If you've never been to any of the islands in the Caribbean, in our opinion, you're missing out! These beautiful islands offer a variety of experiences, whether you're looking for relaxation or exploration. Here are 5 things you may not know about traveling to the Caribbean.
Each Island is Unique
If you've never been before, it's easy to see the Caribbean as grouping of basically similar islands that all have the same white sand beaches, touristy resort areas and cruise ports, and warm blue waters. But, each island has its own history, geography, culture, and vibe. No two islands are truly alike - some feature the endless white beaches you've seen in photographs, whereas others have pebbly beaches. Some islands are sparsely populated and have a deserted island feel, while others have densely populated cities. Some are flat and dry, while others have lush, mountainous jungles, and even volcanoes! This makes the Caribbean an incredibly repeatable destination, since there are so many unique islands to visit.
If you haven't been to the Caribbean before, especially coming from the US, you may find that things run a bit slower than you may be used to. Time is a bit more relative in most of the Caribbean - things run at a slower pace, and this can be frustrating if you're not expecting it. Instead, try to relax and embrace it - you're on vacation, after all!
Crime and Safety
Guests sometimes ask us about how safe it is to visit the Caribbean. This can sometimes be hard to gauge for new visitors, as high-profile incidents often get overblown and misrepresent actual safety levels in the Caribbean. In general, violent crime rarely affects tourist areas in the Caribbean, and crime that does occur tends to be theft, which can often be prevented by taking precautions with your valuables.
For those concerned about safety when traveling to the Caribbean, it's best to check the US State Department's travel precaution ratings. Most islands in the Caribbean are at Level 1, meaning that you should exercise the same precaution that you would for traveling anywhere. Some are at Level 2, meaning that you should exercise increased caution - but, note that these precautions are often focused on specific areas of the islands, and often don't affect resort or tourist areas.
Most Caribbean islands have their own currency, but if you're not going outside of the island's resort or tourist areas, you don't necessarily need to exchange currencies. If you're staying at an all-inclusive, it's unlikely you'll need cash for much in the first place. Even if you go off your resort, most places in resort and tourist areas accept US dollars and major credit cards. Just keep in mind that if you pay for something in US dollars and you get change back, you'll likely get local currency back instead of US dollars, and not every area of the island may accept US dollars. Tipping is also customary on most islands in the Caribbean.
No Camo Allowed
As you put together your packing list, keep in mind that in many Caribbean countries - including Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago - do not allow camouflage of ANY color to be worn on any item of clothing. Leave those camo items at home!