You might think this is going to be an article that looks at all kinds of sloth facts, and it is. However, it is also an article that explains one very important point: Why you will want to consider booking a visit to Costa Rica in the near future.

Before we answer the question of “how long can a sloth hold its breath,” though, we’ll look at why Costa Rica should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

Facts That Explain Why You Should Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small, Central American country but is home to more than 5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity (even if it has only .03% of the planet’s landmass). It has ten times more marine mass than landmass and over 800 miles of coastline. It has more than 120 volcanic formations (seven are active!), and the number of animals, plants, birds, fish, and other living things you can encounter is almost endless.

For example, there are more than 50 kinds of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, the most common mammals are monkeys (there are four common species you’ll find), and it is home to more than 750,000 kinds of bugs!

As one enthusiast said, “Costa Rica is one of the most valued environmental destinations.  Approximately 25% of the country has protected forests and reserves.  There are more than 100 different protected areas to visit.”

And that brings us to the issue of “how long can a sloth hold its breath?”

Why? Because several of those protected areas are also a natural home to the beloved and unique creatures we know as the sloth.

How Long Can a Sloth Hold Its Breath and a Handful of Other Fascinating Facts

Before we dive into a list of the spots in Costa Rica where you can pay a visit and see sloths in their natural habitat, let’s take a few moments to learn what you can expect to see or discover as you gaze up at these amazing creatures.

So, to finally answer that question: Just how long can a sloth hold its breath? Believe it or not, they can hold their breath for up to 40 full minutes while underwater.

How fast can a sloth swim? Surprisingly, a sloth moves faster underwater than it does on land, and because they can naturally slow down their heart rate to around 1/3 of the average pace to accommodate being underwater. They do not do a lot of swimming, but it is interesting to imagine a sloth swimming and zipping along underwater, and not emerging for the greater part of an hour!

Their digestive systems, on the other hand, are a lot slower. It is estimated that they empty their bowels and bladders around once a week! It has to do with safety as they must descend from trees to do so and being slow movers makes them vulnerable to attack. So, it is a once-a-week bathroom break for the average sloth.

They are so slow-moving, in fact, that they can develop a specific type of algae and fungi on their fur. And while there is a certain “ick factor” to that idea, experts have determined that some of the fungi may be the basis for powerful drugs. Research by the Smithsonian has found that their common fungal growths contain cancer-fighting and anti-parasitic agents.

Another disconcerting truth about sloths is the fact that they can enjoy a 360 degree view. While they cannot turn their heads entirely around, they can turn them a whopping 270 degrees in both directions. This is due to the number of vertebrae in their spines that enable a lot more swivel. Unfortunately, they have horrible vision, and so that swiveling may be more about reaching food than keeping themselves safe.

Because they have poor vision, they need help with grasping things easily, and that is where their unusual finger bones come in handy. Looking like serious claws or nails, these bones are four-inch long protrusions that allow them to easily hook on to tree branches, and even hang easily while they sleep.

And though they do have offspring, most sloths spend the majority of their lives in peaceful solitude. They do not gather together in groups, except when pairing to mate and when a mother raises an infant. They live for about 30 years in the wild, and that brings us to just where you can find them in Costa Rica.

Where do sloths swim? They are found in a few of the national parks and reserves of Costa Rica, including:

Arenal Volcano National Park Sloth Sanctuary in La Fortuna – El Castillo

This park features a sanctuary for sloths and planted more than 300 Cecropia trees to ensure they had plenty of space and spots to make home.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Monte Verde

As Travel + Leisure explained, “Monteverde is well known for its wide variety of biodiversity. Within the misty looking trees, sleepy sloths hang around, so you’re likely to spot one while you explore the reserve’s natural wonders.”

Manuel Antonio National Park in Cantón de Aguirre

Home to more than one hundred different mammals (including sloths), this is among the most beautiful of national parks in the entire world. A good place for spotting sloth in water and trees, it is an ideal destination for those eager to visit Costa Rica and see sloths hold their breath while enjoying a dip.

So, now you know that the answer to questions like: can sloths swim, can a sloth heart rate be slower than normal and just where can you find a sloth.

And if this has made you wonder what animal can hold its breath the longest, that would not be the sloth. It is the sperm whale that can stay underwater and deep in the sea for more than 90 minutes at a time!

If you are more interested in spotting whales and sea creatures than sloths, Costa Rica is still a good choice, as is Turks & Caicos, Barbados, or St Barts, among other Caribbean locations with luxury rentals available.

The idea of buying and receiving travel gifts is among the most encouraging things you might think about these days. After all, with so many of us stuck at home, it can be fun and hopeful to look at the best travel gifts and products. The important thing to remember, though, is that travel and travel needs will be quite different in the post-quarantine period. To help with your gift-buying (and getting) needs, we’ve looked at the latest and greatest ideas in gifts for people who travel, as well as gifts for travel lovers currently stuck at home.

Hygiene-Focused Gifts

It goes without saying that many of the top travel gifts will emphasize hygiene to help keep each traveler safe and healthy. That means that carry-ons should include larger than normal totes that allow a traveler to carry their hand sanitizers, a travel size of sanitary wipes to allow them to be doubly-sure their immediate area is germ-free, and a spare mask for those who are more comfortable wearing them (and for airlines that will require the use of them during travel).

Infinity pillows are also a must for any traveler taking a long airplane, car, train, bus or boat trip. The famous Huzi Infinity Pillow stands out from the crowd as it takes its name from its design that allows it to wrap around the neck entirely and offer total neck support as well as a sanitary space to rest the head during travel!

There is also the equally popular Trtl pillow that acts as a scarf and travel pillow in one. It has a cradle-like design that offers full support for the neck and holds the wearer’s head in a comfortable position without it requiring coming into contact with any surrounding surfaces. This easily qualifies it as among the best gifts for world travelers, as well as those just taking a car trip and hoping to nod off for a bit of time.

And while many of us would love to bring a favorite blanket from home, or trust that the blankets offered aboard a plane are sanitary, neither is a possibility. That is why one of the best gifts for travel lovers is a large, cashmere wrap. Yes, it is a luxury option, but when a safe and sanitary blanket alternative is needed, it is among the best gifts for travel lovers, men and women alike.

Security-Focused Gifts

And while we are all very worried about germs and other pathogens while traveling, we should still keep our financial and informational safety in mind. That is why an RFID blocking wallet is still a great choice among the many travel gifts available. Functional and attractive, they can be found in small and large sizes alike. They block illegal gathering of information contained in the RFID chips in a passport, credit card or other item.

And while many travelers are used to standing around charging stations and waiting for their opportunity to access these heavily used areas, you can spare your traveler the need. Instead, give one of the more useful of all travel gifts, a portable charger.

Not only does such a gadget allow them to avoid the groups clustered around the charging areas but it will also prevent them from ever running out of power in any location. They can be found in sizes small enough to tuck into a pocket and will usually power or recharge a phone three times, or more, before requiring their own recharging.

And if the traveler in your household or circle of family and friends is among the “carry-on only” crowd, the luxury brand of luggage Away is also among the best travel gift ideas. Why is a wheeled carry-on from this brand among the best gifts for frequent travelers? As the experts at Travel + Leisure explain, the “brand’s stylishly spare luggage has quickly become a cult-favorite with travelers for its indestructible design, easy internal organization, and built-in USB charger, which is removable to comply with airline regulations.”

Health-Focused Gifts

We all know that we get dehydrated with traditional travel, whether it is by air or other means. We forget to eat and drink enough and that can weaken immunity and open us up to fatigue and disease. The famous YETI brand of insulated tumblers and thermoses are an ideal travel gift. Dishwasher safe, they can be heavily sanitized and spare you from drinking from fountains or even requiring a beverage from an unknown source. They are reliable for keeping drinks icy cold or hot, as needed.

Another of the travel presents to consider in this post-quarantine era is a pair of comfortable loungers that can be worn as shoes and slippers alike. Many experienced travelers make a point of bringing slippers and changing shoes once on board. This may no longer be a safe and sanitary option. Instead, a pair of wool loungers, such as those from the Allbirds brand can become a wonderful substitute. Stylish and comfortable, they can be worn from the beginning to the end of any journey.

Finally, one of those more unique and useful gifts for travelers that can keep them healthy and safe is an iPhone or Android phone camera lens kit. Though the iPhone’s camera is noted for its superiority, all smartphones have rather advanced cameras. With the use of a camera lens kit, however, the recipient can enjoy remarkable results and always from a safe distance. After all, many feature wide-angle lens adapters, zoom lenses, macro lenses, and more. These can allow them to take amazing photos and always from a safe spot.

Match Travel Gifts to the Destination

Of course, if you are still daydreaming of where you will journey or planning a holiday with family or friends, a good way to pick the best travel gifts is to match them to the destination. As an example, many hope to visit Caribbean spots like Turks & Caicos, Barbados, or St Barts as soon as quarantine ends. While such journeys may involve stays in luxury rentals, many of the gifts above would be helpful, as well as diving watches, hiking gear, cameras, and skin care products suited to the tropics.

The good news is that there are as many travel gifts as destinations, and in the very near future we will all be making plans to pay a visit, pack our bags, buy gifts, and enjoy a holiday.

When travelers start to make plans to visit the Bahamas, they are already aware of the fact that they will be able to choose from an array of locations to enjoy. As Travel + Leisure noted, as soon as you step “onto the white-sand beaches of the Exumas — a chain of more than 365 tiny Bahamian islands and sleepy cays…you’ll be struck with the feeling that you’re the first to discover this remarkable corner of the planet.”

That is, until the pigs appear. One of the most unique attractions in the Bahamas is a spot known as pig island, which is actually named Big Major Cay. Home to the famous Exuma pigs, it is an incredibly popular spot with a bit of a mystery attached to it. As the Official Home of the Swimming Pigs website explains: “How did the pigs get to Pig Beach? We don’t know for sure. Big Major Cay is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island. Some say they were left by a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them. Or that the pigs swam over from a shipwreck nearby.”

Either way, there are more than a dozen of them living at Pig Beach, and the entire island is often called Pig Island by travelers eager to spend some time with the unique creatures.

The Pigs of Pig Island

If the idea of a visit to Pig Island sounds like a lot of fun, you would not be alone in that opinion. Many visitors head to Pig Beach in the Bahamas for a visit, and the appearance of the Bahamas pigs in the Bachelor TV series brought even more. Where are they exactly? To visit Pig Island in the Bahamas means heading to Big Major Cay.

This is a specific journey because, as noted, the island is uninhabited. It is around 82 miles southeast of Nassau, and about 50 miles northwest of George Town, and that means a private charter or guided tour is essential.

There are several all-day tour options that allow travelers to do more than visit with the pigs. There are options for swimming with the area’s nurse sharks, picnicking, encountering other wildlife, and even enjoying some world-class snorkeling.

Most travelers will fly into one of the three closest airports – Black Point, Farmer’s Point or Staniel Cay – and then charter a boat from the options nearby. Boats also leave from Great Exuma and Nassau several times a day.

Should You Feed the Pigs of Pig Island?

There are specific guidelines about feeding the Bahamas pigs. This is because they may accidentally ingest sand when a traveler feeds them. This is one reason why travelers are told to limit snacks to vegetables and pitted fruits, and to feed only when swimming with the pigs. This stops them from swallowing any sand, which ensures their health. Even better would be to bring a bit of fresh water and provide them with a nice, cool drink that is hard for them to come by on Pig Island.

