10 Best Caribbean Islands
For beach lovers, the Caribbean islands look especially appealing. The Caribbean is perfect for relaxation, and here Hollywood movie characters are constantly hiding from someone and drinking Pina Colada. Not a bad idea, by the way.
Do you like beaches with white sand, sprawling palms and turquoise water? Then you’re in luck, because the Caribbean is a paradise island, which has it all. The only problem is the difficulty of choosing from 7,000 different islands, islets, reefs and just rocks sticking out of the water. One way to find the most appealing place for you personally is to take a sea cruise and see as many islands “live” as possible. The Caribbean, by the way, is not only good for honeymooners – you can always find the right family tour and have a great vacation with the whole family. You can start with one of the ten Caribbean islands, which are written about in this article.
1. Jamaica When it comes to Jamaicans, a whole bunch of stereotypes come into play. Just a few of them are undeniable: the unique African influences, the quiet way of island life and the notorious Jamaican accent. The island produces excellent rum and coffee, but the most famous item of “export” remains the music of the legendary Bob Marley.
2. Cayman Islands San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is the city with one of the best preserved colonial buildings in both Americas. It is certainly worth spending a few days wandering the streets of the city and getting to know its architecture. Also Puerto Rico is one of the best surfing spots in the world, and Rincon is the center of island surfing.
4. British Virgin Islands The British Virgin Islands are an English territory located just east of the American Virgin Islands, owned by the United States. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. But the island of Necker, the most exclusive island of the British Virgin Islands, owned by Sir Richard Branson, causes the most controversy. The islands are especially popular among yachtsmen.
5. St. Martin The island of St. Martin has different names – Sint Maarten in Dutch or St. Martin in English – depending on the country where the speaker lives. This piece of land is shared between the Dutch and the French, making it the smallest island in the world belonging to two nations at the same time. As a result, each part of St. Martin has its own distinct personality. Saint Martin is recognized as the center of Caribbean yachting, and the lagoon off Simpson Bay is considered the most ideal place for sailing.
6. St. Lucia (sometimes called “Santa Lucia”) is a volcanic island with stunning mountain vistas and magnificent scenery. Travelers can explore the island on their own, by mountain bike or jeep. Or you can simply lie on the beach – there’s plenty of great sandy beaches, too. The most famous attraction in St. Lucia is the majestic Twin Piton Mountains (a volcanic massif of Petit Piton, Gros Piton and Morn Bonin). St. Lucia is one of the few places in the world where there is a volcano with an open caldera open to tourists (Soufrière Volcano). Other attractions: botanical gardens and Fort Rodney, an old British military base located in the Pigeon Island National Landmark Conservation Area.
In 1983 U.S. troops invaded Grenada after the pro-Marxist military seized power on the island. In 2004, the island nation was hit hard by Hurricane Ivan. These events hit the economy hard, but gradually the situation began to stabilize. Because of the abundance of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon tree and cacao, Grenada is often called the “Island of Peaches. This tiny Caribbean nation consists of three islands: Grenada proper, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. The island of Grenada boasts amazing mountainous landscapes, beautiful waterfalls and rivers, and its capital, St. George’s, one of the most picturesque Caribbean harbors in the form of a horseshoe.
8. Aruba Aruba, together with Bonaire and Curacao, represents the main group of islands of the Netherlands Antilles. This Dutch territory has a very interesting and unique to the Caribbean landscape. The southern and western coasts are characterized by “traditional” white sandy beaches and palm trees, but the “heart” of Aruba is dominated by desert terrain with cacti and dividivi (cesalpinia) trees, open rock formations and abandoned gold mines. The port of Oranjestad has well-preserved colonial buildings in mostly pastel colors. The duty-free trade attracts shoppers to the city.
9. Barbados Barbados – one of the most famous and popular islands in the Caribbean, and it is understandable why. Azure waters and snow-white sandy beaches make Barbados an ideal place for beach vacations. Surfers love the eastern coast of the island, washed by the Atlantic Ocean. Luxury resorts are located mainly in the west and south of Barbados. If you like to play cricket, it makes sense to try and get tickets to a match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
10. The Bahamas The Bahamas is located in the northern Caribbean, just outside of Florida, United States. Covering an area of 13939 square kilometers, the archipelago consists of seven hundred islands, uninhabited coral reefs, and simply large rocks protruding from the water. The most popular of the archipelago’s sixteen main islands is the capital city of Nassau, the country’s main port and a departure point for cruise ships. Nassau is a glamorous resort, widely known for its luxury hotels, golf courses, casinos, restaurants, and duty-free stores. Two bridges connect Nassau to Paradise Island. If you don’t like the crowded capital of the Bahamas, head to the Outer Islands. For example, the secluded and deserted beaches of Long Island, perfect for a quiet holiday.
Cruise the Caribbean.
