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And who would have thought that this region is also home to a number of UNESCO World

Heritage Sites? Cuba leads the way with nine sites, including the colonial cities of Havana and Trinidad, while the distinctive twin pitons on Saint Lucia and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park on Dominica have also attracted World Heritage status. Other sites include the impressive Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park on St. Kitts and Barbados’s capital Bridgetown and its military garrison, along with a cluster of structures on Haiti, notably the Citadel, Sans Souci Palace and Ramiers buildings, part of the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. The original Carib and Arawak Indian inhabitants of the Caribbean may sadly have long since disappeared, apart from a small community of Caribs on Dominica, but the influences of the region’s later European settlers are still prominent. Thus the Caribbean can be split into four main areas – English, French, Spanish and

Dutch – identified through their language and architecture, albeit with a West Indian twist reflecting the African heritage of many inhabitants. Many locals speak ‘patois’, a language that combines a mix of English, sometimes French, African and their own unique words. The English-speaking Caribbean accounts for the largest area and on some islands, such as Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados, visitors can find traditional stone churches like those in any English village, and beautiful Georgian buildings. And, of course, everyone drives on the left.

Spanish Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are full of a vibrant Latin American vibe, while there is no escaping the chic Gallic ambience of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin and Haiti in the French Caribbean. Then there are the distinctive gabled houses on the islands of Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius that are a clue to their Dutch roots and identity.


There’s no better way to taste Caribbean life than joining the locals at the numerous carnivals

and festivals held throughout the region. Some of the best known are CropOver in Barbados, Junkanoo in The Bahamas and the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival. Bustling markets, with their colourful collections of tropical fruit and vegetables are another interesting diversion, particularly on Grenada, the Spice Isle, with stalls full of locally-grown spices; while rousing weekend

church services are an ideal way to interact with the local community.


FLAVOURS The countries of the Caribbean boast a mouth-watering array of foods and flavours, along with a

tempting choice of restaurants, bars and beach cafes guaranteed to satisfy every type of taste.

Caribbean cuisine is unmistakably tropical with typical dishes capitalising on the region’s abundant fruits and fresh fish. Some of the best dining venues can be found on the islands of French St. Martin as well as Anguilla and Barbados. However, visitors can find equally delicious

fare, tinged with a more local flavour, at the regular fish-fry evenings and weekly parties held on islands such as Antigua (at Shirley Heights), Tobago (Sunday School), Saint Lucia (Anse La Raye), Barbados, Grenada (at Gouyave) and Bonaire (Posada Para Mira). Different islands are influenced by their

own colonial roots. In Trinidad & Tobago, spicy dishes reflect the influence of Trinidad’s Indian population, while on Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, the Creole- influenced cuisine also contains Dutch specialities, reflecting the islands’ heritage. And what better way to wash it down than with a local beer, such as Jamaica’s famous Red Stripe or Kalik from The Bahamas. Alternatively, try one of the numerous different rum cocktails for which the Caribbean is famous.

Facing page and above: Contrasting tastes of Caribbean culture in Cuba, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago

LovetheCaribbean @_LoveCaribbean WWW.CARIBBEAN.CO.UK 33

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