September is Caribbean Month, and that means it’s time to celebrate all things Caribbean! But as much as you think you know the Caribbean, there is always much more to discover. From the northern tip of South America up towards North America and Mexico, the Caribbean is a vast expanse of islands and countries with an intriguing history. So, sit back, and let us fill you in on 10 facts you should know about the Caribbean!
1) 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From historical sites like the 17th century Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts and Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, to the mesmerising like the Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica, the Caribbean has 22 awe inspiring wonders to visit.
2) Home to the oldest protected rainforest. The Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has been a conservation zone since 1776, making it the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere. St. Kitts, Dominica and St. Eustatius also have their own share of glorious tropical rainforest.
3) Many different cultures. With every new colonisation and every new settler to the Caribbean, an intricate tapestry of cultures was sewn. Today these influences on Caribbean culture are still very much alive in the four main languages spoken in the Caribbean- English, French, Spanish and Dutch.
4) The sailing mecca. Little wonder that the turquoise waters of the Caribbean are such a draw for sailing. You can float into Sailing Week in Barbados, the British Virgin Islands or Antigua, charter your own yacht to explore the waters around Antigua, Barbuda and St. Vincent & the Grenadines or watch the lively regattas of Grenada, Bequia and the British Virgin Islands.
5) Island hopping delights. If you include the little islets and cays, there are over 2000 islands in the Caribbean, making it one of the best places in the world for island hopping. And with 18 regional flight operators, hopping between islands is easier than ever!
6) 8-9 hours flight time. Over 18 operators fly to the Caribbean, and both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer direct flights to many of the Caribbean’s more well-known islands like Jamaica, Anguilla, The Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Lucia and Antigua with a flight time of around 8-9 hours. You can also fly to Grenada, Nevis, St. Kitts, Trinidad & Tobago and the Turks & Caicos Islands with a stop in Antigua, Nassau or Saint Lucia.
7) The Caribbean Year of Wellness & Rejuvenation. 2018 is the Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. Indulge with a De-Stress Muscle Release massage at Jade Mountain’s Eco Spa in Saint Lucia, get back into balance with yoga and meditation at the Go Natural Sanctuary in Jamaica or check into one stop wellness resort La Luna in Grenada.
8) English is the most widely spoken language. As well as Barbados (the Caribbean’s ‘Little England’) English is the main language of many Caribbean islands like Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, St Vincent & The Grenadines, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Monserrat, Grenada, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Belize and Guyana.
9) Eco-tourism offerings. The lush and diverse natural habitats of the Caribbean make it ideal for eco-tourism experiences. From helping the endangered sea turtles of Barbados and Tobago with The Barbados Sea Turtle Project to enjoying a farm to table experience at Belle Mont Farm in St. Kitts, each island has its own unique eco offering.
10) The region of sporting legends. Some of the world’s greatest sporting stars come from the Caribbean like Usain Bolt, born in Jamaica, and cricket legends Garfield Sobers (Barbados) and Viv Richards (Antigua and Barbuda). Come, watch, play and be inspired on these islands of sporting greatness!
For information, travel offers, updates and more, visit the Caribbean Tourism Organisation: www.caribbean.co.uk