The Caribbeans

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Independent countries of the Caribbeans

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2013 all rights reserved.
If you are looking for grand nature or ethnic traditions or historical monuments, don't go to the Caribbean islands: i cannot name a less interesting part of the world. That said, island hopping is not difficult (plenty of flights to go everywhere every day, alas virtually no ferries) as long as you are willing to put up with immigration rules: since 12 of these islands are independent, you need to continuously fill immigration forms, show onward tickets and intended stay (and the colonies are even worse if you are not a US or EU citizen). These are the things about the "remote" Caribbean islands that put me off:
  • Immigration (each island is an independent state) is rather annoying because they want you to land with a confirmed hotel and a confirmed onward flight (even though there is an office just past immigration that is there precisely to help tourists find accommodations). They are also a bit naive because any teenager can fake a reservation and an air ticket with Photoshop
  • Nonstop traffic in every town (and mainly SUVs)
  • They always seem to be in a hurry. The lazy relaxed Caribbean lifestyle is only in the movies (and perhaps in the big concentration camps for rich tourists that i don't see)
  • Everything closes very early. Dinner at 7pm can be a major project.
  • Everything is closed on sundays and there are very few buses to go anywhere
  • Wildly overpriced (Internet can be $8/hour, can of soda $2, difficult to find a room in a guesthouse for less than $40)
    Things i liked:
  • Safety - virtually no crime
  • The airline that has the virtual monopoly of the Eastern Caribbeans, LIAT, has a terrible reputation, but on the contrary it's quite good (i took 12 flights in 10 days and only one was canceled for which they put us in a five-star hotel)
    The basic procedure with all of these was:
  • Make sure you have an onward ticket
  • Write any guesthouse on your immigration form as intended address
  • Walk out of the airport to the main road and flag down a bus
  • Ask around in town for cheap guesthouses (taxi drivers may actually provide useful info even if you are not a customer)
  • Avoid sundays
    Best towns: St George's (Grenada), Soufriere (St Lucia), Basseterre (St Kitts)
    Best nature: Dominica, Grenada
    Best market: Castries (St Lucia)
    Best Botanical Gardens: Roseau (Dominica)
    Best historical monument: Brimstone Hill Fort (St Kitts)
    Blog of the 2013 trip
    • Maracas Bay
    • Fort George
    • Asa Wright nature reserve
    • Bush-Bush Nature Reserve in Nariva Swamp
    • La Brea Pitch Lake
    • Royal Botanical Gardens
    • Caroni Lagoon National Park
    • Paria Falls (14 km hike roundtrip)
    • Historical center of Port of Spain around Woodford Sq: The Old Police Headquarters
    • Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (George St & Independence)
    • Temple in the Sea - Sewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir (West Coast)

  • Notes

    Trip difficulty: easy
    Length: 24 days
    Season: Jan-Apr
    Approximate cost: $4,500
  • The high season is from january to april.
  • The cheapest time to travel is from mid-april to mid-december. Independent countries in the Caribbeans:
    • Antigua (St Johns): colonial sites
    • Bahamas (Nassau): Nassau, Long Island
    • Barbados (Georgetown): historical sugar plantations
    • Cuba (L'Habana): L'Habana, Trinidad
    • Dominica (Roseau): Cabrits Fort, Trafalgar Falls, Morne Trois Pitons National Park,
    • Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo):
    • Grenada (St Georges): Grand Etang National Park, St Georges' forts
    • Haiti (Port au Prince)
    • Jamaica (Kingston): Great Morass near Black RiverA, Treasure Beach, Ocho Rios (Dunn's River Falls, Shaw Park Gardens)
    • St Kitts and Nevis (Basseterre):: Brimstone Hill Fortress
    • St Lucia (Castries): Soufriere
    • St Vincent (Kingstown): Kingstown botanic gardens, Tobago Cays
    • Trinidad (Port au Spain): Port of Spain
    European countries still have colonies here: Britain owns Anguilla, half of the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands; Holland owns Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Aruba, Saba, Curacao, and Saint Maarten; France owns Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The USA owns Puerto Rico and half of the Virgin Islands.
    Beware that these countries have some of the highest murder rates per capita in the world, notably Saint Vincent (36.46 per 100,000 people) and Saint Kitts And Nevis (34.23). You are four times more likely to get killed in Saint Vincent than in Louisiana or Russia (considered two of the most dangerous places in the world).
  • TM, ®, Copyright © 2013 all rights reserved.