Fodor’s Essential Caribbean, by Fodor’s Travel
For those who are not aware, my family and I are planning on going to St. Lucia for the Feast of Tabernacles and as is my fashion , I tend to enjoy reading books about places I would like to go or plan to go. Of course, this book includes a lot more information in its more than 900 pages than merely information about St. Lucia alone, and so it was certaily more than I was looking for for the narrow purposes of this year’s festival travel alone, but it was a sufficiently enjoyable read despite being even more than I was looking for. Those readers who are traveling on a cruise, going to any one of these islands, or have a great love of exploring and planning the logistics for trips will find much to appreciate here. I know I did. To be sure, this is a long book and few people will likely read the whole thing, but the book is helpfully organized to make it worth the while of those who are looking even for part of it, particularly relating to specific islands, as the book is geographically organized to make it easy to catch items of interest.
In terms of its contents, this book is organized in the alphabetical order of the island name, and it includes most of the islands of the Caribbean, but not all of them. Specifically, after an introductory chapter, the book looks at travel to Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Barthèlemy, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten/St. Martin, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in that order. It does not include Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, or Trinidad & Tobago, for whatever reason. Each chapter includes maps and discussions on where to stay, where to eat, where to explore, the cost of travel and accomodations and meals and taxis, as well as various comments that include detailed information about the friendliness of staff and particular menu items. This is, to be sure, a very detailed guide and it is written with the thoughtful and intelligent (and reasonably prosperous) tourist in mind, although it does discuss more budget options for those who are of more limited means. Suffice it to say that if you are traveling to the Caribbean you can’t be doing too poorly.
It is worthwhile when looking at a book like this, one that had a great deal of collaboration in its creation and is designed for an audience willing to put down some serious change to visit other countries, has as its guiding motives. The guide company here appears to take seriously its goal of fostering better relations among peoples and its goal of encouraging its readers to be smart tourists. Additionally, this book is meant for some pretty brave and adventuresome tourists, as it includes discussion of the renting of boats, hiking, and traveling to places (like Kingston, Jamaica) that many more timid tourists would find rather horrifying prospects. Any book that can discuss calmly the reefs around an island as a ship graveyard and tell people to go into areas where gang killings are not an infrequent occurrence but still feels it necessary to remind people not to leave valuables on the beach is dealing with an audience that has a taste for danger. I suppose the real question is, am I a part of that target audience or not? Considering I am planning on going to a place that has a “drive-in volcano” for the Feast, perhaps the question is a bit rhetorical.
 See, for example: