Many return year after year for their fix of the Caribbean using cheap flights to reach the many islands on offer. But what is it that attracts them?
With all of the inhabited islands in the Caribbean offering something unique, you can easily holiday in the region and get a different experience on every visit you make.
The Caribbean is made up of more than 7,000 islands in total, arranged in five main island groups, with historic links to many European countries from the days of the slave trade and sugar plantations. This helps give distinct flavours to many islands such as the French, British, Dutch and Spanish related islands.
The big hitters in terms of tourism are Barbados, Antigua, St Lucia, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, with thousands making the journey each year to visit for holidays on flights from the UK.
Smaller, lesser-visited islands are gaining in popularity with those looking to escape the busier destinations and so there is growth in everywhere from tiny Saint Kitts and Nevis through to Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago.
Across the islands there is tremendous variety. Islands such as Barbados, the 'pearl of the Caribbean', are popular because they have plenty of activities as well as beaches on offer. The Bahamas have some of the clearest seas in the world, as well as some world-famous golf courses. Visitors to Jamaica rarely leave without tasting its rum and St Lucia offers rainforests, volcanoes and Creole cuisine to its visitors. Antigua is a popular Caribbean destination for divers, with many wrecks littered around the coast of Barbuda. And, of course, you should not forget the carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago which are some of the biggest in the world.
Peak tourist season in the Caribbean is between December and April, although the islands are open for business year round. Be careful about travelling in the July to October period where hurricanes can have a serious effect on the weather.
With an average flight time from the UK to the Caribbean of between nine and 10 hours, the many non-stop flights to the Caribbean make the islands very accessible...
With a huge number of direct flights from the UK, you can soon be reaching your preferred island. From London's Gatwick airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer a huge choice into many of the main island gateways, allowing for onward connections to the smaller islands. In addition, Virgin offers flights from Manchester to Barbados and Thomas Cook has flights from Manchester to St Lucia (UVF), Barbados (BGI) and Antigua (ANU).
St Kitts (SKB), Trinidad (POS), Tobago (TAB) and Grenada (GND) are all served non-stop from London Gatwick, and Caribbean Airlines has commenced flights to Trinidad from Gatwick in addition to BA.
Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) serves Grand Cayman and is the main international airport for all of the Cayman Islands.
The Dutch Antilles are accessible through a number of airports. Aruba is served by direct flights from London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN), and flights arrive at the Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). Bonaire is accessible via Newark, Houston (IAH) and Atlanta (ATL) or via Amsterdam (AMS).
Spanish speaking Cuba has direct flights to Havana (HAV), Varadero (VRA), Holguin (HOG) and Cayo Coco (CCC) from several UK airports, with charter airlines such as Thomas Cook and Thomson offering the bulk of flights along with Virgin Atlantic.
For those who are looking to visit the Dominican Republic, there are many direct flights from London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) and several other regional UK airports to Puerto Plata (POP) and Las Americas International (SDQ), also known as Santo Domingo. In addition, you can reach La Romana (LRM) non-stop from Gatwick and Manchester.
The French Caribbean islands of St Martin (SXM), Guadelope (PTP) Martinique (MQ) and Dominica are reached via European airports such as Paris, and the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are accessed via the US or main Caribbean gateways.
There are 57 airports within the Bahamas, including the three international airports of Nassau (NSA), Grand Bahama Island (GBI) and Exuma International Airport (GGT). Direct flights to Nassau (NSA) are available from London Heathrow (LHR) or via US cities such as New York, Miami (MIA) or Orlando (MCO). Grand Cayman's airport at Providenciales is reached with an onward connection from the Nassau flights from the UK.
UK flights are available to Kingston (KIN) and Montego Bay (MBJ) for those who are looking to visit Jamaica, along with some charter flights from airports such as Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.
With many of the islands reliant on tourism, there is an extensive, if sometimes chaotic, range of transport from the airport you arrive at to help you reach your final destination...
The international airports, as well as most of the smaller domestic airports across the Caribbean, offer minibus, coach or limousine airport transfers. Depending on the resort chosen, transfers may be free. Many islands also offer good value taxis that are easy to book at the airport or resort.
Of course, you can rent a car if you want to make more of your holiday in the Caribbean. There is a good choice of vehicles on all of the larger islands, with airport pick-up or downtown collection and delivery, and even smaller islands will offer a choice of vehicles at great prices.
From five-star luxury spas to simple hotels and B&Bs, you can find accommodation to suit you across the many and varied islands...
Whether visitors choose to stay on one island in the Caribbean, or take advantage of its many air and sea links to island hop, there is an extensive selection of accommodation available.
You will find a huge range of all-inclusive hotels on offer on many islands where you can indulge in everything from endless food and drink to watersports and spa treatments. On some islands you will also find self-catering, Barbados a case in point, where you can use the many restaurants to eat out and the supermarkets and markets to stock up on local goodies.
If private villas are more your thing, then there is a good choice on most of the islands, alongside smaller hostels and B&Bs. And, of course, the big chains can also be found in many locations, with offerings from the likes of Hilton, Wyndham and Marriott alongside regional chains such as Sandals.