Though the Caribbean gets quieter and a little cooler during the summer months, this can be great news for holidaymakers. For a slow-paced tourist trade can make dream vacations all the better: powder-fine beaches are emptier, there are better deals to be had on resorts and hotels, and with fewer guests vying for attention, the staff in restaurants and beach cafes have more time to sit, chat and get to know your name. Here’s why you should consider spending the summer in the Caribbean.
1. The Caribbean should be on everyone’s getaway list this summer, even though it is officially hurricane season. With some parts of the Caribbean more hurricane-prone than others, the odds of encountering a major storm are slim. Each palm-fringed island is different and entire seasons can pass without more than a stiff breeze, during which time you could be enjoying the sparkling turquoise waters and daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius.
2. What’s more, with lower hotel rates than the highs of January-March, the crowd-free summer in the Caribbean can feel like a private slice of paradise. In this slow-season, Caribbean resorts offer even more to tempt visitors, with festivals that showcase what the islands have to offer in the way of music, food, history and dance.
3. And while the threat of hurricanes might not be as great as you’d imagine, if you do happen to encounter a tropical storm, this is a sight in itself.
4. The summer Caribbean islands have plenty to offer holidaymakers. For example, each summer the island of Barbados celebrates Crop Over, a fun-filled festival that celebrates the sugar-cane cutting season each July that can be traced back to the late 1780s. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction involving costumed parades, sizzling Bajan street food and calypso contests. The 2016 event promises to be one of the best, with non-stop soca parties, live music and street markets.
5. Grenada’s Carnival, one of the island’s biggest festivals, begins in July and gains momentum leading up to Carnival Sunday, usually in the second week of August. A highlight of the 2016 carnival calendar is the popular Children’s Carnival Frolic, when kids of all ages dress up and dance through the streets. In the cooler summer months, it’s comfortable enough for tourists to join the weekly Hash House Harrier run. Simply turn up at the chosen rum shop and enjoy a run or walk through the bush following a trail of flour or shredded paper.
6. Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest in July has brought international artists such as Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent to the island since the festival started in 1993. This epic weeklong party celebrates the best Jamaican reggae with concerts and dances throughout Montego Bay. In August, MoBay also plays host to a popular two-day Jerk Festival in Catherine Hall, a mammoth food and music jamboree with August 1st a special family day.
7. Summer in the Caribbean is when many wildlife conservation projects swing into action. In Antigua, turtle watch projects help protect nesting turtles in the summer months. These supervised turtle watches, led by trained volunteer conservation guides, are managed by the EAG Turtle Conservation Team and are open to tourists. Quieter roads and trails in summertime make it a blissful time to hire a bike and sightsee on two wheels. Bike Plus in St Johns has an impressive range of rental bikes to choose from, and will throw in some lesser-known routes to try and a map for free.
8. Trinidad and Tobago have an incredible array of bird species – more than 430 at last count. In the extensive wetlands, rainforest covered mountain ranges, savannas, mudflats and dams you’ll discover amazing black-tailed godwit, western reef-heron, and chestnut-sided warblers, as well as oropendolas, peppershrikes and antbirds. During the summer, the warm winds often blow in a few rare birds, making it a magnificent spectacle for bird watchers. Summer tours run from June – October.
9. From March to August, visitors to St. Lucia can learn all about the leatherback turtles that visit these shores by taking a Turtle Watch tour run by Heritage Tours. Guests can also help to measure the turtles and count the number of eggs they lay, camping overnight on the beach. Summer is also when St. Lucia hosts its Rose Festival, a month-long event in August entirely dedicated to its namesake flower, during which the streets of St. Lucia come alive with costumes, song and dance every Saturday.
10. Both Barbuda and Antigua honour the king of tropical fruit over the summer with a party dedicated to the delicious mango. The 2016 Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival takes place in late July under the shade of mango trees in Christian Valley, and will offer visitors the opportunity to sample every imaginable mango-made delight, from mango preserves and sauces to scented candles and fruity soaps. Stroll the mango market with the family for special children’s activities as well as mango-eating competitions.
Virgin Atlantic operates flights to the Caribbean from London Gatwick, making it easy to book your summer escape.
Have you spent summer in the Caribbean? What are your favourite summer activities on the islands? Let us know in the comments section below.