A HANDY SUMMARY OF PRACTICAL INFORMATION - Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles - Insight Guides

Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles - Insight Guides (2016)




The range of accommodations in the Caribbean is as varied as the islands themselves, going from basic guesthouses and bed and breakfasts to luxurious five-star hotels. Some islands, such as Anguilla and St-Barths, deliberately aim for the upper end of the market, and it can be hard to find somewhere cheap and cheerful, while those islands with good scuba diving, hiking, birdwatching, and remote forests usually have several low-budget dive resorts, hostels, and rustic places to stay.

Islands receiving direct transatlantic flights, and therefore mass tourism, are more likely to have plenty of mid-range accommodations, with apartments and villas complementing the hotel sector. Antigua, Barbados, and St Lucia all offer a varied choice. While several small islands are given over to a single hotel, such as Peter Island in the BVI, or Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines, there are no really enormous resorts in the Lesser Antilles, unless you include the floating hotels - mega cruise ships which offload thousands of people a day onto the streets of a harbor town.

All-inclusive resort hotels are a popular option; the appeal of not having to reach for your wallet every time you want a drink or a snack is strong, especially when you have children in tow. But there are two main disadvantages: you miss out on all the local food, drink, and color beyond the resort, and you do not put money back into the local community; most resort hotels are foreign-owned.

Self-catering apartments and villas are good value if you are traveling in a group or as a family; often you share the amenities such as a pool and restaurant with other visitors in the “village.” A local cook can usually be arranged if you want a treat, although you may have to take her shopping for the ingredients first.

High season is mid-December to the end of April nearly everywhere, with rates peaking over Christmas and New Year, during Carnival, and at Easter. Prices can be considerably lower off-season (from May to mid-December), when it’s worth negotiating for an upgrade or a price reduction. Bear in mind, however, that this is also hurricane season, so check the likelihood of your favored destination being affected. Most major resort chains and some holiday packages offer hurricane protection; check before you book.

The internet is a useful tool for accommodation-hunting; try www.caribbeantravel.com. Alternatively, try the tourist offices in your home country or their websites.

Age Restrictions

The legal drinking age throughout the Caribbean is 18. Some car-rental agencies only rent cars to drivers over 25, although more usually you have to be 21 or over. As for scuba diving, children as young as 8 may participate at some resorts.

The Arts

The Caribbean Islands are better known for their musical heritage than the visual arts, but nonetheless there are numerous small art galleries that exhibit and sell work by local artists.

The Gallery of Caribbean Art (www.artgallerycaribbean.com) on Barbados exhibits regional art and photography at the Northern Business Center in Speightstown and the Hilton Hotel on Needham’s Point.

The Reichhold Center for the Arts (www.reichholdcenter.org) is an amphitheater in Brewer’s Bay on St Thomas, which hosts performances of every kind, including music and drama. The center, part of the University of the Virgin Islands, attracts local artists and visiting international performers. For further information about what’s on and when, tel: 340-693 1550, or the box office on 340-693 1559. On the eastern side of the island, the Tillett Gardens Center for the Arts (www.tillettgardens.com) hosts classical and contemporary concerts, as well as the tri-annual Arts Alive Festival.

On the island of Anguilla, the renowned Mayoumba Folkloric Theater perform at Anacaona Hotel in Meads Bay (www.anacaonahotel.com) on Thursday evenings. The group keep Anguillan traditions alive through music, dance, and the spoken word.

Two annual film festivals showcase Caribbean cinema - the Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase (www.artscayman.org/tcfs) on Barbados, and the St-Barth Film Festival (www.stbarthff.org) on St-Barthélemy.


Budgeting for Your Trip

Your costs will obviously depend on where you go; the cheapest destinations in the Lesser Antilles are Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago, while resorts in, for example, Anguilla or the Grenadines offer the ultimate in luxury and expense. Self-catering options are clearly more cost-effective than the all-inclusive resorts. Getting around by public transport and taxis is more economical than renting a car.

Business Hours

The siesta, happily, is alive and well in much of the Caribbean, and throughout the region small stores may close for a couple of hours in the early afternoon, when the tropical sun is at its hottest. Stores open early, usually by 8am, certainly by 9am. They begin closing for siesta at noon or a little before, though in some areas, may stay open until 1pm. Business resumes about 2 hours later - 2pm in most places - with stores remaining open until 6pm. Again, there is some variation; on a few islands, closing time may be as early as 4pm (for example on Dominica). On Saturday, most stores are open in the morning, and many have full afternoon hours as well. Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, for church and family, although shops in cruise ship terminals will open if a ship is in port.



The islands are a perfect vacation destination for a family. Many resorts now offer action-packed children’s activity programs, and babysitting facilities. Do check with the hotel in advance, however, as during the high season, some hotels do not allow children under 12.


The principal characteristic of the Caribbean’s climate is the relative lack of temperature change from season to season. The islands’ proximity to the equator means that seasonal temperature changes are limited to less than 10°F/6°C. Year-round, temperatures average around 80°F (27°C) throughout the region. An added bonus is the trade winds, which bring regular, cooling breezes to most of the islands. During the “winter” - which is peak season for tourists in the islands - night-time lows can reach about 60°F (16°C), with daytime highs reaching as much as 90°F (32°C).

Rainfall varies widely, ranging from around 20ins (50 cm) a year in Curaçao to up to 75ins (190 cm) a year in Grenada. Rainfall is generally heaviest during October and November, though June is wettest in Trinidad and Tobago. Hurricanes can strike from June to November. The “dry” period, coinciding with the peak tourist season, is from December through April or May.


Hurricanes are one of the most damaging and dangerous phenomena affecting the Caribbean (click here for a description of how a hurricane forms and develops). Recent devastating hurricanes in the region have included Irene in 2011, which passed over the Leewards, causing destruction and at least 56 confirmed deaths across the Caribbean, US and Canada, and Erika in 2015, which caused at least 30 deaths, and intensive flooding and landslides in Dominica.

What to Do if a Hurricane Strikes

During the storm. Stay indoors once the hurricane begins buffeting your area. When the eye (the low-pressure area at the center of a hurricane) passes over, there will be a temporary lull in wind and rain for up to half an hour or more. This is not the end of the storm, which will in fact resume (possibly with even greater force) from the opposite direction. Wait for the all-clear from the authorities before starting to venture out of your shelter.

If ordered to evacuate. Stay tuned to local radio stations for up-to-date information and instructions. Follow designated routes as quickly as possible. Take with you blankets, a flashlight, extra clothing, and medications. Leave behind pets (which are not permitted inside public shelters).

After the storm passes. Drive with caution when ordered to return home. Debris in the roads can be a hazard. Roads near the coast may collapse if soil has been washed away from beneath them. Steer clear of fallen or dangling utility wires. Stay tuned to radio stations for news of emergency medical, food, housing, and other forms of assistance. If you have been staying in a rented home, re-enter the building with caution and make temporary repairs to correct hazards and minimize further damage. Open windows and doors to air and dry the house. Be particularly careful when dealing with matches or fires in case of gas leaks.

Hurricane Categories

Hurricanes are categorized from 1 to 5 according to the Saffir Simpson Scale, which measures wind speed:

Category 1: 74-95mph (119-153kph).

Category 2: 96-110mph (154-177kph).

Category 3: 111-130mph (178-209kph).

Category 4: 131-155mph (210-249kph).

Category 5: over 155mph (249kph).

Hurricanes usually occur between July and October, although visitations have been known in June and November, and the official “hurricane season” stretches from the beginning of June to the beginning of November, when some islands celebrate with a Hurricane Deliverance Day. The average lifespan of a hurricane is 8 to 10 days.

The risk of being hit by a hurricane varies from island to island; the southernmost islands - Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, Bonaire, and Trinidad and Tobago - are rarely affected.

For more information on hurricanes, log onto www.nhc.noaa.gov.




Crime and Safety

Crime and safety varies from island to island, with levels to a large extent dependent on such factors as standard of living, population density, and development. The disparity between the income of local people and the wealth of visitors can cause tensions. In some areas, such as Port-of-Spain in Trinidad, going out alone after dusk should be avoided.

The same precautions you take in any large town or city apply here: don’t flaunt your wealth, keep your valuables close to you (avoid shoulder bags which can be pulled off easily), don’t leave items in parked cars, use the hotel safe where possible, and never leave your possessions unattended anywhere, especially on beaches.

The high media profile given to violent crime against tourists does give a skewed impression; the incidence is actually very low (given its frequency and the number of visitors).

Outdoor Hazards

Manchineel trees: these are usually indicated by red stripes painted on them and a warning notice. The apple-like fruit and the resin contain a poisonous substance (the Amerindians used it on their poison arrows) and when it rains they secrete an irritant that burns the skin - so never shelter underneath one. Don’t handle the leaves or rub them, either.

Fire coral: never touch coral when snorkeling or diving as you will damage and maybe kill it. Fire coral fights back and will give you a nasty burn.

Sea urchins: when swimming over rocks be careful where you put your feet - stepping on one of these spiny balls is a very painful experience, as a spine may get stuck in your foot.

Sea lice: however tired you may be, don’t hang on to a buoy or anything else covered in a fine green seaweed because the sea lice living in it can cause a very itchy, painful allergic skin reaction.

Snakes: the only dangerous snakes in the Eastern Caribbean are the fer de lance, found in Trinidad, St Lucia, and Martinique (if it bites it is not usually fatal but hospitalization will be necessary); and the bushmaster and two species of poisonous coral snake only found in Trinidad.

Customs Regulations

Travelers arriving in the Antilles are generally allowed to bring in the following duty-free items:

personal effects.

a carton of cigarettes or cigars, or 0.5lb (225 grams) of tobacco.

one bottle (1liter) of an alcoholic drink (2 liters in some countries).

a “reasonable” amount of perfume.

US Travelers

For US travelers returning to the United States from the USVI, there are a number of importation options. Each individual can bring back up to US$1,600 worth of purchases duty-free. Travelers may also mail home an unlimited number of packages valued at US$50 or less, provided not more than one such package is mailed to any one person in a single day. If you exceed your US$1,600 limit, upon returning to the States, the first US$1,000 worth of merchandise in excess is assessed at a flat duty rate of 1.5 percent.

Jewelry and Art

US law allows the importation, duty-free, of original works of art. Because of concessions made to developing countries, jewelry made in the Antilles may qualify as original art, and thus be duty-free. If you purchase jewelry, be sure to obtain a certificate from the place of purchase stating that the jewelry was made in the islands. Contact the US Customs Service for further details.


