Caribbean Travel Basics

Caribbean Vacations

Caribbean Vacations

There’s a very good reason that Caribbean vacations are extremely popular: The islands of the Caribbean are filled with breathtaking beaches, crystalline waters and fascinating wildlife, not to mention flocks of international visitors. What’s more, the region’s different islands are as diverse as they are beautiful. Use this Caribbean Travel Web Guide to explore the wealth of travel opportunities in the Caribbean. You'll also find trip and itinerary help so you can create a Caribbean paradise vacation quickly and easily.

Caribbean Travel Basics

You can sink your feet into the powdery white sand of Aruba, the volcanic black sand of St. Kitts, or the pink beaches of the Bahamas. You can swim in the bio-luminescent bays of Puerto Rico, scuba dive with the sea turtles of the Cayman Islands, hike through the rain forest of Dominica, or gaze upon the stunning deserts of Bonaire. The sites below offer background information and a selection of the magnificent prospects of a Caribbean vacation.

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  • The Web sites in this section provide comprehensive information on Caribbean travel, including attractions, and hotel and restaurant advice. Revisit these sites throughout your vacation planning process, and see the “Where will I stay?” section below for additional online resources to help you find and book your Caribbean accommodations.
  • Watch out for the advertisements on many sites—ads are often well disguised, and tourism sites are especially likely to have ads throughout.

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For a general overview …
To learn about the Caribbean islands …
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Travel Requirements for the Caribbean

The Caribbean, a chain of over 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays, is sometimes referred to as the West Indies. Made up of 12 independent countries as well as a number of British, French, U.S., and Dutch jurisdictions, the Caribbean is a vast and diverse region.  The Internet can help you understand the history of the area, and inform you on what to look out for before you go. These sites highlight traditions, customs, safety concerns, and much more. 

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  • For a list of the countries and territories that comprise the Caribbean, consult Aneki an online almanac, which provides a list of countries, along with brief facts detailing each of the three regions: The Greater Antilles comprises the four largest Antilles islands (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico); The Lesser Antilles consist of The U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Windward (Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, and Grenada) and Leeward (Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla) Islands; The Bahamas is the third region. WorldAtlas provides a helpful map.
  • Caribbean countries differ in their monetary systems. CaribSeek Encyclopedia has a list of the islands and their associated currency. Once you know the currency of the island you are visiting, you can use Oanda to convert currency.
  • In addition to visiting the sites in this section, make sure to consult the findingDulcinea Travel Guide for general information directed at Americans going overseas. You’ll find sites with information on visas, passports, security and safety, as well as other general resources to help you prepare for your journey, whether you’re looking for packing tips or insurance sites like InsureMyTrip.

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For official documents, entry and exit requirements, and health and safety advice …
For history …
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Getting to the Caribbean

In this section we highlight sites to help you book a vacation package and flight, and to show you how to get from here to there smoothly.

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  • The benefit to using smaller, lesser-known flight search engines specializing in the Caribbean is that they often feature one-stop travel planning, and may offer special deals and packages. In addition, these sites often alert you about Caribbean events and holidays.
  • Refer to our findingDulcinea Travel Guide for more resources and transportation options. Look for transportation deals that allow you the most flexibility with the fewest penalties. Leaving yourself some time to linger longer than you intended is important—you may fall in love with a place and want to stay an extra day or two. Explore the possibility of an open-ended ticket on the flight or cruise sites you visit. Expedia offers such tickets on its site.
  • When available, talk to the customer service representatives of the sites you are using to ensure you know all your options, and to confirm your itinerary.
  • If you want to learn more about traveling within the Caribbean, see the next section of this guide, “How will I get around?” for transportation options specific to intra-Caribbean travel.

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For one-stop travel planning …
For flight search engines …
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Caribbean Hotels

Accommodation choices in the Caribbean range from bare bones to beyond luxurious. Below, we’ve featured sites to help you book your island lodging, no matter how much you want to spend.

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  • If you’re traveling with a large group, it may be more economical to rent a condo or guesthouse. Even a villa rental can be cheaper than booking several hotel rooms.
  • While many accommodation sites now have adequate photography of hotel rooms, try to supplement your research by reading user reviews of hotels on sites like Sleep and Tell.

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For a basic accommodation search … 
For luxury accommodations … 
For budget travel … 
For blogs and forums about Caribbean accommodation …
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Getting around in the Caribbean

In addition to getting around on an individual island, you may also be inclined to hop from one Caribbean island to the next. Use this section of the guide to plan your inter-Caribbean voyaging in advance.

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  • Take note of independent sites that explain transportation or general travel issues. These sites are often created by seasoned travelers or residents of a particular place, and generally do not have promotional intentions.
  • As with any online transaction, it’s wise to get in touch with a representative from the site, either by phone or e-mail. This is especially true for intra-Caribbean travel, as flexibility and open-endedness are often part of the experience. Learn what restrictions your tickets have, and ask about special offers, which are often available for students, children, seniors, and groups.
  • For bike rentals, your best bet is to ask around when you get to the island. There are many small bike rental shops not featured on the Internet. Your hotel may have bikes to borrow, or advice about where to look. 
  • Even if you can’t book now or want to leave your travel options open, it’s smart to get a sense of what travel throughout the Caribbean will be like once you’re there.

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For air travel …
For bicycle travel …
For cruises …
For car rental …
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