Advance Planning

Six months before Book your accommodation if you will be traveling in peak season. Do so earlier if you hope for special deals.

Three months before Reserve rental cars and make reservations for special meals if traveling in a busy time.

One month before Book special tours such as kayaking on bioluminescent lakes or scuba classes.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/caribbean) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Caribbean Journal (www.caribjournal.com) Regional news and travel features.

Top Tips

  • The US dollar is king. Credit cards are widely accepted in most destinations, but it's always useful to carry some extra in cash.
  • Hiring a car can be a great way to explore an island.
  • Islanders tend to dress smartly when they can – keep the beachwear for the beach. Topless/nude swimming is never allowed unless in specially designated areas.
  • Don't plan on getting much done on a Sunday: many sights and restaurants shut for the day.
  • When snorkeling or scuba diving, never touch coral, which can be easily damaged.
  • Book accommodation and car rental in advance to save money. High-season prices particularly apply in December and January.
  • Much of the Caribbean is poor – use common sense about flashing around expensive smartphones and jewellery.

What to Take

  • A sun hat – buying it at home ensures a better fit.
  • A small quick-dry towel, for when the whim to swim hits.
  • A flashlight with batteries for nighttime reading and occasional blackouts.
  • Plastic resealable bags are essential for keeping things (cameras, air tickets, passports) dry on boat trips.
  • A snorkeling mask with corrective lenses means reefs are suddenly in focus.

What to Wear

The Caribbean islands are casual, so bring light, comfy clothes: a bathing suit, T-shirt and shorts will be your wardrobe most of the time. Add long pants or a dress for nights out – most Caribbean people like to dress smartly when they can, so try to keep your beachwear to the beach and change when heading to dinner.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check the airline baggage restrictions.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company you’re heading away.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance.