Country-Primary – A TOURIST IN THE CARIBBEAN

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Bonaire

Bonaire, which means ‘Good Air’ is a beautiful island in the Dutch Caribbean. It is one of the three western most islands of the Lesser Antilles which comprises the ABC islands, the others being Aruba and Curacao.  These islands are all part of the Netherlands in the Caribbean.  Bonaire is located about 50 miles of the coast of Venezuela.  The smallest of the ABC islands, Bonaire is best known for its tourist attractions as it gets twice as much tourists per year than its sister island, Curacao.  

With a population of just over 19,000 people Bonaire is a diver’s paradise because of the abundance of diving options available to divers and the beautifully protected reefs that lie within.  Unlike some of the other islands, Bonaire lies outside of the hurricane belt which means it is protected from the storms that affect other Caribbean islands.  The island boasts of beautiful, warm sunny weather all year round.  Bonaire is a flat island with plenty of sunshine which keeps the sea warm and breezy all day long. Because of its proximity to the equator the island enjoys about 12 hours of sunshine each day of the year.  Because of the dry climate the island has a rare and unique collection of flora and vegetation made up of cacti, aloe vera plants and acacia trees. There are also plenty of mangroves and salt marshes. 

Due to its rich ancestry of Dutch, African and European cultures, the island’s social heritage is particularly strong when coming to food, music, religion, language and architecture.  Dutch is the official language on the island but English and Spanish are also widely spoken.  The island’s traditional songs and dances are reminiscent of the early years of its first European settlers and the arrival of African slaves that are chronicled in the lavish festivals on the island.  

Bonaire N.A., Sea Salt production (Charles W Guthrie)

The island’s economy depends heavily on tourism, oil transference, salt production and small rice and manufacturing industries.   Whereas, salt production was once a thriving industry on the island in the early 16th Century, it became redundant after the abolishment of slavery.  The island’s economy is now mainly based on Tourism. Also, in order to increase more sustainable production and lower the import food bill measures are being taken to improve agricultural production on the island.  

The island is a very safe place for tourists and comes highly recommended by the US Department of State.  Anytime is a good time to go to Bonaire.  Because it is a very small island there are not lots of crowds or attractions outside of the beautiful reefs and beaches that are famous to the island.  The beautiful weather and friendly people help make a visit to the island a memorable occasion to remember.  You will be surprised how easy it is to totally relax and enjoy the few amenities that Bonaire has to offer. The island has always been regarded as one of the best snorkeling and diving destinations in the Caribbean. 

So, the next time you are thinking of a vacation with sunny and refreshing breeze with ideal conditions for kiteboarding and windsurfing,  Bonaire should definitely come to mind.  

Martinique

Martinique, is the beautiful French island in the southern Caribbean known for its breathtaking natural beauty and charm.   With a mixture of French and Caribbean traditions and cultures, you get the better of both worlds when you vacation on the beautiful island of Martinique.  Imagine having a slice of France, pristine beaches, tropical forests, miles of sugarcane fields with a rolling green countryside that awaits you – that is Martinique.

Mount Pelée

Primarily French, Martinique offers a seductive mix of magnificent beaches, dramatic mountain tops, tropical gardens, beautiful flowers, and many architectural attractions. It is known for its tradition and culture with a rich history of crafts and literature. Its multi-ethnic population stems from the diverse island successive inhabitants of Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Asians. Martinique’s economy is based on sugarcane, light industry, bananas, and tourism. As the sugarcane industry is on the decline, today, most of the sugar is used for the production of rum.

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Gorges de la Falaise

The tourism industry now plays a major role in the economy and is the main source of foreign exchange for the island. The official language is French and French Creole, which stems from old French and broken English. The island has a tropical climate, covered with exuberant vegetation, lavish tropical forests, and countless species of trees and flowers a welcoming sign to tourists and visitors to the island.  The island is best known for being the Paris of the Caribbean.

Martinique is not your normal North American vacation destination in the Caribbean and there is a reason for that. The luxury all-inclusive resorts, expensive housing, and exquisite dining do not come cheap in Martinique. The island caters more to French-speaking tourists around the world. As a region of France, the currency used on the island is the Euro so the U.S. dollar won’t go far in these parts. Another major obstacle English speaking tourists encounter when visiting the island is the language barrier as most of the residents speak French or Creole, so it is advisable to bring along a French dictionary or handbook when visiting the island.

Well, the island known as ‘The Island of Flowers’ truly lives up to its name with the sweet scents of anthuriums, bougainvillea, and orchids throughout the island. The best time to visit the island is from December to April as there is the chance that hurricanes and storms may hit the island late summer into early Fall. The island is notoriously known for its volcanic devastation of Mont Pelee in 1929 in the town of Le Morne Rouge which is a very popular site among tourists.

The island has some amazing beaches with their silver and blue-gray volcanic sand just perfect for family outings, and on the island’s southern coast there are beautiful white sand beaches all covered with clear crystal turquoise waters.

Known as the Rum Capital of the world, a visit to the island will not be complete without trying some of the finest rums and wines in the world all locally produced on the island. Free samples are available at each distillery and can be purchased at the airport upon departure.

A leading destination for European vacation seekers the island is filled with French traditions, rich history, and cultural heritage. Martinique is truly a gem in the Caribbean.


Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI)

Turks and Caicos Islands is an archipelago of low lying tropical coral islands in the West Indies. Located 575 miles southeast of Miami 75 miles north of the Dominican Republic in the Atlantic Ocean. Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory consisting of 40 different islands and cays, with a population of around 37,000 but only about eight (8) of these islands are inhabited. Also, two large uninhabited islands called West Caicos and East Caicos also form a part of Turks and Caicos islands.

Peovidenciales

Turks is a reference to the indigenous Turk’s head cactus and Caicos (Arawak language) is from the Lucayan term “Caya Hico” meaning string of islands. The climate is tropical and dry with average temperatures. Turks & Caicos was known for its salt production during the years of slavery, although salt production no longer exists, it is still essential today, in the production of solar salt, on the island of Salt Cay.

There is a wide range of native plants and trees such as cactus, orchids, oak and mahogany, buttonwood, sea grapes, and much more, and foreign plants such as sisal, aloe vera, coconut and wild pomegranate with lush tropical foliage and beautiful serene gardens. Birds such as the hummingbirds, the osprey, big-eared bats, Cuban Crow, and doves among others can be found on the island.  Reptiles like the curly tail lizard and snakes like the pigmy boa, Bahama boa, and worm snakes are all part of the mammal family on the island.

Turtle Cove

Turks & Caicos economy is mainly based on tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services. The island’s major export is seafood, including conch and lobster which helps with the economy. There is a mixture of people from all over the world including French, Europeans, and North Americans, and few islanders of African descent who migrated from Haiti to the island in search of a better life.

Known for its peace and beauty, turquoise water, friendly people, each island offers a different experience with its own character, but all offer beautiful climate, awe-inspiring views, plenty of fun, and adventure which makes this an ideal destination for the avid vacation seeker.


U.S. Virgin Islands

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) consists of three main islands, St Croix, St Thomas, St John, and many smaller islands. With a mixture of a vibrant West Indian culture and a touch of lifestyle from the United States, the US Virgin Islands is one of the most stunningly beautiful vacation destinations in the Caribbean.

Charlotte Amèlie

Each of the three major islands has its own character with a unique blend of African, European, and North and South American cultures. Together the American and Caribbean combination makes the United States Virgin Islands a unique and interesting place, a leader in sustainable tourism that protects and preserves, the natural environment and cultural heritage of the islands.  Of the three islands St. Thomas is the main island.

