Airports: Antigua and Barbados are the closest international hubs from the UK, but there are direct flights to several destinations throughout the CaribbeanCurrency: various, including the East Caribbean Dollar (£1 = $4.34), the Euro (£1 = Euro 1.17) on Guadeloupe, with US Dollars (£1 = $1.61) almost universally accepted throughoutSize: some 7,000 islands, reefs and cays stretching 2,500 miles from Venezuela to CubaPopulation: 36 millionAverage temperature: almost constant 27 degrees
Sheltered sailing in the British Virgin Islands; hiking in St Lucia up the famous Piton mountains, as well as Jump Up parties every Friday; hundreds of flat, sandy islands in the Bahamas; exploring the parishes of Barbados; the forested slopes of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, as well its vibrant reggae scene; carnival in Trinidad and Cuba; Havana’s salsa; French colonial architecture on St Barthelemy, St-Martin and Guadeloupe; private island resorts; cricket everywhere; mountain biking and white-water rafting on the Dominic Republic; assisting scientists with turtle conservation in the Cayman Islands.
The most extensive links between islands are by air, with LIAT, BWIA and ALM all offering passes encouraging a degree of island-hopping on 6- to 30-seat planes giving breathtaking views of the islands. Island-hopping by sea is a limited option, although good links exist between dependencies, eg St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. As for travelling around individual islands, hotels often offer daytrips, otherwise buses are cheap but their scheduling is not always very extensive. Car-hire is usually your best option. The roads on most of the islands we feature are actually quite good, give or take the odd pothole. (Signposts are another matter, so we recommend an ordnance survey map if possible, although if you do get lost, just hopping out asking directions can be part of the fun). Car-hire is reasonably priced and a good, independent way to see a lot of the islands. Jeeps are also available for rougher road surfaces (some of the hills are quite steep). Taxis also represent good value, especially with local drivers keen to share their knowledge of their home.
Flight time to the Caribbean is about 8 or 9 hours, depending on which island you fly in to. Antigua is the closest international hub from the UK, and many flights to but there are direct scheduled flights to dozens of destinations throughout the Caribbean run by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and British Midland.
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