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Each part of the world naturally has its peculiarities- from weather patterns to local customs that informed travelers should be aware of.
The Caribbean is home to a range of cultures and opportunities for sailing, but in general it is a warm, tropical region with its fair share of humidity and insects. It’s a good idea to read up on your destination island’s local culture and sailing specifics, but there are a few universal travel tips anyone can follow in order to have a great Caribbean sailing vacation.
What to Bring
Our top tips for Caribbean travel start with packing for your trip. As you’ll be spending much of your time exposed to the elements, bring comfortable cotton clothing, a sun hat, polarized sunglasses and comfortable shoes for on deck and on land- you’ll thank yourself for this later on. You’ll also want to stock up on sunblock- of course it is available in local shops but why not bring a big bottle of your favorite brand? It’s worth the extra weight in your suitcase.
Bring a trusted, proven brand of insect repellent. When you’re out on the water the winds may be enough to keep the insects at bay but there’s always the possibility of an attack. Mosquitos are ever-present and the no-see-ums (AKA sand flies, biting midges and jejénes) show no mercy. It may be wise to pack some powerful soothing cream in case of any stray bites.
Make sure to bring your passport and keep careful track of it throughout your trip. A plastic passport case can help keep yours in good shape. Well before your trip, make sure your passport is valid for at least six more months. Also, check any minors’ passports- they expire sooner than adult passports.
Purchase travel insurance if necessary and make sure it covers all eventualities related to adventure sports like diving and zip-lining.
Do your Research
Where are you planning to go? There may be certain cultural norms to follow or things you’d better avoid. ActiveCaribbean.com recommends, for example, avoiding the use of camouflage clothing. It also pays to be cautious about nude or topless sunbathing- while it’s acceptable on certain beaches it may not be on others.
Researching your destination in advance can also help you find out about the best things to see and do in advance- many islands have their own fun carnivals and celebrations that can make for a great cultural experience on land.
Show your respect for island inhabitants by asking permission before snapping photos and carefully adhering to all rules when visiting sites and landmarks.
A visit to the Caribbean wouldn’t be complete without some form of water sport, even if your interpretation includes nothing more than some light swimming and snorkelling.
Stay safe in the water by swimming in calm, designated areas when possible. Don’t touch coral or animals such as sting rays- aside from damaging the wildlife you could be setting yourself up for a powerful sting or burning reaction.
Be aware of the dangers of touching sea urchin spines and certain forms of algae and seaweed- the locals will be your best resource for water safety information. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything you should look out for.
Also, keep a close eye on anyone who may be a less experienced swimmer. Life jackets and other flotation devices can really help everyone to be able to enter the water and enjoy the clear waters and colorful fish.
Your LateSail advisors are experienced in sailing in the Caribbean and can let you in on the best places to go according to your goals for your trip. Ask us about the best times of year to visit, what to see and how to prepare!