With over 30 islands to choose from when visiting the Caribbean, picking just one or two to adventure in can be a pretty difficult decision to make. From beautiful beaches, to hiking trails, to finding bio-luminescent plankton… there is so much to do and see that it can be overwhelming, leaving you wanting to do everything you can. There’s nothing wrong with that! But, having an idea of what it is you want to see and do beforehand can help you have the best vacation yet. To help you get started, here is a simple guide on how to choose an island to visit in the Caribbean.
How to get there?
Getting to the Caribbean can be a bit of a daunting experience, especially if you’re not from the United States where you can connect easily. More so if you don’t enjoy long haul flights across multiple continents.
For example, our December vacation to St. Thomas consisted of the following flight path:
South Africa – London (8 hours), London – New York (11 hours), New York – Miami (4 hours) and finally Miami – St Thomas (2 hours)
So you can see, it was a pretty long journey that consisted of over 42 hours of travelling and layovers across three continents. Once you reach the States, New York City or Miami is often the main connecting city to majority of the islands in the Caribbean. From here, you can book a short non-stop flight to islands like Aruba, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Punta Cana, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Try and get the shortest or cheapest flight (whatever your preference) to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and connect to your island of choice from there.
What is the weather like?
Most islands in the Caribbean experience pretty warm temperatures all year round but Bermuda and the Bahamas tend to cool down during winter. Check the temperature and humidity levels of the islands you’ll be visiting beforehand and decide if this is something you can handle. Also keep in mind the start and end of the rainy season and more importantly, hurricane season. This usually runs from June to November and can often be damaging to the islands. Monitor the hurricane season on local news networks closely and check if you will be able to access these islands and if hotels will still be open.
Fun, Fun, Fun!
While you may think that all the activities on these islands will be the same, the geography and location means that activities on some islands are better than others. Research what is unique to each islands and find out which islands offer the best snorkeling spots, day trips and night adventures. Decide what you would like to do and then find the best island in the Caribbean to do it on! Islands such as Grand Cayman for example have great snorkeling spots while St Croix actually has a snorkeling trail! Puerto Rico is famous for the bio-luminescent Bay while St. Lucia is more mountainous and has some great hiking trails.
Communicating with locals
While English is the official language in 19 of the Caribbean islands, the locals on many of the other islands speak Spanish, French or Dutch. If you like learning new languages then submerge yourself on an island where locals will love to teach you about their mother tongue or… if you’re feeling a bit lazy and want a stress free vacation, then head to islands where you know English is spoken.
Feel the vibes
Each island has a personality of its own and within each island, there are tons of things to do! Decide on the kind of trip you’d like to have – an island party, an adventure exploring the unknown or just sun and rest. Then do your research and look for the island that best offers the vibes to the type of vacation you want.