Caribbean holidays

From the lingering scent of rum in the air to the rhythm of the steel-pan drums, Caribbean holidays offer a slice of paradise. A lush tropical region with some of the world’s best beaches and an easy-going charm, there’s nowhere on the planet quite like it.

Whether you’re visiting laid-back Jamaica, unspoilt Tobago or upmarket Barbados, holidays to the Caribbean suit all tastes - from family getaways with tots or teens to spa breaks, honeymoon escapes and blissful post-retirement trips.

You’ll get to unwind in some of the most breathtaking tropical landscapes in the world, and soak up the region’s irresistible energy, which will stay with you long after you’ve flown home. Plus, sunshine is practically guaranteed, whatever the time of year.

Things to do

From sampling the Dominican Republic's local rum to ziplining over Jamaica's breathtaking Dunn’s River waterfall, there’s enough to experience in the Caribbean to send your senses into a frenzy. How about Cuba’s picture-perfect beaches, ideal for quiet relaxation and a mojito or two (or building sandcastles with the kids); Barbados with its incredible golf courses and cricket obsession; or St. Lucia, which is renowned for its world-class snorkelling and scuba-diving spots.

For more of those amazing underwater worlds, there are plenty of family-friendly adventures at Montego Bay Marine Park. This protected area of the Jamaican coastline’s packed with everything you’d expect of the Caribbean Sea, from glass-bottomed boat trips over vibrant coral and snorkelling above seagrass beds, to kayaking through mangroves and, yes, chilling on gorgeous white sands.

And if it’s total paradise-like peace you’re after, you might be lucky enough to spend time on tranquil CocoCay, also called Little Stirrup Cay, which is privately owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line.

For a different kind of discovery, take a dive into Caribbean food culture with a meaty St Lucian pepperpot stew, a moreish plate of saltfish and fungie (sauteed okra and cornmeal balls) in Antigua, or a freshly prepared taco from one of Mexico’s many street stands. That should help fuel you for some exhilarating exploring - there’s plenty to see! If you’re staying on the Yucatan Peninsula, make sure you pay a visit to the Coba Mayan Ruins to stroll the excavated ‘white roads’ and see the area’s tallest pyramid, amongst the many fascinating features that remain of this ancient Mexican city.

Places to stay

Whether you’re searching for a postcard-perfect setting to fall in love with, a beautiful old city to delve into or the best music spot to perfect your salsa and merengue moves, holidays to the Caribbean islands and Mexico will definitely satisfy your travel cravings.

The Dominican Republic’s vibrant Latin culture is guaranteed to get you on your feet but this is also a fantastic place to stay if you really want to unwind. Give Cayo Levantado (dubbed Bacardi Island) a whirl for lazy beach days, laid-back catamaran trips through Los Haitises National Park and swimming in the Limon Waterfall’s refreshingly cold plunge pool.

While Caribbean holidays are renowned for sunbathing on lush white sands, did you know there’s a pink-tinted beach on the island of Barbados? Crane Beach in St. Philip is a total beauty that will look great on your Insta grid - and it’s pretty perfect for a relaxing day on the south coast. But you don’t just go to Barbados for the beaches! Bajan culture’s world-famous, from the satisfyingly historic capital, Bridgetown, to mouthwatering dishes like flying fish.

If you’re keen to get out and explore some of the Caribbean’s rainforest, you’ll have a blast in Tobago. Visiting this pristine island feels like stepping into a travel mag, with off-the-beaten-track eco adventures galore. Just imagine, the peaceful thrill of turtle watching, the adrenaline rush of a mountain biking expedition, the mindful calm of stumbling across a waterfall on a jungle hike, and the chance to spot everything from tiny hummingbirds to bioluminescent plankton.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the best places to be after sunset, the nightlife in the Bahamas is a revelation. There’s a ton of top-notch venues amongst the city lights of Nassau and Freeport, while you’ll find a more chilled vibe in George Town on Great Exuma island, which is a great place to stay if you’re keen to check out the local live music scene.

But for social hotspots unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, head northwest to Mexico’s coastal party capital, Cancun. Pack your out-out clothes and prepare to be treated to performances by DJs and artists from around the world at the city’s legendary clubs. Or, for evening entertainment with a bit of a twist, you’ll never forget a dinner cruise aboard the Captain Hook Cancun - just watch out for those brawling pirates!

And, if you want to explore somewhere a bit more quirky, head to Cuba. Away from the legendary pristine beaches are sugar mills, cigar factories, and some gorgeous old towns and cities, where you’ll discover authentic bars and markets. Visit charming Holguin (the ‘City of Parks’) from Guardalavaca, bustling Moron from Cayo Coco, or the characterful capital, Havana, from Varadero.

More Travel Guides

Make sure you check out our travel guides for these Caribbean destinations too: Antigua | Aruba | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominican Republic | Jamaica | Mexico | St Lucia | Tobago

 

Map of Caribbean

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30 ℃

Go in spring for slightly cooler temperatures.

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9-11 hours
Our Caribbean holidays fly into all major airports, with easy access to the region’s key resorts - check the guide for details on your chosen destination.