What Time of Day Are the Pigs Active?

The busiest hours of the day for fellow travelers is between 9AM and sunset, and it is usually the early visitors who get the most uninterrupted time interacting with the pigs. They will be hungry upon waking and unlikely to be napping in the sun or shade (as is the case with the later afternoon hour). They are around all year long, however, from June through November there are caretakers who will round up the pigs and take them to shelter if bad weather threatens.

As transplants to the island, the pigs are used to relocating during the seasonal weather. They do need to be treated with respect and care, however, as they are easily harmed by careless travelers. Ignoring the feeding and swimming guidelines can easily jeopardize the animals’ health and well-being. It is also important to remember that the presence of piglets may trigger protective behaviors in the parents. Though domestic breeds, they are essentially wild animals.

As one expert said, the animals are quite large and often hungry, and if you “scare easily, you might want to roam the beach food-free,” or limit interaction to photographing and swimming with these charming creatures.

Tips for Photographing the Pigs

The pigs of Pig Beach are some of the most remarkably photogenic creatures around. To capture images similar to what is so often seen online means getting up close to them. This is easily done as they are highly approachable and will gladly stand still as you sit in the shallows to take a few pictures. Having a waterproof camera or container to keep the camera safe is key and submerging the lens half above and half below the water is a common way to get an amazing shot. Remember that midday is the brightest hour and may make photos trickier than the golden hours early in the morning and later in the afternoon. Timing is really everything when visiting Pig Beach.

Beyond Pig Beach

And as already mentioned, it is not the pigs alone who serve as the biggest local celebrities, and the swimming pigs of the Bahamas are not even the only creatures available for swimming adventures. There are also those nurse sharks (gentle sharks that are entirely safe to swim among) found at Compass Bay. If taking photos of an endangered species is appealing, the endangered Exuma Island Iguana is often spotted on visits to Bitter Guana Cay. For those who would like to see sea turtles, or even spend time swimming with them and feeding them, Little Farmer’s Cay is an ideal choice.

Those who want to find sand dollars will appreciate the ease with which they are found at Cocoplum Beach. And if snorkeling in an area for which James Bond is noted for snorkeling, it is Thunderball Grotto that will be sure to satisfy.

The Bahamas pigs are most definitely a must-do activity, but if you are more interested in exquisite beaches, luxury accommodations, world-class shopping, and all of the other watersports of the Caribbean region, you may want to explore some of the other islands of the region. Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos are equally popular, and though they aren’t home to swimming pigs, they have many other activities to enjoy.

And what about the Bora Bora pigs? This is a common misperception, and it is strictly the Exumas where you can book one of the many luxury rentals and head to Pig Island to meet those amazing creatures.

An elephant ride seems like a common enough activity. Americans for generations have taken such rides at county fairs, traveling circuses, petting zoos and other spots. Tourists also head to many destinations in Asia, including Vietnam, “India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, which is arguably the hot spot for elephant tourism in the region.” (According to an article in The Dodo)

And yet, expert after expert says that an elephant ride may be one of the cruelest activities many will ever “enjoy”.

Is it bad to ride an elephant when so many have already done so? According to animal experts the answer is a resounding yes.

Why You Shouldn’t Ride an Elephant

A 2015 report noted that a handful of captive elephants in Vietnam had perished from exhaustion. Made to work in excessive heat and for long hours, the elephants were all part of the tourism trade and spent their days giving travelers rides on their backs. Yet, they perished due to over work and hunger in almost all cases.

As Dr. Pham Vanthinh, a veterinarian from Vietnam’s Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center (DECC) said, they died from suffering (as would many of the other captive elephants in similar conditions). “Almost all of them experience stress and exhaustion from overwork by their owners and tourist companies,” Dr. Vanthinh explained, “Tourists go to Dak Lak to see and ride elephants…domestic elephants in Vietnam have to work all day…But in the dry season, the situation gets even more troubling as they grow weak from lack of food.”

And though this is horrible enough, the process by which an elephant enters the tourism trade is worse. Whether bred or stolen from captivity (both cruel processes on their own), an elephant is not naturally comfortable with restraints and non-stop interaction with humans. To ensure they will behave, animals are psychologically “broken” to force them to perform or behave as desired.

A process known as crushing, it involves physical beatings and immense cruelty to young elephants, and can even include destroying wild adult elephants in order to obtain younger animals.

So, even an elephant ride on an elephant that has long been in the trade is the end result of years of cruelty, and even neglect.

That means, before asking “where can I ride an elephant,” you should ask if you even should take such a ride in the first place. This is true whether it is wondering where can you ride an elephant in Vietnam, considering riding elephants in India, or seeking a place where riding elephants in Thailand is possible. It also applies to a domestic location, such as the U.S. and seeking “elephant rides near me” on Google or another search engine.

Tourists to areas where elephant rides and parks are a huge part of the experience need to understand that elephants, as a species (and this is true whether it is Asian or African elephants), have a proven level of emotional depth that makes captivity particularly painful. As that report also said, they have a “cooperative nature, familial bonds and intelligence” that makes them poorly suited to a life of servitude and bondage.

Alternatives to An Elephant Ride

Rather than pondering the reasons why experts say it is not a good idea to take an elephant ride or argue that other people are riding elephants and the harm is already done, you can look at alternatives to an elephant ride.

For example, if you are traveling to Thailand and want to experience something with elephants, you don’t have to go to a park for a ride. There are several ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand where people are not allowed to ride the elephants and where, for the most part, the elephants roam freely within a significantly sized park or preserve.

At the top of the list for many is Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai area. Home to around three dozen formerly captive elephants used for logging or tourism, it allows visitors to watch the elephants during feeding times and see them enjoying daily baths. Volunteerism is also encouraged.

Nearby is Elephant Haven where elephants also roam freely and is a former tourism spot that has reversed direction entirely, freeing their once captive elephants and turning the property into a sanctuary where elephants are never put on show or forced to do more than enjoy their lives.

Several hours south of Chiang Mai is Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary that houses elephants retired from the tourism and logging industries. They allow elephants to roam freely, and volunteers are welcome to help bathe, escort elephants to swimming holes in the forests, and observe.

There are also options like Elephant Hills, far in the south and part of Khao Sok National Park. This is home to 11 elephants and riding them is entirely forbidden. Instead, this luxury accommodation also allows visitors to help bathe and feed the elephants or watch them roam their enormous private grounds.

You can also help to reverse the cultural trends in what is known as the “mahout culture.” As one expert explained, this is a culture that “demands that generation after generation of men in certain families own elephants…[which] need 400 lbs. of fodder a day, families need to live, and so mahouts use elephants to make money – and currently tourism is the only option.”

Unfortunately, the way that these mahouts treat the elephants in their possession varies and is often based on what was learned from generations before. These men find themselves partnering with tourism providers, and may lose control over the way that an elephant is treated, or find themselves ill-equipped to help elephants properly.

The Surin Project in the Baan Tha Klang area was started to help reduce the problems mahouts face by taking them (and their elephants) off of the streets. As one article explained, roughly “200 mahouts and elephants live in the centre; the mahouts are given employment and the elephants are free from chains. Volunteers are essential to the project’s survival and positions are available for a week or more,” for those who wondered about elephant riding and would prefer a more human alternative, this is also a great option.

We now know the answer to the question of “are you supposed to ride elephants”? And the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives if you are planning a tropical retreat. You can also consider destinations where elephants may not be available to visit, but where there is plenty of wildlife to safely meet and greet, such as the sea creatures around Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos!

The Bahamas, or more formally the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a one of the Commonwealth Realms led by Queen Elizabeth II. It is what is known as an archipelagic state, which means it is made of islands, islets, and cays. Set in the Atlantic Ocean, it is part of the region known as the Caribbean, and though most travelers are well aware of most of these facts, many have one key question about visiting: Do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas?

Visa Free…Not Passport Free

To properly answer the question of “do you need a passport for the Bahamas?” has to start with a look at visas. The Bahamas are visa-free, meaning you won’t have to make any sort of pre-visit applications or obtain a visa in order to book your holiday. Keep in mind that this visa free condition only applies if you are going to travel for up to eight months within The Bahamas.

Business travelers that might stay longer can contact the nearest Bahamas embassy or consulate for special permissions to remain longer than the eight-month window.

On the other hand, ALL travelers will need a valid passport when visiting The Bahamas, and you are going to have to have proof of your anticipated departure (i.e. an airline booking or proof of travel reservations by a cruise, and so on).

Do You Need a passport to go to the Bahamas By Air?

As you just learned, you will need a passport to arrive in The Bahamas by air. This is a global rule; when crossing any international border (whether on land, water or air) you need a passport. With the Bahamas, you will have to pay attention to the expiration date of your current passport. This is because it must be valid for at least three months before departure and another six while visiting the islands. Your passport should also have two blank pages.

Do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas By Cruise Ship?

Do you need a passport to cruise to the Bahamas? You will still need something like a passport when traveling to the Bahamas on board a cruise, but you are not limited exclusively to that one document. You can also use a:

  • Passport Card – A combination of a government ID and a passport, it is good only for land and sea travel between the US, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean
  • Enhanced Driver’s License – Issued by your state, the EDL is both a regular driver’s license as well as a valid form of proof of citizenship and identity. It is good for exiting and entering the U.S. and features some unique technologies that make it an easier alternative to a passport
  • Trusted Traveler Card – The Department of Homeland Security has created this program to enable its members to utilize expedited lanes at all U.S. airports if they are crossing between international borders. You may know them by their formal names such as NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST.

So, you can opt for a passport card in the Bahamas, or the other identification options. And there are exceptions for what are known as closed loop cruises. These are cruises to The Bahamas that begin and end in the same U.S. port. If your cruise is going to embark in a city like New York and return there, you may be able to use a government issued driver’s license or a birth certificate rather than your passport or other forms of acceptable identification.

Bahamas and a Passport

While you might be able to use any of those passport alternatives above, you should always get a valid passport, anyway. Why? For the simple reason that any unexpected events or emergencies may necessitate air travel, and it is exclusively the passport that is a valid document suitable for traveling out of the country and back home.

Do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas is you are a minor? Like many other locations, there are exceptions for kids where passports are concerned. For example, kids under 16 are allowed to use their birth certificates, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship when traveling by water. If under 19, they may use a birth certificate if traveling by water and with a group such as a cultural, social, school or church group supervised by an adult.

However, children of any age are legally obligated to have a passport when traveling by air.

Emergencies in The Bahamas

We know the answer to the question “do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas?” is “maybe, but you really should have one at all times.” This is because emergencies can arise. However, if you are someone who asks “do I really need a passport to go to the Bahamas?” The answer is no. Yet, we have just considered why it is a wise step.

If, however, you found the answer to “do I need a passport for the Bahamas?” and decided to forgo the passport, you may need to get an emergency document. This is done through the U.S. embassy. You should have your airline ticket or the proof of your intended travel dates. You will have some paperwork to complete, and a hefty fee to pay for the emergency passport.

Now you know the answer to do you need a passport to travel to the Bahamas? Those Bahamas and a passport are essential. No matter how you look for the answer (“do u need a passport to go to the Bahamas” or “do u need a passport for the Bahamas”), it is going to be the same.

This is true if you are also planning to visit Barbados, Turks & Caicos, and St Barts, among other tropical destinations. All may have different visa and passport requirements, but it all ends up as the same answer – a passport is a crucial travel document. Traveling with one, as well as a safe copy of the original stored somewhere with your other important documents, is a wise choice and makes your journey to The Bahamas easier and worry-free.

There is a lot of truth to the idea that travelers who want to experience a more positive journey should learn a few phrases of the local language. Saying something as simple as “thank you,” in the native tongue is often appreciated by locals. If you are heading to sunny, beautiful Jamaica, learning a few common Jamaican sayings will help you make new friends and open the door to wonderful experiences.

Though you may not pick up more than a few phrases, it can be a lot of fun to learn a bit about the languages used in Jamaica, their history, and some of the most helpful. Jamaican Patois is a commonly spoken language used by the Jamaican people. It is a lovely blend of the Jamaican language and French.

As The Culture Trip explains, “the Jamaican language is largely a derivative of Spanish, English and African influences on the country through its colonial history. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, many Jamaicans speak Patois in casual everyday conversation.”

Some of the most common Jamaican sayings you may want to learn include:

  • Wah gwaan – Meaning something similar to “what’s up” and “how are you?” it is a casual greeting that you will hear almost as soon as you arrive in Jamaica
  • Irie – Irie in Jamaica is a commonly used phrase and can mean a few things. Typically, the irie meaning translastes to “everything is fine”. So, if a Jamaican asks you How yuh stay? it would be perfectly acceptable to respond with a mi irie.
  • Small up yuhself – There are some Jamaican sayings you may never hear because you may not be in crowds or using public transport. However, one of the most frequently used of the many colorful Jamaican sayings is small up yuhself, which tranlslates loosely to make a bit of room or budge over!
  • Weh yuh ah she – Because Patois and many Jamaican words are difficult (at first) for some listeners, it is a good idea to learn this phrase. It translates to “what are you saying,” but can also mean “how are you?” As one writer explained, “example: Weh yuh a seh? Mi deh try call yuh means, ‘How are you doing? I’ve been trying to call you.’”
  • Boonoonoonoos – Among the most enjoyable Jamaican compliments to attempt is this phrase, which is an expression of love. It means special person, and you can refer to your best friend, partner, child, or other loved one using that bit of Jamaican slang. It can even apply to an object that is nice, expensive or valuable to you.
  • Ya mon – This is one of those iconic Jamaican sayings that most people in the world would recognize. Mon, however, is a very common word in the Jamaican language and is used for speaking with anyone of any gender. While many might believe it sounds like an affirmative reply, it is also similar to “no problem.”
  • Inna di morrows – This is a charming way to bid farewell to someone until the next day. It translates to “see you tomorrow” and whenever you are parting ways with friends it is accesptable to toss out a inna di morrows as you wave goodbye.
  • Chaka-chaka – This is a phrase commonly used to describe something of poor quality, but should be used carefully as describing a meal or item in a shop as chaka-chaka can be found offensive

And with mention of something you may want to be careful about saying, we should consider whether or not travelers should use a lot of the Jamaican language.

For example, Patois is colorful and heavily accented, as well as full of lots of subtleties. Should you just start using it with Jamaicans upon arrival? The answer is complicated. There are certainly things you don’t want to say or hear said about you – such as yuh a crassis (meaning you “get lost”) ory ave no brothupsy (meaning you are plain rude) – and you don’t want to inadvertently use Jamaican slang incorrectly.

Terms like licky licky and beggy beggy may seem harmless, but are extremely significant to a native speaker. So, it is a good idea to learn phrases for the most basic exchanges – thank you (tank yuh), goodbye (lata or lickkle more), and so on.

As one travel expert said, “Learning a few Jamaican sayings will help you interact with local people and have more positive experiences as you travel…The idea is not to master the local language so you can speak it fluently. The effort you put into respecting the local way of speaking can come across as courteous to the local people you meet and interact with during your trip.”

If you feel a bit self-conscious about the pronunciations and unique grammar of Jamaican Patois, you can always go online and learn how to speak like a Jamaican from free and fee-based language learning resources. As one free guide advises, though, “make sure you’re speaking Jamaican Patois in a way that is respectful of the Jamaican people and their culture.”

Remember too that Jamaican Patois was, initially a spoken language and so it is very phonetic if it is written out. The consonants are different from some English usage, and the Jamaican language has an entirely unique HN sound that means a vowel has to be nasalized.

And it is always a good idea to wait for the other person to offer a greeting as a way of helping you determine if standard English or a bit of Jamaican Patois is called for.

Remember too that the official language of Jamaica (and most other islands, including Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos, among others) is English, so you won’t have any difficulties speaking with islanders. Whether you opt to stay at one of the beautiful and opulent resorts or book one of the many amazing luxury rentals, it will always pay to learn a bit of Patois and speak with the local Jamaicans in a polite and appropriate way. It can begin a lovely friendship and will certainly enhance your experience.

Are you someone who enjoys planning? For instance, does the idea of taking a trip excite you because you also get to research the areas you’ll visit and find all kinds of things to see and do? If so, you will want to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of Caribbean travel planning for this year or the next.

As people begin to think about the places they will go later in 2020 or at the beginning of 2021, they are being steered towards the Caribbean. This is for several important reasons:

  • For decades Caribbean travel has meant year-round good weather. Yes, there may be a tropical storm season, but most islands have excellent beach days almost 365 days per year!
  • The region has a long history with combatting illness and disaster, and many experts predict that the region will weather the current pandemic far better than other areas not used to coping with contagious disease. After all, many islands in the Caribbean have faced challenges similar to the global issues we witness today, and have recovered in a single season.
  • A Caribbean travel guide makes it easy to see that each island is a unique entity with a lot of different activities, sights, culture, food, and more. Planning a journey to the Caribbean region means having access to a diversity of peoples and places.
  • When looking into a Caribbean holiday, one fact quickly emerges – it is home to world-class accommodations that are not so easily found elsewhere in the world. The abundance of luxury rentals on many islands makes it an opportunity for a truly unforgettable getaway.

A Quick Guide to the Caribbean

When we say the Caribbean, we mean the entire region around the Caribbean Sea, as well as the area that includes islands with coast along both the Caribbean and Atlantic waters. It is a zone full of islands, cays, and reefs that may have unique names. For example, Jamaica is in the West Indies, while Turks & Caicos are in the Lucayan Archipelago (even though they do not technically have coast on the Caribbean Sea).

When looking into a Caribbean adventure, it helps to know that there are around 30 territories and overseas departments that make up the area. So, you will find French, English, Dutch, Spanish, American and other cultural and political influences as you explore the area.

St Barts, for example is a French Overseas Collective, while Barbados is an independent county with a constitutional monarchy.

Caribbean Travel Tips

How do you begin to make your plans for a Caribbean vacation? Many travel experts suggest you read the best Caribbean books. These are not all going to be fiction works, but will instead be something like free Caribbean travel guide books with lots of colorful suggestions and stories. A good “short list” of the best Caribbean books would include:

  • Caribbean by James A. Michener
  • Island People: The Caribbean and the World by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
  • The Middle Passage by V.S. Naipaul
  • An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof
  • Hurricanes & Hangovers: And Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid
  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
  • Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
  • The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

Reading such works is not the same as visiting sites like for Caribbean vacation tips, but it does offer you insight into places, people, communities, and ideas that greatly enhance a visit. As an example, reading Michener’s enormous work about the creation of the Caribbean and right up to the near modern era helps you to get a good sense of the history of several islands, and this can only help you make great day trips as you visit different locations.

User-Generated Travel Tips

Of course, one of the best things to do is use a resource like the site mentioned, as well as basic search engines. Why? Many people are not fully conversant with the “cariben” region and a quick search of the most popular islands can be a good jumping off point.

As an example, Jamaica and Barbados are two of the most heavily visited islands, and yet they are very different spots. Sitting across the Caribbean Sea from one another, Barbados is radically smaller and extremely opulent when compared to the more family-friendly Jamaica.

Reading opinions and suggestions from people who have authentically visited the islands is a good way to begin making plans. For example, if you google the best beaches, you will get a lot of personal opinions. These are valuable if you want to know the best beaches for specific activities. After all, fellow travelers who have also visited those spots to find the best beaches for sunbathing, snorkeling, shell hunting, wind surfing, and so on, will leave information behind.

Making Lists and Then Making Plans

What this says about Caribbean travel planning is simple: Start with the activities you hope to enjoy, and then do a search for the best islands for those specific activities.

Also pay attention to the seasons. If your ideal tropical holiday is warm, humid, and during the low or off season, you may want to consider a visit to the Caribbean during the peak of the northern hemisphere’s summer months (late June through early September). If you want dry and in the 80s, however, that is the standard winter or peak season running from late November through early May.

Once you know what you want to do, the kind of weather you hope to enjoy, and have a general idea of the islands that offer you the best options, it comes down to accommodations. We’d always recommend considering some private villas as well as traditional accommodations. This is because the Caribbean offers many amazing places to stay, with many right along the sands. A home-like, private property that opens directly to the beach is one way to make your Caribbean adventure and travel planning a full success.

If you have never visited the Caribbean before, or you are unfamiliar with Barbados and Jamaica, you might not know that they are two very unique locations. You may even ask “Is Barbados in Jamaica?” if you are unfamiliar with the geography.

To answer that question, it is a simple no. Both are island nations and they sit quite far apart from one another in the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica is due west of Hispaniola, the island that is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Barbados is far east of this area and sits close to St Lucia and Grenada, and is a short distance north of the South American continent and the country of Venezuela.

Though both are wildly popular with travelers from all parts of the globe, and though both have some of the finest beaches and calmest waters, friendliest locals, and amazing cuisine, they are different. As one expert noted, “each has its own atmosphere and distinct characteristics that cater to different styles of tropical island vacation.” And you will want to know about these differences to know which Caribbean island is best for your travel preferences.

In this article, we are going to compare Barbados and Jamaica to help you make your best travel plans possible.

Bottom Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Caribbean island of Barbados. It is a tropical paradise with palms hanging over turquoise sea. Best hidden gem beaches barbados
Bottom Bay, Barbados

Barbados – The Island That Has It All

With a reputation for world-class beaches (it is home to an area known as the Platinum Coast named for the white sand beaches and exclusive properties that line it from top to bottom), Barbados is a very prosperous location.

Popular with celebrities, it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the entire capital city of Bridgetown), and some of the best restaurants in the region. Dense with gardens and former plantations, it is known for its eastern coast that faces the Atlantic Ocean and offers a bit of wilderness, as well as surfing. It is also known for its western coast (that Platinum Coast already mentioned) and stunning luxury.

In total, it has more than 60 miles of coastline and many popular attractions. These include Harrison’s Cave, an amazing spot with walking and tram tours. There is the Folkestone Marine Park where visitors can snorkel and explore a reef created by the sinking of a freighter in 1956. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is also a wonderful family destination where travelers can meet green monkeys native to the island. It has a famous annual celebration known as Crop Over that is a lot like traditional Carnival, as well the Holetown Festival, the popular Oistins Fish Festival, an annual Reggae Festival, and much more.

