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Lanie Geller

Roseland, New Jersey Travel Agent

Caribbean: Beaches, Culture, Food

I love the Caribbean, and I have been to almost every island, often multiple times. The beaches and the sea are wonderful, but there is so much more to these islands when you go beyond the beach. The food, cuisines and culture are different on every island and it is fun to get out and connect with local people through cooking classes, guided hikes and other activities.

Jamaica is one of my favorite islands and there are resorts at many different price points. Most locals are surprisingly friendly and eager to connect and be helpful and the culture is very family- and people-oriented. Travelers often ask me if it is safe. 

As in many places, you have to know where to go and where not to go, but it’s worthwhile because there are some great experiences outside of the resorts. For example, river rafting on the gentle Martha Brae River is phenomenal. You’re out in nature on a bamboo raft-for-two. The scenery is lush and tropical and your captain/guide uses a pole to propel the raft on a lazy float down the river as he chats with you about Jamaica and points out interesting flowers and other sights. It’s a relaxing way to get a taste of Jamaican life. Plus even without leaving your resort, you’ll find most employees are super friendly and eager to talk to you about their culture. 

St. Bart is very French and very upscale, but happily most people also speak English and are very accommodating. The food is amazing, from the fresh baguettes and pastries to the wonderful sauces they put on everything. And it’s really fun to shop there. It has some of the same boutiques as you’ll find in Paris. And of course, the beaches are wonderful.

Someone with a higher budget might enjoy islands like St. Lucia or Anguilla. These islands offer some exquisite properties with high touch service, maybe a dedicated butler and private pool outside your door. And wherever you go, I can suggest activities and intimate tours suited to your interests that can help you connect more deeply with the islands you visit.

In choosing an island, often the first thing I look at is budget, because that can be a big concern. For someone with a tight budget, I might suggest an all-inclusive so they know what they’re spending and have no surprises. Cruises are also wonderful, and often I can get a find an unbelievably great deal for my clients.

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