This fabled sea, covering more than a million square miles and 7,000 islands with diverse languages, cultures, and ecosystems, has become probably the planet's premier vacation playground. Here it's all about its regional issues and allures. And yes, the (Plus) means we're including the Bahamas and Bermuda!

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Wastin´ away again at the Dominican Republic´s Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana

    Set along a stretch of pure white-sand beach in Cap Cana, an exclusive enclave of the DR´s most popular resort area Punta Cana - and just 15 minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport -  five-star all-inclusive property Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana., which opened a little over three years ago is one of just eight Cap Cana resorts. On our visit, my husband and I found its “no worries,” tropical vibe spoke to me the moment we pulled up to the hotel entrance adorned with a…

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A quick peek at the best of Bonaire

 Matt KiefferOne of the “ABC” islands* of the Dutch Antilles, just 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, this 111-square-mile island is a welcoming and tranquil trove of eco-adventure (which they play up with the tourism tagline “It´s in Our Nature”), and it´s known especially for its diving and snorkeling. For a nice, laid-back slice of the old Caribbean (albeit a pretty arid one, so please don´t go expecting luxuriant greenery), many travelers in the know very much appreciate this…

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11 of the best experiences in Haiti

  SPC Gibran Torres Haiti, really? You´re no doubt wondering. Well, yes, the Americas´ most impoverished country has been an abject basket case for many years, and its current tragic vicissitudes with violence and instability make it seem unlikely to recover any time soon. But here´s a reminder of what a fundamentally beautiful country this is, how rich is its history, how vibrant its culture, and how friendly its people – as I can attest when I visited way back in 26 years ago. This, then, is…

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  • Much of the Caribbean is still mildly to virulently homophobic, but there are a handful of cities which are an exception: https://travelnoire.com/gay-friendly-caribbean 
    The Most Gay-Friendly Cities in the Caribbean - Travel Noire
    Several Caribbean cities have experienced a wave of progress and acceptance, turning them into thriving havens for gay vacationers.
  • The Caribbean ain´t particularly cheap these days, so I found this recent T+L piece welcome: https://www.travelandleisure.com/cheap-caribbean-vacations-6833246
  • I´ve been to two of these and they´re spot on, so I´m sure they´re right about the rest: https://travelnoire.com/sink-your-toes-into-these-5-famous-caribbea...
    Sink Your Toes Into These 5 Famous Caribbean Beaches - Travel Noire
    If there’s one thing the Caribbean isn’t lacking, it’s beaches. From the sugary sands of Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos to Pig Beach in in The...
  • You can pretty much not go wrong snorkeling anywhere in the Caribbean, but Lonely Planet recently pinpointed what its writer declares are the best of the best. If you've done the mask-and-fins thing down here, do you agree with her choices? https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/best-places-to-snorkel-in-car...
    The top 8 places to snorkel in the Caribbean
    Kaleidoscopic tropical fish, spectacular coral reefs and year-round warm waters make the Caribbean one of the best places for snorkeling.
  • Looks like the Caribbean - except for Haiti - has bounced back splendidly since the pandemic - in some cases even surpassing pre-COVID visitor numbers: https://news.yahoo.com/caribbean-sees-jump-visitors-since-191600843...
    Caribbean sees jump in visitors since pandemic began
    Tourists flocked to the Caribbean last year in numbers not seen since the pandemic began, with the Dutch Caribbean and U.S. territories like Puerto R…
    • This caught my eye, I guess because I've been dealing with Puerto Rico and the Dutch Caribbean a good deal in recent months. And my perspective and takeaway is entirely different from the CTO official (whose org closed down in NYC as an active organization sometime back in 2021?) Anyway - I think there's hope ahead for Puerto Rico/USVI and perhaps the Dutch Caribbean - but, that's because they're heavily subsidized by the U.S./Netherlands. The indie countries though, and to make that leap in the generalized statement about "Caribbean sees jump..."? Not so much. I suspect, again just from recent first-hand dealing elsewhere in the wider region, and which is my region going back over 20 plus years, that much has changed and in fact very much in a financial black hole given the double whammy of COVID plus rip-roaring inflation of the past 18 months plus - all of which directly affected that predominant travel component of the past half century - namely the middle classes with the budget to take leisure travel offshore. Bascially, I observe individual entrepreneurs in those individual destinations you mention still emerging and recovering. But not the massive quantity of travelers that the all-inclusive/package deal market relied on. And if they did start to travel again - it was probably very much a one-shot deal, the so-called "pent-up demand" which also by definition also means that it was a one-shot deal for that traveler. "Near travel" is the alternative for the North American ordinary person till things get much much better. Of course, "the rich are always with us" but hey, they rent luxe villas or suites at the Four Seasons, not week packages at Sandals.
  • The Caribbean Journal recently surveyed the this year's top hotel/resort openings: https://www.caribjournal.com/2023/01/01/caribbean-hotels-new-hot-co...
    15 Hot New Caribbean Hotels to Visit in 2023 - Caribbean Journal
    We’ve gathered a list of the new Caribbean hotels we’re excited about in 2023, with some that just opened their doors and others coming soon.
  • Carnival season is around the corner, and veteran Caribbean writer Bob Curley lists eight of the islands' top celebrations: https://www.10best.com/interests/festivals-events/eight-caribbean-c...
    The Caribbean's top carnivals you can't miss
    People flock to the Caribbean to swim among colorful marine life in crystal-blue water; yet, the most vibrant colors can be found on land during carn…
  • Several months ago Le Monde's English-language edition ran a report detailing how the Dominican tourism industry is finally focusing on the dark side of mass tourism in the country, now seen as potentially strangling the goose that lays the golden egg with threats like sargassum brown algae; drinking water shortages; illegal garbage dumps; and seawater pollution/overwarming: https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/07/27/dominican-...
    Dominican Republic awakens to mass tourism's environmental damage
    The nation's tourism industry is finally beginning to take responsibility for damage to its ecosystems, which are now also posing a threat to profits.
    • Jose, this was of great interest to me at the moment since I was in the D.R. just this August and still presently producing work from that trip. While I was only in the Santo Domingo area on this occasion, what's described in this link doesn't surprise me too much - I had a general impression in walking the streets that the urban infrastructure might be potentially fragile in the event of extreme weather or daily degradation, and as far as the offshore aquatic access, not very good even in good times. Sporadic electric outages also happened even in the short space of time I was on island. Hopefully, the private and public sectors involved in mass tourism have had enough wake-up calls at this point to take meaningful action on the human and natural environmental fronts. The sargassum challenge has become a wider issue within the region, and probably something which area governments need to collaborate meaningfully on short and long-term solutions.
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