The economy of the United States Virgin Island depends primarily upon tourism, trade, and overseas business services. The island receives more than two million tourists per year which accounts for the high GDP and employment on the island. The Government is the main employer of jobs on the island. Other services like manufacturing, domestic services, real estate, and insurance also contribute to the thriving economy on the island. Solar energy is also playing a small role in the islands’ energy production. The Rum Industry was once a thriving business on the island but has slowly been taken over by the manufacturing and exporting of chemicals, clothing, foodstuff, goods, and petroleum refining. The Islands’ major trade partners are the United States, Europe, and China.

The capital, Charlotte Amalie is a major tourist attraction with its enchanting beauty and vibrant cruise port. The islands are famous for their beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Imagine divulging yourself in watersports activities like sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, jet-skiing, are just some of the activities available on the islands. With its luscious landscapes and awe-inspiring sites, land activities like biking, hiking. and horseback riding is sure to fascinate you.

Buck Island

Its rich cultural legacy permeates throughout the islands through their history, culture, architecture, art, music, and cuisine. Make your vacation a true Caribbean experience by enjoying the local music, food, and culture of the US Virgin Islands.

St. Martin/St. Maarten

This beautiful piece of Caribbean treasure known as St. Martin/St Maarten – a dual-governed island – sits quietly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea – the island is a shared partnership between France and the Netherlands.  It is divided into two sides, the French side and the Dutch side. The Dutch side which speaks predominantly English is known for its beautiful beaches, designer jewelry, festive nightlife, and plenty of casino gambling, while the French side which speaks French is popular for its nude beaches, high-end shopping, and sumptuous cuisine.

Loterie Farms

The island has a very diversified culture with over 70 unique cultures and about 10 different languages spoken on the island. Aside from its stunning beaches, the island boasts of enthusiastic culture, breathtaking landscapes, sparkling blue waters filled with yachts and boating regattas, and duty-free shopping. The island is also blessed with nature parks, a marine park, and miles of natural resources all part of the island’s precious environment.

The economy relies heavily on tourism but also receives income from petroleum refining, offshore finances, and trade with other Caribbean islands. The island depends very much on imported consumer goods and imports from the U.S and Mexico. Albeit, the island is in the process of establishing its own light industry and manufacturing production, so as to release the burden of the dependence on tourism as the island’s major income earner.

The culture of the island is a blend of its ethnic beginnings of African, French, British, and Dutch. Although both islands share virtually the same culture and heritage, visitors to the island will get a cultural taste of both sides when it comes to language and the different cuisines prepared on the islands. Their choice of music is unanimously the same as the island has accepted the Caribbean region style of music such as merengue, calypso, soca and zouk music. But at the same time, each side has managed to respect each other’s culture while being a dual island.

St. Martin, the French side of the island is very similar to the island of France itself with comfort and elegance and a deep sense of fashion, high-end shopping, and exquisite cuisine. On the other side St. Maarten, the Dutch side has a busy cruise port, a very buzzing commercial district catering to lots of tourists and foreign visitors. The Dutch side is also known for its festive nightlife, rum drinking fiascos, and lots of casinos. Visitors to the island would enjoy cool tropical temperatures on the island all year round in part due to the tropical tradewinds that blow inward to the island.

St Lucia Beaches

Today, tourism has developed rapidly on the island and it is now flourishing as a major Caribbean tourist destination, mainly because of its vibrant nightlife and gaming casinos where tourists can have fun all year round. The island is well known for its nude beaches and trendy shopping. It is little wonder that this beauty of an island is one of the most visited in the Caribbean. Whether, on a family vacation, honeymoon, or just group vacation St Martin has it all and sure to make your list an unforgettable vacation.

Trinidad & Tobago

The Caribbean is packed with fabulous destinations but probably the most exciting and unique destination of all the islands is the most southerly of all the islands, Trinidad and Tobago.  Located just about seven miles of the coast of Venezuela, this little island is one of the Caribbean’s hidden paradise. This beautiful gem in the Caribbean Sea is a country like no other!

