Ahhh, the Caribbean; a chain of islands nestled perfectly between the Americas. A collection of tropical islands sprinkled through warm azure seas with white sand beaches, palm tree-fringed shores, and cultures you won't find anywhere else. It's no wonder many Americans choose the archipelago for their family vacation each year.
The Caribbean is a dream destination, atop the bucket list of many travelers. However, the chain of islands comes with its fair share of challenges. Between the tropical climate and beautiful beaches, many islands have high crime rates and can be dangerous for tourists. In addition, there are some cultural differences that, as Americans, can be tricky to navigate. So before you book your ticket and embark on a Caribbean dream trip, here's everything you need to know to keep safe while holidaying in the islands.
Like many destinations inside, taking extra care when storing valuables is essential throughout all the Caribbean islands. It's common for many all-inclusive hotels and luxury resorts to have places to store things securely. Always double-check you've locked your hotel and store your most valuable possessions in a safe.
Valuables should never be left in your car while driving around the island. Breaking into cars for items on show is all too familiar in the Caribbean, so always take possessions with you. It's also a great idea to only walk around with a small bit of cash on your person. While muggings are relatively uncommon for tourists, it's not unheard of for tourists to be robbed after using ATMs in some locations.
Tropical hurricanes and earthquakes are commonplace in this part of the world. And you only need to look at the devastation of the Haiti earthquake in 2010 to know how dangerous these events can be. While natural disasters of this scale don't happen often, the Caribbean is susceptible to hurricanes, earthquakes, and extreme temperatures.
In the Caribbean, hurricane season runs from June to November, leading to flooding, landslides, high winds, damage to property, and danger to life. So whenever you're planning a vacation to the Caribbean, monitor the weather consistently and follow any hurricane alert advice.
Through the archipelago, there are excellent activities in abundance. From horse-riding on the beach to kayaking, scuba diving, and ziplining, there's fun to be had. Despite this, health and safety standards differ significantly from the states. With relaxed, laid-back attitudes to health and safety, always make sure any company you choose to book excursions with is reputable and has trained, experienced coaches and all the proper measures to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Generally speaking, most Caribbean islands are safe for tourists. However, petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing, car break-ins, and muggings, happen in some major towns. Ensure you're constantly aware of your surroundings and stick to the main tourist areas and busier streets. You should be fine if you keep your wits about you and don't wander down dark alleys at night. Even if you're staying at a top Turks and Caicos resort, always check with hotel staff for safe areas and places to avoid.
Across all the Caribbean islands, there is a super relaxed attitude to rules and regulations, which can be shocking coming from Europe or the United States. While this laid-back lifestyle is one of the reasons the islands draw so many visitors, you need to consider this when driving.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is much more common than at home, and rules are enforced less strictly. Combine this with the slow pace of life, and you have a frustrating driving experience. In addition, different islands drive on different sides of the road. For example, Jamaica and Barbados drive on the left, like many other former British colony islands, whereas Honduras drives on the right. Always check before booking your rental car.
It's no secret how incredible and enjoyable a family trip to the Caribbean is. It's a paradisical island chain that will likely give you one of the best trips of your life and create lifelong memories full of love, laughter, and time spent with the ones you love.
We hope these tips have shed light on some things you must be careful of when vacationing in the Caribbean. Being aware of what's happening around you, sticking to the main tourist areas, being extra cautious on the road, and keeping your valuables safe are all super simple but highly effective methods of creating a safe and stress-free trip to the Caribbean.
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