Destination Spotlight: Caribbean

There is arguably no other destination in the world that’s considered synonymous to “beach paradise” than the vast collection of islands known as the Caribbean. Beaches number by the hundreds and lush tropical forests opens each island up to other adventures. From caves, mountains, and waterfalls, to ancient Mayan temples and Spanish colonial churches – the Caribbean is an island holiday paradise that’s truly worth diving into.

Let’s find out about what the Caribbean has on offer…

The Islands

It’s tough to choose between the islands as each island has a unique Caribbean flavour of its own. Many cruisers will have their favourite island to visit, and for those experiencing it the Caribbean for the first time, we give you…

The Bahamas

The Bahamas are a household name for holidays in the Caribbean – and for a good reason. With over 700 islands, it holds mega-resorts and hidden alcoves of paradise. You’ll find a crowd of party goers, as well as adventurous island-hopping explorers looking to get some sun. It’s a definite highlight for cruisers to join this party atmosphere and get down with the sound of a Caribbean steel drum band and tropical cocktails.

Aruba

While it may be home to five star luxury resorts, Aruba isn’t without its share of more remote only-one-on-the-beach experiences. If you’re looking for crystal-clear waters, reefs and even the popular Antilla Wreck to snorkel and dive, then Aruba is the place to be.

Curaçao

If you plan to cruise afield, Curaçao, with her dramatic coastlines and serene coves is a great choice. Her Dutch colonial architecture and excellent museums provide a glimpse of history past and gives travellers a little slice of European culture. You might even spot a flamingo or two wandering along the beach! Let’s go!

British Virgin Islands

A destination for those with expensive and refined tastes, the British Virgin Islands with its main island, Tortola, having a regular party atmosphere and sailing adventures to untouched beaches, remote reefs, and islands. You can dance the night away or simply slow down to island time and relax.

Cuba

The tranquil beaches of Cuba should be on every travellers’ bucket list. The hottest destination this year provides flawless white sand beaches and gentle turquoise waters, making it the most appealing getaway this side of the Caribbean. There’s Varadero with its 20 kilometres of long and stunning beach scenes; Playa Pilar for snorkelling, windsurfing, and just plain “beaching” around. Make sure to see the spectacular churches, town squares and other highlights of Old Havana, some dating as far back as the 16th-century! To visit Cuba is a step back into history with her iconic cars, vibrant music and lazy beach days.

There are so many more, we don’t have the room to list them all, however regardless of where you cruise, there’s an island paradise a few kilometres away.

Hidden and Underrated Islands

With 7,000, there’s undeniably some hidden and underrated Caribbean islands that can be just as beautiful (or sometimes, even more so!) than the popular and tourist mainstream magnets as stated above.

Let’s take a quick look…

Bathsheba, Barbados – Great for surfers and snorkelers with untouched surrounding coral reefs

Belize’s Mayan Ruins and Barrier Reef – Pristine beaches, wondrous caves, historic ruins plus the second largest reef system in the world

Bonaire, Venezula – lower down in the Caribbean, however if you get the chance to visit this small island you’ll find thousands of flamingos, donkeys roaming the hills, spectacularly colourful birdlife including the rare Prikichi (an endangered small bright green and yellow parakeet), as well as the surrounding Marine Park protecting nesting sea turtles, multiple varieties of shark and more.

Sint Maarten/Saint Martin – Food connoisseurs will have a field day here, sampling French, Dutch and Creole cuisines, fresh seafood, and local rum drinks.

Iles des Saints – Hip and trendy café culture in a secluded slice of paradise.

Pink Beaches of the Bahamas – Harbour Island is the most renowned island in the Bahamas for its pink beach. It’s one of the unique sights of the Caribbean created from the crushed shells of a microscopic pink-shelled coral insect that mixes with the sand to give a pink hue to the sand. Other nearby islands with really pink beaches are Crane Beach in Barbados and Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda.

Cruises

The Caribbean is considered to be one of the world’s leading cruising regions. Over 30 ports, tropical warm climes, numerous choices for exciting adventures are all complemented by the luxurious amenities of your cruise ship – giving you an island holiday that is hard to beat.

Cruising can really be the best and most convenient way to visit multiple tropical islands, rather than basing yourself on one island (although that can be fun too… go in-depth and really get to know the culture, explore completely and discover local haunts that can just make a holiday!). And although you will need to catch a flight from Australia, we have some great Fly-Cruise Package Deals that will land you in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, ready to go to sea and to touch base on all those beautiful islands.

Your cruise choices include world-class lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney Cruise Line (perfect for the kids), Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and more.

What to Eat

Each island has its own cavalcade of great dishes. Here’s a few that we can highly recommend:

Flying Fish Sandwich – Fish fry in a delightfully light sandwich.

Aneganda Lobster – Fresh from the beach, these huge crustaceans are taken straight from the shore direct to a fiery grill and delivered to your table in a matter of minutes. Yum – yes please!

Rock Lobster – Another speciality, although it has no claws and a meaty tail, it is still grilled to perfection ready to pair with your favourite cocktail or beer.

Jerk – If you’re heading to Jamaica, you won’t miss this because this tasty marinade is everywhere. Smothered on chicken, fish, goat, pork, beef, vegetables and then cooked over a wood fire. The aromas will draw you in from miles away!

Mannish water – A hefty stew that’s a mixture of yams and male billy goat. It is rumoured to be an aphrodisiac, and as the name suggests, it’s for men only (although ladies, you can have a taste if you dare!… Be Aware: That the whole head may be included in the stew, and not for the faint-hearted!)

Pepperpot – Another hearty stew that blends fresh local produce and a variety of meats. Usually served piping hot with cornmeal patties and dumplings.

Transport

The Caribbean is one of the most popular cruising destinations in the world. Getting around is easy, and usually by ship for multi-island travel or by smaller boat for shorter day trips.

You can also travel from island to island via: Ferry, Yacht Charter, Flights

If you are on an island, travel via bus, or we highly recommend getting a rental car or moped to travel on your own time.

Price Range

$$-$$$$ – The skies the limit in the Caribbean! You can cruise the islands with all of your accommodation and food taken care of onboard a luxury cruise ship, stay on an island at one of the luxury resorts, or throw caution to the wind and be extravagant when you hire a super-yacht and sail into the sunset.

Language

As one of the most popular islands in the region, English is spoken throughout islands. That said, you’ll also find many locals speaking Spanish, French, Dutch and Haitian depending on where you are.

As a very popular destination, with a vast expanse of clear aqua waters and tropical white sand islands, are a must do bucket-list item. Ask us about a Cruise or Fly-Cruise Package deal for your family, friends… or just the two of you!

There’s no time like the present to book… Call your Accor Vacation Club Travel cruise specialists today on AU: 1800 70 80 90 or NZ: 0800 45 19 97

Written Kevin Montalbo
Edited J Hamilton