14 Caribbean Travel Tips

Macao Beach, DR
Macao Beach, DR | Source

Time for some fun in the sun!

Welcome to part two of my series about becoming a savvy Caribbean traveller!

In part one we talked about things to do before you leave home. If you'd like some extra pre-travel tips, mosey on over here and check out my tips! In part two I'm going to give you some Caribbean specific travel advice. If you've been anywhere in the Caribbean and have any extra ideas, don't be afraid to share! Please post them in the comments section below and share them with us all!

Already a seasoned Caribbean traveller? If you're in need of a great hotel idea, check out part three of my series for a detailed review of the Occidental Grand Flamenco in Punta, Cana, Dominican Republic.

We paid a visit to a Dominican School. If you plan on going on such an excursion, hit up your local dollar store before you leave. We take for granted that we can get all kinds of school supplies for $20 here. The kids would benefit greatly from such
We paid a visit to a Dominican School. If you plan on going on such an excursion, hit up your local dollar store before you leave. We take for granted that we can get all kinds of school supplies for $20 here. The kids would benefit greatly from such | Source
A visit to a local village opened our eyes to how much we have and how grateful we should be for the things we do have. Taking a tour outside your resort is a great way to see what it's actually like to live where your visiting.
A visit to a local village opened our eyes to how much we have and how grateful we should be for the things we do have. Taking a tour outside your resort is a great way to see what it's actually like to live where your visiting. | Source
On days when we slept in a little later, it was trickier to find a spot on the beach that wasn't already claimed. Bringing your towel down to the beach before you head to breakfast is an easy step to ensure you've got a lounge chair secured for the d
On days when we slept in a little later, it was trickier to find a spot on the beach that wasn't already claimed. Bringing your towel down to the beach before you head to breakfast is an easy step to ensure you've got a lounge chair secured for the d | Source
Sample a little bit of the food before you load your plate. You might not like everything you take and end up wasting so much food. Most resorts of buffet style, so if you find something you like, you can always go back for more.
Sample a little bit of the food before you load your plate. You might not like everything you take and end up wasting so much food. Most resorts of buffet style, so if you find something you like, you can always go back for more. | Source
I only had one of these bad boys.. Too much alcohol, plus lots of sun is a recipe for dehydration. Be sure to monitor your alcohol consumption and break it up with lots of water.
I only had one of these bad boys.. Too much alcohol, plus lots of sun is a recipe for dehydration. Be sure to monitor your alcohol consumption and break it up with lots of water. | Source
We had one evening of cloudy skies and some rain. Be prepared to accept that you may not have perfectly sunny days your entire vacation. A little reading material or card games can help pass a rainy evening.
We had one evening of cloudy skies and some rain. Be prepared to accept that you may not have perfectly sunny days your entire vacation. A little reading material or card games can help pass a rainy evening. | Source
Okay, so a toque definitely isn't necessary (I wouldnt' recommend it actually, it's just a wee bit warm for that) make sure to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and something on your head to prevent heat stroke.
Okay, so a toque definitely isn't necessary (I wouldnt' recommend it actually, it's just a wee bit warm for that) make sure to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and something on your head to prevent heat stroke. | Source
Thumbs up to the ladies who maintained our room for us during the week. They did an awesome job.
Thumbs up to the ladies who maintained our room for us during the week. They did an awesome job. | Source
Be respectful of wherever you go. Take your garbage with you. You want to leave it as beautiful as it was when you got there, so future generations can enjoy it as well.
Be respectful of wherever you go. Take your garbage with you. You want to leave it as beautiful as it was when you got there, so future generations can enjoy it as well. | Source

During your trip

Tip #1: Meet your vacation guide
Most vacations booked through an online travel site or vacation company will have an informational meeting the first morning of your trip. I would advise to go to it. They can provide you with important information about the area you're staying in, give you any tips about the best places for food or shopping, and you'll have a contact who speaks your language in the event that anything goes wrong or isn't as you anticipated. Take advantage of their expertise. That's what they're there for, to make sure you have the best possible vacation you can.