It is a very historic island and famous for the hospitality and friendliness of the island’s residents. It is visited by all major airlines and has a thriving tourism industry. Barbados is much smaller than Jamaica at only 165 square miles.

Caribbean Inlet to Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Ocho Rios, Jamaica


Part of the “West Indies,” it is often thought of as a resort-heavy destination, but both Barbados and Jamaica have many amazing natural wonders and attractions. Jamaica also has white sand beaches, as well as famous waterfalls, lush mountain landscapes, and several urban areas.

It is enormous compared to Barbados, at 4,243 square miles, and far more populated. It too is visited by most major airlines and has two large airports. With a lot of history dating back to the days of sugar plantations, it is also known as the home and birthplace of the music known as reggae. However, in any Barbados to Jamaica comparison, it cannot be ignored that Jamaica has excellent golf courses and natural attractions.

For example, many visitors head to Dunn’s River Falls along the northern coastal area. Close to the busy Ocho Rios area, it has seven natural falls that all reach the sea. It is a great day hike and includes plenty of spots to swim or soak up the cool mountain waters.

Golfing is a huge pastime in Jamaica, and a comparison of Barbados and Jamaica must point out that Jamaica is consistently ranked as a top golf destination. In fact, the Montego Bay area is a premiere spot for golfing enthusiasts heading to the Caribbean region.

Caribbean Inlet to Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Which to Choose: Barbados vs Jamaica

So, they are both excellent destinations with lots to see and do. How do you know which to choose? It all boils down to what you wish to do with your holiday time. Barbados has many resorts that are ranked as the most luxurious imaginable, and they sit right along the western coast and have excellent amenities and activities.

Barbados is also deemed among the safest destinations in the region, meaning you can feel comfortable booking a stay in one of the many luxury rentals and exploring on your own. That would mean visiting the many beaches, heading to the endless array of shops and restaurants, and enjoying the different adventures around every corner.

When considering a Barbados vs. Jamaica vacation it is important to note that Jamaica has many of the same benefits. However, if you are all about golfing, Jamaica is likely to be a more satisfying spot as it has some of the best options. The beaches are also hard to beat, and both islands have excellent nightlife.

The difference between Barbados and Jamaica really boils down to the cultural differences. Jamaica is larger and has a distinct nightlife atmosphere. Barbados is far smaller and has an extremely friendly and welcoming mood. It is often deemed the ideal family-friendly spot because of its friendly locals.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between Barbados and Jamaica as they are both home to excellent accommodations and both are easily reachable by major air carriers. Whether you go for a visit to one in the spring and another in the autumn, or you combine visits to other islands, such as St Barts, Turks & Caicos, Barbados and Jamaica, you are sure to be delighted.

Make this the year you find out for yourself which you like best, and it is certain that you will want to return to reconsider your choice and see if one island can change your mind!

If you are wondering about the answer to the question posed in the title above – when is the best time to visit Jamaica? – it is not a simple matter. While Jamaica does have year-round good weather (for instance, Jamaica weather in December is as nice as the weather in Jamaica in May), it has its definitive peak season as well as its slow time of the year.

Think about Shoulders

If you are a seasoned traveler, you may know about a period of time described as the “shoulder season.” There are two, and they occur at the beginning of what any area might think of as its peak season, and then again as peak season transitions into the slower, quieter season. As an example, an area with a peak season in July and August has shoulder seasons in June and September.

The shoulder seasons in Jamaica run Mid-April and May, and then again November to Mid-December. This is a time when the weather is great, and you can easily plan on days at the beach, but you may experience a few windy and rainy days or days that have a bit more heat than is usually comfortable.

And what about the peak in Jamaica? Is the Jamaica weather in December a time when there are more travelers or fewer? The simplest answer is that Jamaica’s peak season begins in mid-December and runs through mid-April.

Why? Because the Jamaica weather in January through April allows travelers to escape the cold winter conditions of the Northern Hemisphere. As one travel expert said, winter “is peak season in Jamaica. The weather is slightly cooler over these months, and the island sees an influx of tourists from around the globe.”

Jamaica Throughout the Year

It is safe and accurate to say that Jamaica is lush and fairly static in terms of its weather. That makes it accurate to say that the best time to go to Jamaica is really just about any time of the year. The region does experience two rainier periods – in early May and then at the end of September. There are also the drier periods in July and August, and then again during what many say is the peak season.

The Jamaica weather in December is dry and sunny with daytime temperatures in the 80s. The days are bright and the waters calm, making it perfect for family getaways, group trips, romantic escapes, and solo trips to a tropical paradise.

Does that mean that the good Jamaica weather in December makes it the only time to book a visit? The opposite is true. While it is often identified as the best time to travel to Jamaica, it can also be a time when many spots are crowded or heavily booked with fellow travelers.

The weather in Jamaica in February is still quite fine, though it can be a bit rainy, and the weather in Jamaica in November is also comfortable, it is simply that the month of November is often seen as peak hurricane season throughout the entire Caribbean region.

Remember, too, that the temperature in Jamaica can vary greatly by where you are on the island. For example, the Montego Bay area is hottest during the month of July while it gets its coolest during the month of January. Keep in mind that temperature variations in this popular part of the island range from a high of 91 to a low of 82. The Negril area is the same, but its temperatures are generally much cooler with highs of 86 and lows of 82. Kingston is identical to Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios is one of the steadiest with temperatures varying only from around 88 to 84 degrees throughout the year.

Even rainfall varies based upon the location on the island with the southern towns like Kingston being less windy and blustery, while the northern coastal rea experiences a bit more rain. The mountains in the central part of the island are, by far, the rainiest and are a wonderful destination because of their lush and dense growth.