Disabled Travelers

There are few special facilities such as ramps in public places. However, you will find them in new shopping centers, restaurants, and many modern resorts. Resort hotels may have a few specially adapted bedrooms or, at least, first-floor rooms and few steps to public rooms.

For more information, visit: www.access-able.com or www.makoa.org.


Islands run on different currents: 110-120V/60 cycle (US current): US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Aruba, Sint Maarten (Dutch side), Saba, Trinidad, and Tobago.

110-130V/50 cycle: Anguilla, Bonaire, Barbados, and Curaçao.

220-230V/60 cycle: St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Antigua, and Barbuda.

220-240V/50 cycle: Bonaire, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, St-Barthélémy, Saba, St Eustatius, St-Martin (French side), Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.


Eating out

ABC Islands

Varied and cosmopolitan, on all three islands you will find Indonesian, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Italian restaurants. On local menus you will see iguana soup (fish soup made with coconut), goat stew, Dutch-influenced dishes mixing meats with Gouda cheese, spices, and tomato, and a full range of fresh fish dishes. Cornmeal (funchi) is often served as a side dish, and snacks like pastechi and krokets are available at all hours.

Beer: Amstel (Curaçao), Balashi (Aruba).

Liqueur: Curaçao.


As you might expect on a boat-building, seafaring island, locally caught seafood is Anguilla’s specialty: conch, lobster, whelks, and tropical fish, prepared in either Continental or the local creole style. Barbecues - of fish, chicken, or goat - are another distinctive aspect of local cuisine, often on the beach. The local word for meat is “relish,” which can cause some confusion.

Rum: Pyrat.

Antigua and Barbuda

There are some delicious local dishes worth trying, such as pepperpot, conch, shellfish (the local name for trunkfish), and the local staple of chicken, rice, and peas. Saltfish is traditionally eaten at breakfast in a tomato and onion sauce. Goat water is really a hot goat stew. Ducana is a mix of sweet potato, pumpkin, coconut, sugar, and spices, wrapped and boiled in a banana leaf. The local pineapple is called the Antigua black and is very sweet.

Beer: Wadadli.

Rum: Cavalier.


Barbados has restaurants featuring everything from traditional Bajan cuisine to Chinese, Italian, and American fast food. Flying fish cutters (breaded flying fish in a bun) are good for lunch. Other specialties are hot saltfish cakes, pickled breadfruit, and pepperpot, often accompanied by rice and peas, macaroni pie, plantain, sweet potato, or yam. Cou-cou is made from breadfruit or cornmeal, while pudding and souse is pickled breadfruit, black pudding, and pork. Try the non-alcoholic drinks: mauby is quite bitter, made from tree bark, and sorrel is made around Christmas from hibiscus petals and spices, making it bright red. Falernum is sweet, slightly alcoholic, and mixed with rum for a drink called corn and oil.

Beer: Banks.

Rum: Mount Gay, Cockspur, Malibu, Foursquare, St Nicholas Abbey.

British Virgin Islands

The cuisine of the BVI includes touches of American and Continental cooking, in addition to such typically Caribbean creations as funchi (cornmeal pudding) and roti (curry wrapped in a thin chapati). Seafood and tropical fruits and vegetables are fresh and plentiful.

Rum: Pussers.


There are many little snack bars all over the island that may (or may not) produce some excellent meals. Fresh fruit juices (made with tamarind, guava, sorrel, grapefruit, and so on) are a delight, along with specialties such as mountain chicken (a large frog endemic to Dominica but endangered), crab backs, and titiri (fritters made of tiny fish). Other Dominican dishes include saltfish, couscous, ground provisions (dasheen, yam, sweet potato), and callaloo (young shoots of the dasheen) soup. Bakes, a fried dough patty filled with fish or meat, are a popular snack. Fruit and vegetables are plentiful: visit the market to see the wonderful range of produce.

Beer: Kubuli.

Rum: Macoucherie, Soca, Red Cap.


There are many local delicacies worth sampling. Callaloo soup (made from dasheen leaves, rather like spinach) is excellent, as are traditional pepperpot (a stew of almost every possible ingredient), and lambi (conch). Exotic game sometimes appears on menus, although it’s better not to experiment with armadillo, iguana, or manicou, all of which are now endangered. The national dish is “oil down,” a stew of saltfish or meat, breadfruit, onion, carrot, celery, dasheen, and dumplings, cooked slowly In coconut milk. Spices, especially nutmeg, are another favorite, delicious in rum punches, and nutmeg jelly is good on your breakfast toast. For a non-alcoholic drink, try sea moss, a blend of algae, vanilla, and milk.

Beer: Carib.

Rum: Clark’s Court, River Antoine, Westerhall Plantation Rum.


Guadeloupe is considered one of the true culinary capitals of the Caribbean and its cuisine mirrors its many cultures. Creole specialties combine the finesse of French cuisine, the spice of African cookery, and the exoticism of East Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. Fresh seafood appears on most menus. Other specialties are shellfish, smoked fish, stuffed land crabs, stewed conch, and a variety of curry dishes.

Rum is made from the juice of the cane, rhum agricole, rather than molasses. Ti-punch is rum mixed with a little cane or sugar syrup and a slice of lime, while planteur is rum with fruit juice.

Beer: Corsaire.

Rum: Damoiseau, Père Labat (from Marie Galante).


Martinicans love to eat well, and part of Martinique’s French feeling is its celebration of good food. Familiar French dishes are given an unfamiliar twist by the use of tropical fruits, vegetables, and seafood. In addition to French-inspired cooking, there are plenty of spicy Caribbean specialties similar to those of Guadeloupe.

Several beaches have what look like snack bars serving a delicious set menu of local specialties, such as accras (deep-fried fishcakes), direct from a caravan or hut, with awnings over plastic tables and chairs.

Beer: Bière Lorraine.

Rum: Trois Rivières, Mauny, St-James, St-Clément.

Creole Cuisine

A few examples:

Crabes farcis: stuffed crabshell with a spicy crab-based stuffing.

Blaff de poissons ou crustacées (poached fish or shellfish): the ingredients are poached in water containing thyme, parsley, laurel, local chives, and pimento.

Féroce: a mixture made from crushed avocado, codfish, and cassava flour with a touch of hot pepper pimento.

Try a Ti-Punch aperitif before a meal and a dark rum afterwards.


Most restaurants and snack bars (snackettes) are small, informal places. Some are only open for breakfast and lunch. Some only open in the evening with prior reservation. Others are no more than roadside stands serving excellent rice and peas, fish, chicken, and the like. Montserrat is famous for its goat water stew, which some believe has Irish origins.

Saba and St Eustatius

Restaurants tend to offer international food like burgers and pizzas as well as the catch of the day. Fruit and vegetables are grown on Saba but everything else is shipped in, so supplies can get short before the weekly supply boat comes in. Restaurants on Statia are few. If you are self-catering, you can get fresh fish from the fish processing plant at Lower Town on weekday mornings. Fresh bread time and bake sales are announced by the town crier.

Rum: Saba Spice.


The food is as cosmopolitan as the jet-setters it attracts; French-creole cuisine predominates but you will also find everything from pizza to sushi, with lots of fresh fish and lobster in season. Restaurants are expensive but there are lots of them, around 70 on this tiny island. There are some very good supermarkets and delis stocking French food at French prices. Wine and spirits are duty-free, so they are cheap.

St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis have many restaurants specializing in Caribbean, creole, Italian, Indian, and Chinese fare. In addition to the Caribbean’s ubiquitous fresh seafood, perhaps the most distinctive feature of St Kitts and Nevis cuisine is the abundance of fresh vegetables. Tropical produce such as breadfruit joins items such as eggplant (aubergine), sweet potatoes, and okra on island plates. Saturday is the day Kittitians eat out, choosing local favorites such as goat water, saltfish, black pudding, souse, and johnny cakes.

Beer: Carib, Stag.

Rum: Belmont, Brinley Gold (vanilla, mango, coffee).

St Lucia

St Lucia’s cuisine encompasses French creole dishes such as bouillon (meat or fish cooked in a peppery, broth-like tomato sauce); West Indian favorites like saltfish with ground provisions (dasheen, cassava); and even curries and roti wraps. Cassava bread comes in a range of flavors and makes a good, filling snack. Other highlights include pumpkin soup, flying fish, pepperpot (a rich and dark meat stew made with cassareep oil), conch, and tablette (a sweetmeat made of coconut) or permi (cornmeal and coconut wrapped in a banana leaf). Teas are made from many herbs, often for medicinal uses, while cocoa tea (hot chocolate) is a breakfast staple.

Beer: Piton.

Rum: St Lucia Distillers’ Bounty, Crystal, Chairman’s Reserve, Admiral’s, Denros (160° proof), and flavored rums.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Spicy Caribbean cuisine predominates with continental and American fare also available. A wide variety of exotic fruits and vegetables, along with an abundance of succulent lobster and other fresh seafood, enrich St Vincent’s cooking. Snacks include salt cod rolls with hot pepper sauce, and grilled chicken with corn cobs, which you can pick up by the ferry boats or bus station in Kingstown.

Beer: Hairoun.

Rum: Sunset.

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

Restaurants reflect the various cultures that have come together on the island. On both sides, traditional French cooking and spicy Caribbean cuisine are available. On the Dutch side, dining options include Dutch favorites such as pea soup and sausages. Look out for restaurants serving rijstaffel, an Indonesian meal with up to 30 dishes. There are many notable restaurants in St-Martin, particularly in Grand Case. Its “lolos” are snack bars by the pier serving good-value barbecue fish, chicken, ribs, and lobster.

Trinidad and Tobago

In no other Caribbean country will you find such a colorful mix of origins. The culinary traditions of the African, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, French, and Latin American settlers have all contributed to the wide variety of cuisine here. It is the home of the Caribbean-Indian filled roti wrap, a chapati pancake containing curried mango, potato, and pumpkin, with your choice of dal, meats, or seafood. Other specialties include pelau (caramelised meat cooked down with rice in coconut milk); bake and shark (succulent fried shark meat served in a sandwich with salads and tamarind sauce); South American pasteles; as well as fresh seafood. This is one of the best countries in the region for vegetarians: saheena are deep-fried patties of spinach, dasheen, split peas, and mango sauce; pholouri are fritters made with split peas; doubles are curried chickpeas between two pieces of fried barra (mini pancakes), bought from roadside stalls and popular for breakfast. Non-alcoholic drinks include mauby, sorrel, and ginger beer.

Beer: Carib, Stag.

Rum: Angostura.

