Caribbean Islands

Written by Scott Travis

September 13, 2015

The islands of the Caribbean Sea or West Indies are an extensive archipelago in the far west of the Atlantic Ocean, mostly strung between North and South America. They’ve long been known as a resort vacation destination for honeymooners and retirees and are a major area for cruise ships, but a small movement toward eco-tourism and backpacking has started to open up the Caribbean to more independent travel. With year-round good weather (with the occasional but sometimes serious exception of hurricane season in the late summer and early fall), promotional air fares from North America, and hundreds of islands to explore, the Caribbean offers something for almost everyone.

Countries and territories

Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, often grouped as the Greater Antilles, are by far the largest islands in the area and the most visited by travellers. The Caribbean also includes the Lucayan Archipelago to the north, which includes the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Lesser Antilles, a group of much smaller islands to the east.


Greater Antilles

Lesser Antilles

Leeward Islands

Windward Islands

Leeward Antilles (Also known as the ABC islands)


Not in the Caribbean

These countries are not technically in the Caribbean, but are considered culturally part of it

Further to the west and south, there are various less frequently visited islands that belong to countries in South America, Central America and Mexico.


Other destinations


The Caribbean islands were first inhabited by the Arawak Indians, then were invaded by a more aggressive tribe, the Caribs. Unfortunately, neither could appreciate their victory forever, although the Arawaks may have had a quiet reign of nearly two millennia. Then the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Danish, and British arrived, after which the Carib population steeply declined due to various factors. The islands have known many historic battles and more than a few pirate stories.


There are many things to see in the Caribbean, but the islands are famous for the “3 S’s” Sun, Sea and Sand.

  • Seven Miles Beach in the Cayman Islands;
  • Arashi beach and Baby Beach in Aruba;
  • Downtown Havana;
  • Old city of San Juan, Puerto Rico;
  • Dutch Colonial Houses of Curaçao (UNESCO heritage);
  • Slave huts and Salt Plans of Bonaire;
  • The shortest runway on earth on Saba Island;
  • Nelson Dockyards and English Harbor in Antigua and Barbuda;
  • The pitons in Saint Lucia;
  • The Caribbean Indians (The last ones) territory in Dominica;

Stay safe

Natural disasters that may affect the Caribbean are hurricanes during the summer and autumn and more infrequently but anytime and usually without warning: earthquakes and volcanic activity.


Caribbean. (2015, July 23). Wikivoyage, Free travel information around the globe. Retrieved 00:55, September 13, 2015 from

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