Like a set of exotic stepping stones flung across a vast blue carpet, the allure of the Caribbean islands is almost magnetic. Alive with history and awash with warm, winter sunshine, these palm splayed little patches of paradise contain a wealth of wonderful sights.
From the sea, the twin, jagged peaks of St. Lucia's legendary Pitons are the most instantly recognisable trademarks in the entire Caribbean. Moving further west to Cozumel, Mexico's only Caribbean island is home to the majestic, jungle shrouded Mayan ruins at Tulum, a sight like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
You could marvel at the pair of gaunt, fifteenth century fortresses on Spanish accented San Juan; still studded with the dents from the cannon balls of Francis Drake, they resemble a pair of gigantic molars.
In terms of local food, the Caribbean is not as diverse as you might think. The American influence is pretty much predominant. But for local fare, you really should try the local jerk chicken at least once while you're here. Great Beach at St. Maarten is a superb venue to chill out with some.
Other specialities include freshly caught flying fish and, if you happen to be anywhere near Nassau, the conch chowder soup is a must do. Sweet tooth? Should you be fortunate enough to be in Key West, try the Key Lime pie; it's a local obsession that has now spread far and wide.
Be aware that locals in the Caribbean accept several different variations of dollar. The Eastern Caribbean dollar is only accepted on islands such as Antigua, for example. On Barbados, prices quoted in 'dollars' are best queried- it could mean US dollars or the local, very different Barbados dollar. Equally, some of the French accented islands, such as St. Barts, will accept the Euro, but most others simply will not.
Bear in mind that road networks will not be as extensive as back at home. If you need to take a taxi anywhere, try and travel as part of a group, as taxi drivers are reluctant to accept single travellers in particular. Also, best to be aware that many beaches will have more than their fair share of hawkers.
Don't let any of that put you off. Go with an open mind, find a hammock, grab a margarita, and just go with the flow. Lovely stuff.