Beach and sun, party and excitement, resting and relaxation. This region of the Americas, located between Venezuela and the United States, is a near synonym to vacations whenever it is mentioned. The Caribbean is a tropical paradise made of hundreds of islands: some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, others by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and others simply “adopted” by the region, being entirely in the Atlantic. This is an excellent destination for families, honeymooners, friends and almost everybody else.
The Caribbean is a vast region with a rich diversity of cultures and landscapes. Colonized mainly by Spanish, French, English and Dutch settlers, this region presents strong European and African influences. Religious, architectural and gastronomic aspects of each island, archipelago or country serve as a testimony from these impacts.
While planning your holidays here, keep in mind that moving between the islands, even between neighboring ones, isn’t always an easy, fast or cheap task. In many cases, the lack of maritime lines makes air travel a necessity even to cover relatively short distances, many times requiring lengthy connections at the distant airports that consolidate air traffic. Climate wise, the region is generally warm throughout the year (slightly cooler between November and February on the northernmost areas) and features a markedly dry season between December and April. The period between May and November is more prone to witness tropical storms and hurricanes but usually provides the best offers on transport and accommodation.
Some of the largest islands in the Greater Antilles, like Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola (divided among the Dominican Republic and Haiti) are big enough to allow for an agenda full of activities to do and places to visit for at least a week (potentially much more). Most of the other islands, instead, are quite small and would hardly sustain an active vacation style for long. These are exactly the preferred spots for some relaxing holidays, simply forgetting the rest of the world.
Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, requiring some sort of an adventure spirit from those willing to cross the country by land on a trip more than 1,300km (800mi) long. Dominican Republic is the most visited country of the region, mostly thanks to its large number of resorts, especially around Punta Cana. Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is going through a serious social crisis, besides being considered the poorest country in the Americas. Jamaica is another important destination in the Caribbean, even though about one third of its foreign visitors do so aboard a cruise ship. Lastly, Puerto Rico features a rich history, as exemplified by the forts that are possibly the main highlight of its capital, San Juan. This island also features many natural wonders, like its bioluminescent bays. All these islands are well connected internationally.
The westernmost portion of the Caribbean is formed by the Lesser Antilles, a region full of small sovereign States and territories administered by European nations and by the US. The main transport hubs of the region are the airports in Antigua, St. Martin and Barbados. Besides, some places like Saint Lucia, Martinique and the Virgin Islands are easily reached from Europe or North America, while Aruba and Trinidad and Tobago are also directly connected to South American destinations.
The Caribbean islands, as well as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (which are technically not part of the Caribbean), the western coast of Central America and of the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico, and the northern coasts of Colombia and Venezuela are frequently visited by some of the largest cruise ships of the world, chiefly during the dry season, from November to April. Ports located in Florida, Puerto Rico, Martinique and Panama are among the most popular ones to start or finish these cruises.
DESTINATIONS IN THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS: