The Caribbean is the world’s most popular destinations. There are 7,000 islands to choose from, with blue seas, sandy beaches and luscious green forests. Many of the islands were either colonised by the British, French or Dutch and their influences still remain, along with Victorian town squares and cathedrals.
From bustling Barbados to pulsating Jamaica and St Maarten, the Caribbean is an explosion of colours mixed with the heady smell of rum and calypso music.
Trinidad is a natural aviary where you can watch the bearded bellbird or the scarlet ibis, Trinidad’s national bird. In the capital, Port of Spain, you’ll be greeted by locals dancing in dazzling carnival costumes, singing calypso or playing the steel pan. The town is known for its colour festivals and is a cultural melting pot featuring African, European, Indian and Asian influences.
If you’re seeking white sandy beaches, there are plenty on the beautiful island. You’ll also find casual and elegant dining in friendly local restaurants, and a great assortment of activities and events.
Barbados is a popular destination. It’s capital, Bridgetown, is a British colonial town, famous for its tea and cricket matches. On the island’s west coast, coral beaches of fine white sand, fringed by coral reefs that provide excellent snorkelling and diving. For surfers, the east coast is great place to catch waves.
In Bermuda, St George is a UNESCO Heritage Site and boasts small winding streets, cobbled streets and plazas. Some of the highlights include the Bermuda Heritage Museum, which showcases the history of the American and British fleets. Also see the Crystal and Fantasy Caves.
And if you are a fan of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, have a martini at the Goldeneye Resort in Orcabessa, Jamaica where Fleming lived and wrote several of his spy novels.
Though it was hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, a massive effort has meant most areas are now open for business. The Caribbean’s peak season is October to April.
Antigua and Barbuda
Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the twin island country of Antigua and Barbuda was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 in honour of Spain’s Virgin of La Antigua, whereas Barbuda means ‘bearded’ in Spanish and was named after wild fig trees found in the region which have a beard like appearance. Antigua is known for its coastline, white sand beaches, rainforests, sugarcane fields and plantations and villages; whereas Barbuda is famous for diving expeditions and the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, inhabited by nearly 5000 frigate birds. St John’s is the capital and largest port city, visited by leading cruise lines like Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and amongst others. Antigua has many luxury resort ideal for families and couples, like Verandah Resort & Spa, Nonsuch Bay Resort, Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Cocobay Resort amongst others.
Visit Betty’s Hope, a 17th century sugar plantation during colonial times that employed African slaves. It now has a small museum with old pictures and maps. Barbuda’s Frigate Bird Sanctuary, with over 170 bird species and 5000 frigate sea birds. The Low Bay island in Barbuda is also a must visit for its pink sand beach.
Best for: Families, couples and nature lovers
An island country in the southern Caribbean Sea, Aruba is just 30 kilometres off the northern coast of Venezuela. Aruba is part of Dutch Caribbean along with Curacao, Saint Maarten, and Bonaire. Unlike its other sister Caribbean countries, Aruba’s dry climate with no rainy season makes it a favourite amongst travellers. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Caribbean Sea on the other, Aruba has a unique landscape of cacti, trees and windmills.
Local Aruban handicraft shopping like candles, artworks at the Royal Plaza Mall. Baby Beach is popular amongst families and beginners in snorkelling. Malmok Beach is another location frequented by snorkellers to spot colourful fish and swimming; the diving site Antilla is not very far from Malmok Beach. Crystal Casino and the Seaport Casino near the cruise port are the places to experience Aruba’s nightlife.
Best for: Families, couples and nature lovers
The Bahamas is an archipelago of nearly 700 islands and over 2,000 coral reefs. It’s one of the most visited Caribbean countries with many cruise lines visiting from Florida. The vast coastline offers plenty of beach activities, water sports like parasailing, jet-skiing, and diving; hiking, shopping at flea markets and small boutiques. The rich history of the Bahamas reflects in its Victorian building and Lucayan National Park that boasts of an ancient underwater cave system. Nassau is also where you will find casinos and the glitzy night life. Travellers will love sampling the fresh sea food mainly red snapper, lobster and the local favourite, conch.