US Virgin Islands

The multinational, multiethnic history of the USVI, combined with its tropical location and international reputation as a vacation spot, have contributed to a rich cuisine, using local fruits and vegetables and fresh seafood. Island cooks create anything from bullfoot soup (what it sounds like) and funchi (cornmeal pudding) to French, Italian, and Chinese food.

Beer: St John Brewers’ Island Hoppin IPA.

Rum: Cruzan, Captain Morgan.

Embassies and Consulates

ABC Islands

The Netherlands handles consular matters.

Canada: Royal Netherlands Embassy, Constitution Square Building, 350 Albert Street, Suite 2020, Ottawa, ON K1R 1A4, tel: 1-877 388 2443, http://canada.nlembassy.org.

UK: Embassy of the Netherlands, 38 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5DP, tel: 020-7590 3200, www.netherlands-embassy.org.uk.

US: Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, Washington, DC 20008, tel: 877 388 2443, www.the-netherlands.org.


The UK handles consular matters.

Canada: British High Commission, 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K7, tel: 613-237 1530, www.ukincanada.fco.gov.uk.

UK: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH, tel: 020-7008 1500, www.fco.gov.uk.

US: British Embassy, 3100 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel: 202-588 6500, www.ukinusa.fco.gov.uk.

Antigua and Barbuda

Canada: Consulate of Antigua and Barbuda, 601-60 St Clair Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, ON M4T 1N5, tel: 416-961 3085, www.antiguabarbudaconsulate.ca.

UK/Ireland: High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda, 2nd floor, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP, tel: 020-7258 0070, www.antigua-barbuda.com.

US: Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda, 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016, tel: 202-362 5122, www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2336.htm.


Canada: High Commission for Barbados, 55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 470, Ottawa, ON K1P 6L5, tel: 613- 236 9517, ottawa@foreign.gov.bb.

UK and Ireland: High Commission of Barbados, 1 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3ND, tel: 020-7631 4975, london@foreign.gov.bb.

US: Embassy of Barbados, 2144 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel: 202-939 9200, washington@foreign.gov.bb.

British Virgin Islands

(See Anguilla.)


UK: Dominican High Commission, 1 Collingham Gardens, London SW5 0HW, tel: 020-7370 5194, www.dominicahighcommission.co.uk.

US: Embassy of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, tel: 202-364 6781, www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2295.htm.


Canada: Consulate General of Grenada, 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 605, Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3, tel: 416-595 1343, www.grenadaconsulate.com.

UK: Grenada High Commission, The Chapel, Archel Road, London W14 9QH, tel: 020-7385 4415, email: office@grenada-highcommission.co.uk.

US: Embassy of Grenada, 1701 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009, tel: 202-265 2561, www.grenadaembassyusa.org.


France handles consular matters.

Canada: Consulate Général of France, 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 2200, Toronto, ON M4W 1A8, tel: 416-847 1900, www.consulfrance-toronto.org.

UK: Consulate General, 21 Cromwell Road, London SW7 2EN, tel: 020-7073 1200, www.ambafrance-uk.org.

US: Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road NW Washington, DC 20007, tel: 202-944 6000, www.ambafrance-us.org.


(See Guadeloupe.)


(See Aruba.)


(See Guadeloupe.)

St Eustatius

(See Aruba.)

St Kitts and Nevis

Canada: High Commission of St Kitts and Nevis, 421 Besserer Street, Ottawa, ON K19 6B9, tel: 613-236 8952, email: echcc@travel-net.com.

UK: St Kitts and Nevis High Commission, 10A Kensington Court, London W8 5DL, tel: 020-7937 9718, www.stkittsnevisuk.com.

US: Embassy of St Kitts and Nevis, 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016, tel: 202-686 2636.

St Lucia

Canada: Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service in Toronto, 200 Consumers Road, Suite 409, Ottawa, ON M2J 4R4, tel: 416-222 1988, www.oecs.org.

UK: St Lucia High Commission, 1 Collingham Gardens, Earls Court, London SW5 0HW; tel: 020-7370 7123, www.stluciahcuk.org.

US: Embassy of St Lucia, 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016, tel: 202-364 6792, eofsaintlu@aol.com.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Canada: Consulate of St Vincent and the Grenadines, 55 Town Centre Court, Suite 403, Toronto, ON M1P 4X4, tel: 416-398 4277, http://to.consulate.gov.vc.

UK: St Vincent and the Grenadines High Commission, 10 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL, tel: 020-7460 1256, www.svghighcom.co.uk.

US: Embassy of St Vincent and the Grenadines, 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016, tel: 202-364 6730, www.embsvg.com.

Trinidad and Tobago

Canada: Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, 200 First Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 2G6, tel: 613-232 2418, www.ttmissions.com.

UK: Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, 42 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NT, tel: 020-7245 9351, www.tthighcommission.co.uk.

US: Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, 1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel: 202-467 6490.

US Virgin Islands

Canada: Embassy of USA, 490 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8, tel: 613-688 5335, http://canada.usembassy.gov.

UK: US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE, tel: 020-7499 9000.

US: US Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, tel: 202-647 4000, www.state.gov.

Entry Requirements

For travel in and around the islands a valid passport is required, even for US and Canadian citizens (re-entry to the US is impossible without a passport).

Visas are usually required only for visitors from Eastern Europe and Cuba. In addition to proper documents, all travelers must have a return or onward ticket, and adequate funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay.

Emergency Numbers

ABC Islands

Aruba: Emergency 911

Bonaire: Emergency 911, Fire 191, Ambulance 114

Curaçao: Police and Fire 911, Ambulance 912


Emergency 911

Police 911

Dental clinic 497 2343

Hospital 497 2551/2

Pharmacy 497 2366

Antigua and Barbuda

Emergency 999/911


Police 211

Fire 311

Ambulance 511

British Virgin Islands

Police, Fire, Ambulance 999/911


Police, Fire, and Ambulance 999


Police, Fire 911

Coast Guard 399

Ambulance: St George’s 434;

St Andrew’s 724; Carriacou 774


Ambulance 112

Police 17

Fire and Ambulance 18


Ambulance 112

Police 17

Fire and Ambulance 18


Emergency 999/911

Ambulance 491 2552

Police 491 2555


Emergency 112


Emergency 18

St Eustatius

Emergency 111

St Kitts and Nevis

Emergency/Ambulance 911

Fire 333

Police 911 Police info 707

St Lucia

Emergency 999/911

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

Police (French side) 17

(Dutch side) 111

Fire (French side) 18

(Dutch side) 120

Ambulance (French side) 29 04 04

(Dutch side) 130

St Vincent and The Grenadines

Police, Fire, Ambulance 999/911

Kingstown Hospital 456 1185

Bequia Hospital 458 3294

Trinidad and Tobago

Police 999

Fire and Ambulance 990

US Virgin Islands

St Thomas and St John: 911

St Croix: Police and Fire 911, Ambulance 922



Carnival and Events

Carnival is celebrated at different times on different islands, with the dates falling roughly into three main groups:

On Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St Thomas, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St-Martin (French side), and St-Barthélemy, Carnival preserves an association with Easter, being celebrated (on all of these islands except St Thomas) in the period leading up to, and sometimes including, Ash Wednesday. On St Thomas, the celebration occurs after Easter.

On St Vincent, Anguilla, St John, Barbados, Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Saba, and St Eustatius, Carnival takes place in June, July, or early August. On these islands, Carnival is often held in association with the “August Monday” holiday, which marks the end of the sugar-cane harvest and the emancipation of slaves in the British islands around that time in 1834.

On St Kitts, Montserrat, and St Croix (in the US Virgin Islands), Carnival takes place in December and early January, in conjunction with the Christmas season.

On Sint Maarten (Dutch side), Carnival takes place in late April, coinciding with the Dutch queen’s birthday celebrations on April 30.

ABC Islands


January-March: Carnival. Grand Parade on last Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

25 January: festivities and sports for GF Betico Croes Day.

18 March: National Anthem and Flag Day.

March/April: Easter.

30 April: Queen’s Birthday.

End May: Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival.

June: Aruba Food and Wine Festival; Aruba International Film Festival.

24 June: Dera Gai (St John’s Day), Harvest Festival.

June/July: Aruba Hi-Winds windsurfing and kitesurfing competition.

August: Aruba International Regatta.

September: Aruba Piano Festival.

October: Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival.

27 December: Dande Festival.


January: Mascarada Festival, Rincon.

March/April: Simadan Harvest Festival, Rincon.

April: Queen’s Birthday; Rincon Day.

June: Bonaire Jazz Festival; PWA Windsurfing Competition; Bonaire Dive Into Summer (June-Sept); Feast of San Juan, San Pedro and San Pablo, Rincon.

July: Taste of Bonaire.

September: Bonaire Flag Day; local fishing tournament.

December: Bari Festival, Rincon; Sinterklass Birthday Celebration; End of Year Windsurf Race.


January-March: Carnival, including Tumba Festival, Kite Festival and Grand Parade, Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

April: Curaçao Windsurfing Challenge.

30 April: Queen’s Birthday.

June: Sunfish Championship.

2 July: Curaçao Flag Day.

26 July: Curaçao Day.

September: North Sea Jazz.

5 October: Banda Bou Day.

November: Heineken Regatta.

December: Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.


January 1: New Year’s Day; Boat Race.

March: Moonsplash Reggae Festival.

Easter Monday: Boat race.

April: Festival del Mar, boat races, fishing tournaments, seafood cooking competitions.

May: Anguilla Yacht Regatta; Anguilla Day boat race and athletics (May 30).

July/August: Anguilla Summer Festival/Carnival.

November: Tranquillity Jazz Festival.

Antigua and Barbuda

March/April: Easter

April: Kite Festival; Antigua Sailing Week.

June: International cricket; Barbuda’s Caribana.

July/August: Carnival; MangoFest celebrates the island’s favorite fruit.

October 31: Heritage Day.

November: Antigua and Barbuda Literary Festival; Jolly Harbour Yacht Club Regatta.

December: Antigua Yacht Club - High Tide Series, Zoom 8 Championship, Nelson’s Pursuit.


January: Windsurfing championships; Jazz Festival; the regional cricket series.

February: Holetown Festival.

March: Holders Season.

April: Oistins Fish Festival; Barbados Reggae Festival.

May: Gospelfest; Celtic Festival; Mount Gay Regatta.

May/June: Traveling Caribbean Film Showcase.

June: Harris Paints Sailing Regatta.

July: Crop Over festival begins; Sir Garfield Sobers International Schools Cricket Festival.

August: Kadooment Day.

November: Barbados Food and Wine and Rum.

British Virgin Islands

February/March: Billabong BVI Kite Jam

March: Annual Dark and Stormy Regatta.

March/April: Easter Festival; Virgin Gorda Carnival; BVI Spring Regatta.

May: Annual Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta; BVI Music Festival.

June: Swim the Sound and Water World.

July: Fisherman’s Day.

August: Emancipation Festival.

September: Jost Van Dyke Festival.

December: Foxy’s Old Year Party.


February/March: Carnival/Mas Domnik. Tewé Vaval (the ceremonial burial of the spirit of carnival) is traditional on Ash Wednesday in the Carib Territory and in Dublanc in the northwest.

May/June: Domfesta and Giraudel-Eggleston Flower Show.

June: Jazz ’n Creole, Fort Shirley, Portsmouth.

June/July: Dive Fest, annual water sports festival, Kubuli Carib Canoe Race finale.

August: Annual Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair Festival.

October: World Creole Music Festival: last weekend in month. Three-day vibrant music show.

End Oct/early Nov: Creole Day/Independence Day festivities (national costume is worn).


January: Spice Island Fishing Tournament is held at the end of the month. Annual La Source Grenada Sailing Festival.

Mardi Gras: Shakespeare Mas; friendly festival on Carriacou.

Late April: Annual Carriacou Maroon and Regional String Band Festival.

May: Grenada Drum Festival.

May/June: Spice Jazz Festival.

June: Fisherman’s Birthday in Gouyave at the end of the month.

July: Carriacou Regatta.

August: The second weekend is Carnival time in Grenada; Rainbow City cultural festival in Grenville.


February/March: Carnival: the biggest festival on the island.

April: Crab Festival, Morne à l’Eau; Tour de Guadeloupe Regatta.

May: Fête de la Musique Traditionnelle in Sainte-Anne. Abolition of Slavery is celebrated on May 27.

July: Big Drum (Gwo-Ka) Festival, Sainte-Anne; Festival Guadeloupe.

August: Traditional Music Festival in Le Moule; Fête des Cuisinières, a festival of women cooks, in Pointe-à-Pitre; Patron Saints’ Days and Fishermen’s Days celebrated around the islands.

November: (first Saturday) Creole Music Festival, at Pointe-à-Pitre. All Saints and All Souls: the cemeteries come alive as family members clean tombs and picnic with their dead ancestors.

December: Chanté Noël: Christmas carols are sung at parties throughout the month. Pointe-à-Pitre Jazz Festival.


February: Vaval (Carnival) - four days of jubilation and dancing in the streets. A carnival queen is crowned at the end of the festivities.

March: International Sailing Week.

April: Aqua Festival (Festival of the Sea).

May: Le Mai de Saint Pierre - festivities in commemoration of the eruption of the Pelée Volcano; Abolition of Slavery festivities on and around May 27.

June: Jazz at Leyritz Plantation Estate.

July: Fort-de-France Cultural Festival; International Bicycle Race. Crayfish Festival in Ajoupa Bouillon; sugar-cane harvest festival.

August: Yole Race Around Martinique - traditional sailing vessels compete in the island’s most popular event. Biguine Jazz Festival.

October: Journée Internationale du Créole; celebration of all things creole. International Fishing Tournament of Martinique.

November: Biennial International Jazz Festival or the International guitar festival (alternate years).

December: Rum Festival, Musée du Rhum, St James Distillery.


March: St Patrick’s Festival.

April: Local fishing tournament.

June: Queen’s Birthday Parade.

July: Cudjoe Head Celebrations/Calabash Festival.

November: Alliouagana Festival of the Word (Literary Festival).

December: Christmas Festival (Carnival - ArrowFest).

Saba and St Eustatius


April: Coronation Day and Queen’s Birthday.

August: Carnival.

December: Saba Day and Weekend; Kingdom Day.

Sint Eustatius

July: Carnival


January: St-Barths Music Festival.

February/March: Carnival.

April: St-Barths Film Festival; Les Voiles de St-Barth Regatta.

May: West Indies Regatta.

July: Anse des Cayes Festival; Bastille Day; Northern Neighborhoods Festival.

August: Fête du Vent in Lorient; Festival of Gustavia; the Feast of St Barthélemy (August 24); the Feast of St-Louis (August 25) in Corossol.

December: New Year’s Eve Regatta on 31st.

St Kitts and Nevis

Easter Monday: Horse racing, Nevis.

Late June: St Kitts Music Festival.

July-August: Culturama Carnival and arts festival, Nevis.

September: Independence celebrations.

December/January: National Carnival (mid-December to early January).

St Lucia

May: St Lucia Jazz Festival.

June: Fishermen’s Feast (Fête Peche).

July: Carnival; storytelling, traditional dancing, and soca music characterize the island’s biggest event.

August: Emancipation Day (1st); Feast of St Rose de Lima, La Rose Flower Festival with songs, dance, and flowers at Micoud (30th).

October: Thanksgiving Day; Feast of La Marguerite (17th); Jounen Kwéyòl Entenasyonnal, Creole Day (25th).

December: Atlantic Rally for Cruisers; Festival of Lights (12th); National Day (13th).

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

French Side

February: Lent: Carnival.

Easter: Easter Parade.

May: Black Heritage Week and Abolition Day.

July 14: Bastille Day: street celebrations and boat races.

July 21: Schoelcher Day: street celebrations in Grand Case.

November 11: Discovery Day/Armistice (celebrated by both sides of the island).

Dutch Side

April: Carnival, three-week celebrations at Carnival Village, Philipsburg.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

February: Mustique Blues Festival.

Easter: Bequia Regatta - boat races and festivities; Easterval, a weekend of music, culture, and boat races on Union Island.

June: Canouan Regatta.

July: Carnival/Vincy Mas: 12 days of calypso and steel pan music culminating in a costumed party.

Late July/early August: Canouan Carnival, Yacht Races and festivities.

August: Breadfruit festival.

December 16-24: Nine Mornings: parades and dances in the days leading up to Christmas.

Trinidad and Tobago

February/March: Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago reaches a climax on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and although not an official public holiday, everything is closed. The lead-up can be almost as frantic, with Panorama, the national steel pan competition, accompanied by nightly calypso performances.

February/March: Hosay, the Muslim festival with processions, music, and dance takes place.

March: Phagwa - Hindu “Holi” festival, celebrating the arrival of spring with participants covered in pink dye, is celebrated at the time of the March full moon.

Easter: On the Tuesday after Easter the Buccoo goat races are held, an important social occasion in Tobago.

April: Tobago Jazz Festival.

July: Tobago Heritage Festival.

August: Emancipation Day (1st), celebrates the end of slavery with a procession through Port-of-Spain.

October/November: Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is held in honor of the goddess Lakshmi. On this day, hundreds of tiny lights are lit by Hindus all over Trinidad and Tobago.

Eid-ul-Fitr, the Islamic New Year festival, also marks the end of Ramadan.

US Virgin Islands

6 January: St Croix Christmas Festival.

March: St Thomas International Regatta.

March 17: St Patrick’s Day Festival, St Croix.

April: St Croix Food and Wine Experience.

April/May: St Thomas Carnival.

July: (week of the 4th) St John’s Carnival.

October: St Croix Jazz and Caribbean Music and Arts Festival.


Gay and Lesbian Travelers

Attitudes toward homosexuality vary from island to island but it’s fair to say that the Caribbean is not renowned for its tolerance. Attitudes have improved since the late 1990s when several gay cruise ships were turned away from port, but public signs of affection are not commonplace and are generally disapproved of.

For more information, try: www.gaytravel.com, www.gay.com, or www.iglta.org.


Health and Medical Care

Health Hazards

The main (though small) health risk to travelers in the Caribbean is infectious hepatitis or hepatitis A. Although it is not a requirement, an injection of gamma globulin, administered as close as possible before departure, gives good protection against hepatitis A.

The most common illness amongst travellers is diarrhea, caused by a change in diet and unfamiliar bacteria. You can help avoid it by observing scrupulous personal hygiene, eating only washed and peeled fruit, and avoiding contaminated water (drink bottled water if you are unsure). Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

The Caribbean has the highest incidence of HIV and Aids outside sub-Saharan Africa. Always take precautions.

Sun Protection

The sun in the tropics is much more direct than in temperate regions. Always use high-factor protection, especially on children, and be sure to reapply sunscreen after a dip in the pool or the sea. Bring a brimmed hat, especially if you plan to do any extended hiking, walking, or playing in the midday sun. Drink plenty of water.

Drinking Water

In undeveloped areas away from resorts, it is best to avoid drinking tap water, especially after hurricanes, when water supplies can become contaminated. In these areas, stick to bottled water, and avoid ice in your drinks. Tap water in hotels and restaurants is safe to drink.


To combat mosquitoes, pack a plentiful supply of insect repellent. At night, a mosquito net over the bed provides the best protection, although plug-in repellents are also useful (check the voltage). Mosquitoes can carry dengue fever (causing fever, aching bones, and headache). Avoid aspirin if you suspect this disease.


No immunizations are required for travelers to the Antilles, unless the traveler is coming from an infected or endemic area. However, it is a good idea to have a tetanus shot if you are not already covered, and possibly gamma globulin. Consult your government’s travel health website for details.


Comprehensive travel insurance to cover both yourself and your belongings is essential. Make sure you are covered for trip cancellation, baggage or document loss, emergency medical care, repatriation by air ambulance, and accidental death.



Most modern hotels in the Caribbean can provide guests with high-speed internet facilities, and there are also a number of independent internet cafés in town centers. Wi-Fi is becoming widespread. Ask your hotel for details.



A range of currencies is used in the islands. Whatever the official currency, the US dollar is usually readily accepted throughout the islands. The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is used in the following islands: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines. On French islands, the euro is the preferred (and official) currency, although the US dollar is accepted. On Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten the Antilles florin or guilder is the preferred currency, but on Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius the US dollar is the official currency. The US dollar is also the official currency in the USVI and BVI.

Major credit cards and traveler’s checks are welcome at the larger hotels, restaurants, and stores.

If you are bringing US dollars it is a good idea to check around before converting your currency, especially if you are on a limited budget. Try to get price quotes in both the local currency and the currency you are carrying, then check the applicable exchange rate. You may find you can save some money by making purchases in whichever currency gives you greater value.

Banking Hours

Banks are normally open mornings, Monday through Friday from 8am or 8.30am until noon. Many banks also have afternoon opening hours, especially on a Friday. A few banks open on Saturday morning. You can use your credit and debit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs (cash machines). See under individual islands for specific banking hours.


Two taxes which you might not expect will be levied on you during your travels in the Lesser Antilles. The first is a government room tax, charged on all hotel rooms, which generally averages 5-10 percent of the total cost. The second is the departure tax. This fee varies from island to island, and is usually payable at the airport upon departure (mostly in local currency). However, it can sometimes be included in the cost of your airline ticket or package holiday. Remember to check before you head off to the airport having spent all your holiday funds. The departure tax at ferry terminals is usually less than at airports.

ABC Islands

The main currency on Aruba is the Aruban florin (Af), while Curaçao uses the Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf), also known as the Netherlands Antilles guilder, and Bonaire uses the US dollar.


The currency is the East Caribbean (EC) dollar. Normal banking hours are Monday-Thursday 8am-3pm, Friday 8am-5pm.

Antigua and Barbuda

The currency is the EC dollar. Banking hours are generally Monday-Thursday 8am-2pm, Friday 8am-4pm. On St John’s, there are ATMs at Woods Shopping Center, Market Street, and High Street. There is a branch of Antigua Commercial Bank in Codrington, Barbuda.


The currency is the Barbados (BDS) dollar, which you are not allowed to export. Banks are open Monday-Thursday 8am-2pm, Friday 8am-1pm and 3-5pm.

Value-added tax at 17.5 percent is added to most goods and services, so check to see whether it’s included. The rate is 8.75 percent on hotel accommodations.

Restaurants and hotels usually add a 10 percent service charge, but it is normal to add another 5 percent as a tip. It is also usual to tip porters BDS$1 per item of luggage and room maids BDS$2 per night of your stay.

British Virgin Islands

The currency of the BVI is the US$. Banking hours are Monday-Friday 9am-2pm, although some banks are open until 3 or 4pm. There are banks in Road Town (Tortola) and Spanish Town (Virgin Gorda).


The currency is the EC dollar. Banking hours are usually Monday-Thursday 8am-2pm, Friday 8am-4pm. The National Bank of Dominica, the First Caribbean, the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Nova Scotia are the main commercial banks, all with branches in Roseau.


The currency is the East Caribbean (EC) dollar. Banks are open Monday-Thursday 8am-3pm, Friday 8am-5pm, but they close for lunch 1-2.30pm.


The local currency is the euro (€), but US dollars (US$) are also accepted at some establishments. Most major credit cards are accepted and you can withdraw cash from ATMs.


The local currency on Martinique is the euro (€), but US dollars (US$) are also accepted at some tourist places. Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the island. There are also banks with ATMs.


Montserrat’s local currency is the EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollar; US dollars are acceptable in some places. The Royal Bank of Canada (with an ATM), is in Olveston, and the Bank of Montserrat is in Brades.


In St-Barths, the euro (€) is the official currency, but US dollars are widely accepted. There are several banks in Gustavia, some, such as Crédit Agricole, Rue Jeanne d’Arc, with ATMs.

Saba and St Eustatius

In Saba and Statia, the US dollar is the official currency. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside hotels and dive stores.

St Kitts and Nevis

The currency on both islands is the EC dollar; US dollars are also widely accepted. Banks are generally open Monday-Thursday 8am-2pm, Friday 8am-4pm. There are ATMs at several banks.

St Lucia

The currency is the EC dollar, although US dollars are also acceptable in most places. There are foreign-exchange facilities in Castries and Rodney Bay. The National Commercial Bank (NCB) also has a branch at Hewanorra International Airport, open 12.30pm until the last flight leaves.

Languages of the Antilles

The multiplicity of languages in the Antilles reflects the region’s checkered colonial past. All of the islands use their own creole language, as well as a whole array of primary languages, which include:

English: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands.

French: Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St-Barthélemy, St Lucia, and St-Martin.

Dutch: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten.

Spanish: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.

Papiamentu is the local language of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. It has evolved from a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and English, as well as African and Caribbean languages.

In addition to the primary languages listed above, Chinese is among the languages spoken on Aruba. English (and, to a lesser extent, other European languages) are spoken in several areas throughout the islands that have a high concentration of foreign travelers, but don’t expect everyone to understand you - especially in rural areas and smaller towns.

Any efforts to communicate with the islands’ residents in their own languages are always appreciated.

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

The euro (€) and the florin or Antillean guilder are the official currencies, but US dollars are also universally accepted. Normal banking hours are Monday-Friday 8.30am-3pm. Several banks have ATMs.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

The currency is the EC dollar. US dollars and major credit cards can be used in most places. There are banks in Kingstown, Bequia, Canouan, and Union Island.

Trinidad and Tobago

The Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$) is the currency on both islands. Most hotels, restaurants, and stores accept major credit cards.

The First Citizens Bank has convenient foreign-exchange booths at Piarco airport and A.N.R. Robinson International Airport.

US Virgin Islands

The currency is the US dollar (US$). Normal banking hours are Monday-Thursday 9am-3pm, Friday 9am-5pm. There are ATMs at the airport on St Thomas and in the Banco Popular, Sunny Isles Shopping Center in St Croix, among other places.


Outdoor Activities


A birdwatching tour to any of the following islands should offer plenty of chances to see some of the region’s endemic and migratory birds: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat.

Trinidad and Tobago are noted for their birds. The Caroni Bird Sanctuary (tel: 868-645 1305), south of Port-of-Spain, is home to the national bird, the scarlet ibis, and the Asa Wright Nature Centre (tel: 868-667 4655; www.asawright.org) has over 100 different species of bird.

The island of Bonaire is a favorite with birdwatchers. It has 190 species of bird, mainly clustered around Goto Lake, Pekelmeer, Cai, and Dos Pos. Look out for the pink flamingo, Bonaire’s national symbol.

Male frigate birds, with their distinctive red throats, inflated when attracting females, can be seen on both Antigua and Barbuda. There is a Frigate Bird Sanctuary on Barbuda, across the mangrove swamps of Codrington Lagoon. St Lucia also has thriving colonies of frigate birds at the Maria Islands Nature Reserve. Contact the National Trust, tel: 758-452 5005; www.slunatrust.org.

Saba is home to a very healthy population of tropical birds, frigate birds, and other sea birds. The topography provides a wide diversity of vegetation and, as a result, a wide diversity of forest songbirds. Contact the trail ranger (sabapark.trails@gmail.com) to arrange a guide or for more information.

In the US, Caribbean bird-watching tours are organized by:

Field Guides Incorporated, 9433 Bee Cave Road, Building 1, Suite 150, Austin TX 78733, tel: 512-263 7295, www.fieldguides.com.


Rainforests, mountains, waterfalls, and gorgeous views await you. Many islands have good-sized national parks with prime hiking opportunities (Dominica, Guadeloupe, Grenada, St Kitts, St Lucia, and St John in the US Virgin Islands, are particularly good), and St Lucia’s Pitons offer experienced hikers a chance to test their skills. Guides are often available to lead excursions. Take water, sunscreen, and a hat and wear long trousers and sleeves if hiking in the forest. Below are details of the islands that offer interesting hikes.


The flat but rugged terrain of the the ABC Islands is ideal for cycling. It is a good way to discover the land and wildlife, and to reach some of the more secluded beaches. Bonaire is the site of a challenging triathlon in November. It includes a cycle route, a swim, and a run. For details of rentals and tours contact: Pablito Bike Rental, Oranjestad, tel: 297-587 8655 or Outdoor Bonaire, Kralendijk, tel: 599-785 6272, www.outdoorbonaire.com.



Nightlife on the islands ranges from relaxing over a leisurely dinner in a restaurant with a verandah onto the beach, to frittering your money away in a casino. In between these options are nightclubs, bars, and live music venues. The larger hotels provide much of the evening entertainment on the islands, including music and dancing, both during and after dinner, flashy floor shows, and “folkloric evenings” composed of elements of the music, dance, and drama of the Caribbean.

Travelers with an interest in the cultural lives of island residents may wish to venture beyond hotel walls in search of steel band, calypso, and reggae music, and bars and clubs frequented by local people. Nightclubs can be found both in and outside hotels.

The intensity of nightlife varies substantially from island to island. The islands that receive the most tourists may have several special entertainments every night of the week, while the quieter islands may sometimes have little more to offer than dinner to the accompaniment of recorded music, followed by a stroll along the beach.

In the latter category, things may pick up a little during the weekends; several establishments have discos that open only on Friday and Saturday nights. On all the islands, the peak tourist season - approximately December through April - is also the peak nightlife season; things are quite a lot slower during the rest of the year.


Public Holidays

Easter, May 1 (Labor Day), Christmas, and New Year are public holidays, when nearly all shops and offices are closed, but otherwise holidays vary from island to island.

ABC Islands

January 1 New Year’s Day

January 25 G.F. Betico Croes Birthday

March 18 Aruba Day

Easter Good Friday, Easter Monday

April 30 Rincon Day; Queen’s Day

May 1 Labor Day

May (variable) Ascension Day

May/June (variable) Whit Sunday/Monday

July 2 Curaçao Flag Day

September 6 Bonaire Day

October 21 Antillean Day

December 15 Kingdom Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May (variable) Whit Monday

May 30 Anguilla Day

June (2nd Sat) Queen’s Birthday

August (1st Mon) August Monday

(1st Thur) August Thursday

(1st Fri) Constitution Day

December 19 Separation Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

Antigua and Barbuda

January 1 New Year’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May (1st Mon) Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

July (1st Mon) Caricom Day

August (1st Mon and Tue) Carnival

November 1 Independence Day

December 9 National Heroes Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

January 21 Errol Barrow Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

April 28 National Heroes Day

May 1 Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

August (1st Mon) Emancipation Day

(variable) Kadooment Day

November 30 Independence Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

British Virgin Islands

January 1 New Year’s Day

March H. Lavity Stoutt’s

(1st Mon) Birthday

(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

June 14 Queen’s Birthday

July 1 Territory Day

August (1st Mon/Tue) Emancipation Festival

October 21 St Ursula’s Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

August (1st Mon) August Monday

November 3 Independence Day

November 4 Community Service Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

February 7 Independence Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May/June Whit Monday

June Corpus Christi

August (1st Mon/Tue) Emancipation Days

August Carnival

October 25 Thanksgiving

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

February Ash Wednesday/Carnival

March Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent)

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May 8 VE Day

May 27 Abolition Day

May (variable) Ascension Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

July 14 Bastille Day

July 21 Schoelcher Day (Emancipation)

August 15 Assumption Day

November 1 All Saints’ Day

November 11 Armistice Day

December 25 Christmas Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

February Carnival

March Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent)

