When you think about solo travel, a lot of wonderful images come to mind. Romantic train journeys through Europe, backpacking around Southeast Asia, or hitchhiking across the USA, solo travel can be a wonderful adventure. When it comes to traveling solo, however, you don't often think of tropical climates... but why not?
Although the Caribbean might seem more like a destination for couples, it is actually the perfect spot for a solo traveler. Warm seas, gorgeous beaches, incredible food, and an immensely welcoming and friendly culture, island hopping alone can be a rewarding experience. There's an island to suit everyone, and opportunities everywhere to meet new people, make new friends, and have incredible experiences.
Always Read the Local News
Every island in the Caribbean is different and has its own personality, issues, and goings-on. Don't make generalizations If you are traveling in the Caribbean, always keep an eye on the local news. Each island has its own independent media, and it is a great way to make sure you are up to speed with anything happening locally.
Staying in small, locally-owned hotels and guesthouses is just a great idea in general, and particularly useful if you are traveling on your own. Family-owned properties are almost always more committed and invested in their guests' experiences, and locals will always be able to give you great advice on what to see, where to go, and how to get around.
Spend Money on Transport
Transport can be expensive in the Caribbean, mostly due to high fuel costs, but it is not worth being stingy about it. Public transport can be a bit ropy, and the cheaper, unlicensed or unvouched-for taxis are a real no-no. Always try and get a trusted recommendation for a taxi or a guide, and try and arrange lifts in advance. Whatever you do, don't get into a shared transport with a bunch of strangers. Everything might be fine, of course, but it's not worth the risk.
Learn the Lingo
A little bit of local slang and language goes a long way towards keeping you safe and making friends wherever you go. There are a variety of languages and dialects across the islands, so you'll need to do your research, but even a few basic phrases will make a great first impression and help improve your experience!
Pick Your Island Wisely
The whole of the Caribbean is beautiful, and by and large everywhere is safe for solo travelers. Nevertheless, some islands are better than others, and it is worth doing a little research in advance. Barbados, for example, is incredibly friendly and great for solo female travelers. The Dominican Republic is excellent if you are new to the region (and speak Spanish!), while Curacao is one of the safest to drive on.
Wherever you decide to travel in the Caribbean, a solo adventure will be something that will live long in your memory.
About the author
Andrea has visited the Caribbean almost a dozen times over the last decade and loves spending her days in a hammock by the beach. When she's back in the United States, you'll probably find her counting down the days to her next tropical getaway.