Caribbean is best for...

Honeymooners: Discover the Caribbean’s crystal clear waters and secluded coves on a romantic boat ride. 

Party people: Whether you’re dancing the merengue in the Dominican Republic or to the sounds of salsa in Cuba, don’t leave without trying a local dance yourself.

Underwater adventurers: Explore the Caribbean’s magnificent coral reefs and underwater treasures in a glass-bottom boat or on a snorkelling trip.

Fast facts for Caribbean

Language: Lots of languages are spoken across the Caribbean, including Spanish, French, Dutch and Creole – English is widely used but don’t miss your chance to learn some new words and phrases!

Currency: Check our guide to your destination to find out what currency to take as every country has its own, and have a read of our Caribbean travel money info too

Local time: The Caribbean is 4-6 hours behind GMT/UK time

Fly to: The Caribbean islands and Mexico all have their own airports; take a look at our individual guides for details

Flight time from UK: The flight time to the Caribbean varies from 8.5-11 hours

Tourist information: Every island has its own tourist information – you’ll find links on our individual Caribbean destination pages

Getting around Caribbean

By bus: Usually at the heart of every Caribbean destination’s transport network, buses can be really useful for getting from A-B, though sometimes by quite a round-about route! You should get a fantastic feel for local life, too, as they’re well used by people going about their everyday business.

By taxi: Great for private travel that takes you exactly where you want to go - just make sure you’re using a state-run or officially regulated tourist service, and always fix the price with the driver before you get in.

By rail: Trains are rare in the Caribbean but if you’re on holiday in the Dominican Republic, you can ride the Santo Domingo metro between nine different cities - a fast way to explore this beautiful country.

Events in Caribbean

Santo Domingo Carnival: February marks the biggest event on the Dominican Republic calendar: Carnival, which comes to a peak at the end of the month. If you’re lucky enough to be there, expect dancing, fabulous floats and enough delicious street food to send your taste buds into a wild frenzy.

Celebration of Classic Cars: Motor enthusiasts won't want to miss Cuba’s annual Classic Car Celebration in March. This week-long festival celebrates the country’s fleet of vintage cars with a series of lectures, workshops and parades throughout Havana.

Cancun Jazz Festival: Head to Mexico to witness the Cancun Jazz Festival in full swing. This November event attracts some of the best jazz musicians from around the world so plan your trip early to avoid disappointment.

Caribbean safety and security

Follow these links for the most up to date information about going on holiday to the Caribbean from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

Passport and Visas

Do I need a passport?

Whichever country you choose for your Caribbean holiday, you’ll need a valid passport. It’ll usually have to be valid for a minimum of six months from the day you arrive but that can vary depending on where you’re going. Make sure you check passport requirements for your Caribbean destination well before you travel.

Do I need a visa?

Visa rules vary depending on the destination but British Citizens don’t normally need one for a sunshine getaway. Do check visa requirements for your Caribbean holiday when you book, though, just to be sure.

Should I get travel health insurance?

Whether you're setting off for a romantic Caribbean hideaway or an All Inclusive holiday with the family, it pays to have travel and health insurance in place. If you or your kids become ill or are injured on your trip, you’ll have to pay for treatment yourself, which can leave you seriously out of pocket if you don’t have comprehensive travel insurance in place. Insurance could pay for emergency medical treatment or even cover the cost of flying you home.

Make sure your insurance covers everything (and everyone!) you need it to, including any particular activities you’re planning while you’re away. Policies vary, so it’s a good idea to check a few before you buy.

Caribbean weather

Temperature: Average temperatures range from high 20s (°C) to low 30s (°C).

When’s the best time to go?

The Caribbean’s tropical climate means the weather is hot and humid all year round, with distinct wet and dry seasons. It’s a popular destination to catch some winter sunshine, as the cooler temperatures of December to April make sightseeing and activities more comfortable. So, if you don’t mind things being a bit busier and want dry, sunny weather guaranteed, a winter break to the Caribbean is your best bet.

If you love the heat and are planning a beach holiday, come to the Caribbean between June and September, when temperatures average 28°C (in Mexico, April and May are usually the hottest months). Yes, that’s during the rainy season, but it’s wettest from August to November - or June to October in Mexico. Downpours aren’t uncommon, but luckily they’re generally short and sharp, with plenty of sunshine for the rest of the day. Just be aware that hurricane season is from June to November, so check the forecast before your trip, although storms rarely make landfall.

Take a look at our guide on your chosen destination for more info!

What should I pack?

The Caribbean has a hot, humid climate and even in winter the weather can be very warm. If you’re heading here in the dry season, don’t forget to pack plenty of high-factor suncream and aftersun, your swimwear, a sun hat, and sunglasses. Bringing something to cover up with at the beach or by the pool is also a good idea, as is a light jacket or jumper for cooler evenings.

Anybody visiting the Caribbean and Mexico between January and April will find the weather a little cooler and wetter. You’ll need a light raincoat and some comfortable, closed shoes for rainy days.

Remember to bring your camera and a travel adaptor for charging your devices too. And suitable gear if you’re planning a hike through the jungle or up a mountain!

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