At first sight, the Caribbean is all sea, sun and sand. But it’s the variety of people, music, activities and food that will make you want to return again and again.
The Caribbean islands offer an amazing choice of beach vacations, high-end shopping and fascinating cultures. Stop in major ports on a luxury cruise or charter a sailboat to hop from one to another of thousands of islands. Sunbathe on vast sandy shores. Scuba and snorkel in clear waters filled with colorful fish.
Beautiful beaches are common across the region, while art, architecture, cuisine and customs vary from island to island. Appreciate the pleasing mix of cultures of the indigenous island people and descendants of European settlers.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao off the coast of Venezuela display Dutch influence. Have rijstaffel, a Dutch colonial meal of rice accompanied by 20 to 30 side dishes. Aruba has an unusually dry terrain, with miles of sandy beaches on the northwestern shores. Look for divi divi trees blown to the side in the region’s strong winds. Bonaire’s marine park and donkey sanctuary feature a range of wildlife. On Curacao, swim with dolphins and participate in extreme sports.
See the colorful buildings in old San Juan and the castles across the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands is a popular tour boat stop for buying diamonds and lazing on beaches. Nearby St. John is dominated by the Virgin Islands National Park, on land and in the underwater reefs. Learn about the 2,000 years of human occupants, including native Caribs, in the Salt River Bay National Historical Park on St. Croix.
For many people, Cuba has for decades been a land of mystery under Communist rule. While U.S. residents are not allowed to visit strictly for tourism, licensed visits can be arranged for various purposes. While here, see the cathedrals, squares and museums of Old Havana and visit exceptional beaches.
View the tropical plants in Hunte’s Gardens on Barbados. Dive and sample rum at a distillery on the Cayman Islands. Observe waterfalls and wildlife in the Dominican Republic. On the western side of the island, explore the Citadelle of Haiti. Golf, ride a bobsled and listen to steel drum music on Jamaica. Learn about Christopher Columbus and the native Arawaks while visiting the more than 700 islands of the Bahamas.
Most important of all, enjoy beach after beach after beach in the Caribbean region.