Rum, cigars, music and dance are just few of the things the culture rich Caribbean Islands have to offer. Hundreds of years of colonial history has flourished, intermingled with local elements to create a unique cultural experience. From thrilling adventure to soul-soothing relaxation, gastronomic wonders to exquisite hospitality, the West Indies has something for everyone who visits.
Each of the islands in this archipelago has its own share of beaches, pristine white sand and sparkling clear water. But look a little further and you will see that each island has its own unique offering. From magma spewing mountains, lush forests, local culture and pirate carvings, there is a lot more than beaches to discover on this belt of islands. If you’re planning a sun n sand trip, this is what you’re looking for.
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Take your pick of the many museums, palaces, public squares, avenues, churches, fortresses and musical festivals throughout the city. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear Cuba are Cuban Cigars. Long immortalized in pop-culture and famous for their unique flavour and superior quality. Visit the cigar factory and take in the tour.
The city of Havana is one of the most famous in the Caribbean archipelago. It was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and is crawling with historical sites and buildings and teeming with a unique local culture. Be sure to pay a visit to Morro castle that guards the bay and take a tour of the city in a vintage car. Another ‘must-do’ experience on the list is the night cruise.
Mountain ranges surrounded by a narrow costal plane make this destination one of the most sought-after tourist destinations. The two major cities here are Montego bay and Kingston. Immerse yourself in the city’s unique experiences, breath-taking landscapes and cultural diversity that is unique to Jamaica.
The main city Kingston is half sprawling cosmopolitan jungle and half exotic jungle. Montego Bay A.K.A. MoBay (as it is known to the locals) is awash with sandy white beaches and luxurious resorts. When it comes to food, you must sample Jamaican jerk cuisine, local dishes flavoured with delectable ingredients and dry rub spices all cooked over traditional, open fires fed with pimento wood.
If you’re lucky you can sign up for a leisurely, 4 hour float down 3 miles of the White River and experience the breath-taking bioluminescence of Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon. If you thought Vienna was romantic, you are in for a treat with the bamboo raft tours down the Martha Brae River.
Cap – Haitien
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This Caribbean town is awash with sparkling beaches, french colonial architecture and grand monuments. One place you absolutely must visit is the Citadelle Laferriere, a large mountaintop fortress located just outside the city. It was built in the 1820’s as a defence against French invasions. The fortress is large and an important part of the city’s culture and history. So muchso that it is featured on some of the Haitian currency. The catch? the last leg of the journey to this fortress must be accomplished either on horseback or on foot!
If the stunning colonial architecture fails to hold your attention, head to one of the many hidden beaches here, that can easily be accessed by water taxis. After a long day at the beach, spend the evenings soaking in the night life and culture as you stroll down the Boulevard du Carnage along the water.
Like the other Caribbean islands, Barbados too is famous for white, sandy beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. But if you truly want to experience the local flavour, visit Barbados between June to August during the Crop over festival, a carnival celebrating the end of the harvest season. Don’t shy away from trying out the local Bajan cuisine and let loose to the rhythm of Calypso and Soca music.
Don’t forget to make time to take in the sites. One spot you should make time for is Harrison’s Cave, a massive cave system carved by streams and surrounded by a thicket of exotic wildlife.
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Tobago is a popular diving location and home to a pristine, protected forests in the centre of the island. Make sure to sample Tobago’s national dish, curried crab and dumplings and visit one of it’s many wildlife sanctuaries. Leave time to unwind on the warm sandy Caribbean beaches too.
The Caribbean Islands teem with wild, untamed natural beauty, that is tempered with the warm sunny hospitality of its people. Their warm sunny beaches and colourful culture make for a fun, relaxing experience in the lap of nature. One thing is for sure, if you do visit the Caribbean, you will leave your heart behind.
Written by: Caryn Putman
Caryn is a Social Media expert and history buff, desperate for any chance to travel. She loves animals more than most people and prefers sunny days at the beach to freezing mountaintops.