With its white sand beaches, bluish-green water, and vast selection of resorts, the Caribbean is the perfect place to spend your vacation. With so many islands to choose from, you’ll never have to stay in the same place twice (unless you want to!) The Caribbean has so many incredible experiences to offer. After tasting the food, meeting the locals, and having some fun in the sun, you’ll never want to go back home!
However, most of us aren’t luck enough to spend as much vacation time in the Caribbean as we’d like, so it’s absolutely essential to make good use of the time we do have. Here are some do’s and don’ts for Caribbean travel to help you do just that!
“DO’s” when traveling to the Caribbean
1. DO pack light, but pack well
Now that most airlines are charging high fees for each bag you bring, it’s better to pack light. However, there are a few essential things you can’t leave behind when traveling to the Caribbean.
- Bug spray: Caribbean islands host creepy crawling critters year round, so don’t forget your bug spray! Mosquitoes spread illnesses such as dengue and Chikungunya, which will not only ruin your vacation, but your health, too! These viruses have affected millions of people living and traveling in the Caribbean in recent years.
- Sunscreen: The Caribbean is a great place to get your beach-time fix. However, since ocean water reflects sunlight, it can also be a great place to get your lobster on. No, we’re not talking about eating lobster, but being one. Pack your SPF and don’t forget to lather it on to avoid the awful effects of sunburn!
- A variety of clothing items: Caribbean weather doesn’t vary too much year-round temperature wise, but you should definitely prepare for rain, slightly chilly nights, and the occasional over air-conditioned restaurant.
- Your beach gear: You can’t go to a Caribbean island without your swimsuit, sunglasses, and a hat to keep the sun out of your face. Also, don’t forget your flip-flops or water shoes, and a towel or two!
2. DO visit during the off-season.
Everyone and their grandmother will head to the Caribbean come winter, so try to visit during the off-season so that you can avoid big crowds and overbooked hotels. Low-season is normally from mid-April to mid-December.
3. DO get to know the locals.
You can stick to the tourist trap hangouts and still have a great time, but there’s nothing like experiencing Caribbean life like a local. If you have the chance, strike up a conversation with the people who work or live in and around your hotel. Caribbean islanders are known for their hospitality and generally warm, welcoming demeanor. Go ahead, make some friends! You’ll appreciate the islands much more once you see them not just as a vacation destination, but as home to millions of people.
4. DO try to speak the local language.
While many people do speak English on the majority of the Caribbean islands, you’ll hear plenty of other languages, depending on where you go. For example, Spanish is the main language of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. You’ll find French derived Creole in St. Lucia and Dominica, and hear Dutch in countries such as Aruba and Curaçao. Taking the time to brush up on your language skills ahead of time will come in handy. Also, the locals will be happy to help you practice speaking their language.
“DON’TS” when traveling to the Caribbean
1. DON’T imitate accents
Like we mentioned above, many people do speak English in the islands. However, they may pronounce some words slightly different than you would. A common mistake people make when on vacation in Caribbean countries is to imitate accents or repeat certain phrases over and over. When in Jamaica, for example, there’s no need to go around saying “Yeah, mon,” to everyone you meet. Be respectful, and treat people the same way you would want to be treated if they were visiting your country.
2. DON’T eat whatever you see on the street
As with any foreign country that you visit, you’ll want to think twice before chowing down on any mystery foods, especially ones found on the street. This doesn’t mean that they’re not tasty–on the contrary. Street food can be incredibly delicious. However, the locals are used to the Caribbean environment, with its specific diet, bacteria, micro-organisms, and the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, you are not. You may be accustomed to a completely different diet. You may have been exposed to entirely different types of bacteria and therefore your body may react adversely to certain things you eat in a foreign country. Take precautions, and always have some anti-acid and anti-diarrhea medicine on hand, just in case!
3. DON’T wear swimwear everywhere else
No, the Caribbean is not just one big perpetual beach! People live and work here, and they use normal attire. So should you, when you’re not swimming! If you do decide to stroll into a restaurant or down a main street in nothing but a bathing suit, be prepared for people to send some sideways glances your way. Caribbean weather can seem very hot for those who aren’t used to it, but this is no excuse to expose yourself unnecessarily. Be respectful and cover up! Bring light, breezy fabrics to wear in order to beat the heat.
4. DON’T disturb the flora and fauna
By flora and fauna, we mean those cute little sea turtles that have just hatched, and the beautiful yellow flowers you’re tempted to pick along the road. Leave living things be, and preserve the island’s beauty. If you need to bring home a souvenir, there are plenty of those in the shops you’ll find all over town!
DO visit the Caribbean soon!
Planning a trip to a Caribbean island sometime soon? DO conduct some research, and read up on top Caribbean destinations and activities before you go! Get some expert advice on the best places to dine, swim, and relax. Book your flights and vacation rental as early as you can to lock in the best prices and start your dream vacation ASAP!