But that’s not all that’s on offer in this diverse corner of the globe. Find out more about what the Caribbean has to offer, from tropical hiking trails, cultural history museums, wildlife, island hopping and more...
Here are ten reasons to tempt you into making the Caribbean your next holiday destination:
#1 The weather
With lows of around 70°F and highs of 86°F, the Caribbean weather is perfect, especially for lying on a sun lounger with the sea breeze sweeping over you. Visit between December and April for truly glorious weather, where you can experience real peace and tranquility while soaking up rays or relaxing in the endless ocean blues.
Situated within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santo Domingo's Billini Hotel is in a magnificent location surrounded by architectural wonders from the Spanish Colonial era.
#2 The culture
The Caribbean culture has derived from a number of different backgrounds, with British, African, Indian and Chinese influences. Many vacationers enjoy the laid back way of life that can be found throughout the Caribbean. Each island also has its own unique traits for you to become immersed in. We would highly recommend listening to the rhythm of the Bajan tuk bands while joining in with the celebratory dances. Alternatively, many people like to visit Puerto Rico around Christmas, to enjoy celebrations with the locals which run from November right through to January.
#3 The diversity
With over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean, they together offer a wide range of things to see, do and experience. Of those, 13 are independent island countries. Activities include hiking in the Puerto Rican rainforests, delving into deep waters on a submarine tour in Aruba and devouring delicious dishes in Jamaica. Many are close enough for you to island hop so that you can experience plenty during a single trip.
Canouan Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
#4 Island hopping adventures
Island hopping is a popular way to experience the Caribbean. Most vacationers base themselves on a single island and journey either by boat or plane to others nearby for short trips. If you’re planning to stay in Antigua, you can hop over to Barbuda, or if you’re heading to New Providence in the Bahamas, you have a wealth of islands surrounding you. These recommendations are just a drop in the ocean, with many more island hopping adventures available to experience.
#5 The exploration
Many of the islands are small enough to explore on foot. Barbados stands at just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, so a week or so here can be well spent venturing around the island, discovering attractions such as Harrison’s Cave and Mount Hillaby. There are plenty of other small islands to discover too, including Aruba, where you can head into the centre to the dramatic Hooiberg, and St. Lucia which has stunning botanical gardens.
Larger islands offer hiking trails for avid walkers to enjoy. Dominica plays host to the Waitukubuli National Trail, which stretches for 115 miles through traditional villages and ends in one of the region’s 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. For a more challenging route with stunning views as a reward, you can also hike up to the summit of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, a trip many have described as unmissable.
Hiking on Nevis. Photo credit: Montpelier Plantation
#6 The wildlife
For wildlife fanatics there is an array of spectacularly unusual birds, mammals, marine life and insects within the Caribbean.
You can spot stingrays and turtles while snorkeling in the clear blue waters, or see dolphins and whales jumping up above waves on boat trips. Birdwatchers can also delight in spotting toucans, gonzalitos and wattled jacana flying high above, while capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys and many more can be found amongst the lush tropical woodland. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the rare black iguana, a three-toed sloth or the unusual swimming pigs.
#7 The food and drink
Caribbean food and drink has become popular around the world, but nothing compares to the real thing. While the jerk chicken is not to be missed, other local favorites such as lechón asado from Puerto Rico and goat stew from the likes of Aruba and the Cayman islands should be sampled. The seafood is also to die for, and comes straight from the azure sea. We recommend trying the flying fish or grouper while in Barbados, which are typically served up in a stew or grilled on a beach barbecue. Also, what’s a trip to the Caribbean without rum? As each island has its own take on the classic spirit, you can sign up for a rum tasting trip, or as you visit islands, take the opportunity to sample the different recipes.
Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia beach service
#8 The sport
Caribbean sporting fans typically enjoy traditional games of cricket and golf. Golf is particularly popular, with world class golf resorts available on many of the islands. For those who aren’t as keen on golf or cricket, there are also water sports, tennis and cycling trips available.
#9 The history
The Caribbean has a rich and varied history, which makes the islands what they are today. Many islands offer fascinating historical museums to visit. Piracy and slavery are part of the story and although there have been dark times in the past, the locals are proud of their history.
Cap Juluca, Anguilla beach
#10 The beaches
Warm golden sands and aqua blue waters paired with the balmy weather make the Caribbean beaches some of the best in the world. Many even offer water sports and snorkeling, where you can head into the warm waters to see coral and turtles. We recommend visiting Mullins beach in Barbados, Pink Sands in the Bahamas and Grande Anse in Grenada.
The Caribbean is the perfect holiday destination for everyone. Whether you are looking to hike through tropical rainforests and view stunning vistas at the summit of dramatic volcanoes, play a few rounds of golf on lush green courses, or even if you simply fancy sunning yourself on a beach with some water sports thrown in, you can find your perfect trip away on the islands.
Article by Rachel Campbell / Royal Westmoreland, a luxury golf and spa resort located in St James, Barbados. (pictured at top)