TRANSPORT

Getting around by air

Check out the direct services from the UK and then once you arrive, it is easy to link into the comprehensive network of flights that regularly ply the skies across the Caribbean. But some options are more logical than others. For instance from Trinidad in the southern Caribbean, which is served by direct flights from the UK, there is a better choice of flights to South American countries as they are relatively close. This makes it easier to team up stays on the island, or its sister Tobago, with countries such as Venezuela or Guyana. Barbados and Antigua are good hubs for exploring islands in the Eastern Caribbean, while Jamaica lends itself to the north, and Belize can be reached from islands such as Curaçao.

Island-hoppers planning to visit only two or three destinations are best concentrating on island groups that are close together or those that have regular direct flights and ferries. The Bahamas is ideal island-hopping territory, and the best choice of flights to the Out Islands is offered from the capital Nassau, which is also served by direct UK services. That makes it easy to live it up amid the bright lights of Nassau for a few days before retreating to the sleepy embrace of Exuma or Eleuthera in the Out Islands. And you don’t have to take to the skies as the islands have a great network of ferries from Nassau that serve many points.

Getting around by sea

If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, hop aboard one of the battered old Bahamian mail boats that ply the routes between the islands but be warned – they may be full of local character and they’re not for the fainthearted!

 

Ferries can be a fabulous way to travel between the islands, offering a far more scenic and local experience than flying. But as the Caribbean covers such a vast area, with long distances between some islands, ferries only operate on certain routes.

 

The British Virgin Islands also has a good network of ferries and water taxis, which makes it easy to combine stays on the main islands of Tortola or Virgin Gorda with smaller isles such as Jost Van Dyke or Anegada. You could even hop over to the US Virgin Islands of St. John, St. Croix or St. Thomas next door, either for the day or a longer stay. For the best way to explore these islands, combine a hotel stay with a few days on a yacht to float around in sybaritic leisure. The same can be said for the Grenadines, where explorers can spend a few days on St. Vincent at the northern end of the chain before heading southwards by plane, ferry or yacht to smaller Grenadine islands, such as Bequia, Mustique or Canouan.

 

Another smaller island chain is the Dutch ABC islands where travellers can fly between all three to sample the world-class diving of Bonaire or soak up the Dutch architectural heritage of Curaçao.

Travellers to Antigua can jump on the ferry to visit its smaller, quieter sister island Barbuda, either for the day or longer. There are also flights and ferries from Antigua to the Irish-influenced outpost of Montserrat, more famous now for its active volcano.

St. Kitts and its quieter sister Nevis make another good combination, with ferry services between them, as do Trinidad and Tobago. These two islands may only be a 20-minute flight apart, or two-and-a-half hours by ferry, but they are like chalk and cheese with Trinidad a commercialised and well-developed hub, and Tobago an unspoilt gem, famous for both its beauty and its relaxed pace of life

In the French Caribbean, Guadeloupe can be combined with its offshore islands including La Desirade, which provide a more rustic contrast. Travellers who prefer to stay put can take advantage of the many day trips, from Anguilla to St. Maarten for shopping; from the British Virgin Islands to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands for boutique browsing; or from St. Vincent to Mustique to see where the royals play. From St. Martin visitors can connect by plane or boat to St. Eustatius.

From Grenada, hop to its quieter sister islands Carriacou or Petite Martinique or from Saint Lucia take the regular Express des Illes ferry which connects to the French isle of Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe or vice-versa.

Probably the easiest and ultimate way to explore a whole clutch of islands in one go is by boat, whether aboard a yacht or a cruise ship. .
The Caribbean is the world’s most popular cruising ground with a huge range of ships offering many different itineraries. However you choose to explore the Caribbean, as long as you’re realistic and plan your journey carefully, the Caribbean can be truly your oyster.
“Travellers who prefer to stay put can take advantage of numerous day trips, from Anguilla to St. Maarten for a day’s shopping; from the BVI’s to St. Thomas in the UVIs for browsing its boutiques”

Getting around by car

Hiring a car is a very popular way to explore each island. Visitors wishing to drive locally may need a special permit which are usually available at car rental companies. Driving is on the left on most islands. For further information, please check with the appropriate National Tourist Office.

Most destinations offer a wide choice of tours. In addition to any excursions arranged through your hotel, taxis are plentiful. These are not metered, so visitors are recommended to agree the fare beforehand. Frequent and affordable public services are available in most countries. Look out for 'route taxis' or 'maxi taxis', like mini-buses which ply specific routes and are quite reliable.

It is essential to have your full international driver’s licence for renting a vehicle in the Caribbean.