Ahh, the Caribbean … sun, sea, relaxation. But is it true what we read about travel articles and catalogs? Well, partly yes, but there is much more to say, and if you have already booked the trip or are still organizing it, these tips for your trip to the Caribbean can be really useful!
1 # Sun, Rain and Soldier Nature
Let’s start with an aspect that some (many) often ignore: in the Caribbean it rains, and how it rains. The dream scenarios that can be seen in the catalogs have a very different aspect if seen in the “wrong” period; wrong in inverted commas, because if the charm of the Caribbean is given largely by its natural appearance, by the lush green of the forests, by the golden sand coasts enclosed between palm trees and tropical vegetation, well, all this is (above all) due to warm temperatures , sun, but also lots and lots of rain! So if you’re lucky enough to spend your week without a drop of rain then good for you, but even if you run into some tropical rainy day, try to think of how much it takes to keep this nature alive. In any case, don’t despair; in the Caribbean the weather can change very quickly, and an extremely rainy day can turn into a perfect beach day in just a few hours!
2 # When To Go To The Caribbean
If you are starting to think about spending a few relaxed days on the beautiful Caribbean beaches, you’ve certainly wondered what the best time to leave is. The problem is that there is not a single answer that is good for all Caribbean destinations, or rather, the ideal is obviously the dry season, which in principle can be between December and April, but there are significant differences from country by country, and the best advice is to adequately inquire about the individual destinations you want to see. The some in fact the recommended time band can also be of only 2 or 3 months a year, outside of which the rains are quite frequent.
3 # Animals and Plants: Know and Respect Them
To make it even more fascinating a trip to the Caribbean are certainly the many and incredible species of animals and plants that populate nature. Visiting natural parks, protected reserves, and sometimes simply walking in the street, you will be able to meet animals of all kinds, which you probably never saw live or even which you never knew existed. In this case, always try to behave in a way that does not frighten the animal, and avoids touching it; some animals, for example some very colorful frogs, are covered with a toxic and irritating poison even for humans. The same goes for plants; admire them, take photos, but be careful not to touch them or damage them.
4 # Insects and Viruses Zika
Do you worry about mosquitos, mosquitoes and various insects? In fact, for many of these tropical vegetation is a great place to live and reproduce, and as a result, during a trip to the Caribbean, you may come across some annoying bugs. Obviously, a lot depends on the area you are going to; a lodge in the forest suffers more than a hotel in a seaside town, but in any case, it is good to start prepared. A goodinsect repellent, possibly even natural (but preferably designed for tropical climates), could become a faithful travel companion. The same goes for a good cure for insect bites, able to relieve itching and swelling. But there is also to say that (scientifically) not everyone is targeted in the same way by insects, who perceive colors, smells, temperature and many other factors that direct them in choosing the “victim”.
The Zika Virus, transmitted by mosquitoes in some Caribbean areas should also be taken into consideration; often the virus is completely asymptomatic, but in some cases, it can cause fever, headache and various disorders. Pregnant women must pay more attention and inform themselves properly; it is therefore recommended to consult the page dedicated to the Zika Virus on the Viaggiare Sicuri site.
5 # Health and Travel Insurance
As far as the health and health structures are concerned, not all Caribbean countries can be considered in the same way, since even from part of the same State it is possible to notice great differences. In any case, in general, the public structures of the Caribbean islands and countries do not offer services at the level to which we are accustomed; however, in many cases this lack is met by excellent private facilities, which, although at a high price, are able to meet any need. Evaluating how many and which health facilities are present near your destination is always the best way to not waste time in case of need.
Since the solution to any need is usually private facilities, a travel insurance is fundamental in our opinion, and it is not necessary to pay large amounts to get it. In this way you will get all the assistance and support you need, and eventually you will be able to request repatriation if it is not enough to address the problem on the spot.
6 # Food and Water
A quick reflection on food and water. There are two rules to keep in mind when traveling in tropical climates like the Caribbean …
- Consume only bottled water and “safe” foods to avoid contamination and unpleasant consequences.
- Drink more water (than usual) to keep the body hydrated despite the heat.
Add to this only a dispassionate opinion: tasting local specialties is another way to get to know a different culture. Trying to eat on the other side of the world, the Caribbean or not, is not the best choice (and it is often rather disappointing), the same goes for fast food and the like. Attention only to where and how you try new foods; a typical restaurant is certainly safer than a street stall, but you can never tell.