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May 8 VE Day

May (variable) Whit Monday

May 22 Slavery Abolition Day

July 14 Bastille Day

July 21 Schoelcher Day

August 15 Assumption Day

November 1 All Saints’ Day

November 11 Armistice Day

December 25 Christmas Day


January 1 New Year’s Day

March 17 St Patrick’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

June (2nd Sat) Queen’s Birthday


(1st Mon) August Monday

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

December 31 Festival Day

St-Barthélemy, Saba, and St Eustatius

St-Barths: broadly the same as French St-Martin

Saba and Statia: broadly the same as Dutch Sint Maarten

November 16 Statia/America Day

First Fri in December Saba Day

St Kitts and Nevis

January 1 New Year’s Day

January 2 Carnival Last Lap

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May (1st Mon) Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

August (1st Mon) Emancipation Day

(2nd Mon) Culturama Last Lap

September 16 National Heroes Day

September 19 Independence Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

St Lucia

January 1-2 New Year’s Celebrations

February 22 Independence Day

March/April Easter Good Friday

May 1 Labor Day

May/June (variable) Whitsun; Corpus Christi

August 1 Emancipation Day

October 1 Thanksgiving

December 13 National Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

Dutch Side

January 1 New Year’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Sunday/Monday

April 30 Queen’s Day

May 1 Labor Day

May/June Ascension Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

October 21 Antillean Day

November 11 Sint Maarten Day

December 15 Kingdom Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

French Side

January 1 New Year’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May 8 VE Day

May/June Ascension Day

May/June (variable) Whit Monday

Late May Slavery Abolition Day

July 14 Bastille Day/Fête Nationale

July 21 Schoelcher Day

August 15 Assumption Day

November 1 All Saints’ Day

November 11 St-Martin Day/Armistice Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Second Day of Christmas

St Vincent and The Grenadines

January 1 New Year’s Day

March 14 National Heroes Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May/June Whit Monday

July 7 Caricom Day

July (early) Carnival Monday/Tuesday

August (1st Mon) August Monday/Emancipation Day

October 27 Independence Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

Trinidad and Tobago

January 1 New Year’s Day

February/March Carnival

March 30 Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day

March/April Good Friday

Easter Easter Monday

May 30 Indian Arrival Day

June 19 Labor Day

June (variable) Corpus Christi

August 1 Emancipation Day

August 31 Independence Day

August Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan)

September 24 Republic Day

October/Nov (variable) Divali

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

US Virgin Islands

January 1 New Year’s Day

January 6 Three Kings’ Day

January 16 Martin Luther King Day

February (3rd Mon) President’s Day

March/April Good Friday, Easter Monday

May (last Mon) Memorial Day

June 20 Organic Act Day

July 3 Emancipation Day

July 4 Independence Day

July (4th Mon) Supplication Day

September (1st Mon) Labor Day

October (2nd Mon) Columbus Day

(3rd Mon) Thanksgiving (local)

November 1 Liberty Day

November 11 Veterans’ Day

(last Thurs) Thanksgiving (US)

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day


Religious Services

All the mainstream church denominations can be found on the islands, as well as little-known cults. Attending a local service, perhaps Baptist or Seventh Day Adventist, is a wonderful way to experience an important aspect of Caribbean life, and you will be assured of a warm welcome, as long as you dress smartly and act with decorum and respect. Local tourist offices and free tourist publications should be able to advise you of times of services.



ABC Islands

The ABC Islands have a range of tax-free shopping outlets. While Bonaire shopping is limited, Oranjestad in Aruba is a shoppers’ paradise with designer wear, perfume, and local art, but it can be busy when a cruise ship docks. Sometimes stores are open 7 days a week here.

Curaçao offers great tax-free purchases, shopping malls, and interesting boutiques, all dotted around Punda in Willemstad.


The most interesting shopping is in the studios of local artists.

Antigua and Barbuda

In St John’s, Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay attract cruise ship shoppers with a range of duty-free outlets and a street market.


Duty-free shopping is available at many stores throughout the island and at the cruise ship terminal. To make a duty-free purchase, you must present your immigration slip (given to you when you arrive), or your passport and ticket.

British Virgin Islands

An assortment of stores, including duty-free, line Tortola’s Main Street in Road Town. On Wickhams Cay I is a Pusser’s Company Store, Waterfront Street, Road Town, tel: 284-494 2467; www.pussers.com. Apart from its own rum, it sells all things nautical, clothes, and antiques and has branches in Soper’s Hole Wharf in the west and Leverick Bay in Virgin Gorda.


The Craft Market at the Old Market, Roseau, is a good place to get an idea of the crafts available on the island. Here and in other shops you can find local Bay Rum (aftershave and body rub), coconut soap, tea, coffee, jams and jellies, hand cream, shampoo, spices, chocolate, candies, and pepper sauce, all of which are made on the island.

Some of the best crafts in the Caribbean can be found in the Carib/Kalinago Territory, either at roadside stalls or in the model village, where there are several artisans at work producing intricate and beautiful baskets from larouma reed, vetifer-grass mats, and calabash-gourd bowls. Craft stalls carrying a range of goods including necklaces and bracelets made from seeds or coconut, can also be found at Trafalgar Falls.


Local specialties include batik and screen-printed items, jewelry, and attractive spice baskets. Spices, cocoa sticks or balls, pepper sauce, nutmeg jelly, and nutmeg oil can be found in St George’s Market, or, indeed, in the local supermarkets, where you can buy a lifetime’s supply of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, or vanilla. Locally grown, organic cocoa is made into delicious chocolate by the Grenada Chocolate Factory (www.grenadachocolate.com). Winners of a silver medal in 2011 from the London Academy of Chocolate for their 82 percent chocolate bar, the cooperative has a bonbon shop at Belmont Estate (for more information, click here). So pure, it will not melt in your luggage.


Shoppers in Guadeloupe searching for quality local arts and crafts, perfume, and designer clothing, and all things French, will not be disappointed. There are modern shopping facilities at the cruise ship terminal in Pointe-à-Pitre. The largest commercial center with supermarkets is at Destreland in Baie Mahault.

The fashionable Rue Frébault in Pointe-à-Pitre has upscale, fashionable stores. Authentic purchases from Guadeloupe include music, jewelry, coffee, rum, fine embroidery from Vieux Fort, and clothing made from madras. Handicrafts include wood carvings, madras table linens and dolls, salakos (fishermen’s broad-brimmed hats), and little baskets of spices, lined with madras cotton.


There are several modern shopping malls concentrated around the Fort-de-France area, while the Village Créole at Pointe du Bout has some original boutiques. Martinicuan rum is among the world’s finest, and you can buy one of the various makes at distilleries or at local supermarkets. Chocolate made locally by Elot is good; most of the beans are imported from Africa nowadays, but their chocolate bars with lime or coconut are worth trying. Fresh flowers from one of the many tropical horticultural centers are packaged specially for airline transport.

Local artists whose work is worth acquiring include Claude Cauquil, Louis Laouchez, and Laurent Valère (one of his monumental sculptures is Manman Dio, underwater in the bay of St-Pierre). Manscour, whose atelier is situated in Trinité, specializes in glass sculptures.


There are no big stores on Montserrat and shops are strung along the roads as there is no town center yet. You can find garments handwoven from locally grown Sea Island cotton, T-shirts, items made from volcanic ash and rocks, dolls and postcards of the volcano, preserves such as guava jelly and the ubiquitous hot pepper sauce; music and crafts incorporating the local madras green and yellow plaid cotton. Stores selling gifts and souvenirs are found in Brades, Woodlands, and Salem.

Saba and St Eustatius

Saba lace, the drawn-thread work, is also known as Spanish work because it was learned by a Saban woman at a convent in Venezuela in the 19th century. It has been made for over 100 years here, and is on sale in stores and from private houses - any taxi driver should be able to take you to an outlet. The Saba Artisan Foundation in the Bottom sells locally designed and produced dolls, clothing, and silk-screened fabric. Statia has no handicrafts to speak of and shopping is unexciting.

Jo Bean’s Hot Glass Studio, Windwardside, Saba, tel: 599-416 2490. Handmade colored glass fashioned into beads, frogs, lizards, and other fantastical creatures. Watch the craftspeople at work or do a course and make your own.


Gustavia and St-Jean are best for tax-free luxury goods such as designer wear, perfume, and quality local crafts. There are many chic designer shops in Gustavia where you can find designer labels such as Armani, Cartier, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren, while in St-Jean there are the small shopping centers of La Savane, Les Galeries du Commerce, La Villa Créole, Le Pélican, Vaval, and Centre Commercial de Neptune. Food shopping is also good, with many gourmet items brought from France, including good cheese and wine.

St Kitts and Nevis

On St Kitts, Port Zante has duty-free stores and restaurants ideally located to catch the cruise ship market. In town there are several clothing stores and art galleries worth visiting. Look out for the local Caribelle Batik clothing and fabrics, local sea island cotton wear, cane and basket work.

St Lucia

Pointe Seraphine (http://dfps.dutyfreepointeseraphine.com) and La Place Carenage (www.carenagemall.com) are duty-free shopping outlets either side of Castries harbour where cruise ships dock. Castries Market and the Vendors’ Arcade are worth a look, if only to see the tropical fruit and vegetables and local handicrafts. These are good places to pick up T-shirts, spices, cocoa sticks, coffee beans, and hot pepper sauces. Rodney Bay is now the main area for general shopping since the construction of the Bay Walk Mall containing shops and a supermarket.

St Lucia is known for having a large number of world-class artists such as Llewellyn Xavier, Dunstan St Omer, Ron Savory, Sean Bonnett St Remy, Winston Branch, and many others.

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

For duty-free goods head for Front Street in Philipsburg, Maho Beach, Mullet Bay and Blue Mall at Cupecoy, or Rue de la République and Marina Porte la Royale in Marigot. Here you can find electrical goods, jewelry, watches, linens, and many consumer goods. Many artists have based themselves on the island and there are a dozen art galleries on both sides, so many that cruise ships offer art gallery and studio tours.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

St Vincent has plenty of chandlers and food shops for yachties, but there is little in the way of tourist shopping. On Bequia you can find more souvenirs. For handicrafts from about 70 local artisans, try the Artisans Art & Craft Center, Bay Street, Kingstown, in the Bonadie Building. On Bequia, Sam McDowell is known for his scrimshaw, etchings, and carvings made on whalebone, traditionally used on knife handles.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago are best for handicrafts, batik, rum, clothing, and duty-free goods. Main shopping areas are Frederick Street, Queen Street, Charlotte Street, and Henry Street, Grande Bazaar Mall on the Southern Highway, and Golf City Mall at San Fernando in the south. For a good selection of calypso and soca music try Crosby’s at 54 Western Main Road in St James. Vendors on Frederick Street and Independence Square sell as hand-painted T-shirts, and crafts can be found at East Mall on Charlotte Street.

