Whether you take a cruise to see a variety of islands or travel to just one, the Caribbean offers a sunny, warm vacation destination. Its white sand, pretty corals, and relaxing beaches are sure to make your trip well worth it.
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Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. Also called the West Indies, since Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492 believing he was in the Indies (in Asia),
The waters of the Caribbean Sea host large, migratory schools of fish, turtles, and coral reef formations. The Puerto Rico trench, located on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea just to the north of the island of Puerto Rico, is the deepest point in all of the Atlantic Ocean.
Rainfall varies with elevation, size and water currents, such as the cool upwellings that keep the ABC islands arid. Warm, moist trade winds blow consistently from the east, creating both rain forest and semi-arid climates across the region. The tropical rainforest climates include lowland areas near the Caribbean Sea from Costa Rica north to Belize, as well as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, while the more seasonal dry tropical savanna climates are found in Cuba, northern Colombia and Venezuela, and southern Yucatán, Mexico. Arid climates are found along the extreme northern coast of Venezuela out to the islands including Aruba and Curacao, as well as the northwestern tip of Yucatán.
While the region generally is sunny much of the year, the wet season from May through November sees more frequent cloud cover (both broken and overcast), while the dry season from December through April is more often clear to mostly sunny. Seasonal rainfall is divided into ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ seasons, with the latter six months of the year being wetter than the first half. The air temperature is hot much of the year, varying from 25 to 33 °C (77 to 91 °F) between the wet and dry seasons. Seasonally, monthly mean temperatures vary from only about 5 °C (9 °F) in the northernmost regions, to less than 3 °C (5 °F) in the southernmost areas of the Caribbean.
Hurricane season is from June to November, but they occur more frequently in August and September and more common in the northern islands of the Caribbean. Hurricanes that sometimes batter the region usually strike northwards of Grenada and to the west of Barbados. The principal hurricane belt arcs to the northwest of the island of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean. A great example being recent events of Hurricane Irma devastating the island of Saint Martin during the 2017 hurricane season.
Sea surface temperatures change little annually, normally running from 30 °C (86 °F) in the warmest months to 26 °C (79 °F) in the coolest months. The air temperature is warm year-round, in the 20s and 30s °C (70s, 80s, and 90s °F), and varies only from winter to summer about 2–5 degrees[specify] on the southern islands and about a 10–20 degrees[specify] difference on the northern islands of the Caribbean. The northern islands, like the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, may be influenced by continental masses during winter months, such as cold fronts.