Tip #2: Don't be afraid to leave your resort
It's always great to lay on the beach and do nothing but believe it or not, it can actually get a little boring after a while.Don't be afraid to wander from your resort. Yes, you are in a different country but don't let fear prevent your from seeing all you can. Talk to guest services at your hotel or contact your vacation representative.There are usually a ton of awesome day trips they can book for you.Planned outings with fellow tourists can be a great way to see the sights if you're too nervous about wandering out on your own.

Tip #3: Coconut milk is not your friend
Okay, it's not technically your enemy either, but it can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Ever hear of travellers diarrhea? Nobody wants to spend their trip locked in the washroom. One way to avoid that unpleasant outcome is to go easy on the tropical drinks. Those oh-so-yummy cocktails are made with coconut milk, which is a natural laxative. So pace yourself, or stick to beer.

Tip #4: Don't pay full price, be prepared to negotiate
When shopping in the souvenir shops, don't pay full price.They inflate the price expecting you to talk them down. If you pay full price, you're overpaying.Don't be afraid to ask for a better price, they expect it.

Tip #5: Sample a little
The food at the resorts is usually served buffet style so try a little bit of each thing, don't just fill your plate up with loads of everything. Mixing foods that you don't normally eat altogether back home (i.e, fish, with a side of steak with a side of lobster) is another enemy of the vacationer's digestive system. Plus, some things that look delicious might not end up being your cup of tea and there's nothing worse than wasting platefuls of food. Most Caribbean countries are some of the poorest nations, imagine working there and watching tourists waste platefuls of food. It's a slap in the face to the people who work there.

Tip #6: Drink lots of water
Lots of sun + lots of alcohol= dehydration. Be sure to drink lots of water to help prevent sickness and heat stroke.

Tip #8: Plan for a rainy day
Check The Weather Network's Website before you leave to get an idea of what to expect weather wise. The great thing about the Caribbean is it could be cloudy and raining and then five minutes later the sun comes out. Just in case you happen to hit a particularly rainy day, or you just need some time out of the sun, having some playing cards, travel scrabble or a favourite board game can help pass some of the 'inbetween' time.

Tip #9: Make your claim early
Even if your resort has lots of beach chairs set up along the beach or pool, don't take them for granted.. get up early and claim your spot or you'll probably be out of luck. Whether you want to lay by the pool for the day, or lounge on the beach, the lounge chairs fill up fast. Our plan of attack was to bring our beach towels with us and stake our claim on the way to the breakfast buffet in the morning. Vacation & Beach unwritten rules are that if there's a towel on the chair, it's taken, even if you don't see anyone using them.So find your perfect spot and claim it while you still have the chance.No need to leave anything valuable hanging around. We left a couple magazines we purchased at the airport for emphasis, but a towel should suffice.

Tip #10: Be good to the locals
If you plan to tour any local villages or schools, having a little treat for the kids is a great idea. It's not absolutely necessary, but it's a nice way to show your appreciation to them for hosting you. We toured a school, but didn't plan a head of time, so I didn't have anything to give to the teacher to pass on to the students. Next time we head anywhere like that, I'm going to make a note to hit up the dollar store before we go. Bringing little goodies like crayons, notepads or stickers for the kids would be greatly appreciated. These are third world countries and they don't have the luxuries that we take for granted everyday. Our tour operator asked us to not give anything directly to the students but rather to leave our goodies or donations with the teacher so they can be given out equally. Speak with your tour guide and they'll provide you with the best way to show your appreciation.

Tip #11: Take care of the staff & they'll take care of you
Leave a little something for the maid each day. It doesn't have to be a lot, a few dollars will do, but leave what you can. Our resort had a different person each day, so leaving one big tip at the end of the week wouldn't have been fair. Each resort has their own way of scheduling the housekeepers. Some places it's the same person taking care of you for your entire stay, others it's a different housekeeper each day. Talk to the front desk to find out how the housekeeping schedule works so you'll know how best to divvy up the tips.