Queen’s Park Savannah

The island is known for its incredible natural diversity and dynamic cultural spectacle. The land of Steelband and calypso, the steel pan is widely regarded as the only major musical instrument in the world, to be invented in the 20th century. Trinidad and Tobago stand out for its fabulous beaches, lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, beautiful coral reefs in the aquamarine and azure waters of Tobago, and its beautiful array of flora and fauna at the island’s Botanical Garden and a very tropical unspoiled rainforest suitable for all family members.

One of the island’s favorite attractions, among others, for visitors is the Emperor Valley Zoo with its rare species of animals and a wide assortment of beautiful birds species including the islands’ native birds, the Trinidad Hummingbird, and the Tobago, Cocrico. Some consider the beach at Pigeon Point, Tobago to be one of the finest in the world with its sandy shores stretching for miles with waters so clear that one sees the fishes as they swim by. But there is nothing like setting aboard a glass-bottom ‘party-style’ boat at Buccoo Reef and head out to the Nylon Pool, an area of about two feet deep in the ocean, to see the beautiful corals and bathe in the effervescent waters which some believe would restore youth and good health.

Trinidad and Tobago is recognized as a high-income economy by the World Bank. The country’s economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country’s wealth is attributed to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas. The island’s robust economy has made the island a powerhouse among its Caribbean neighbors. Then there is the dynamic nightlife like no other and its unique culture exhibited by its world-renowned carnival and yearly festivals.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

It is impossible to visit the islands without getting a feel for its diverse culture, in its Calypso and Soca music, and of course, the various ethnic dishes serve on the island. But mostly, the island is surely represented by the warmth and energy of the sun, the beauty of nature, the vitality of the land, and the courage and friendliness of its people. Culturally the island is equally diverse with people of ethnic mixes and religions. A wide variety of Afro Caribbean, Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern dishes are available on both islands.

With its beautiful beaches, plenty of natural resources, a plethora of entertainment, great shopping, and a wide array of cultural activities all year-round, the two-islands state is a vacation paradise for winter vacation seekers. But the beauty doesn’t end with just the two islands, there are other smaller islands, ‘known as Down the Islands’, that surround the main island that is also very fascinating. If you ever have the chance at having a vacation you should grab the chance to visit the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago.


St. Lucia

The ‘Simply Beautiful’ island as it is called is filled with sunshine, adventure, and vigor — And that is the beautiful island of St. Lucia. The country is believed to be the only country in the world named after a woman – St Lucy of Syracuse. Besides its beauty and mountainous terrain the island is also known for its world-famous iconic landmark – The Twin Pitons -and to be the only island in the world with a drive-in volcano that is still active today. St Lucia with her perfectly textured mountains, historic sites, sandy tropical beaches, fertile green valleys, and luscious rainforests – is truly a beauty to behold!

Twin Pitons

St Lucia is the most mountainous island among other Caribbean islands. The highest point on the island being Mount Gimie at 950 meters (3,120 feet) above sea level. The unspoiled beauty of the Eastern Caribbean is blessed with the beautiful Twin Volcanic Pitons that rise about half a mile out of the sea, beautiful beaches, and nature. But not to be left out is the island’s vibrant cultural and culinary life that makes the island so unique.

St Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, very interesting and breathtaking in terms of landscaping and scenery, With its pristine palm-fringed beaches, magnificent rain forest, cascading waterfalls, incredible rivers, and papaya orchards the natural beauty of this island is amazing. Not to be forgotten is the historic little town of Soufriere with its Diamond Mineral Baths, beautifully restored Soufriere Estate, luscious botanical gardens, and sugar cane mills. The island tends to be very popular with tourists due to its tropical weather, natural sceneries, and exquisite vacation resorts. From soaking in the sulphur springs ‘mud baths’ to swimming in the beautiful clear ocean of the Caribbean sea or hiking one of the many mountain trails, a visit to St Lucia is an experience one will forever inspire and enchant you

St. Lucia’s economy, like most of its sister isles, depends primarily on tourism and offshore banking, assisted with a thriving banana production market. The massive banana plantations on the island have made the exportation of the product very competitive on the world market. St Lucia is an agricultural island dedicated to producing and exporting tropical crops like bananas, avocados, and mangos to other Caribbean islands. And the island is considered one of the best when it comes to diverse manufacturing in the Eastern Caribbean. Their top trading partners in manufacturing are Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and the United Kingdom.

St. Lucia Rainforest

The island is continually buzzing with festivals and cultural activities all year round. There is never a shortage of adventure and activities on the island. Their local cuisine is rooted deep in their culture with a mixture of African/Caribbean, French, and Creole dishes. The official language is English but French Creole is commonly used by some natives. St Lucia is also very proud to have produced two Nobel Prize winners, Sir Arthur Lewis for Economics in 1979 and Derek Walcott for Literature in 1992. St Lucia is also known as one of the Caribbean’s premier wedding destinations for couples wishing to tie the knot. With some of the most pristine locations, stunning views, and impeccable services, the island is perfect for couples looking to tie the knot in the sunny Caribbean.

St. Lucia has a lot to offer its visitors including volcano and mud baths; waterfalls; mineral baths; hiking, diving, plantation tours, snorkeling, fishing zip lining, aerial trams, heritage walks, segway tours, horseback riding, whale watching, lighthouses and much more. The island’s landscape, culture, cuisine, and people provides the perfect setting for the vacation of a lifetime. The island has grown to become one of the most desired Caribbean destinations in the world.

Guadeloupe

Terre-de-Bas Island

Guadeloupe is a beautiful Caribbean island and an overseas region of France located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. It is part of a group of island nations that occupies about 1,628 sq.km of land in the Caribbean Sea. The main territory consists of two main islands Basse-Terre to the west and Grande-Terre to the east. Basse-Terre is the island’s capital while Pointe-a-Pitre in Grande Terre is the economic hub and home to the main port on the island. The island’s iconic landmark, Soufriere, an active volcano is a source of hot springs and sulfur springs which is a great draw to visitors and tourists on the island.

Guadeloupe is a very mountainous island with low-lying rivers with plenty of coastlines and picturesque beaches. The Basse-Terre side of the island is covered with dense forests, mangrove swamps, and small rivers while Grande-Terre has fewer forests and only a few patches of woodland. Fishing is a big part of the island’s occupation as the warm waters of the Caribbean sea support a wide variety of sea life. Local ferries connect the main islands to the smaller islands in Guadeloupe. The long stretches of white sandy beaches, the lush tropical forests, and the blue skies offer a lot of activities for travelers to indulge in a  sweet Caribbean vacation.

The economy of Guadeloupe depends on services, agriculture, light industry, manufacturing, and tourism. Because the island is a territory of France, it also receives French aid in the form of large subsidies, imports, and grants. The industrial sector of the island includes cement, sugar production, clothing, and wooden furniture. Manufacturing and agriculture also account for a small part of the island’s thriving economy. Bananas and sugar cane are the island principal crops for export to other Caribbean islands. While, eggplant, flowers, and small fish are exported to foreign countries. But the biggest contribution to the economy on the island is in the Government Services Departments of Administration, Education, Health, and Social Services.

Jacques Casteau’s Underwater Reserve

When you think of culture in the French territory of Guadeloupe, the first thing comes to mind is color, a kaleidoscope of colors adorn by its rich ethnic diversity. The island is a melting pot of different cultures in art, religion, music, and culinary practices all influenced by French, Indian and Caribbean traditions. The spoken language is French and Creole between locals. The currency used is the Euro.

The British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands is a territory of the British Government in the Caribbean islands. It consists of four main islands, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, and about 50 smaller islands. Besides being one of the top tourists’ destinations in the Caribbean the islands are known for their excellent sailing and yachting, beautiful diving sites, gorgeous, sparkling beaches, and coral reef.

