is steeped in colonial history which adds an extra depth to any Caribbean holiday. Barbados is brimming with historical, archaeological and ecological sites that reflect the beautifully rich cultural heritage of the island country. Some of the Jacobian and Georgian buildings are even built from white and pink coral. The Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and San Juan are all particular places of interest for those who love to sniff out a bit of history.
Stacked with natural beauty and some of the most paradise-esque scenery in the world wherever you chose to go, in the Caribbean you can’t go wrong. It is the mixture of white sandy beaches and azure waters, stunning sunsets as well as the colonial buildings and Dutch heritage buildings that will make you fall in love with the Caribbean just like I did.
By Molly King. Molly is a budding travel writer from California and spent six months travelling around the Caribbean. Her favourite islands include Cuba, St.Lucia, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Puerto Rico. Click on photo for image credit.