On Tobago, craft vendors are found everywhere; or try Cotton House on Bacolet Street in Scarborough, for clothing, jewelry, and batik art.

US Virgin Islands

The USVI enjoy duty- and sales tax-free status so most things are 20-50 percent cheaper than on the mainland. St Thomas has the widest choice of duty-free shopping, much of it in Charlotte Amalie; Havensight Mall by the cruise ship docks and Red Hook on the east coast are modern shopping malls selling jewelry, watches, cameras, liquor, and other duty-free goods. St Thomas also has a selection of handicraft outlets.

St Croix’s King’s Alley Walk is a shopping area in Christiansted. In St Croix Leap in the west, there are some excellent woodcarvers.

St John has a variety of arts and crafts. The most popular shopping areas are Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village in Cruz Bay.


The climate and geography of the Antilles make the islands perfect for sports enthusiasts, and tourism has helped spark the development of a variety of sports facilities.


The clear blue waters of the Caribbean are the setting for a marine landscape of breathtaking beauty, a hidden world - accessible only to divers and snorkelers - in which gloriously colored and patterned fish vie for attention with extraordinary coral formations.

All the islands offer equipment and excursion packages, including training courses. Addresses of well-reputed dive operators (always check on the reliability of operators and ask to see instructors’ certificates) are listed below. The tourist offices provide informative brochures listing dive sites and schools.


Fishing is popular throughout the Caribbean. Most fishing boats can be chartered by the day or half-day, and can usually accommodate several passengers. Many quote rates that are all-inclusive of lunch, drinks, snacks, bait, equipment, and any other essential items you might need. Deep-sea fishing is usually for wahoo, dolphin (dorado), barracuda, tuna, and marlin, but there are seasonal variations. Fly fishing is more limited, but there is some fishing for tarpon, snook, and bonefish in Aruba, Anegada, Guadeloupe, St-Barths, and the Virgin Islands.


Tennis is played on most islands. Courts are found primarily within the premises of hotels, but arrangements can be made for non-hotel guests to use them. Some islands also have private clubs that are open to visitors, and public courts that operate on a “first come, first served” basis. Many hotels have resident tennis pros to help you improve your game. Barbados even has a tennis resort.

Water Sports

Windsurfing is available on most islands and all the necessary equipment may be rented. Kitesurfing is also popular.

A variety of rental options is available for sailing, from mini Sunfish to two-masted yachts and large motorboats. Equipment can be rented, and classes are conducted on almost every island.

If you are interested in chartering a yacht, either crewed or bare boat, for a day or a considerable period of time, click here.

Motorized water sports such as water-skiing and jet skiing are limited to resort areas, not in marine parks.

Atlantis Adventures

Atlantis Adventures allows visitors a chance to explore the sea without getting their feet wet. The Atlantis VI submarine provides a view of the tropical underwater world of the Caribbean, usually only seen by divers. Alternatively, the SeaWorld Explorer is a semi-submersible trip that reveals the marine life below the surface, through a glass gallery, while the boat remains above the water. Atlantis Adventures (www.atlantissubmarines.com) has four locations in the Lesser Antilles:

Aruba, tel: 297-588 6881; Curaçao, tel: 5999-461 0011; Barbados, tel: 246-436 8929; and St Maarten, tel: 721-542 4078.



Phone cards in several denominations are available on the islands. They are useful for avoiding the usually extremely high hotel charges on phone calls. Residents of the US and Canada can use AT&T USA Direct public phones with a charge card. Some public phones allow holders of a European charge card, such as a BT Chargecard, to access the home operator.

If you want to use you cellphone while abroad, check with your network to see if it will work there and what rates they charge. Sometimes, if you are likely to use your phone for a lot of local calls, the best thing to do is to buy a SIM card locally (from any LIME/Digicel outlet).

Area Codes

ABC Islands: Aruba 297; Bonaire 599; Curaçao 5999.

Anguilla 264. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

Antigua and Barbuda 268.

Barbados 246. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

British Virgin Islands 284. Access codes: AT&T: 800-872 2881; MCI: 800-888 8000.

Dominica 767. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

Grenada 473. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

Guadeloupe 590 (must be dialed before dialing the Guadeloupe phone number, which is prefixed with 0590; drop first zero when dialing from abroad).

Martinique 596 (this is the country code, followed by the local number which is prefixed with 0596; drop first zero when dialing from abroad).

Montserrat 664.

St-Barths 590.

Saba 599.

Statia 5993.

St Kitts and Nevis 869. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

St Lucia 758. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

St-Martin/Sint Maarten The country code for the French side, St-Martin, is 590, and the Dutch side is 599.

As in Guadeloupe and Martinique, the French local numbers are already prefixed with 0590, so to call St-Martin from abroad you must dial the country code +590 then the local number beginning with 0590 (but drop the first zero) so you have +590-590 and then the following six digits.

St Vincent and the Grenadines 784. Access codes: AT&T: 800-225 5288; MCI: 800-888 8000.

Trinidad and Tobago 868. Access codes: AT&T, 800-872 2881; MCI: 800-888 8000.

US Virgin Islands 340. Access code: MCI: 800-888 8000.


On most restaurant and hotel bills, a 10-15 percent service charge is added by the management. If this is the case, tipping is unnecessary, although a small gratuity given directly to an attentive waitress or bellman is always appreciated. When service is not included, a tip in the 15-20 percent range is appropriate. Taxi drivers should be tipped within this range as well.

Tourist Information Offices

The general Caribbean Tourism Organization, www.onecaribbean.org, has the following overseas offices:

UK: 22 The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1BP, tel: 020-8948 0057, email: ctolondon@caribtourism.com.

US: 80 Broad Street, Suite 3200, New York, NY 10004, tel: 212-635 9530, email: ctony@caribtourism.com.

ABC Islands


Aruba Tourism Authority, 8 L.G. Smith Boulevard, Oranjestad, tel: 297-582 3777, www.aruba.com.

Europe: Aruba Tourism Authority,

Schimmelpennincklaan 1, 2517 JN The Hague, The Netherlands, tel: 70-302 8040, email: ata.europe@aruba.com.

UK: Aruba Tourism Authority,

The Saltmarsh Partnership, The Copperfields, 25 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EN, tel: 020-7928 1600.

US: Aruba Tourism Authority, 1000 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, NJ 07087, tel: 201-330 0800, 800-TO-ARUBA, email: ata.newjersey@aruba.com.


Tourism Corporation Bonaire, Kaya Grandi 2, Kralendijk, tel: 599-717 8322, email: info@tourismbonaire.com, www.infobonaire.com.

Europe: Basis Communicatie B.V., Wagenweg 252, PO Box 472, NL-2000 AL Haarlem, The Netherlands, tel: 23-5430 705, email: europe@tourismbonaire.com

US: Adams Unlimited, 80 Broad Street, 32nd Floor, Suite 3202, New York, NY 10004, tel: 212-956 5900, email: usa@tourismbonaire.com.


Curaçao Tourist Board, PO Box 3266, Pietermaai 19, Willemstad, tel: 5999-434 8200, www.curacao.com.

Europe: Curaçao Tourist Board Europe, Anna van Buerenplein 41,
2595 DA The Hague, The Netherlands, tel: 31-70-891 6600, www.curacaoinfo.nl.

US: Curaçao Tourism Corporation, 80 S.W. 8th Street, Suite 2000,
Miami, FLA 33130, tel: 305-423 7156, email: northamerica@curaçao.com


Anguilla Tourist Board, Coronation Avenue, The Valley, tel: 264-497 2759, 1-800 553 4939 (toll-free), email: atbtour@anguillanet.com, www.anguilla-vacation.com.

Canada: SRM Marketing, 20-225 Dundas Street East, Suite 411, Waterdown, ON L0R 2H6, tel: 905-689 7697, email: dpusching@anguillacanada.ca.

UK: CSB Communications Ltd, Suite 11, Parsons Green House, 27-31 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HH, tel: 020-7736 6030, email: info@anguilla-tourism.com.

US: 246 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606, tel: 914-287 2400, email: mwturnstyle@aol.com.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, ACB Financial Center, High Street, St John’s, tel: 268-562 7600, www.antigua-barbuda.org.

Canada: 60 St Claire Avenue East, Suite 304, Toronto, ON M4T 1N5, tel: 416-961 3085, email: info@antigua-barbuda-ca.com.

UK: Victoria House, 4th floor, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JR, tel: 01245-707 471.

US: 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 305 East 47th Street - 6A, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-541 4117, email: info@antigua-barbuda.org.


The main tourist office is at Harbour Road, Bridgetown (tel: 246-427 2623). There are also offices at the airport (tel: 246-428 7101) and cruise terminal (tel: 246-426 1718). There is an information kiosk at the Cave Shepherd department store, Broad Street, Bridgetown, www.barbados.org.

Canada: 105 Adelaide Street West, Suite 1010, Toronto, ON M5H 1P9, tel: 800-268 9122, email: canada@barbados.org.

UK: 263 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7LA, tel: 020-7636 9448, email: btauk@barbados.org.

US: New York: 800 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-986 6516/800-221 9831 (toll-free in US), email: btany@barbados.org.

Florida: 150 Alhambra Circle, Suite 1000, Coral Gables, FL 33134, tel: 305-442-7471, email: btamiami@barbados.org.

British Virgin Islands


British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, DeCastro Street, 2nd Floor, AKARA Building, Road Town, tel: 284-494 3134, www.bvitourism.com.

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, tel: 284-495 5181, www.bvitourism.com, www.bviwelcome.com.

UK: The BVI Tourist Board, 15 Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1K 7PJ, tel: 020-7355 9585, email: infouk@bvi.org.uk.

US: BVI Tourist Board, 1 West 34th Street, Suite 302, New York, NY 10001, tel: 212-563 3117, 800-835 8530 (toll-free in US), email: info@bvitourism.com.


Discover Dominica Authority, 1st Floor Financial Centre, Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica.

Tel: 767-448 2045. email: tourism@dominica.dm.

Old Market Square, Roseau (open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm), www.dominica.dm.

UK: Discover Dominica, tel: 020-7326 9880, email: sarah.emsat@brightergroup.com.

