Visiting the Caribbean isn’t just about lazing on idyllic beaches, swimming in turquoise waters and scuba diving around colorful reefs, although you are more than welcome to do exactly that. It is also about discovering the unique culture of each of its islands, which shines through in the architecture, music, language, customs and cuisine.
Running across the center of the Caribbean are the Greater Antilles. This string of pearls offers a wonderful range of landscapes and cultures in nations such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Think stunning coastline, charming colonial cities, a mountainous interior, lush rainforests with waterfalls and you’ll get the picture.
Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean islands, stands out thanks to its fascinating history and vibrant culture. Come see Havana’s historic architecture and vintage cars and join the Cubans in one of the many live music bars to dance the night away.
Music is also what makes the Jamaicans tick, with mellow reggae beats accompanying diners as they munch on mouthwatering jerk chicken in Kingston Town.
Up north, just off the Florida coast, is the Lucayan Archipelago. The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands have some of the finest beaches and most comfortable resorts in the Caribbean, so this is as good as it gets.
Stretching down the eastern edge of the Caribbean are the Lesser Antilles which include smaller islands such as Barbados, Martinique, and St. Maarten. Many of these islands have Dutch, French and British colonial influences mixed in with their irrepressible Caribbean charm.
Tucked away in the far south of the Caribbean are the Leeward Antilles, home to the “ABC islands” of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. See the flamingoes, snorkel with sea turtles and experience the unusual blend of Dutch and Antillean island culture.
No matter which Caribbean destination you pick, just make sure you end your stay with a piña colada or cuba libre by the sea. Watch the sky take on colors as varied and awesome as the Caribbean islands themselves, a dreamlike part of the world.