The Caribbean islands are a great vacation option for most Americans. Due to their proximity, vacations to these destinations are close, convenient and remarkably affordable.
Many people think of the Caribbean as strictly beach, sun and fun. While all islands can provide this experience, there’s so much more available. While many islands may have some similarities, the great thing about the Caribbean is that no two islands are alike. The islands are as diverse as it’s people, food and culture. Some have influences from different parts of Europe including Spain, France, Britain, and Holland, while others have a variety of influences creating their own unique vibe. Whether you are a history buff, foodie, thrill-seeker or beach bum, there’s a Caribbean destination with your name on it!
From different parts of the United States, some Caribbean destinations are more easily accessible than others. The demand continues to grow so more flights are being added each year from select cities. Even airlines such as Southwest have finally ventured into the international market by adding flights to select destinations. With more flight options, the rates have come down dramatically from some cities which is a huge benefit for all travelers.
There’s also a Caribbean destination for all budget levels from budget to ultra-luxe. Those looking for an exceptional value may want to consider an all-inclusive resort where just about everything is included in one price – meals, drinks, activities, entertainment and gratuities. The vast majority of all-inclusive resorts are in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Other islands such as St. Lucia, Aruba, Barbados and the Bahamas also have a few to choose from. The other islands may have one to two or none at all. Some all-inclusive resorts cater to adults-only, couples-only or families. Some are upscale and some are moderate or even basic. Just like the destinations, no two all-inclusive resorts are alike.
If a resort isn’t preferred, there are many hotels that aren’t all-inclusive, boutique hotels, as well as villas and apartments. Villas, specifically, are a great way to enjoy an island especially with traveling with multiple couples or families. Many villas are purpose-built so there’s often one bathroom per bedroom, with lots of living space offering all of the comforts of home and then some. Some islands are known for villas to be fully staffed so will include a butler, chef, gardener, housekeeper and laundress. There are even villas located within a resort so the guests can enjoy resort amenities and get the best of both worlds.
The hardest part about vacationing in the Caribbean is to decide which island to choose. With so many options, each island provides a different experience.
Luckily, for those who just can’t decide or want to check out a few islands before fully committing, there’s always the option to take a cruise. Cruising is a great way to get a feel for some of the islands to see if there’s a destination you’d like to visit for a longer period of time. Plus, the value of a cruise vacation is by far one of the best vacation values around.
Regardless of how you get there, be sure to venture out and explore the towns, eat the local cuisine, learn about the culture and interact with the people. The people are the heartbeat of the islands, hands down. By doing this, you’ll surely create new experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
Leslie Richardson is a Master Cruise Counselor with Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Services Agency. She can be reached at (877) 846-SHIP, (713) 491-4989, or www.jetsetterscruises.com.