From travel advice to language and weather, we round up some of the frequently asked questions about the Caribbean
Health and travel advice
The Caribbean has more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays. The Foreign Office offers information on a country-by-country basis, and it’s best to keep up to date with the latest advice (gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) and travel with organised tours. Millions of Britons visit the Caribbean each year, and most holidays are free from incident. Although there are few health risks in the Caribbean, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization do recommend vaccines such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid and other routine vaccinations, depending on the country (see fitfortravel.nhs.uk for the latest advice). Outbreaks of Zika have been recorded on most Caribbean islands.
One of the best things about the Caribbean is its climate. It doesn’t get cold and it rarely gets too hot. On many islands, temperatures tend to float around the mid to high 20s, going into the 30s in peak season (December-May). Rain is unavoidable – it’s the reason these islands are so lush and green – but it rarely lasts long. Hurricane season occurs between June and November, although storms aren’t that common. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which arrived in the Caribbean in August and late September 2017 respectively, caused considerable damage to the likes of Dominica, Saint Martin and Puerto Rico, leaving residents without electricity or running water. While the overwhelming majority of islands remained safe and open to visit in the immediate aftermath – and those that were affected began to welcome visitors again within months – many islands saw tourist numbers fall as a result of the coverage.
English is spoken throughout the region and is the official language of the likes of Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas and St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is the second language in Antilles and Puerto Rico. Martinique and Guadeloupe are French-speaking. Creole and local patois are also spoken.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate most of the direct flights that connect the UK with the Caribbean. From London there are non-stop flights to Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Tobago, Jamaica (Montego Bay), Mexico (Cancún) and Cuba (Havana). There are also flights from London to the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana), Saint Kitts and Puerto Rico (San Juan) that touch down in Antigua, and flights to Grand Cayman and the Turks and Caicos that touch down in Nassau, or to Grenada touching down in Tobago. From Manchester, you can fly direct to Barbados with Virgin Atlantic.