Tortola

The most inhabited of all the islands is Tortola with a population of over 25,000. There are about 35,000 people living on the islands. These inhabitants hold British Citizenship and as such their culture is a mixture of European, Caribbean, and African traditions. The islands have a sub-tropical climate that is mild and pleasant and alluring to the tourist industry. The islands possess the most breathtaking sceneries, with hundreds of secret bays, hidden coves, calm turquoise waters, and white sandy beaches are just a few of natures’ little secrets on the islands.

In this unspoiled volcanic archipelago of islands, you will discover the beauty of the British Virgin Islands, each with its unique flair and character. Tortola, known as the exotic playground of the islands is also home to Sage Mountain National Park a true wonder on the island and the highest peak in the Virgin Islands; Virgin Gorda’s natural granite pillars called, The Baths, (the most picturesque shores in BVI); to the magnificence and supreme seclusion of Anegada; to catching the true island spirit in Jost Van Dyke. All this together with the beauty and splendor of the smaller islands makes the BVI vacation experience a memory of a lifetime.

The Baths

The British Virgin Islands enjoys a stable and prosperous economy, one of the best in the Caribbean, in part because of its small population. Tourism plays a very vital part in the islands’ economy and is the main source of income and job provider for the islands. The boating and yachting chartering industry also play an important role in the tourism industry on the island. Other industries that contribute to the economy on the island are light industry, construction, concrete production, rum, and offshore banking. The island also depends on livestock raising as the main agricultural activity on the island. Fishing is also very popular on the island.

The British Virgin Islands enjoy a tropical climate moderated by trade winds.  A paradise of lush green forests, the BVI islands are great for vacationing if you love to sail, water ski, snorkel, visit marine parks or just island hopping, these islands are a great place to vacation. Ferry service to the outer islands is convenient and economical. The islands are a travelers’ paradise because there are so many tourist attractions and the seclusion they enjoy on the islands.

Cuba

Cuba is the largest of all the Caribbean islands and situated just about a hundred miles or so to the nearest point in the United States. So, if your next vacation is to discover hidden gems, charming traditions, spectacular tropical climate, friendly inhabitants, wonderful landscapes pristine beaches, and a culture-rich country in the Caribbean, look no further, Cuba definitely should be on that list. The island consists of more than 400 islands and cays and is home to the smallest bird in the world – The Bee Hummingbird.

The Malecon

The beautiful city of Havana, the capital city is a blend of the new and old and a place with beautiful colonial architecture, several art galleries, vintage cars, and a vibrant blend of Spanish and Soulful music.  Revolutions and communism are still fresh on the natives’ minds and the hills are still marked by the footprints of Castro’s army, and the sugar plantations, a dreadful reminder of slavery.

It should be noted that while you are thinking of your next visit to Cuba that Cuba is a State-controlled economy which means nearly all the businesses on the island are state-run enterprises, but this should not deter you from visiting Cuba’s historic attractions and natural wonders. Most of the labor force on the island is employed by the State. The economy in Cuba is now somewhat flourishing again since the Obama Administration restored some ties with the island, making way for some North Americans to visit the island which will definitely enhance the economic growth in the country.

Che Guevera Museum

Cuba is different but also fascinating. Things are not always the same as in American and European countries because of their type of government for example funds can be difficult to access in Cuba, cards generated by US bank accounts are not accepted and there are a lot of rural dirt roads and some amenities and necessities may be lacking in some parts of the island. But Cuba is a very beautiful island in its own little way. The island is famously known around the world for its legendary cigars, history, culture, and Cuban hospitality. The island’s music and contagious rhythms, with its mixture of Spanish and African roots, have influenced musicians from all over the world.

But, there is still a lot to enjoy on the island as the people are the heart and soul of the island. If your visit is just to taste the rich coffee of Sierra Escambray, dance the night away, or take a stroll down the revolutionary trail of Che Guevera, there is something for everyone to enjoy on ‘The Pearl of the Antilles’ and the largest island in the Caribbean.

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