June is Caribbean American Heritage Month and each year New York City hosts Caribbean Week. At this year’s Media Marketplace session , I had the opportunity to speak with individuals representing islands in the Caribbean Tourism Organization. A lot of people think the islands only offer blue waters, white sand beaches, or it as just a cruise stop. In efforts of learning the similarities and differences between the islands by traveling, I went booth to booth to get a brief insider’s description of what makes each island unique. Here are four Caribbean destinations offering more than the beach.
Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, Haiti is the first Caribbean Nation to gain independence from France in 1804. There are a number of museums in the capital, Port-au-Prince including Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH) which has a display of the anchor of one of Columbus’ ships the Santa Maria. Haiti also hosts three carnivals: Jacmel (pre-lent), National (a week later) & Flowers in July. The music consists of a combination of its inhabitants through the years: French, African, and Spanish. Kompa exceeds them all by being the most popular. Learn more about what Haiti has to offer by visiting ExperienceHaiti.org.
Named after the abbey of Montserrat in Spain, a major attraction on the island is the former capital city Plymouth. An eruption of the volcano in Soufrière Hills, caused Plymouth to be abandoned. Visitors come to see belongings left behind such as typewriters, clothing, household appliances and more. Permission and the company of an authorized tour guide is needed to visit. Montserrat is also the only island in the Caribbean that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day due to its large Irish population. For more information about setting up a tour or other activities, go to VisitMontserrat.com.
The only English speaking country in South America, Guyana is culturally Caribbean. It is also known as the “Land of six Peoples (Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians, Europeans and Portuguese), offering Indian, Creole, Chinese and International cuisines. Outside of visiting the historic capital Georgetown, Eco-tourism is a big attraction for Guyana. It hosts over 300 waterfalls including Kaieteur Falls, which is the world’s largest single-drop waterfall( five-times the size of Niagara Falls) and Orinduik Falls. For adventure seekers, activities such as trekking, fishing, bird watching and mountain climbing are available in the coastal belt, the forested and mountainous regions and the savanna geographical zones. Mount Roraima shares its peak with neighboring countries Brazil and Venezuela. Learn more at Guyana-tourism.com.
Shared with the small island Nevis, visiting St. Kitts can be a two-in-one special. Visit the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” aka Brimstone Hill Fortress; the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Kitts is the only Caribbean island with a running railway. Once used to deliver sugar cane from plantations to the sugar factory in Basseterre, Scenic Railway as its called gives riders a view around the entire island. Learn how batik is created by visiting Caribelle Batik. Here you can see artisans using the same batik-making methods from over 2000 years ago. For more information about St. Kitts, visit stkittstourism.kn.
About the Caribbean Tourism Organization
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency. It comprises 28 Caribbean government members and private sector entities under one vision, make the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, travel destination. Its mission is to provide services needed for the development of sustainable tourism that contributes to the economic and social benefits of the Caribbean people. The organization provides assistance to member countries in marketing, HR development, event planning, IT, and sustainable tourism development. In addition, the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.
What is your favorite Caribbean Destination?