Pack Suncream and Travel Insurance for a Caribbean Adventure

March 27, 2024

Picture by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

For many travellers, the Caribbean Islands have it all, regardless of whether you are staying in James Bond’s villa in Jamaica or in more modest accommodation on another island.  Just make sure you put some travel insurance inside the suitcase, alongside the suncream.

Jamaica may be the best-known island, with fairly good reason, and its associations with top musicians and athletes translate into an array of experiences to enjoy, from the Bob Marley Museum and the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay in July, to jungle bobsledding and even bamboo-rafting to the birthplace of Usain Bolt.

Add to this the natural wonderment, such as seeing bio-luminescent plankton glow at night in the Luminous Lagoon, taking in the beauty of the Blue Mountains and watching water tumble down Dunn’s River Falls, and Jamaica may become your number one Caribbean destination faster than you can say Jerk Chicken.

Other Caribbean islands 

But other islands have their own attractions.  ‘Think’ swimming with pink wild pigs in the Bahamas, or heading to Barbados for the Bathsheba Beach surfers’ paradise experience, the sight of the Animal Flower Cave, or to hear the sounds of Bach played in the monkey and hummingbird-filled Hunte’s Garden.

You might prefer to explore Trinidad’s Gasparee Caves, the Pink Sand Beach of Barbuda or the Dark View Waterfall of St Vincent. See the famous Pitons of St Lucia and visit the island’s Pigeon Island National Park perhaps?  Maybe you could take in the glories of Antigua’s Sailing Week, the Grenada Chocolate Fest or Te Amo Beach in Bonaire.

If sport is your thing, why not snorkel off Sapphire Beach in St Thomas, go river-tubing down the Layou River in Dominica, swim with stingrays at Stingray City in Grand Cayman, or indulge in some flyboarding in St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands?

Image by Rick Jamison on Unsplash

Historical, leisure and natural Caribbean delights

Dive into history and you could end up in the oldest house in Martinique – Habitation Latouche – or the Brimstone Hill Fortress World Heritage Site in St Kitts, as well as perhaps taking that island’s scenic railway trip.

For relaxation, how about a mud bath in St Lucia, a trip to the Choco Museum in Dominica, whale watching in the Dominican Republic or drinking in the sight of the setting sun over St Maarten’s Grand Case Beach?

Eagle Beach Aruba is not to be missed, if you wish to sit on one of the best beaches in the world and explore one of the Caribbean’s safest islands, perhaps also taking in the Arikok National Park and also its ‘natural bridge’, at Andicuri Bay.

Fans of ‘Death in Paradise’ might want to get on the trail of the fictional Saint Marie team, by exploring Guadeloupe and maybe stopping off for the amazing sight of the Checkerboard cemetery.  

Head to Virgin Gorde, however, and it would be hard to resist a visit to the gigantic granite sea pools and grottos, whilst the odd coqui frog and Puerto Rican parrot might call you to the El Yunque National Park in Puerto Rico, if you love nature.

Learn to merengue in the Dominican Republic or explore the Deep Sea in Curaçao, with SubStation Curaçao and you will have truly lived a Caribbean experience.

Medical facilities and the need for travel insurance in the Caribbean

What this should instantly tell you is that there is a plethora of choice of things to do and see in the Caribbean but also a lot of islands to explore.  And it’s not just the names of the islands that change from English to French and Dutch.  It’s also their health systems, their individual health and other ‘risks’ and their medical facilities.

Anyone heading to the Caribbean should first check out the vaccinations and anti-malarial treatments they may need.  Recommendations typically include hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid and rabies.  Malaria is prevalent in the region and dengue fever and chikungunya may also need to be protected against.

Take on board advice about not drinking water, having ice cubes in drinks and indulging in street food, bearing in mind that many travellers succumb to food-related illnesses. 

Make sure, however, that you also purchase a good travel insurance policy, like that provided by Europesure, which will protect you in the Caribbean.  This is a pretty crucial step to take, as the medical facilities vary so much between islands.  If you fall ill on some islands, there will simply not be the facilities or experts to help you locally and so it is common for air evacuation to another island to take place – or even air evacuation to a US city such as Miami.

Image by Rajvinder Singh on Unsplash

Medical evacuation and other costs in the Caribbean

At other times, you might need to be evacuated back to your home country and, if you don’t have travel insurance, you should be aware that an air ambulance to the UK or Europe is likely to set you back about £60,000, or the equivalent in Euros.  Bear in mind also that, if you fall ill, your travelling companion is only likely to be able to stay by your side if a travel insurance policy can cover their arrangements and accommodation expenses, along with transportation costs to wherever you are taken.

Arranging all of this yourself would be another huge strain, even if you could manage to find contacts. 

If you simply need medical care locally, some islands will expect you to settle your bill, before you can leave the island.  If you have no travel insurance to assist, that could be problematic, especially if you have had care in a higher-cost private hospital.   

Some islands have first-class facilities, but do screen patients and may not necessarily accept you, leaving you perhaps with no alternative but to go to another island.  If you have a particularly specialised issue, such as a neurological one, your choice of medical facility is likely to be limited and you will be taken to wherever the nearest surgical and specialist medical team can be found.

Use of European health insurance cards in the Caribbean

The fact that some of the islands in the Caribbean have British, French or Dutch heritage is also important.  An EEA citizen travelling to Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Martin and St Barthélemy, whether French or UK resident, can use the EHIC or GHIC, to gain some healthcare benefits on an emergency basis.  However, these health insurance cards cannot be used in Curaçao, Aruba[1], Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as these islands do not enjoy the same membership to the EU and EEA as the Netherlands has.[2]

Given the frequent need for a seriously ill patient to be evacuated to another island, and the prevalence of many private healthcare facilities within the Caribbean, it would be foolish to rely on these healthcare cards as the only recourse to medical assistance when travelling.  Buying a travel insurance policy is highly advisable.

Travel insurance – the other benefits in the Caribbean

When doing so, do make sure it also covers the sorts of activity you might wish to indulge in, when in the Caribbean.  With so many watersports available, you need to know that your chosen adventure would be covered by your policy, if you were injured.

Take a good look at the baggage cover you might require too, especially if island-hopping.  With theft also being an issue in many Caribbean islands, you should also get the right protection for your money, gadgets and sports equipment and, if marrying in the Caribbean, perhaps also consider Europesure’s wedding cover extension.

Cancellation and curtailment cover is another thing to get in place as soon as you book your Caribbean holiday, in a region so prone to hurricanes.  Don’t leave buying your cover until the last minute, losing out on this element of protection.

Take all of the advice on board and you should be able to fully enjoy your Caribbean adventure with complete peace of mind.  Just head to www.europesuretravelinsurance.com to buy the right single trip or annual policy for your circumstances, tailoring the cover to suit your needs. Choose from three levels of cover, delete some elements for which you may already have some cover  under other policies, if you need to, and add on others that will give you fuller protection, with this including Covid cover.

From there, you can sit back and enjoy those rum cocktails and beach barbecues, knowing that, if something should occur, you’ve bought the travel cover that can step in and help.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/aruba/health

[2] http://www.itij.com/latest/long-read/holidaymaker-hospital-patient

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