When most people think of Caribbean holidays, the first things that come to mind are drinks served in coconut shells, white sands, Latin or reggae music and turquoise seas.
Because of the weather, the scenery, the promise of Latin-style fun, and even the abundance of good looking Latinos and Latinas around, the Caribbean is the ultimate holiday spot for many.
Since it tends to be cheaper than some other paradises around the world and it is so close to America, the popularity of the Caribbean never falters.
The islands are very different from the mainland of Central America, and there is everything from super-touristy places to exclusive getaways and even private islands owned by the rich and famous of the world.
I have been all over the Caribbean, and I have compiled a list of my favorite places to be. Enjoy your Caribbean vacations!
PUERTO RICO: Great spot for Family Caribbean holidays
To me, Puerto Rico is a bit like Cuba with skyscrapers. The beaches are gorgeous, and you can get all the comfort of an American holiday spot right in the middle of the beautiful Caribbean.
I love San Juan with its beautiful old city and the panoramic fortress by the sea. I love the open air salsa concerts and the great Caribbean cocktails everywhere, and if you come with your family, some of the coolest and most fun water parks in the Caribbean are here.
If you wanna learn more about water parks of Puerto Rico, check out WATER PARKS IN PUERTO RICO, an article I wrote for Mydestination.com earlier this year.
As it turns out, I am also an expert on PUERTO RICO GOLFING. In fact, Puerto Rico is the PRIME golfing spot in the Caribbean, with greens designed by the world’s top designers, and hosting some of the top international golfing championships in the world.
I love staying at the Best Western there, but the Hilton on the beach has a lovely location as well. If you love golfing, showing your kids a good time and seeing some of the best Latin musicians on Earth, Puerto Rico may be the place for you.
HONEYMOONS IN ANGUILLA, WITH A TWIST
Only 20 minutes away from the popular St. Martin by sea, Anguilla has to be one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. No MacDonald’s, no throngs of tourists with cameras: this is a place where you can truly get a REAL Caribbean experience. Among the Caribbean islands, this has to be one of the best to spend a honeymoon or a romantic escapade.
If you really must break the chill mood with a shopping spree, you can always take the ferry to St. Martin and eat at my fave Indian restaurant or shop for some cheap electronics, Caribbean-style garments and cosmetics there. Check out my ST MAARTEN article for some tips.
I love Aruba. It’s one of those places that will just stay with you. I love the language, which is a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch and what not, the friendliness of the people, and the rich cultural heritage that you can breathe in all over the island.
It has some of the whitest sands and bluest waters I’ve ever seen, and it’s just simply ALL beautiful. Aruba is good for a honeymoon, but also for a family vacation or a Caribbean escapade with a group of friends.
If you are into discovering the cultural aspect of Aruba, here is a cool Aruba events calendar, which includes the International Film Festival and several amazing music fests.
CUBA, THE REAL DEAL
Even after they got MTV and Castro left power, so to speak, Cuba still remains a safe haven for the quintessential Caribbean spirits. I remember walking down from Miramar to downtown Havana and recognizing the alm-tree crammed gardens of beautiful old houses with their majestic columns and run-down paint jobs, out of a GARCIA MARQUEZ novel.
Cuba is more Caribbean than the Caribbean will ever be anymore. The food is amazing, if you know where to go: the best restaurants are in private houses with no signs outside, so you have to ask around, but the promise will be the best fresh lobster you ever had, among other delicacies, the MUSIC is beyond amazing, and there is so much to see in the way of culture and history. If you like your international resorts and all that sort of thing, you can get that here as well.
But you can get international resorts and pretty beaches all over the Caribbean, but alas, there is only ONE OLD HAVANA, with its bike-taxis and the painters selling their beautiful art on the streets. I can’t begin to tell you about Cuba’s national ballet, the fresh hip hop and fusion bands, and ultimately, the people’s creativity and spirit that have kept them ever so culturally through many hardships over the years.
If you stay at the HOTEL NACIONAL, you’ll get a taste of old Cuban splendor, with a fabulous view and garden thrown in the mix, and the TROPICANA shows conveniently on the grounds.
Not to be missed events include the HAVANA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and the JAZZ FESTIVAL, where you can say living wonders such as CHUCHO VALDES, and many of the world’s top jazz artists.