Winter is considered the high season for tourism in the Caribbean, largely because travelers want to escape the cold winter weather of the north. Tourism booms from mid-December through mid-April. Having made a number of trips in this time period to various Caribbean islands (plus Mexico and Hawaii) I feel free to make certain observations.
(1) Pack light. After dealing with lost luggage three times over the years (returned hours later), I made the rash decision that we would travel with “carry on” luggage only. This was prompted by a trip from New York (25 degrees) to Barbados (95 degrees) in wool slacks and a cashmere sweater. Guess what? No luggage for 10 hours necessitated a mad dash into town for T-shirts, shorts and sandals.
(2) Go slow at first. The sun in places like the Virgin Islands and Acapulco can be brutally hot. Coming from chilly Manhattan in late December means that one absolutely craves the feeling of silky sand between the toes and hot sun on one’s torso. That’s fine, but one should err on the side of caution for the first day or so.
(3) Dress for comfort. Make sure you pack more than one bathing suit, a sarong or wrap and comfortable sandals (one can walk forever in Tevas, even though they’re ugly as sin). Why? Because, even though you’re there for the sun and surf, you’ll have an itch to go walking and sightseeing at some point. For example, the Dutch-influenced houses in Curacao painted in bright, primary colors are great eye candy.
(4) Eat carefully. You don’t want to spoil your time away with an upset tummy. By all means try island specialities, e.g., curried goat in Jamaica was absolutely delicious, but if something doesn’t hit you right – just stop eating it.
(5) Buy with care. Very often, souvenirs and local clothing items look great in their native habitat but, once one arrives back home – what then? We bought elegant English bone china cups and saucers in St. Thomas which really didn’t work for us once we arrived back home and found over-sized coffee mugs were much more to our liking.