Caribbean

The hundreds of islands that make up the Caribbean offer a plethora of riches, thus visitors are faced only with the need to make choices. Where to go for the best dining? Golf courses? Beaches? Romantic hideaways? Stretching from just off the northern edge of South America, all the way to Florida in the USA, the hundreds of islands that frame The Caribbean create a veritable melting pot of cultures, reflected in a range of traditions, delicious cuisines and languages.

History & Culture

The Caribbean has a rich history full of adventure, blended cultures and natural diversity. The unique cultural identity of each island is shaped by the European colonialists, the African heritage of slaves, and the enduring legacies of native Indian tribes. All set against a backdrop of crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and sunshine. Barbados is known as Little England, retaining traditions from its British Colonial days. Antiqua is a little more laid back but also observes old British customs. Jamaica on the other hand retains little from colonial days, holding on to its pre-colonial heritage. Aside from the capital, Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic remains largely underdeveloped. 

Barbados historic part of Bridgetown World Heritage Site of UNESCO
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Natural Wonders

The Caribbean Islands are a natural delight in themselves but there are some standout sites to be explored. The Pitons, St Lucia is an iconic vista of the Caribbean with twin volcanic peaks that rise dramatically from the sea. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and includes hot springs, coral reefs and tropical forests. Also on Saint Lucia are the Sulphur Springs, the only drive-in volcano in the world. Explore the stalagmites and stalactites of Harrison’s Cave on Barbados, followed by a visit to Bottom Bay, the best beach on the island.

St Lucia St Pitons
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Outdoor Adventures

River tubing Jamaica’s beautiful rivers, whale watching in Dominica, powerboat adventures in the Bahamas. There is a lot to do for lovers of adventure and the outdoors. Explore caves, swim with huge leatherback turtles, surfing, scuba diving, horse riding, deep sea fishing, hiking, snorkelling and whale watching. There are endless options for getting out and exploring the stunning natural wonders of the Caribbean.

Bahamas Tiger Beach Shark Diving
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Must-Do Experiences

Zipline through the treetop canopy in Jamaica. Swim in the glistening waters of Luminous Lagoon at night and experience the natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence. Visit the house where Bob Marley grew up. Swim with wild sea turtles in Barbados. Swim with pigs in the Bahamas. Hike the St Lucia Pitons.

Bahamas Swimming Pig
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Points of Interest

Language
English, Spanish and French are the three main languages of the Caribbean islands. Most places will have a fairly high level of English spoken except for The Dominican Republic.
Currency
Each country has its own currency. Make sure you take US dollars which are easily exchanged in-destination.
Electricity
Voltage varies between 110V and 120V except St Lucia which is 240V and Antigua which is 230V.
Time
The Bahamas, St Lucia, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Antigua are 14 hours behind AEST and 12 hours behind WST. Jamaica is 15 hours behind AEST and 13 hours behind WST. Daylight Saving Time is observed in the Bahamas only from March to November.
Visas
For visa, passport, health and security advice for Australian travellers, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: www.smartraveller.gov.au 
Register your details online so you’re easier to contact in case of an emergency
Important Info

Best Time to Visit

The Caribbean in general has possibly the best climate year round for most holiday pursuits, it's also the perfect temperature to relax. The temperature stays between 24-29C year round. If you were to pick a time though, December to April has an edge with it being slightly drier and cooler, especially in the North.
Activity Time
Carnival February
Bob Marley Week - Jamaica February
St Kitts Music Festival June
Portland Jerk Festival - Jamaica July
Bermuda Music Festival October
Crop Over Festival - Barbados May - August

Getting Around

Getting to the islands or from one island to another is pretty much limited to boat or aeroplane and while a boat may seem the most romantic and cheap way to make your way around this seabound region, the fact is that it is very hard to find a boat or ferry that is going where you want to go, when you want to go, so aeroplane is usually the only practical option. The lower Antilles is an exception, where the islands are relatively close together.

Getting around on the islands themselves can be undertaken cheaply by bus and may allow you to interact with the locals however some islands aren't big anough to support a bus network so taxi or private car is the only option.

Dining

Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, European, Chinese, Arab and other cuisines. Tropical fruits, rice, beans, cassava, bell peppers and coconut are all common ingredients used in the Caribbean.

Jerk meat, especially chicken is a common dish. Jerk refers to a very spicy dry or wet rub applied to chicken or other meat. After absorbing the flavours, the meat is smoked and/or grilled to fiery perfection.

Ackee and saltfish is a famous and traditional dish of Jamaica. Ackee is a fruit native to Africa that is related to the lychee and rambutan and resembles scrambled eggs when cooked.

Callaloo is a vegetable stew common throughout the islands and may include leafy green vegetables, okra and coconut.

And then there is the seafood...!

Restaurants range from beachside shacks to 5 star restaurants. As tourism is a major income source for most of the Caribbean islands, it's never hard to find a meal.

Shopping

Shopping is a major drawcard for many Caribbean islands and many are duty free!

Art is plentiful and popular in Jamaica. Madras prints are the specialty in St Lucia and can be found in the form of dresses, bedspreads or table cloths. Woodcarvings are another popular souvenir and can be found just about everywhere. Pretty much every island has its own rum and these artisan spirits can be a great talking/drinking point back home.

What to Pack

You're in the Caribbean mon...you don't need much at all! Shorts, t-shirt, thongs, swimming costume and maybe some hiking boots if you intend to get off the beaten track and into some of the incredible natural attractions.

Just don't pack any camoflage gear if you are going to St Lucia...it's illegal to wear camoflage clothing, even for kids!

Multitudinous
The Caribbean comprises more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and caves.

The Caribbean has a plethora of riches. Mountains, beaches, tranquillity, tropical charm, culinary delights and adventures in paradise. 

Get some zip-line canopy thrills in Jamaica or St Lucia, visit an active volcano, cycle through the rainforest to a waterfall, take a beach swim with a horse or hike The Pitons at St Lucia, dive with sharks or swim with dolphins in the Bahamas, gaze at the stars in Antigua, go caving in Barbados and spot humpbacks in the Dominican Republic. There are plenty of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling, kite surfing, fishing and kayaking.

Recover between activities by soaking up the sun on the numerous stunning beaches, enjoy some Jamaican rum and local cuisine and groove to some reggae.