The Ultimate Guide to Experiencing the Caribbean Like a Local

Your bags are packed, you are ready to go, all that is left is to make the final touches on your Caribbean itinerary. Except, if you want to really understand the culture of the Caribbean, it is best to forget strict timings, take off your shoes, and just go with the flow.

For more ways to make the most of your trip, read on for the ultimate guide to experiencing the Caribbean like a local.

1. Know how to stick to a budget.

Locals in all places tend to know the tips and tricks essential to living on a budget day-in and day-out. If you really want to experience this region like a local, then it is critical to overlook the tourist traps and those things deemed “must-sees” and instead open yourself up to getting into the local groove.

To visit when there is the least amount of tourists, opt to travel during the off-season (during the North American fall and winter), as you will not only be able to bypass hoards of tourists, but you will also be able to save up to 30% on the costs of your accommodation.

Additionally, one of the best ways to keep your costs down and to get some exercise (see #2) is to choose to walk around your locale as much as possible. After all, the weather is so perfect, you may as well take advantage of it as much as possible!

When walking around a new destination, you are able to witness and appreciate the slower, more authentic moments of the local’s life, and you are more likely to find yourself facing opportunities to speak with new friends. Those from the Caribbean are known for being friendly and hospitable, and they regard the broader community in the same way they do their family, so put on your walking shoes and get out there.

2. Ensure you stay healthy.

For many people, traveling to a foreign destination means forgetting all about health and wellness; however, if you want to stay healthy while in the Caribbean, it is indeed possible. Your first step is merely to believe that you can do it and to create a plan in advance so that you are prepared upon arrival.

Luckily, the Caribbean is usually considered a healthy environment with an abundance of clean water which means the “tropical diseases” that many other places experience aren’t a problem for those who visit these islands. However, it is always recommended to stay up-to-date on any travel warnings and health recommendations.

In addition to walking as much as possible, do like the locals do and make swimming a daily activity. Whether it is in your hotel pool or in the sea (it does have an 83-degree year-round water temperature!) getting in some laps surely won’t feel like a chore in the Caribbean.

In fact, it is hard for anything to feel like a chore when you are in a place that has such a fantastic work-life balance. This is one of the main reasons that foreigners are interested in second citizenship programs to the Caribbean and consider securing Antigua citizenship by investment or a second passport in St. Kitts, for example.

3. Always opt for the local food and drink.

 

When it comes to really living the local life in the Caribbean (or wherever you are traveling), the key is to always opt for the local food and drink. Not only is Caribbean cuisine delicious, but it will also be the most cost-effective way to eat. By consuming the local specialties, you will get a deeper insight into the country and its people.

So, what should you be eating and drinking?

While all the countries in the Caribbean have their own variations of dishes, you can be assured that fish is one of the most important staples for everyone in the region. Due to the proximity to the ocean, Caribbean cuisine is known for its usage of fresh fish, conch, and other seafood.

Additionally, other local specialities include jerk chicken, roast pork with rice and beans, pepperpot (a rich and thick stew), and goat stew. Whatever dish you opt for, you can guarantee that it is going to include a lot of spices. Throughout the Caribbean, you will notice small roadside cantinas which offer home-style dishes — make sure to indulge in at least one meal here. And don’t forget to try the rum!

Have you ever traveled to the Caribbean? What do you do to ensure you are able to live more of a local life when traveling? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!

 

 

AUTHOR BIO
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.

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Jamaica (my top spot)

This is without question my most overdue article, post, writing of all time. I usually go to Jamaica at least once a year, sometimes more. I can’t even guess how many times that I’ve actually been there. But I can guess that my lack of travel writing on Jamaica is because it feels so much like home for me.

Plantation Ruins in Jamaica by marktravel

Jamaica is relaxing. Everything moves slower there (except for Usain Bolt). If you are looking for anything quick, you’ve come to the wrong place. And that’s fine with me.

Golf in Jamaica

Jamaica is nicely warm (at least for a guy from Canada) and the temperature and breeze are constant. It’s almost always sunny. Clouds are actually a welcome sight because it is so warm and sunny. You could almost set your watch by their rainfall- most days at 3:30.

The South Shore of Jamaica by marktravel

Jamaica is incredible beaches, warm water and island scenery…

Appleton Sugar Cane in Jamaica by marktravel

Plantation Ruins in Jamaica by marktravel

Jamaica is also a proud people and culture. And great food (jerk chicken immediately comes to mind), good drink (Appleton and Red Stripe beer), and good times.

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It’s a combination of all of the above and more. And a welcome trip at anytime (and my next visit to Jamaica is November 2014).

Jamaica at sunset by marktravel

Golf- Jammin’ in Jamaica

My Article – Reprinted from Golf Scene Magazine Summer 2011 Edition

When Canadians think of a beach vacation, the popular choices are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica. All four destinations have golf, but only Jamaica combines a real laid back Caribbean holiday with some of the most spectacular golf courses you will find anywhere in the world.

Jamaica travel choices are plentiful. Air Canada has daily non-stop flights to Montego Bay from Toronto and seasonal non-stop services from other Canadian gateways. The list of Jamaican resorts could fill this entire article but a few of the better choices are Half Moon Resort, Ritz Carlton Resort and the Rose Hall Hilton Resort. There are also seven Sandals Resorts with access to Sandals Golf Club but you’ll need to stay at either the Sandals Royal Plantation or Sandals Grande Riviera to be anywhere near the Sandals Golf Club.

Caddies are mandatory on all courses in Jamaica. If you’ve never played with a caddy a word to the wise – ask the distance to the hole (instead of them telling you which club to play) and follow their putting suggestions – they are always right!

I have had the good fortune to play five of the following top courses in Jamaica:

White Witch This is definitely the most challenging course in Jamaica. Tom Fazio designed this course, which is 6,859 yards. The course was carved out of Rose Hall Plantation and features Caribbean Sea views on 16 of the 18 holes – some of the most spectacular golf course views in the world. Stay and play packages are available if you stay at the Ritz Carlton Resort.

Cinnamon Hill The course, which was designed by Robert vonHagge and is 6,637 yards, features several holes along the ocean coastline, and one can spot plantation relics and great views. It is also located in Rose Hall close to White Witch. The Rose Hall Hilton Resort is right beside the course, and offers golf packages.

Half Moon This course 7,119 yard course is classic Trent Jones, and is situated directly across the street from the Half Moon Resort. Half Moon makes a great vacation.

Tryall This classic old Jamaica course is about 30 minutes west of Montego Bay. Ralph Plummer designed, this course which is 6,772 yards, lush and well groomed but very much a “country club”. Be on your best behaviour – members rule.

Sandals Golf Club Formerly the Upton GC, Sandals purchased the club in 6,502 yards, 1992. Golf Digest four star rating for courses to play while on vacation. A nice course consisting of 6,502 yards and located in Ocho Rios … Green fees are included with your stay at Sandals Resort.

With its unique and laid back culture, great scenery, tropical climate, and world-class golf, Jamaica really has it all if you are a golf enthusiast or want to hit a ball alongside the ocean and just enjoy the views!