The Caribbean is a wonderful place to vacation or conduct business. The temperatures are comfortable year-round, the region is easy to access, the islands are small enough that you’re never far from a beach, and it’s full of fun activities as varied as carnivals and snorkeling. However, there are a few things that you should know before embarking on a trip to the Caribbean.
Consider Avoiding High Season
Of course, if you live in a cold climate, the idea of heading to the Caribbean at some point from the middle of December to the middle of April sounds awfully inviting, which is understandable. However, do consider going at other times of the year as the weather in the Caribbean won’t be all that much different then, and your experience won’t be as crowded. Just be wary of hurricane season around September although note that this is one of the quietest times of the year.
Be Prepared for Spanish, French or Dutch
Depending on where you go, you might not understand the language being spoken. Many residents of Caribbean countries do speak English, but a significant number speak French, Spanish or Dutch. However, even in the latter countries, plenty of people also speak English, and this will be especially evident if your trip will be focused on touristy areas.
Don’t Just Go to the Beach
Although the beaches in the Caribbean are pretty spectacular, and you can be excused if you spend a considerable amount of time at them, you should also consider all of the other activities that you can do while in this region. The hiking and mountain biking pathways here is quite picturesque. Bird watchers often take a trip here specially for bird watching. Horseback riding is another option. Also consider exploring botanical gardens and caves.
Remember Your Passport
To enter most Caribbean countries, you need to bring your passport and ensure that it has six months validity remaining and at least one blank page. The exact requirements do vary from country to country, but those are the general guidelines. The lone exceptions for Americans are Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as you don’t need a passport to visit there while places like Guadeloupe and Martinique are treated as domestic destinations for French citizens.
One significant benefit of there being so many countries in the Caribbean is that you can tick off visiting a considerable number of them in a relatively short time period, generally through air travel or via boat. In fact, you don’t even need to leave an island to enter another country in some cases. A couple of examples of this are the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola, and Saint Martin, which is jointly governed by the Netherlands and France.
Driving on the Other Side
If you plan to rent a car and drive in the Caribbean, note that many countries’ drivers drive on the left side of the road. Learning to drive on the other side than you’re used to isn’t as hard to learn as you might think, but, still, you do need to put a deal more focus into the act of driving when you’re on the other side of the road, so be prepared for that.
If you’re American or from a country with a similar culture, be prepared to go about things a lot slower than you’re used to in much of the Caribbean. The common belief is that this more relaxed pace of life is due to the people living here being surrounded by ocean and not really having that many places to go to, so why hurry? This translates to waiters and other hospitality staff generally going about things at a relatively slow pace. Of course, this mindset is exactly why many want to spend their vacations here.
Wi-Fi is Readily Available
Rest assured that Wi-Fi is readily available throughout the Caribbean, generally at no charge, whether you’re staying at a resort or you decide to take advantage of Caribbean villa rentals. But do note that you might need to use an adapter to plug in your electronic devices. However, if you do, either one will be provided or you can purchase one; they don’t cost much.