7 # Documents and Visas
Many countries in the Caribbean area allow entry into the country for a limited period of time (usually up to 90 days), simply by stamping them in the passport upon arrival and therefore not requiring preliminary travel procedures. One aspect to consider, if you plan to organize a trip between several countries, is that Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador have signed an agreement, called C4, according to which the tourist has a maximum of 90 days ( unless reasoned request for an extension) to move within these countries.
In practice, if you travel from Honduras to Nicaragua while traveling, you will not be renewed at the entrance to the latter country, which will continue to be valid until the date initially affixed to Honduras.
If you intend to stay beyond the initially set limit (which sometimes, at the discretion of the immigration office, may be less than 90 days) you must submit a motivated request to the competent office and in general it is also necessary to show an exit ticket from the country within the maximum fixed times.
8 # License, Guide and Public Transport
Moving along the Caribbean coast or exploring the meanders of the islands using local transport networks is a real experience to try! Personally we happened to be in about twenty passengers on a minivan with 15 seats (already tight), with lots of backpacks and various bags, all in a day to say the least sultry; and the beauty is that everything seemed to be decidedly normal for our “traveling companions”. Therefore, aside from the comfort aspect, this can be a way to immerse yourself (literally) in contact with the local population; moreover, this is the cheapest solution if your budget is limited.
If you want more freedom of movement, you can always rent a car. Now almost everywhere there are both local agencies and famous international companies, so you’ll only need to bring your driving license with you; remember to check through the official websites which are the local road rules and in particular check any limitations for foreign drivers; in fact, circulation with a foreign driving license is often granted for a limited number of weeks.
Finally, if you want to limit yourself to short trips, you could rent a bike and explore the area where you are, discovering curious places inaccessible to larger vehicles.
9 # Style Of Life and Poverty
If you’ve never been to the Caribbean, two aspects will surely hit you; the first is the lifestyle and attitude of the Caribbean populations, and the second is widespread poverty.
In fact, you will notice that people appear to be much quieter and more relaxed in any context, even work. The frenzy and stress that unites many peoples in the workplace, is really rare in the Caribbean countries, or at least in the most authentic places, not too influenced by the North American or European mentality. And this should not be read as a general lack of desire or interest in work, but simply represents a different attitude; things are done in short, but without too much haste! The emblem of all this is the expression “ahorita”, which means now or from / very little; this word in Spain is hardly even used, while in most of Central America it can easily indicate even more than now. So if you ask when the bus passes and they answer you ahorita, just sit back and relax while waiting.
The second aspect that will probably hit you is widespread poverty. Thinking of the Caribbean we only imagine dream beaches, vegetation and animals of a thousand colors and turquoise waters; what we tend not to consider, however, are the conditions of life and poverty of a large part of the population that lives on wages barely sufficient for their livelihood. Millions of people in Central America live in small wooden or sheet metal shacks, and you just need to get away from the main tourist centers to see it yourself. And of course this is compounded by the fact that what for the local populations is a normal, average lifestyle is actually far below the standards we are used to in Europe. So, in order not to limit yourself to taking all this as a given and to go further, during your trip to the Caribbean try to get in touch with the population, feeding the local economy more than you are (perhaps) doing indirectly with the foreign one (for example, sleeping in a resort or using services that are not managed by the locals).
10 # Snorkeling and Diving
If you love underwater life, the Caribbean is a perfect place to see hundreds of fish and corals of different species. In the area of Central America the Mesoamerican Coral Reef System develops which includes the barrier off the Yucatan in Mexico, the Belize Barrier Reef, up to the southern coast of Honduras, and represents the second largest coral reef in the world, second only to the Great Australian Barrier Reef.
The presence of this natural spectacle attracts tens of thousands of snorkeling and diving enthusiasts every year, who here have great opportunities to see unique marine species in a heavenly context. In the most tourist coastal areas of the Caribbean there are also dozens of diving centers where it is possible to obtain the various PADI patents. If you opt for a diving course, don’t worry too much about the basic equipment, which will be provided directly by the dive center.
With these useful tips for the Caribbean you are ready to get the most out of your travel experience! If you have any questions or want some advice do not hesitate to leave a comment below, and if you want to share the article with your friends.