There are actually two Caribbeans, one well known, the other not...
The first Caribbean is the theme park, tourist version that has been well promoted by cruse lines, all-inclusive hotels and some islands. This is a Hollywood invention, a farcical place where "the natives" put on a show for visitors, where calypso melodies fill the night air, and where tourists dress like they have just stepped off the set of an old Elvis Presley movie.
Some islands even go so far as to invent "festivals" that spontaneously erupt every Wednesday when a cruse ship is in town. But you can just as easily find this Caribbean at Disney's Epcott Center; there is no need to travel to the Caribbean. This is an idealized impression of the region that is often as plastic as the "Made in China" souvenirs sold at these concocted festivals.
But for many people this is all they seek. They want sunny days, blue waters, warm nights, and calypso dreams; and hamburgers and fish and chips reminiscent of their favorite restaurants back home.
And while there is a certain comfort in this pre-packaged tropical fantasy, there is a much more exciting Caribbean out there for those who want more...
The second Caribbean is authentic; real islands with real people and real festivals that represent the outpouring of creative energy from a vibrant culture. But this Caribbean is only visible on islands where it has not been suppressed for the entrainment of a few tourists looking for paradise.
Visitors go to the real Caribbean because they want more than blue seas and white sand. They go because they want excitement. They want to hike through steamy rainforests, or trek to misty mountaintops and discover ancient Carib alters. They go because they want to kayak through magnificent marshlands, and magical mangrove swamps where muscles grow on trees. They go to enjoy Caribbean wildlife safaris where they get to meet sloths, tree porcupines, boa constrictors, caiman, and endangered West Indian Manatees. They go to meet giant sea turtles, whose ancestors once shared the world's deepest oceans with the dinosaurs.
This new breed of Caribbean visitors are adventurers and explorers in the truest sense, these are the kind of visitors who want to experience Caribbean wildlife in the wilds, who want to stand at the mouth of a mountaintop cave as it spews forth a blinding armada of bats into the star filled Caribbean night, and who want to drift dive past giant brain coral in super fast Caribbean currents.
They go to the real Caribbean with camera in hand intent on capturing their own private documentaries: of beaches too diverse to portray in 30-second commercials; of a carnival that rivals Rio and New Orleans; of South American birdlife, monkeys, mud covered men, and towering statues of old world gods.
This new breed also goes in search of gastronomical adventures, journeys of taste visitors who would rather sample a pallet of culinary exploits, than explore the visual pallet of Caribbean sunsets, carnival costumes and coral reefs.
If you are such a vacation adventurer then escape to the real Caribbean, and enjoy a lifetime of memories every single moment of your stay.