I’m not a fan of beach vacations. I mean, I love the sea, the sun and the sand, but it was never enough for me to have a proper trip. Whenever I wondered, “Would I like to go to the Caribbean?” my answer has always been, “Only if it’s a cruise.” So when a Caribbean business trip loomed on my horizon, I had no questions about the mode of travel. The best way to get around the Caribbean is on a Caribbean cruise.
If you want to do comprehensive planning for your trip to the U.S. and the Caribbean, or if you want to learn how to organize your own trips, this is the place to go:)
All of the information about the specifics of a cruise vacation that I have managed to collect over three years of work in this area, I am sharing in this article . It will be useful not only to people who are going on a cruise, but travel agents who sell cruises, and organizers of excursions for cruise passengers.
Now back to the Caribbean.
Since I was flying through the U.S., I had to apply for a U.S. visa. I described the whole process of getting a U.S. visa here. As for the Caribbean countries, they are very loyal to Russian citizens – some people need an American visa in their passport, and some require a return ticket. Anyway, in my case a U.S. visa was enough.
Cruise season in the Caribbean.
I was scheduled to go on a cruise in the first half of May. Although it is possible to cruise the Caribbean throughout the year, summer is generally considered “low season.” Many cruise lines are relocating their ships from the Caribbean to Europe, where just in May the “high season” begins. Therefore, the selection of cruises for this time of year was small.
Carnival Cruise Line
The aforementioned cruise line is considered a low-cost carrier in the global cruise market. Despite this, Carnival is probably the biggest player in the Caribbean region. Not surprisingly, they were the ones that had the cruise to the exact islands I needed to visit, and exactly when I needed to go. In other words, I didn’t have much of an option.
When booking a cruise you have to choose dinner times right away . In choosing it, I knew absolutely nothing about the difference between exact and free dinner times. Nevertheless, I was lucky, and I chose, in my opinion, the most successful option. But I tell you about it here.
Categories of cabins
Since the decision to take my trip had been delayed for a long time, when it was finally made, only cabins with a balcony were available. While the difference between inside staterooms and staterooms with a window is usually not very big, staterooms with a balcony are always much more expensive. We ended up paying $2,700 for 7 nights, which is very, very expensive for a Carnival cruise.
As you have probably already realized, I was not up to excursions, because all day I had to negotiate, so my experience in this matter can not share. But after studying the proposals, came to the conclusion that except for water fun Caribbean can not offer anything special.
I flew into San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday night. My Caribbean cruise was scheduled to start on Sunday at 10 p.m. Consequently, I had a full day to explore the city. Or rather, in my case it was a half day of talks and a few hours for various sightseeing things.
Given my restless nature and limited time, I didn’t stay at the hotel on a Saturday night and went for a walk. The hotel where I was staying was in a new part of town, and just next door was one of the most lively places, somewhat reminiscent of St. Petersburg’s Dumanskaya. The girl at the hotel reception marked the place on a map and showed me the direction in which I had to go.
As I stepped out of the hotel onto a dark Sanhuan street, I realized that I really didn’t feel like pulling out a map and identifying myself as a tourist. White skin, blond hair, and blue eyes certainly kept me from blending in, but still. So it was no surprise that I missed a necessary turn. And how did I figure it out? Just a local guy I met on the street. He was the one who took me to the center of Sanhuan nightlife. He also introduced me to his sister and bought me a local Puerto Rican beer at the bar. By the way, I’ve learned from my bitter experience in Boracay, I always watch what they pour me and ask for a drink in a bottle that they open in front of me. This precaution can keep you out of all kinds of trouble.
After chatting with the guys, I moved towards the hotel. Tomorrow I had a very busy day ahead of me.
In the morning I had breakfast, conducted negotiations, and went to the old part of town where the cruise terminal was located. My bag was small, and, according to the map, the trip should have taken no more than 30 minutes. So there was no thought of any cabs.
Check-in for the cruise
Check-in for the ship began at 14:00, around this time I came. The heat was awful, and as bad luck in the terminal air conditioning broke down. And, of course, could not avoid the terrible lines. It was immediately clear that my main co-cruisers would be from the Latin American countries. I cannot say for sure, but it seems to me that I was the only Russian among about 2,000 passengers on the ship.
Checking in took me about an hour. I received my passenger card (aka the key to the cabin) and went on board.
I was very pleased with my cabin. In addition to having a window, it also has a balcony. Straight luxury:)
I threw my things and, already light, went to explore the Old Town of Puerto Rico.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
I loved it there. I’m rarely that impressed by cities, but San Juan definitely captured my heart. Narrow streets, brightly colored houses, thousands of flowers, cozy cafes and stores, and of course, the cape of Punta del Moro with the fort of Fuerte San Felipe del Moro. The area of the once majestic fort is a big green meadow where people relax and fly a huge number of kites in the sky. The Atlantic, the greenery, the ancient buildings, the blue sky and the bright sun – amazing! I couldn’t even resist taking my shoes off to walk barefoot on the evenly trimmed grass.