World Tourism Day, celebrated each year on 27 September, fosters awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic benefits. It also falls around the same time that the UK summer comes to an end and the nights start to become longer than the days.
To mark both occasions, we’re looking at one of our favourite places -the Caribbean. Where you can escape the cold grey days and long nights for warm seas and guaranteed sunshine.
Breezy, balmy, tropical Caribbean island… go on, say it out loud. Feel the weight lift off your shoulders? Not many places can do that, and we can take you there. To one of our Caribbean destinations, and your perfect island escape. . .
We fly to seven Caribbean islands: Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica, St Vincent and Tobago. Stay on any one and witness every cliché you know about the Caribbean come true. Blue skies, glorious beaches, swaying palm trees and dramatic scenery. Not to mention the soul-stirring music and food.
But this region of more than 7,000 tropical islands is full of surprises too. It’s complicated, energising and enigmatic, and for its size and population, occupies a massive space in our cultural conscience.
At Virgin Atlantic, our connection to the Caribbean is a strong one. It’s our spiritual home, our boss’s actual home, and we’ve loved flying you there for over two decades. In that time, we’ve created countless memories together: Weddings, honeymoons, family reunions, well-earned breaks and holidays of a lifetime. We’ve introduced the islands to new visitors who’ve fallen in love with the Caribbean for the first time and brought old friends back to their favourite destination time and time again.
Waiting to be discovered.
If relaxing on a sunbed isn’t for you, then adventure beckons. After all, this is water sports central with top-class sailing, diving and surfing. And where better to cycle, run, hike or play golf than in a glorious island setting with a
backdrop of lush green forests or sparkling blue seas? More adventurous thrill-seekers can explore jungles, mountains and volcanoes.
A birdwatching tour in the pristine rainforest on Tobago
So if all the islands have in common a beautiful climate, spectacular beaches and sublime natural beauty, what is it that sets them apart? Most of our Caribbean destinations are small, so you can explore them in a couple of days. Beyond the beaches, you’ll discover fascinating architecture and UNESCO world heritage sites, as well as
laid-back towns and villages where local life plays out. We think you’d be missing out if sunbed time stopped you from sampling spices at St. George’s Market in Grenada, or visiting the glorious natural harbour at Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua or the wild and windswept east coast of Barbados.
The view of English Harbour from Shirley Heights in Antigua
Getting out and about allows you to learn more about the history of your host nation. Every island is shaped by those who once colonised them. Relics tell the stories of the plantations and the struggles of African slaves brought to these lands.
This is a massive part of who the Caribbean people are today. We can’t undo history, but by acknowledging it and understanding it, we can be more respectful of its legacies.
Culturally speaking, the Caribbean punches well above its weight, with its joyous music bringing people to their feet around the world. You may be familiar with calypso, reggae and Cuban salsa, but plenty of other local genres are worth checking out. Throw in some pulsating soca, zouk or dancehall, and those Caribbean playlists will evoke memories of warm nights dancing under the stars for many years to come.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the Caribbean at the right time, most islands have their own festivals, ranging from immense parties held over several days to more intimate celebrations on the smaller islands, such as St Patrick’s day on Montserrat.
Barbados festival time. Photo https://www.visitbarbados.org/
We cannot end without mentioning the weather. Being close to the equator, the Caribbean comes into its own as a winter sun destination. It’s the perfect place to escape the cold days and long nights of the European winter.
But it’s equally appealing at other times of year too. Find out why it’s just as enjoyable in the less-crowded summer season in our previous blog post about Caribbean summers. It puts to rest any worries you might have about hurricanes too.
As the world starts to reopen after the pandemic it is more important than ever to support local communities at our destinations. Our responsible travel checklist will help you plan a holiday that feels good for you and makes a real difference in the places we fly to.