So you want to take a vacation in the Caribbean?

You’re reading this article because you want some help in making a decision about where in the Caribbean to go for your vacation?

It is sensible to take some time over choosing your Caribbean Vacation Destination, because it may come as a surprise to you, that not all Caribbean island destinations are the same!!

The Caribbean islands have a reputation for their beaches, but there is lots more, so if you are looking for more than just beaches for your vacation, there will be something here for you.

Firstly let us look at how the various islands are different

1. The weather can be different on different Caribbean Islands.

This is due to different things such as mountains, the trade winds, and even where the islands are located.

If you take as an example the Caribbean island of Aruba, it has a desert climate where cacti and aloe grow more readily than fragrant hibiscus.

On the other hand Puerto Rico is mountainous, so it would be perfect for the hiker, and of course it is much cooler at altitude.

2. There are cultural differences between different Caribbean Islands.

There is a lot of french style in the French West Indies especially Martinique.

The Netherland Antilles will give you Dutch Colonial style.

On the other hand for more than a few traces of her former military might then the British West Indies still is terribly British!!

All of this is of course as a result of these islands being a part of a colonial past, and the language used can be a fascinating mix.

3. Activities on offer are the key to your Caribbean Vacation, and this is where your choice is so important.

The Caribbean is beautiful both above and below the sea, as well as there being mountains, and beaches, there is also the remnants of the colonial history to look at.

The Caribbean has many Carnivals to attract visitors but you need to make the right choices based upon what YOU want to do.

a. Jamaica

Lots of visitors flock to Jamaica because of its’beaches and resorts. Destinations like Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Kingston,are all part of Caribbean Vacation folklore.

You might choose to explore the Blue Mountains, or play golf on a former plantation, and the food is quite unique and delicious. Having said that if I wanted to go scuba diving or snorkelling, then Jamaica would not be my first choice.

b. You may then want to try Cancún

Cancun itself may not be your ideal Caribbean destination as it can be packed with students at certain times of the year. However whilst Cancún may have lovely beaches and incredible nightlife,you must not overlook Cozumel which offers superb diving.

You could try the Mayan Riviera where you can find family orientedless crowded places like Playa del Carmen, and if you want Mayan ruins then go to Tulum.

c. The Bahamas could be the place for you

Now you may not like the Bahamas because of the amount of Caribbean cruise ships that visit, bringing with it cowded towns, but on the other hand if busy ports and beaches are your thing, you’ll love it.

What is suggested here is you visit the Out Islands, or perhaps follow Ernest Hemingway’s past escapes, or just sail around the islands, there will be somewhere in the Bahamas for you.

d. Puerto Rico is very well recommended, because of the variety of attractions

This Caribbean island has everything from mountains, to historic towns like Old San Juan to a bit of diving and snorkelling.

You should visit Ponce on the southern coast for a touch of something a little different? and its rainforest, El Yunque, is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Parks system.

San Juan has it all, from beaches to shopping, casinos, and nightlife, although that in itself will put off some readers.

4.There are also natural groupings of Caribbean Islands

a. The Virgin Islands are a sailor’s paradise, whether you visit The British Virgin Islands or the U.S.

Here you’ll find beautiful crystal clear waters and plenty of places to see.

St. Thomas offers shopping.

St. Croix features historic Dutch buildings.

St. John is home to a wildlife reserve.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is a great place if you snorkel or scuba dive.

b. The British Virgin Islands are much more peaceful with island names from the era of pirates.

You could go to Barbados, another very British island, and perhaps watch cricket.

There is Bermuda, although strictly not a Caribbean island, people tend to include it, and it is yet another example of Great Britain’s colonial past, with policemen, golf, and buildings.

The sister islands of Antigua and Barbuda are also known for beautiful beaches and rich British history, as well as incredible sailing.

c. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, known as the ABC Islands, are three of the Netherlands Antilles located just north of Venezuela’s coast. With the added distinction of being outside the Caribbean’s ?Hurricane Belt,? this trio of islands offers some unusual desert climates, but fascinating history, and nature unlike what you’ll find in the rest of the Caribbean.

5.Some other Caribbean Islands worth considering

a. The Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Saba, Belize, and Dominica are known for their natural beauty. With mountains, rivers, tropical forests, and reefs to explore.

Each of these has different reasons to visit, whether you’re curious about The Dominican Republic’s popular surfing beaches, or St. Lucia’s famous volcanic peaks, there’s sure to be something that is perfect for island explorers.

In conclusion while it may be easy to visualize what some would consider to be typically Caribbean, it may take a little more effort to really pick an island that is perfect for your stay.

Every traveler has his or her own idea of what makes up a great vacation, and a vacation to the Caribbean that fufils your dreams is not difficult to organise.

Ian Smith