When You Speak of a Sea Holiday…
Endless beaches, pristine islands, a very colorful nature, fresh seafood, relaxed people with no hurries… For everybody who has a passion for the sea, yacht charter cruising in the Caribbean Islands, or the West Indies with the name given by Christopher Columbus back in 1492, is a must-do. The Caribbean consists of more than 7,000 islands and islets forming an arch from the southeast of the US to Cuba and then down to the northeast of Venezuela. The region has more than thirty administrative units, some of which are independent countries while some are the offshore territories of the US, France or the Netherlands.
When thinking about the Caribbean, the first thing that comes to mind is sunbathing and sipping cocktails on world-famous white beaches, exploring coral reefs with snorkels, or discovering virgin coves on tiny islands. But in addition to all these, we’d also recommend to enjoy the Caribbean culture in cosmopolitan towns. No matter what type of Caribbean adventure you dream of, you can easily find something for your taste among the myriad route alternatives offered by GotoSailing.com.
Numerous Islands and Numerous Choices: The Antilles
The Caribbean Islands are also called the Antilles. The Antilles have been European’s gate to the new world. if you’re not only interested in the unique natural beauty, but also in the history and culture of the Caribbean, Santo Domingo, the first permanent colonial settlement –founded in 1496-, is a good starting point to discover the region. Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic and the most crowded city of the Caribbean, with more than 3 million inhabitants. The city is listed among UNESCO world heritage sites. Dominican Republic shares the Hispaniola Island with Haiti to the west, and faces another island republic, Puerto Rico, to the east.
In addition to the numerous alternatives offered by the central island, you must visit Culebra and Vieques of the Spanish Virgin Islands in your sea holiday. The Flamenco Beach on Culebra always finds a place on the world’s best beaches list.
Sailing further east from Culebra and Vieques, we reach the Virgin Islands of the United States and the British Virgin Islands respectively. Almost as popular as the British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin is the world’s smallest piece of land shared between two countries. Though it’s small, the island has thirty-seven beaches. Those on the southern side of the island, belonging to the Netherlands, host lively parties, while you can calmly sunbathe on the beaches in the French side. To the southeast, very close to Sint Maarten, lies St. Barthelemy Island, another offshore territory of France. Also called St. Barts, the island has boutiques of famous designers and many gourmet restaurants for those looking for a chic and elegant vacation. To the east of St. Barts there come Antigua and Barbuda, a tiny country made up of two islands. Antigua exactly has 365 beaches: a different one for each day of the year for those who love to swim and sunbathe.
Another French terrain in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe is located to the south of Antigua. The island is shaped like a butterfly. Les Saintes is in its southern shores, and has some of the most attractive mooring sites of the Caribbean. Again belonging to France, Martinique is one of the most important yacht charter centers in the region and it’s famous for its extraordinary beaches and chic restaurants. St. Lucia Island close by ranks no lesser than Martinique when it comes to natural beauties. St. Lucia is an independent country, sixty percent of whose terrain consists of coral reefs. It is thus one of the most spectacular places for scuba-diving and freediving in all the Caribbean.
As we move further south we reach the thirty-two islands of Grenadines. Tobago Archipelago is a wonderful place to swim with schools of colorful fish and sea turtles. To the south comes Grenada, the isle of spices, welcoming you with scents of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, produced in large quantities. To the east we find Barbados, famous for its warm and clear seawater. The northern shores of the island receive oceanic waves, which make the place a heaven for surfers.
Discover the best marinas on the Caribbean islands
Sailing and seafaring are the most natural forms of transportation in the Caribbean. Boat owners and yacht charter clients have numerous alternatives of facilities in all the prominent islands.
You can find Caribbean marinas’ service and navigation information through GotoSailing.com MapGuide, and also see your sailing distance to the closest marinas.
Best restaurants for sailors on the Caribbean islands
Reviewed by sailors for sailors
Traditional food cooked with plantain, coconut and cassava also reflect the habits of the myriad cultures who have been here throughout history. Caribbean recipes also use more ‘familiar’ goods such as fresh seafood, spices, meat, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. Most of the islands have very specific recipes of their own, but we can also talk about a common palate throughout the Caribbean.
Porto Rico’s ‘mofongo’ made of pork and plantain; Antigua’s ‘pepperpot’ casserole made with meat, okra, eggplant and potatoes; Barbados’ flying fish fried with ‘cou cou’ (a mix of corn flour and okra); and Bahamas’ ‘conch,’ a big type of mussel cooked in many ways, are among but a few of the famous Caribbean dishes. The islands are also known for the cocktails made with rum: Puerto Rico’s piña colada, a mix of coconut and rum, is a cocktail you must try.
The Outstanding Bahamas
The Bahama Islands constitute an independent state in the east of Miami, U.S.A, and northeast of Cuba. The country is made up of more than 700 islands and islets, clear blue bays, spectacular beaches and an extraordinary flora. 70 percent of the population lives in Nassau, the capital, located on New Providence Island. Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island, which is also reachable through a bridge, is a place you shouldn’t miss. The Abaco Islands are two isles that form a crescent, where the only settlement is Marsh Harbour, a tiny town with 6,000 inhabitants on the Great Abaco Island. Among the many islets in the region, Treasure Cay is a must-see place. Another popular destination of the Bahamas is Exuma, consisting of 365 islands and islets. Exuma Cays Park is a magnificent place of attraction only reachable by sea. Staniel Cay is also very popular with beautiful beaches, pristine coves and great spots to dive.
Another world: Cuba
Cuba is the greatest island of the Caribbean, and it is a heaven for a sea holiday with wonderful shores and 4,000 little isles. Cienfuegos has a natural port hard to equal, and it is an important yacht charter center in the region. Nicknamed ‘the southern pearl,’ Cienfuegos city has a place among UNESCO’s world heritage list. If you are to sail eastwards, you must visit the Trinidad region. To the west, Cayo Largo is one of the most popular points. On the northern part of the island, located on Cape Hicacos, Varadero has become an important touristic center in Cuba. The city has a perfect beach that runs for 20 kilometers, and 21 diving spots around the Cape await the visitors.
Shielded by coral reefs: Belize
Belize is a Central American country which has a coast on the Caribbean Sea. The country has the second longest barrier reef next to that in Australia. The region hosts more than 100 types of corals and more than 500 types of tropical fish, and the Blue Hole – a world-famous diving spot. On the southern shores of Belize, right on the tip of a long promontory, there lies Placencia with its outstanding beaches, one of the most popular holiday settlements in Belize. Off shore the city there are many islands formed over the reef, such as Wippari Caye, Lagoon Caye, Coco Plum Caye, and Lark Caye, in addition to three coral islands outside the reef.
Weather and Winds in the Caribbean
The Caribbean Islands have a stormy season that lasts from June to November. Other than these months, the region is like a heaven for sailing and sea life, as it receives regular trade winds from northeast and east, and thus the sea conditions are pretty foreseeable.
The trade winds are stronger from November to January, and they gradually soften until the stormy season. The Caribbean has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 C throughout the year. The southeastern islands enjoy a milder climate while the temperature might rise to higher degrees in the islands to the northeast.