The Caribbean is a term given to an archipelago of hundreds of islands in the far west of the Atlantic Ocean, the largest and most well-known of these being the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands and Barbados. The weather is good nearly all year round, except for maybe the hurricane season which starts in June, peaks in August and finishes off in October. The Caribbean is rightly associated with pure white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters and a laid-back lifestyle. Millions travel here every year to relax in the friendly atmosphere and balmy sunshine, sip a cocktail at the beach or boogie to some of the great local rhythms. Initially these islands were inhabited by the Arawak tribe, who were invaded by the aggressive Caribs (which is how the area got its name). Eventually the region was conquered and colonised by various European nationalities, and much of the current population stems from the slaves that these conquerors brought over from Africa. Wherever you go in this beautiful and idyllic region, you are bound to find something to suit your taste, be it relaxation, adventure, nightlife or great food!
- Turks and Caicos are famous for their underwater cave systems.
- Grenada is known as the “Spice Isle” with many roadside shacks cooking up tasty food.
- To find your way from England to the Caribbean, sailors used to head South til the butter melted, then turn west.
- Elizabethan pirates used the Caribbean as their base from which to attach Spanish treasure fleets.
- The Caribbean Sea is the origin of the Gulf Stream.
Things to See and Do
What is there NOT to do? The Caribbean covers a vast area of beautiful island paradises, so one of our top suggestions would be to relax under a palm tree on one of the many pristine beaches with a cool drink, a good book and the occasional dip in the warm clear waters. But of course there is plenty more to do once you´ve had your fill of chilling out. Below is only a taste of some of the great places to see on your trip to the Caribbean.
1) Take an extensive walking tour in Havana, Cuba, with “Havana Frans”, a Dutch jazz photographer who lives in the area.
2) Go to the spectacular Blue Hole falls on Jamaica, where you can climb all the way to the top of the falls, and then swim and dive into the cool pools below.
3) Visit the bioluminescent bay at Lajas, Puerto Rico on a moonless night and get treated to a light show like you´ve never seen before, created entirely by the bioluminescent micro-organisms that live in the water.
4) Go swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman. A boat takes you out to the sand bar where you can see turtles in the clear blue water and swim with these amazing marine animals.
5) Enjoy the national drink, rum, on a night out on the British Virgin Islands. A speciality is the refreshing No-See-Um, a concoction of banana, coconut and pineapple made with 151 proof rum!
The Caribbean´s Food Delights
Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, European, East Indian, American Indian and Chinese cuisine. Many islands have a dish unique to their nation, such as “ackee and saltfish” (Jamaica), Caribbean goat stew (Montserrat), and cook-up (or Pelau). The main ingredients found in Caribbean cuisine are sweet potato, coconut, chickpeas, tomato, cassava, rice and plantains and most meats (beef, pork, chicken and fish). With the ocean dominating life on most of these islands, it is no surprise that freshly caught seafood is a popular choice when it comes to choosing a meal. The best thing is to decide where you are headed and once you´re there, find out a bit more about the local specialities. As the ingredients for these local dishes are bound to be fresh, you will surely be in for a feast of the senses.
Accommodation and Apartments in the Caribbean
As a prime holiday destination, there is no shortage of hotels and other types of accommodation available in the area of the Caribbean. If however you want to have a very unique and personal experience on your holiday, be it a trip with friends or your honeymoon or even backpacking, then consider booking a rental through Wimdu. There is everything from beachside villas to town apartments to rooms with bed and breakfast, and for every type of accommodation you have the benefit of a friendly host that can provide you with insider tips of the surrounding area you´ll be hard put to find in any guide book!