Incorrectly identified in 1492 by Christopher Columbus as the west coast of India, the Caribbean generally refers to the archipelago of more than 7000 islands that encircle the Caribbean Sea. It wasn’t long after Columbus’ historic expedition that European powers began staking their claim. The Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Danish all exercised influence over the region before individual nations achieved independence beginning with Haiti in 1804. Today the islands are known as a significant resort destination that welcomes visitors with open arms.
The region enjoys a year round tropical climate where temperatures remain consistently between 24 and 32 degrees at sea level. There is variation in air temperature when the islands rise above sea level. Hurricanes have a propensity to develop between June and November and produce torrential rainfall and can cause significant destruction.
The region hosts many festival and events throughout the year including Grenada’s Round the Island Easter Regatta, the St Lucia Jazz Festival and British Virgin Island Music Fest. The Dominican Merengue Festival celebrates the dance merengue style, while the reggae is trumpeted at the Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica.
There are no direct flights from Australia into the 30 territories that make up the Caribbean. Most airlines fly via the United States. Airlines that fly from Australia to the Caribbean via America include:
The flight from Australia to the United States takes around 14 hours. The onward flight into the Caribbean, depending on your final destination can take the total travel time to around 20 hours.
All Inclusive Resorts
This is indulgent luxury central with each island in the Caribbean geared firmly to visitors who appreciate comfort, opulence and elegance. In particular, Grand Cayman boasts glitzy luxury resorts. View Resort options
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
The largest island of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is renowned for banking and scuba diving. With around 600 offshore banks, the central focus for the international financial community is George Town, boasting world-class shopping, hip clubs and gorgeous restaurants. Interesting sites include Boatswain’s Beach, a marine park that breeds sea turtles, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park where endemic blue iguanas roam free and the Cayman Maritime Treasure Museum.
Montego Bay is a popular cruise destination on the northwest coast of Jamaica. The three main beaches around the Bay include Doctor’s Cave, Walter Fletcher and Cornwall. Away from the beach, consider visiting Rose Hall, a restored 1778 homestead that’s located on a sugar plantation. For a fascinating slice of Caribbean history, check out Port Royal near the country’s capital, Kingston. During the seventeenth century this was once a pirates’ hideout that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692.
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, presents a breath-taking natural harbour that’s protected by Paradise Island, an island that lives up to its name. The colonial architecture is definitely worth exploring before retiring to your choice of water sports and beach time frivolity. To escape a frenetic pace, consider making the trip across to Cat Island, boasting an incredible 13km pink sand beach.
Don't leave home without...
Sunscreen and insect repellent are available throughout the region, however they may be more expensive than bringing them from Australia. Water pursuits are the main attraction, so don’t forget your favourite swimming attire, a good novel and the ability to relax.
It’s widely accepted that the culture of the region is defined through its tropical island setting. Each island has a unique culture that today is shaped by the indigenous heritage, colonial expansion and modern influences. The degree to which country promotes these factors interestingly varies. Barbados even today adheres to many British customs, while Jamaica prefers to assert its independence away from England.
Things to be careful of…
Do not purchase or be in possession of drugs. There are serious penalties.
The Caribbean sun is strong. Always apply appropriate sun protection.
While the islands on the Caribbean are generally safe, like many destinations, there are areas best not to walk alone. It's always best to check with your hotel before proceeding.