If your plans for a Caribbean vacation extend to nothing more strenuous than lazing on a beach or by a pool, you are in luck, because this is something that the Caribbean provides that few other destinations can rival. However, there is a lot more to the Caribbean than just beaches and sunshine, so you may want to consider spending some time soaking in the local culture and history of the islands. For some people, the Caribbean traditions form the main reason for traveling while for others, it is all part of the reason to go. Whether you want to reconnect to your Caribbean roots or you want to check out the stories and history of the islands, the cultural traditions of the Caribbean are there to be enjoyed.
The fact that there have been so many influences and visitors to the Caribbean islands means that there is a lot to discover and uncover. While there is very little left from the era when the Carib and Arawak Indians were found on the islands, the traditions of the explorers from Europe can be found all across the islands. The French, Spanish, Dutch and British have all arrived in the Caribbean over the years and they have made their mark. In slightly more recent times, the Americans have exerted an influence on the Caribbean. Whether you hail from one of these countries and you are keen to see the way that your nation’s influence spread or you enjoy the counter-clash of cultures, every Caribbean island has a story to tell.
You can feel the European influence on many islands
Puerto Rico and Cuba are heavily influenced by the Spanish and there is a Latin tempo and feel to these islands. If you head to areas like Martinique or Guadeloupe, the French culture comes through with a more relaxed and indifferent air. Even though these islands aren’t too far from each other and experience similar weather and economic factors, the nature and feel of them are hugely different. The same can be said for Curacao or Bonaire, which look as though there has been streets and buildings transported directly from Amsterdam. Over time, some of these cultures have overlapped with some islands providing a blend of styles and attitudes.
The African influence is also strong and this can be seen in many of the buildings which used to house the workers that toiled to produce sugar for the masses. Old mills, plantation houses, and fortresses like Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St Kitts are all part of the Caribbean story. These stories don’t always make for pleasant reading or hearing but what nation or island doesn’t have some elements that would never be accepted nowadays? The struggle of the workers, their daily lives, their food and their efforts to better themselves is very much part of the fabric of the Caribbean and it is only right that the African influence is noted, and indeed celebrated through the various carnivals, festivals and other cultural events.
With so many Caribbean islands located a short distance from each other, there has been a natural bleeding and mixture of styles over the years. Modern-day Caribbean islands draw on a huge range of influences but most of the islands are able to retain some of their own unique roots, which means that there may be an island or two that is most relevant to you and your interests.