Whether you’re planning to lay on the beach all day, explore the local sightseeing spots or indulge in a bit of both, the Caribbean is a diverse, fascinating destination with plenty to offer. Each and every one of the 7,000 islands that make up the Caribbean is a unique, tropical utopia and yet there are plenty of common themes, traditions and cultural celebrations that are clearly apparent on a number of them. While we can’t cover every single one, we’re going to try and focus on the most interesting bits in our quick guide to cavorting across the Caribbean.
Diverse Island Influences & Common Cultures
Yes, the islands are not that far away from each other when you consider the size of the planet, and most of the islands experience the same weather and economic conditions, but the differences in cultures, traditions and customs can be huge.
Many Caribbean islands are actually heavily influenced by Europe, so don’t be surprised to find examples of Spanish traditions in Puerto Rico and Cuba or French customs in Guadeloupe and Martinique. In fact, the latter’s capital, Fort-de-France. looks an awful lot like and has a similar air to the popular resort of Cannes in the south of France. Arguably, the islands with the most European influences though are Curacao and Bonaire, which were once inhabited by the Dutch and so have a lot of architecture and traditions lifted straight out of Holland.
Of course, a clear African history and influence remains on almost every single island as well. On a couple of the islands there are mills, plantations and even fortresses, all crucial elements that make up the history of the Caribbean. This complicated, unpleasant period has clearly impacted how the Caribbean natives live, work, eat and strive to this day, all aiming to better their lives. To celebrate this and the African influence there are frequent carnivals, festivals and other celebrations.
Throughout the Caribbean, games are a crucial part of everyday life and entertainment. There are the Central American and Caribbean games, which take place every four years like the Summer and Winter Olympics. There’s also a huge love of cricket throughout the islands, in addition to football, baseball and rugby.
Of course, games aren’t limited to sports played in huge arenas and stadiums. Quite the contrary, it seems as though the Caribbean folk can create fun games from anything, whether it be rings, shells, kites, paper, rubber bands or even juice boxes. Card games are also very common, especially games like All Fours and Caribbean Live Stud Poker, the latter of which has become so popular in recent years that it now appears on a number of land-based and online casinos, including CasinoEuro.
Perhaps the only Caribbean element that’s even more diverse than the culture is the food. Due to the various national influences throughout the Caribbean, the cuisine is a fusion of all sorts including African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Persian, Arabian, Japanese and Chinese. Seriously, it’s extremely difficult to name a more versatile cuisine – or to pick just one dish to recommend. Really, you’d have to go off your own likes and dislikes to discover the best Caribbean dishes there for you, though you can always take a look here to get a vague idea of what to expect.
So, when you make your way to the Caribbean try to remember that there is no way to encapsulate the culture, games or even food of the islands within one simple experience. Yes, there are elements that remain the same on many of the islands, but you’ll soon discover that each island has a unique flavor, an exclusive atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the world.