The Caribbean is not just one breathtaking island destination, but an archipelago of over five-thousand! Puerto Rico, Aruba, Haiti, Tobago, St. Maarten, Bonaire — these are only a few of the amazing and varied isles worth visiting. While each place has its own set of charms, and should be researched individually, this overview aims to give general background information on traveling to the Caribbean, as well as to highlight some of the absolute best sights, activities, and experiences.
Caribbean Travel Guide
One of the most popular ways of traveling to the Caribbean is by cruise line. Commercial cruise ships offer a way to visit multiple islands on a single trip and, with included food, lodging, and activities, can be an economical way of seeing the islands.
However, if you’re looking for a less tourist-y experience, or are hoping to spend more than a single afternoon at each port of call, don’t worry—it’s very possible to fly to most of the larger islands on American Airlines or JetBlue. If you have a group of adventurous friends, you can even rent a yacht complete with captain and cook to sail from island to island.
Once at your resort or hostel of choice, either rent a car or use public transportation to get around. Most islands have taxi services, and resorts often offer transportation services of their own for their customers. If you’re feeling up for an adventure, try the local bus systems, like the brightly colored guaguas of the Dominican Republic — but make sure to clarify how much the trip will cost before you get in the vehicle.
Food & Culture
On many islands, you will find not only plantations and old stone forts from their European colonial history, but also African beliefs and influences from the Caribbean’s history in the Atlantic slave trade. The heavy presence of nautical trade also attracted pirates, and cities like Port Royal in Jamaica and Tortuga in Haiti have become famous for that part of their history.
The cuisine of each individual island is different, as much a mix of African, European, and native Caribbean as its history. However, seafood, sugar cane, cocoa, and fresh tropical fruit play a large part in all of it. Though the tap water may not be safe in some destinations (and make sure to research this before you leave), it hardly matters—the Caribbean is home to an amazing number of beer, fruit wine, and rum distilleries, so you’ll always have something delicious and local to drink.
Sights & Activities
Surf, Sail, Scuba, & Snorkel— The Caribbean’s waters are fantastic for aquatic activities, and you’ll see underwater creatures here that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Aruba’s location out of the typical path of tropical storms makes it particularly suited.
Take a Food Tour— Sample the specialties of your chosen destination: especially the chocolate, tobacco, and rum! The Caribbean is known for producing high quality luxuries such as these at prices much lower than on the mainland.
Visit a Nature Sanctuary—Since much of the flora and fauna in the Caribbean is unique to the area, conservation efforts and ecotourism have both grown popular. Parks like the Caroni Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad & Tobago and the Cayman Islands’ Cayman Turtle Farm are well worth the visit.
For more Caribbean travel resources & tips, visit these pages:
Where to Stay in St. Maarten
Trinidad & Tobago
Top 10 Things to Do in Trinidad & Tobago
Top Island Posts
The 10 Most Romantic Island Getaways in the World
Top 10 Tropical Islands
10 Safe Destinations for Solo Female Travelers
5 Affordable Island Getaways in the Caribbean
How to Choose the Right Caribbean Island for Your Vacation