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Choosing a Caribbean Island

The numerous islands scattered throughout the Caribbean are all remarkably diverse, and each offer something truly unique to visitors. It’s somewhat ironic to be writing a blog about determining which part of the Caribbean will best suit your travel expectations, as I am watching inches of snow accumulate outside my window, but nevertheless, selecting the perfect backdrop for your warm-weather getaway is a science, and Auto Europe is here to help! Figuring out what you want most out of your relaxing getaway should be your first step, and that decision will begin to help you narrow down your choices.

Caribbean Clichés
Let’s be honest, big name destinations like the Bahamas and Jamaica are huge players in the vacation game because tourism is so well developed there. Despite their somewhat over-the-top clichés, there is just something about these islands that keep travelers coming back time and time again. Boasting an array of stunning scenery, and one of the first islands to fully embrace mass tourism, Jamaica has become one of the most popular tropical destinations in the entire world. Bob Marley music and hidden waterfalls aside, this island is perfect for rest and relaxation. Steel-drum music, superlative beaches and excellent hotels, accented by Rum Runners, fine dining and bustling nightlife are all welcomed adages of the Bahamas. Throw in a day spent swimming with dolphins and sipping cocktails out of a coconut and you’ve got a vacation straight out of the pages of a travel brochure.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic | 2009

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic | 2009

All-Inclusive
If you’re planning on going all out for your next trip, choosing to venture to an all-inclusive resort will undoubtedly be the most economical approach to vacation planning. The Dominican Republic excels at providing travelers with stunning views, impeccable service and all the delicious food and umbrella-clad cocktails your heart desires. If you’re looking to stay closer to home, Cancun and Cozumel are popular resort communities, offering plush resorts at relatively affordable prices.

Sun & Sand
Vacationers on a quest to find the world’s most pristine beaches are sure to find at least one beautiful beach on almost every Caribbean island; but destinations like Aruba, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Grenada are all celebrated for their powdery white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. Trunk Bay is a beach in St. John that is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, which is another frequent flier on pretty much every “world’s best beaches” list.

Nightlife
What’s a vacation if you’re not able to let your hair down a little? From dress-to-impress salsa clubs to barefoot beach bars, many Caribbean islands offer distinct nightlife opportunities that ensure you’re still on island time even after the sun goes down! St. Martin, Puerto Rico and Aruba are all great choices if drinking and dancing the night away are high on your priority list. Serious party-goers should try to tailor their itineraries around Carnival. Outrageous costumes, lively parades and tons of energy are the norm around this time, and Carnival in Curacao lasts longer than many other islands, beginning on New Year’s and continuing up until Ash Wednesday.

Cayman Turtle Farm | 2007

Cayman Turtle Farm | 2007

Kid-Friendly Activities
It’s seven years good luck if you kiss one, and it’s virtually impossible for your children to be bored when they’re splashing around with these creatures. We’re talking about the giant manta rays that can be found in the waters just off shore from the Cayman Islands. Watch your kid’s eyes light up as they feed these friendly rays in one of Grand Cayman’s sheltered bays, and smile vibrantly as the food is vacuumed up from their hands. Later in the day, visit one of the island’s turtle farms and see how injured sea turtles are nursed back to health and then released back into the wild. If you’re traveling with a nature enthusiast, they will feel right at home in St. Lucia, as it is considered to be one of the best locales for adventure holidays, offering ideal conditions for kite surfers, wind surfers, water skiers to practice their craft.

Golf
Stepping onto the greens may be one of the only times while visiting the West Indies where you’re intentionally trying to avoid the sand, and the call to grab your clubs and play nine holes with the ocean and clusters of palm trees as your backdrop is a strong one. Answer that call by visiting Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Nevis or Jamaica, and tee off on some of the world’s most meticulously maintained courses.

Caribbean Wreck Diving

Caribbean Wreck Diving

Scuba Diving
Ideal for dive enthusiasts, Turks & Caicos is made up of a collection of tiny islands, outfitted with exquisite beaches and warm enveloping waters just waiting to be explored. Despite its reputation in the diving community, these sites somehow manage to stay un-crowded, and visitors may feel as though they are the only people within 100 miles. The Blue Hole in Belize is 440-foot pit of scuba greatness. Guided dives with deco stops offer the ability to see stalactites that hang from the indented caverns on the way down. Belize’s nearby Lighthouse Reef is outfitted with a kaleidoscope of sponges and corals, and is a completely different experience than the neighboring Blue Hole. Suit up and see firsthand how sand chutes expose colonies of garden eels that seem to move in slow motion, and schools of brightly colored fish, eagle rays and sea turtles float lazily by.

Snorkeling
Not everyone is a diver, but many individuals may still have an interest in seeing what’s just below the surface. The Grenadines and Bonaire are great for both divers and snorkelers, and other islands like Virgin Gorda, Roatan and St. John are actually better for snorkelers, since their reefs are just offshore. Playa Kalki in Curacao is another incredible destination, and is often referred to as the Alice in Wonderland spot for snorkeling adventures, an allusion to the reef’s forest of intriguing mushroom-shaped corals.

While these destinations might share similar topography and boast more days of sunshine per year than I’ve probably seen in my lifetime, internally they are all incredibly different, and their individual local flair is brimming with charming characteristics. Keep in mind that if you’re planning on doing any type of exploring outside of your resort community, a car rental is always a favorable accessory. Contact Auto Europe toll-free at 1-888-223-5555 to start planning your sun-filled getaway today!

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