The “Low Season” in Jamaica

As noted, the Jamaica hurricane season is identical to that of the entire region, and it falls during the low season months of June through November. Is it unwise to book a journey? No, because Jamaica does not regularly experience tropical storms and it means that you can pay a visit when beaches are far less crowded, and yet weather conditions are still wonderful.

Events at that time include the famous Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, the popular Reggae Sumfest, Marlin fishing tournaments, National Heroes Day, Restaurant Week, and more.

You may also find that some of the hottest luxury rentals are more readily available during the low season, including those along famous Seven Mile Beach in the Negril area, those tucked into luxurious Montego Bay, and, many surrounded by the natural beauty of the Ocho Rios area.

Kingston is a far more urbanized setting but is just as much fun at any time of year, and particularly for those interested in music, art and food. There is also Port Antonio, which many will recognize from movies and TV shows, and which is also where great weather can be enjoyed all year long.

Jamaica ranks as one of the most popular destinations in the entire Caribbean region. This is for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that it has ideal beach weather all year long. So, whether you want a quick getaway this fall or winter, or you are eager to experience it during the low season when crowds are much thinner, now is a good time to make some plans.

Other Areas

If you are curious about making a multi-stop trip to the Caribbean, whether traveling at peak season, shoulder season, or low season, don’t forget the appeal of spots like Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos. Each is an entirely unique spot, but all will be less crowded during the same low season period of June through November.

The words “after quarantine” are truly magic to the ears. For many, it means much more than being able to visit their favorite shops or return to a weekly meal at a preferred café or restaurant. It means travel. The big question then becomes where to go once the quarantine periods are fully lifted.

The Options

If you follow headlines, you already know that the quarantines are unlikely to be ended all at once on a global scale. Just as the novel coronavirus spread at a fixed pace around the world, it will also end at that same pace. Thus, there will be places to travel in Asia and Europe before there will be as many places to go in the North American region.

Even so, travel enthusiasts and experts are already compiling lists of the top spots and vacation ideas they will put to use as soon as they can. The team at Travel + Leisure has the most diverse list of best places to travel when it is once again possible. They wrote that their team has been “teaching ourselves how to lean into leisure while spending time at home lately,” but that their collective love of “researching a destination, planning a trip, experiencing a place, and meeting new people,” is what has kept them going throughout quarantine periods.

The best vacation spots they have chosen for the “after quarantine” period of 2020 are quite diverse and include:


The “ball” to Italy’s “boot,” it is a charming island with a fascinating history and background. It features wonderful paths for cycling along the sea cliffs above the Ionian coastline and is a food-lover’s paradise. It is the source of so many of those encouraging videos of neighbors sitting on terraces and eating together while singing lighthearted songs throughout the quarantine period. Alternatives include Corsica, the Greek Islands, and Sardinia off the Italian coast. And speaking of Greece…


Another coveted spot for a holiday after quarantine ends is the bright and sunny island off the Greek coast. It is an ideal choice in where to go for those who want brilliant sunlight, intense blue skies and seas, and those classic white-domed houses that make for such picture-postcard views. Its warm waters, charming towns and streets, and amazing food make it a true getaway champion. There is also Mykonos and Corfu to consider.


Many travel enthusiasts say that when asked where to go once quarantine ends, they always point towards the Caribbean, and especially Jamaica. While some say it numbers among the best places to visit because of its excellent beaches and reliable weather, others say that they are eager to return to the warm waters, friendly people, tasty food, and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. The Caribbean is likely to rate as one of the places to go on vacation after quarantine because the virus also does not do well in the warmth and bright sunlight of this region, so those who want to know where to go may do well to consider almost all of the Caribbean islands, including Barbados with its white sands, Turks & Caicos with its many unique settings, St Barts with its European flair, or any of the other islands with their array of private, luxury villas.

Australia and New Zealand

These are far away locations, and both have done very well at flattening the curve and controlling the outbreak of the coronavirus. They have both long ranked as top places to visit for those who like scenery, adventure, and unique cultures. And whether you want to dive in the Great Barrier Reef area, scope out some of the settings from the Lord of the Rings movies, explore the seemingly endless hiking and boating, or just relax, these are two highly recommended spots.


While many would say it could not be one of the best places to vacation because of its struggle to manage the outbreak, Italy ranks as one of the top spots to go once quarantine ends. This is because the nation is taking profound steps to conquer the issue and is likely to emerge as an expert in managing the spread. Millions of travelers are expected to flock to its charming towns, gorgeous coastal and mountain areas, and do all of the wonderful things possible from spots like Florence and Venice to Rome and Tuscany.


The long flight has made a visit to the Hawaiian Islands a challenge for many over the years, and with quarantine it became almost impossible. However, the island chain is likely to rate as a common choice in where to go once quarantine ends. With its unique settings on each island, many excellent accommodations, delicious food, and flawless beaches, experts are all pointing towards it as a top spot to getaway and enjoy the sun, surf, and sands. Similarly, travelers are thinking of spots in Oceania, including Fiji and French Polynesia, as well as Bali and Thailand in the Indian Ocean regions.

You can take the advice of those Travel + Leisure editors and also plan the ultimate road trip. As one said, they will want to go everywhere, and plan to visit spots like San Diego, Denver, and Orlando once the quarantine ends. As they said, they are eager to trade in “cramped, indoor, social distancing situation for the vastness of national parks,” and the wide-open roads. One editor suggested a visit to “New Orleans with a side of Houston,” and another just indicated a visit to the American Midwest.

You can also take their advice and visit “the beach. Any beach,” though we would always argue in favor of the Caribbean beaches as they have some of the calmest waters, excellent water sports conditions, and many premium villas right on the sands.

These are but a few of the spots to plan on visiting after quarantine comes to an end, and you’ll want to spend a bit of time now exploring or mapping out your first “after quarantine” adventures.