US: Discover Dominica, (toll-free) tel: 866-522 4057, email: dominicany@dominica.dm.


Grenada Tourism Authority: Burn’s Point, PO Box 293, St George’s, tel: 473-440 2279, email: gbt@spiceisle.com. www.grenadagrenadines.com.

Canada: Grenada Board of Tourism, 90 Eglington Avenue East, Suite 605, Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3, tel: 416-995 1581, email: canada@puregrenada.com.

UK: Grenada Tourism Authority, 1 Lyric Square, London W6 0NB, tel: 020-8328 0640, email: grenada@eyes2market.co.uk.

US: Grenada Board of Tourism, PO Box 1668, Lake Worth, FL 33460, tel: 561-588-8176, email: gta@eyes2market.co.uk.


Office du Tourisme de la Guadeloupe, 5 Square de la Banque, BP 555, 97166 Pointe-à-Pitre, tel: 590-590-820 930, www.lesilesdeguadeloupe.com.

Office Municipal de Tourisme Terre de Haut-Les Saintes, rue Jean Calot, BP 10 97137 Terre-de-Haut, tel: 590-590-995 860.

All towns have local tourism bureaux.

France: 8-10, rue Buffault, 75009 Paris, tel: 33 1 40 62 99 07, email: infoeurope@lesilesdeguadeloupe.com


Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme, Immeuble Le Beaupré-Pointe de Jaham, 97233 Schoelcher, tel: 596-596 616 177, www.martinique.org.

Tourist Office of Fort-de-France, 76 rue Lazare Carnot, 97200 Fort-de-France,

tel: 596-596-027 73, www.tourismefdf.com.

Canada: Comité Martiniquais de Tourisme, 4000 rue Saint Ambroise, Bureau 265, Montréal, Québec H4C 2C7, tel: 514-844 8566.

US: Martinique Promotion Bureau, 825 Third Avenue, 29th Floor, New York, NY 10022, tel: 212-838 6887, email: info@martinique.org.


Montserrat Tourist Board, 7 Farara Plaza, Buildings B and C, PO Box 7, Brades, tel: 644-491 2230/8730, www.visitmontserrat.com.

UK: The Copperfields, 25D Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EN, tel: 020-7928 1600.

US: Cheryl Andrews Marketing Inc., 2655 Le Jeune Road, Suite 805, Coral Gables, FL 33134, tel: 305-444 4033, email: montserrat@cherylandrewsmarketing.com.

Saba and St Eustatius

Saba: Windwardside, tel: 599-416 2231, www.sabatourism.com.

Statia: Fort Oranjestad, tel: 599-318 2433, www.statiatourism.com.


St-Barths: 1Quai Général de Gaulle, Gustavia, tel: 590-590-278 727, www.st-barths.com.

UK: Lincoln House, 300 High Holborn, London WC1V 7JH, tel: 0906-824 4123 (premium rate)

US: 825 Third Avenue, 29th floor (entrance on 50th street), New York, NY 10022, tel: 00 1 514 288 1904

St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts: St Kitts Tourism Authority, Pelican Mall, Bay Road, PO Box 132, Basseterre, tel: 869-465 4040, www.stkittstourism.kn.

Nevis: Main Street, Charlestown, tel: 869-469 7550, www.nevisisland.com.

Canada: 133 Richmond St West, Suite 311, Toronto, ON M5H 2L3, tel: 416-368 6707, email: carolyn.james@stkittstourism.kn.

UK: 10 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL, tel: 020-7376 0881, email: jennifer.hensley@stkittstourism.kn.

US: 414 East 75th Street, Suite 5, New York, NY 10021, tel: 212-535 1234 (toll-free) 800-582 6208, email: newyork@stkittstourism.kn

St Lucia

PO Box 221, Sureline Building, Vide Bouteille, Castries, tel: 758-452 4094, www.saintluciauk.org.

Canada: 60 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 909, Toronto, ON M4T 1N5, tel: 416-392 4242, email: sltbcanada@aol.com.

UK: St Lucia Tourist Board, 1 Collingham Gardens, London SW5 0HW, tel: 020-7341 7005, email: sltbinfo@stluciauk.orh.

US: St Lucia Tourist Board, 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400J, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-867 2950, email: stluciatourism@aol.com.

St-Martin/Sint Maarten

French side: Route de Sandy Ground, Marigot, 97150 Marigot, St-Martin, tel: 590-875 721, www.st-martin.org, www.iledesaintmartin.org.

Dutch side: Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau, Vineyard Office Park, W.G. Buncamper Road 33, Philipsburg,

Sint Maarten, tel: 599-542 2337, www.vacationstmaarten.com.

France: Office de Tourisme de St-Martin, 54 rue de Varenne,
75007 Paris, tel: 01 53 29 99 99.

US: St-Martin promotional office, 825 Third Avenue, 29th floor, New York, NY 10022-7519, tel: 212-745 0945.

Sint Maarten Tourist Office, 675 Third Avenue, Suite 1806, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-953 2084, (toll-free) 800-786 2278.

St Vincent and The Grenadines

Ministry of Tourism, NIS Building, Upper Bay Street, Kingstown, St Vincent, tel: 784-457 1502, www.bequiasweet.com, www.discoversvg.com.

There are also information desks at the cruise ship terminal, tel: 784-457 1592 and E. T. Joshua Airport, tel: 784-458 4685.

Canada: 333 Wilson Avenue, Suite 601, Toronto, ON M3H 1T2, tel: 416-630 9292, email: svgtourismtoronto@rogers.com.

UK: 10 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL, tel: 020-7937 6570, email: svgtourismeurope@aol.com.

US: 801 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017, tel 212-687 4981, (toll-free) 800 729 1726, email: svgtony@aol.com.

Trinidad and Tobago


TIDCO (Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago), PO Box 222, Maritime Center, 29 Tenth Avenue, Barataria, tel: 868-675 7034, www.gotrinidadandtobago.com. Information office, Piarco International Airport, tel: 868-669 5196.


Tobago House of Assembly Division of Tourism and Transportation, 12 Sangster’s Hill, Scarborough, tel: 868-639 2125.

Information office, A.N.R. Robinson International Airport, tel: 868-639 0509.

UK: Lion House, 111 Hare Lane, Claygate, Surrey KT10 0QY, tel: 01372 469818, email: trinbago@ihml.com

US: Marketing Challenges International Inc., 915 Broadway, Suite 600, New York, NY 10010, tel: 212-529 8484 (toll-free from US and Canada) 800-816 7541, email: t&t@mcintl.com

US Virgin Islands

St Thomas: there are two visitors’ bureaux:

1 Tolbod Gade, Charlotte Amalie, tel: 340-774 8784.

Welcome Center, Havensight Dock, www.usvi.net, www.usvi-on-line.com, www.visitusvi.com.

St Croix: 53A Company Street, Christiansted, tel: 340-773 0495, www.visitusvi.com.

St John: the tourism office is next to the post office in Cruz Bay,


Canada: 3300 Bloor Street West, Suite 3120, Centre Tower, Toronto, on M8X 2X3, tel: 416-622 7600.

UK: Destination Marketing, Power Road Studios, 114 Power Road, London W4 5PY, tel: 020-8994 0978.

US: Chicago: 500 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2030, Chicago, IL 60611, tel: 312-670 8784.

Los Angeles: 3460 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 412, Los Angeles, CA 90010, tel: 213-739 0138, email: usvi@destination-marketing.co.uk

Miami: 2655 Le Jeune Road, Suite 907, Miami, FL 33134, tel: 305-442 7200.

New York: 1270 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 2108, New York, NY 10020, tel: 212-332 2222.

Weddings in the Caribbean

There are those who still prefer a traditional wedding at home, followed by a honeymoon away, but others - in increasing numbers - decide to combine the two, and bring family and friends along as well. A Caribbean island makes the perfect destination. Choose a hotel that employs a full-time wedding organizer, or, through your travel agent, choose one of the tour operators who now offer all-in wedding packages. Here are some points to note:

Rules vary from island to island (contact tourist offices for information), but in most cases it is required that couples be over 18, and for the wedding to be conducted after three working days on the island. Hotels prefer you to be resident there for 7 days.

You will need valid passports, birth certificates, and any relevant divorce or death certificates. Allow approximately half a day to complete administration prior to the ceremony (paperwork can be done only during government business hours, so check that public holidays don’t intervene). On English islands, non-English documents must be translated by an officially recognized translator.

The marriage may be carried out by a marriage officer or a clergyman. In the latter case, it may be necessary for your home minister to liaise with the island minister; this is always the case for Catholic services.

The marriage is legally binding.

The bride and bridegroom can usually choose their own music.

Wedding outfits (remember the heat and the relaxed setting when planning yours) can usually be pressed before the ceremony; major airlines all have arrangements for transporting them, either boxed or hanging in garment sleeves.

Wedding photographs and videos can be provided, but the quality may not be the same as in the US and Europe.

Apart from the cost of staying in the hotel, couples pay an extra fee for the wedding ceremony. Prices vary considerably, depending on the standard of hotel and what extras are offered (these might include anything from a souvenir T-shirt to a sunset cruise). Some of the larger hotels employ a wedding planner.

Weddings in Barbados

To get married in Barbados, apply for a marriage license at the Ministry of Home Affairs in the General Post Office Building, Cheapside, Bridgetown (tel: 246-228 8950). You need to show a valid passport and original or certified copies of your birth certificate, and proof of divorce (decree absolute) if you have been married before. You also need to show return air tickets. The license costs BDS$200 plus BDS$25 stamp fee. Many larger hotels will plan formalities and arrange the wedding as part of a package.


What to Wear

“Casual” is the word in the Antilles. Cool cotton clothes should make up the majority of your wardrobe. Air conditioning can be set too low when it’s hot and the breezes are cooler at night during the winter, so it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket or cotton sweater, just in case. Men should bring a jacket and tie if they plan to visit any casinos - most of them (and some of the fancier restaurants and hotels) require at least a jacket for the evening. A pair of sturdy walking shoes is obviously essential for those planning walks in the mountains and rainforests.

It is not appropriate to wear swimsuits and other beach attire around town. When you venture from beach or poolside into town, cover up - a simple T-shirt and a pair of shorts should do the trick. By following this rule, you will show respect for the standards of many island residents.

Nude or topless (for women) bathing is prohibited everywhere except for Guadeloupe, Martinique, St-Martin, St-Barthélemy, and Bonaire. Guadeloupe, St-Martin, and Bonaire have at least one designated nudist beach.