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Caribbean

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Caribbean Holidays

Sun, sea, sand and gently swaying palms. Life's a breeze on Caribbean holidays, especially when you're relaxing in an All Inclusive hotel, cocktail in hand.

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Blissful sun on blessed beaches

When describing the Caribbean, it's almost impossible to avoid using cliché brochure phrases such as 'white, sandy beaches' and 'shimmering turquoise waters' but that's exactly what this part of the world is filled with; the atypical image of paradise.

But that's not to say all Caribbean islands are the same, in fact far from it. As well as their classically 'beautiful, palm-fringed beaches' and 'glittering shores' each island has its own deep-rooted traditions, customs and cultures. Take a look at what each country, island and resort can offer and you're bound to find the perfect destination for you.

Where to stay in Caribbean

Aruba
ArubaView on Map

A small island just off the South American coastline, Aruba enjoys ideal weather, idyllic beaches and a buzzing tourism industry; it's no wonder it's known as the Happy Island.

Luxury hotels and accommodation has sprung up in Aruba over the last few years making this resort one of the trendiest in the world. This country enjoys Dutch origins which add a new twist to the Caribbean charm with perks such as a windmill on the beach.

Families can relax here but couples and adults can enjoy the romantic restaurants and evening entertainment at the many bars and casinos.

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Barbados
BarbadosView on Map

One of the quietest but most enjoyable islands in the Caribbean, the phenomenal coastline boasts miles of golden beaches. Built on a huge coral reef formed millions of years ago, it's no surprise that Barbados also offers top notch diving.

Barbados is the go-to island for the rich and famous with plenty of beachside hotels and property being blessed with an unrivalled climate to relax in.

Packed with historical sites and excellent music bars and restaurants, Barbados runs on rum and calypso. It's all about having a good time.

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Dominican Republic
Dominican RepublicView on Map

A fantastic all-rounder, the Dominican Republic has it all, from beaches to weather to water sports, and the island is so affordable that it's become one of the most sought-after destinations in the whole of the Caribbean.

Over a dozen beach resorts are spread throughout the north, south and east coast of the country with spectacular nature distributed among each. Off the coast, the Dominican Republic is blessed with dreamy islands as well as the humpback whale mating season which sees thousands of the creatures visit the shores.

This country offers family resorts, destinations for singles as well as romantic couple's getaway spots.

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Jamaica
JamaicaView on Map

The home of reggae, rum and relaxation hardly needs an introduction. It's culturally rich and more laid-back than a fully reclined sun lounger.

If you like cities, you can explore the likes of Kingston, Montego Bay and Negril where friendly locals enhance your holiday as much as they can.

If you're after calmer surroundings, then spend your time on Seven Mile Beach and listen to smooth island beats before tucking into the island's succulent cuisine. Aside from the beaches, there's also adventures and exploration to be enjoyed throughout the island's jungles, forests and waterfalls.

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Quick Tips

  • See individual islands
  • Spanish, English, French, Dutch
  • 39 million
  • GMT -4 to GMT -5

Hovering above the equator

From the fully developed, modern metropolises to the rural retreats, each island has a unique appeal. Lying between the two Americas, the Caribbean Sea is the world's second largest sea, and there are officially over 7,000 islands.

The lifestyle in the Caribbean is appreciatively slower due to the laidback nature of the residents. The chilled vibes are contagious and works as a perfect combination with the tropical backdrop of these paradise islands. Jamaica especially is known as the king of cool and tourists are always invited and encouraged to embrace the tranquil atmosphere.

Hushed evenings or huge nights out

The tourism industry has really taken off in the Caribbean meaning that the quality of hotels and accommodation has gone from strength to strength. Entertainment within these hotels is usually fun for the whole family though some resorts are better for adults and feature lively nightly parties.

Around the islands, you're bound to find the evening spot you've been craving, whether that is the pumping tunes of a manic nightclub, or the quiet confines of a beachside bar.

Most of Barbados 's resorts feature venues to chat in until the nights wind down to a gradual hush while Cuba has some resorts where the parties last long into the night within spectacular settings.

Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have a host of locations that offer both of these options while the tiny island of Aruba has a modern evening offering of bars, lounges and all-night casinos.

Caribbean cuisine

It's a wonder that Caribbean cuisine has yet to enter the mainstream back home because the food on offer across the islands is exquisite.

Many venues offer the freshest of sea foods, caught right off the coast. Look out for tropical fish dishes such as a flying fish in Barbados or ackee and saltfish in Jamaica. Of course you can't visit Jamaica without trying some delicious jerk chicken as well as plenty of other spiced and seasoned meat dishes.

Deserts often incorporate each island's home-grown foods so expect lots of exotic fruits like mangoes, bananas and coconuts.

To accompany your meal you can enjoy fine island wines but a more popular choice is the countless variations of rum cocktails. Rum is distilled on many Caribbean islands and there is plenty of bottles tempting you to take them home as souvenirs.

Craft markets

Caribbean markets are fantastic places to find a keepsake with unique island charm to remember your holiday. Hand crafted ornaments, clothing, sculptures and artwork are proudly displayed and offered to tourists while the entire atmosphere and experience of the market place is often worth the visit alone.

The larger cities in the countries often host better retail selection with commercial malls and plazas complimenting the presence of independently owned boutiques and stalls.

Getting there

Non-stop flight times from the UK usually take around ten hours to the closer of the Caribbean Islands while Aruba, which is just above South America, will take around 14 hours.

Fortunately once you land, the islands are so small that transfers from the airport to your resort will be blissfully short. If driving from the airport, you should be checked into your hotel and relaxing within the hour.

Car hire services are available from airports as well as most of the larger cities but many of the islands feature convenient public bus services and taxis.