Tip #12: Leave it as beautiful as it was when you got there
On our last morning, we were sitting by the pool enjoying our coffee, when I saw a fellow tourist do something that completely angered me; they littered. A couple walking past us had plastic drink cups in their hand, and the man chugged his drink then just threw the cup on the ground and walked away. Yes, there is staff on hand to keep the resorts clean, but that doesn't mean you have to make their job harder. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you have the right to be disrespectful.

Tip #13: Bring travel mugs
This goes along with the previous tip.I can't imagine the amount of plastic cups these resorts go through on a daily basis, let alone each year. All-inclusive bars and buffets equals a lot of plastic cups going in the garbage each day. Plus, if you go on any excursions and taste coffee, rum, etc, they use plastic cups there as well. Bringing your own travel mugs is a great way to help reduce the waste these resorts are producing just by trying to please tourists like us.

Tip #14: Research your excursions
Particularly in the Dominican Republic, the resorts allow outside vendors on the property. It was almost a daily occurrence of trying to avoid sales people on our way to the buffet or pool each day. There will be lots of possibilities to choose from. You can 'Swim with the dolphins, sharks, manatees, etc.' Not all of these tour operators are held to the same standards for animal safety. Please be selective. If swimming with dolphins is something you've always wanted to do, talk to your vacation representative. They can point you in the direction of tour operators who have been thoroughly inspected and comply with animal cruelty regulations, as well as being safe for you and your fellow travellers.



Tour Excursions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our tour guide, George, was funny and very knowledgeable. Part of our tour included a ride into deeper jungle to visit a coffee and fruit plantation.Our tour also included a chance to see how cigars are rolled. It was very neat to see them being rolled by hand. Free samples were included.Breathtaking view of the mountains and jungle from the coffee plantation we toured.Getting acquainted with some of the animals at the coffee plantation.Having a little fun.. Finding the right excursion is an added bonus to any trip. We managed to find one that took us to several different locations, including a trip to a local school, where they grow their own bananas just outside their classroom window.Our Outback Safari tour ended with some time at Maccao Beach to do some boogie boarding and catch a little sun.I let my husband do the driving in these bad boys.. They are a little too fast to drive for me, but it was quite enjoyable. Definitely a different experience. I kind of felt like James Bond. :)Our other excursion was a trip out onto the open ocean for some snorkelling and a chance to drive some mini speed boats.Don't be afraid to leave your resort. Talk to your travel representative to find affordable excursions that suit your needs. If you never leave your resort, you miss out on the chance to see sights like this.A Christmas tree made out of emtpy beer and rum bottles. Definitely not something I've ever seen before.
Our tour guide, George, was funny and very knowledgeable. Part of our tour included a ride into deeper jungle to visit a coffee and fruit plantation.
Our tour guide, George, was funny and very knowledgeable. Part of our tour included a ride into deeper jungle to visit a coffee and fruit plantation. | Source
Source
Our tour also included a chance to see how cigars are rolled. It was very neat to see them being rolled by hand. Free samples were included.
Our tour also included a chance to see how cigars are rolled. It was very neat to see them being rolled by hand. Free samples were included. | Source
Breathtaking view of the mountains and jungle from the coffee plantation we toured.
Breathtaking view of the mountains and jungle from the coffee plantation we toured. | Source
Getting acquainted with some of the animals at the coffee plantation.
Getting acquainted with some of the animals at the coffee plantation. | Source
Having a little fun..
Having a little fun.. | Source
Finding the right excursion is an added bonus to any trip. We managed to find one that took us to several different locations, including a trip to a local school, where they grow their own bananas just outside their classroom window.
Finding the right excursion is an added bonus to any trip. We managed to find one that took us to several different locations, including a trip to a local school, where they grow their own bananas just outside their classroom window. | Source
Our Outback Safari tour ended with some time at Maccao Beach to do some boogie boarding and catch a little sun.
Our Outback Safari tour ended with some time at Maccao Beach to do some boogie boarding and catch a little sun. | Source
I let my husband do the driving in these bad boys.. They are a little too fast to drive for me, but it was quite enjoyable. Definitely a different experience. I kind of felt like James Bond. :)
I let my husband do the driving in these bad boys.. They are a little too fast to drive for me, but it was quite enjoyable. Definitely a different experience. I kind of felt like James Bond. :) | Source
Our other excursion was a trip out onto the open ocean for some snorkelling and a chance to drive some mini speed boats.
Our other excursion was a trip out onto the open ocean for some snorkelling and a chance to drive some mini speed boats. | Source
Don't be afraid to leave your resort. Talk to your travel representative to find affordable excursions that suit your needs. If you never leave your resort, you miss out on the chance to see sights like this.
Don't be afraid to leave your resort. Talk to your travel representative to find affordable excursions that suit your needs. If you never leave your resort, you miss out on the chance to see sights like this. | Source
A Christmas tree made out of emtpy beer and rum bottles. Definitely not something I've ever seen before.
A Christmas tree made out of emtpy beer and rum bottles. Definitely not something I've ever seen before. | Source

