The Caribbean Sea and its islands are full of splendor and magic. Also known as the West Indies, the Caribbean has long been a popular destination for honeymooners as well as retirees looking for a getaway. There’s almost always good weather in the Caribbean, and its close proximity to the U.S. makes it an affordable and easy place to visit.
The Caribbean At a glance
The Cayman Islands are surrounded by coral reefs and the bluest of waters. There are three islands to choose from, which are full of marine life. Not only can you swim with stingrays, but you can go diving with the most colorful fish that you’d only imagine existed in your dreams. The white sand beaches are postcard-perfect and include Seven Mile Beach, Rum Point and Point of Sand. Here, you can enjoy isolated lands and even pink sand at Point of Sand. If you want, you can choose from more than 200 scuba diving sites or hit the pier for a day of fishing. Looking for things to do outside of sitting on the beach all day? Take a tour of George Town, the capital city of the islands. You can also visit the Cayman Islands National Museum and learn more about the country’s culture. After a day full of fun, grab a meal at a local eatery and enjoy freshly caught fish or sit down for a sophisticated meal at an upscale restaurant. You can get a real taste of island cuisine with a bowl of conch chowder, which is a tomato-based soup comprised of sweet peppers, onions and salt pork or bacon.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the Caribbean’s most industrialized nations, and is also one of the most crowded due to tourists visiting the islands. You’ll find Hindustanis, Javanese, Lebanese, Africans and Creoles in Trinidad, while Tobago is more quiet and unspoiled. You haven’t done anything in Trinidad and Tobago until you’ve visited Maracas Bay and Turtle Beach. The beach didn’t get its name out of the blue, sunbathers enjoy sharing the sand with giant leatherback turtles and Maracas Bay offers clear waters near the capital.
Despite its smaller size, Puerto Rico is full of life and beauty. There are 4 million people that call the island home, and they are more than welcoming to visitors. You’ll find so much to do in Puerto Rico, including mountain hiking, a trip into rainforests and plenty of sun on its white sandy beaches. Since the island’s history dates back 500 years when it was still under Spanish rule, there’s plenty of history and museums to take in. In San Juan, you can visit three world-class museums before heading out for a night of shopping, dining and nightlife. Restaurants are plentiful in Puerto Rico, where you can enjoy stuffed crabs and chip-chip, a dish of clam-like shellfish with vegetables or ground meat. You should also try the fresh rum punch, which is flavored with locally produced Angostura Bitters.
The Dominican Republic has the pleasure of enjoying a year-round summer. There are white beaches, crystal clear waters and Spanish colonial history that dates back 500 years. With a visit here, you may find yourself hanging out with locals and backpackers from small fishing villages. The most popular destination in the Dominican is Punta Cana, where you can enjoy a plethora of sunshine. If you want to go for a dive, head to Bayahibe for a great view of shipwrecks just beneath the water’s surface. You’ll find some of the world’s finest cigars in the region near Santiago, as well as a good bottle of rum. Harrison’s in Puerto Plata has jewelry, and there are plenty of art galleries in Altos de Chavon. Grab a seat at Santo Domingo for fresh rock lobster or braised red snapper, or head to Puerto Plata for all the crayfish and grilled shrimp kabobs your stomach can handle.
There's more to Jamaica than just reggae and Rastafarians. It’s full of white sandy beaches and year-round sunshine, mountains, rainforest and coffee, as well as friendly locals. Of course, there’s diving and snorkelling that will take your through coral reefs, garden grottoes and drop-offs. You can even go for a leisurely swim at Doctor’s Cave Beach or overlook Montego Bay on the hilltop at Rose Hall Great House. Don’t leave the island without a package of Blue Mountain coffee or Jamaican rum. Visitors can find colorful artwork at the Contemporary Art Centre in Kingston or head to the Craft Market in Negril for handmade items. There’s also the Things Jamaican outlet with several locations throughout the island, including Montego Bay and Harmony Hall.