The islands of the Caribbean Sea or West Indies are an extensive archipelago in the far west of the Atlantic Ocean, mostly strung between North and South America. They've long been known as a resort vacation destination for honeymooners and retirees, but a small movement toward eco-tourism and backpacking has started to open up the Caribbean to more independent travel. With year-round good weather (with the minor exception of hurricane season in the late summer and early fall), promotional air fares from Europe and North America, and hundreds of islands to explore, the Caribbean offers something for almost everyone.
The Caribbean islands were first inhabited by the Arawak Indians, then were invaded by a more aggressive tribe, the Caribs. Unfortunately, the Caribs could not appreciate their victory for long, for the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British, colonised their lands. The islands have known many historic battles - and more than a few pirate stories.
To the south and southeast of Florida, are several relatively large islands (hence the name):
In an arc between the Greater Antilles and along the north coast of South America are dozens of small tropical islands:
These countries are not in the Caribbean basin but are variously close to it, and are commonly associated with the Caribbean (e.g. members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community).
- From Europe to:
- Antigua and Barbuda (ANU) from London (LGW),Manchester (MAN) by BA, BMI, Virgin, XL and from Frankfurt (FRA) by Condor
- Barbados, Bridgetown (BGI) from London, Manchaster by Virgin, BA, Caribbean Airlines, XL and from Frankfurt by Condor
- Cuba from London (LGW)by Virgin, Air Jamaica, from Madrid (MAD) by Iberia, from Paris (CDG) by Air France and from all three by Cubana
- Grenada, Point Saline (GND) from UK by Virgin, BA, Excel from Germany Condor
- Saint Lucia, Hewanorra (UVF) from London (LGW) by Virgin, BA, Caribbean Airlines and from Manchester (MAN) by Virgin
- Martinique Fort-de-France (FDF) from Paris by Air France, Air Caribes (cheapest from Germany ?)
- Tobago (TAB), from London (LGW) by BA, Virgin, XL and from Frankfurt (FRA) by Condor
- Trinidad, Port-of-Spain (POS) from London by Caribbean Airlines
- Turks & Caicos Islands (PLS), from London (LHR) through Nassau, Bahamas
- Air Caraibes: from Paris to Guadeloupe, Martinique
- Air France: from Paris to Guadeloupe, Martinique
- Air Jamaica: London to Jamaica and Cuba
- British Airways: from London (LGW) to Antigua, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Tobago and from Manchaster to Saint Lucia
- Caribbean Airlines: from London to Barbados, Saint Lucia, London - Antigua, Belfast - Tobago (see BWIA Route map)
- Cayman Airways: from the Cayman Islands to multiple gateways in the US
- Condor/Thomas Cook: from Frankfurt (FRA), see Condor Route map
- Cubana: To Cuba from Madrid, Paris, London
- Virgin Atlantic: from London to Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Havana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Tobago and from Manchester to Barbados and St Lucia
- XL: from London to Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, St Kitts, St Lucia, Tobago
Another excellent way to explore Caribbean is sailing:
- Caribbean Yacht Charter - great selection of boats for rent along with lots of useful tips and facts about this vibrant area.
- Caribbean Cruises-great rates on all Caribbean cruises. Caribbean cruise specialists since 1999.
- Regent Seven Seas Luxury Cruise Lines - Luxury cruise line offering six-star luxury cruise ships and all inclusive cruises to the Caribbean.
- Caribbean Cruise Vacations - offering information for planning Caribbean cruise vacations: itineraries, cruise lines and cruise ships serving Caribbean.