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Navigating the Islands

I recently posed a question on my blog asking readers for their unanswered travel questions. One theme seemed to be differentiating the Caribbean islands from each other and knowing which one to choose.

Whether you are deciding upon a cruise itinerary or are looking some R&R at a resort, knowing what each island has to offer is a key factor, especially with the number of islands to choose from.

Here are tips that might help you narrow your search and get you one step closer to your ideal vacation.

All-Inclusive Resorts:

Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic offer the greatest number of all-inclusive resorts. Aruba, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Anguilla also offer several options each.

Lush Scenery:

While many of the islands are known for their natural beauty, St. Lucia, Dominica, Granada, St. Kitts and Nevis,  and St. John are among the most lush.  Islands like Aruba and Curacao have more of a desert landscape.

Seclusion:

If you’re looking for a serene, out of the way getaway, islands such as Barbuda, St. Bart’s, Matinique, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadaloupe, Grenada or St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be ideal. Here, you aren’t likely to find mega-resorts or tour buses full of day trippers from a cruise. Just you, the ocean, the sand and a few others looking to escape.

Restaurants, Shopping and Nightlife:

St. Thomas and Aruba are possibly the most notable for all three.  Aruba is 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela and it’s cuisine and atmosphere reflect the latin influence. It’s fun and lively with a bit of sass. St. Thomas is popular for it’s tax-free shopping and particularly noted as a place to purchase electronics and jewelry.

Diving, Snorkeling and Water Activities:

Good diving and snorkeling can be found throughout the Caribbean, though Bonaire, Grand Cayman and Cozumel (included as it’s on many cruise itineraries) are among some of the top dive spots in the world. With 365 beaches, Antigua offers virtually every water-based activity available.

Beaches:

The Caribbean has no shortage of beaches and whichever island you choose will offer beautiful ocean views. However, some of the most notable beaches include Seven Mile Beach (Caymen Islands), Honeymoon Beach (St. John, USVI), the beaches of Antigua, Anse Chastanet (St. Lucia), The Baths (Virgin Gorda, BVIs), Shoal Bay (Anguilla) and and too many others to name.

Festivals and Celebrations:

Aruba and Jost Van Dyke (British Virgin Islands) do two of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Caribbean. Cruise ships will do an onboard celebration for New Years Eve as well.

Trinidad and Tobago are known for having one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world.

St. Lucia’s Jazz festival in May and Montego Bay’s Reggae Sumfest in July attract music fans from all over.

The best way to determine the right cruise or island to fit your needs is to work with a travel professional. They know the islands and properties and can help create an itinerary or find a cruise which fits your needs, interests and budget.

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