Have you ever been to the Caribbean?

See results without voting
Occidental Grand Flamenco, Punta Cana, DR
Occidental Grand Flamenco, Punta Cana, DR | Source

Haven't picked a resort yet?

If you haven't quite decided on which resort to book with, check out part three of this series for a detailed review, including photos of the Occidental Grand Flamenco in beautiful Punta, Cana, Dominican Republic.

More by this Author

  • How To Keep Your Dog Safe While Camping In Bear Country
    14

    Dogs make wonderful camping companions. If not properly trained, they can be a danger when camping in bear country. This simple guide will teach you how to camp smart in bear country with your pooch.

  • Beautiful Cozumel, Mexico.
    6

    Scuba divers go to Cozumel every year to explore the breathe taking coral reefs. This island paradise is the ideal trip for people looking to get away from the crowded beaches of mainland Mexico.

  • Moving Your Cat To A New Home
    14

    Moving to a new house is stressful for all involved, including your beloved kitty. If you have an outdoor cat, you need to take extra care to make sure they don't try and go back to their old house.


Comments 5 comments

JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 2 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by to read my hub Deborah! Much appreciated it! It blew my mind how many plastic cups were left stranded on the beach and throughout the resort while in the DR. So wasteful. I understand being on vacation means being super relaxed, but that doesn't mean we have to be wasteful! It's also so much better to use your own Bubba Keg or coffee travel mug at the bars. lol. You get more drink at once and don't have to waste so much time hanging out at the bar when you could be relaxing on the beach.

:)


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 2 years ago from Iowa

About your #13, my next door neighbor just got back from Punta Cana and she had the same tip about taking travel mugs. I have to say, that never occurred to me before. And I completely concur with your #2. In fact, I've never stayed at an all-inclusive resort because I want to get out and see the sights and meet the locals.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

Jess.

A very informative article. Talking about the couple showing their disrespect while on vacation; I suspect they would be just as churlish and selfish in their own country. Voted up and across. Excellent!


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 3 years ago from Canada Author

Yeah, it's a good idea to meet with your travel rep (if you booked through a travel company, like say Air Canada Vacations.) because they can give you that info... Our travel rep from ACV when we went to the Dominican was the one who pointed that out to us... don't pick just any excursion, you might think you're saving money but you could end up getting ripped off, or using a tour operator who has some shady business practicies... I enjoy going on holidays and visiting new countries, but just because I'm on vacation doesn't mean I forget about what I stand for... If I wouldn't use their services here in Canada, then I'm not going to anywhere else just to save a buck.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

I like your #14 about the tour operators who have been thoroughly inspected and comply with animal cruelty regulations. So important!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working