Learning that this sun, beach and sea pampered region of the earth is supposedly under a curse may seem rather surprising, but a more geographic and geologic analysis, makes it quite clear that the “Curse of the Caribbean” (the name for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies in some other languages) was not just a series of American movies. Though the islands between Central, North and South America are usually picturesque, scenic, and beautiful, natural disasters in the forms of tropical storms, violent volcanic eruptions, and severe earthquakes continue to affect the 2.75 million square kilometer region in the sea every year. However, only about three dozen states, islands, and archipelagos in the entire Caribbean tend to be affected by these unpredictable forces of nature. The reports and images of both historic and more recent disasters, like, for example, the Great Hurricane of 1780 with over 22,000 deaths, the devastating eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat in 1995, and the severe earthquake in Haiti in 2010 with over 300,000 deaths have of course been engraved in the global consciousness. But if one is to be compensated for these tragedies in an aesthetic manner, the Caribbean’s sometimes unreal but natural, picture-perfect beauty all but makes you forget that such things could happen in this setting. Those who anchor, fish, wade, swim, surf or dive on, at or near the palm tree-lined beaches, coral reefs, tiny coves, sand bars and harbor towns in the Caribbean can quickly attest to the beauty of the region. Such locations on the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Antilles, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Martinique, Montserrat, Navassa, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint-Barthélemy, St. Martin, Sint Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and all the Caribbean coasts on the islands off of Venezuela, Honduras, Columbia and Nicaragua prove that there is truly paradise on earth.
Contrary to the above-mentioned similarities in landscape, their varying histories as colonial or independent societies plus the cultures and politics of the islands are, maybe surprisingly, quite diverse. European conquerors came from Spain, Portugal, France, England, the Netherlands, China, India, various African regions, and the United States and unmistakably left their marks on the islands’ respective characters. The settlers left their tracks at the very least through language, typical customs, and architectural design, and sometimes by claiming an island and keeping it as an overseas territory or department. The so-called “tax havens” of the Caribbean create a disproportionate amount of banks and financial institutions in countries such as the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, the Dutch Antilles, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Cuba, the last officially socialist state in the western hemisphere, rounds out the region to make every major economic system be represented in the many nations in the Caribbean. However, whether democratically or dictatorially governed and whether more or less economically successful, almost all the countries in the Caribbean that once survived off of their agricultural, fishing, rum exports and sugar exports now rely mainly on tourism to keep their economies going. They especially love water sport enthusiasts of all sorts and beach bums from around the world, and welcome both with open arms. Called the West Indies due to Christopher Columbus’ error, the Caribbean islands that form a semi circle towards the Atlantic – the Bahamas in the north, the Great Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico) in the center, and the Lesser Antilles (the windward islands) in the southeast – offer almost a string of pearls that are perfect for a several day, several week, or even longer sailing cruise around the sea, during which you can relax and enjoy some island hopping in the entire region. The best bet for island hopping is going among the territories of the American, British and Spanish Virgin Islands, which are sometimes just a few miles away from each other, and even sometimes visible from another. The close to each other “Windward Islands” at the very eastern part of the Caribbean, which are mostly governed by the supranational federation of states called the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, all of which use the same currency), are also known worldwide for their magnificent sailing possibilities. The reputation for fantastic sailing also applies to the Bahamas, which, with more than 700 islands (only about 30 of which are permanently inhabited) and Cuba and Florida to the west, is a unique and unforgettable region in which to sail. The approximately 600 Windward Islands, which, with the exception of the Dutch ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) belong to Venezuela, are also ideal for long stretches through the shimmering turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
In these waters, time is spent most felicitously when fishing, diving, swimming or surfing. The water in the Caribbean simultaneously provides nourishment, interest, sports and activities, and a comfortable cooling element when the heat gets to be too much. There are, for example, promising coastal areas and coral reefs off of the island Tobago, whose waters are so filled with life due to the warm Gulfstream and cool Atlantic current create the perfect conditions for the large fish varieties tarpon, bonefish, barracuda, marlin, mackerel, tuna, and swordfish. Los Roques, a 40-island and 200-sandbank Venezuelan archipelago north of Caracas, is home not only those fish varieties, but also duck fish, trumpet fish, crayfish, and sea urchins. However, the entire Caribbean Sea’s wealth of big fish such as sharks, marlin, sailfish, swordfish and tuna makes it a unique place for “Big Game Fishing”. An especially popular method of fishing is “chunking” or “chumming”, in which live bait, such as mackerel, is used to attract larger fish species. Guided deep-sea fishing charters with motorboats are offered from almost any island, but the Bahamas (Find a route suggestion for Bahams here), Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic are particularly known for this activity. Divers have an equally large underwater playground with the Caribbean under their fins. In the Lesser Antilles and the so-called “special community” of the Netherlands, the waters around the 290 square kilometer island Bonaire, off the coast of Venezuela, have been known as a diving Mecca par excellence since the 1970s. The local Bonaire Marine Park has been a nature reserve since 1997, and its clear waters and healthy reefs attract 50,000 divers per year to the dive sites Angel City, 1000 Steps, and the Wreck of the Hilma Hooker. Also recommended for underwater excursions are the islands Grenada (Find route suggestion for Grenada here), Sint Maarten, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Aruba, Curaçao, the Cuban Isla de la Juventud and Cayo Largo, and the Samaná Peninsula on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
In total, more than 17,000 yachts and boats are available to rent on the new platform for worldwide yacht charter, YACHTICO.com. Evaluated and easily booked with just three clicks, the most represented boats available are the over 1000 catamarans and more than 500 sailboats. The majority of the boats from well-know brands and manufacturers were built between 2005 and 2013. Smaller boats are available for weekly packages from 1200 euros, whereas very large and luxuriously equipped yachts cost up to about 8,200 euros for the same time period. There is also a middle ground, with medium sized models ready to charter for between 2000 and 4000 euros per week.