From the turquoise oceans to the piña coladas, from the easygoing personalities to the spicy cuisine, the Caribbean is a destination for travelers of all kinds. Here are 5 tips for making the most of your time on the islands:
- Find the right island for you. One of the beauties of the Caribbean is that each island has a different feel, often catering to different types of guests. Many islands are fit for the luxurious traveler (Barbados, St. Barts, Turks & Caicos), and though the prices tend to be more expensive, the service is top-notch. Other islands (Tobago, St. Maarten, Grenada) are tailored to travelers looking for that authentic Caribbean feel. Research your destination before you go, and make sure you’re finding the island that is equipped with what you’re looking for.
- Sometimes hotels don’t make for the best – or least expensive – accommodation. A common misconception in the Caribbean is that staying in a hotel is the cheapest option. Alternatively, lodging costs are usually lower if you rent – look around the Internet (on sites like tripadvisor.com) for small apartments, houses or villas. Many people rent out vacation homes at low costs and they are typically in more secluded and intimate areas, giving travelers an opportunity to really immerse themselves in the Caribbean culture.
- Do as the locals do. The Caribbean culture is known for its laidback attitude. In the words of the locals, leave “them baby tings” at home, kick up your feet and take it easy. Translation: relax and forget all about the stresses you left behind at home. The service in the Caribbean might be slower and less attentive than what you’re used to, but the ultimate feeling of relaxation is worth any extra minute. Enjoy.
- Leave valuables at home, or at least lock them up. An risk you take when traveling (to any place) is the susceptibility to crime. I was once robbed; over $3,000 worth of valuables was lost. A huge lesson was learned, though: always lock your door. It’s best to keep things in a safe box (if available) but if not, keep all bags put away and hide valuables in obscure places (like a kitchen cabinet, instead of under the bed) to lower the risk of having things stolen.
- Eat everything once, twice if you like it. Ever heard of doubles, shark n bake, or buss-up-shut? Maybe not, but these dishes, along with others, are unique to the Caribbean and are some of the most flavorful foods in the world. Dishes from the region are also recognized for their freshness and authenticity. Don’t be afraid to try curry goat or a shark sandwich – sometimes the more obscure the meat, the better it tastes! Along with amazing food, the Caribbean is also home to some of the world’s best rum.
The Caribbean is addictive; it can keep you coming back for more. The beauty of it all is that there’s always something new to explore, whether it’s a new reef, a neighboring town, or a completely different island. There are so many places to go and so much to see! There is a saying in Trinidad, though: “all crabs find dey hole.” Once you find your favorite spot, I can promise you that it won’t be your last time there!
Words and Photos: Marissa Ablack