The term “Caribbean” generally refers to the tropical islands and coastal regions in and around the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean Sea is bounded by Cuba and the island of Hispaniola to the North, the islands of the Lesser Antilles (such as St. Lucia and Barbados) to the east, the northernmost coast of South America to the South, and the coasts of Central America and Mexico to the West. The Caribbean region is also referred to sometimes as the “West Indies” due to an error made by Christopher Columbus when he first arrived in the area and mistakenly thought he was in the Indies of Asia.
The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands are not immediately adjacent to the Caribbean Sea but are generally thought of as being a part of the Caribbean due to their similarity to other islands in that region. Bermuda is a bit of an island unto itself, being located fairly far to the north of the Caribbean (being roughly 640 miles to the West/Northwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina), but often Bermuda gets similar billing to Caribbean destinations due to its appeal as an island tourist destination.
The Caribbean geography was formed mainly by volcanic activity, and there still exists volcanic activity in the area, such as in Montserrat, which has an active volcano that had a major eruption as recently as 1995. The Caribbean is also prone to hurricanes, which generally occur most frequently in the hurricane season from late May through the end of November each year.
The Caribbean has a rich cultural history ranging from the earliest inhabitants that included the Carib Indians from which the area takes its name, to the subsequent explorers, settlers, and inhabitants that included many from Spain, England, The Netherlands, France, and Africa. There exists today a great cultural diversity throughout the region offering many different vacation experiences.
The proximity of the Caribbean to the United States and Canada makes the Caribbean the most widely visited tropical region for tourists from those countries. The Caribbean is also very popular with European tourists as well as those from Central and South America. The Caribbean contains roughly 7000+ islands (many of which are uninhabited or only sparsely inhabited) and the region lends itself well to sailing and cruise vacationing. Whether by private sailboat or commercial cruise ship, the Caribbean offers some of the best island hopping experiences in the world.
The Caribbean is widely known for its appealing tropical climate, beautiful sand beaches, cultural richness, water sports, and focus on providing great vacation experiences for tourists from around the world. The Caribbean offers some of the worlds best vacation opportunities, and is particularly appealing as a vacation escape from the winter seasons in other parts of the World.