Updated: Jul 1, 2021
*THIS POST FEATURED CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES ALPHABETICALLY FROM ANGUILLA TO GUYANA*
Check back for Part 2 of this Post featuring Haiti to U.S.Virgin Islands
Did you know that June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month? Although not as well-known as Black History Month, we have a whole month to celebrate the contributions of Caribbean Americans to the diversity of American culture. We've been making contributions to this country since its founding with the first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who stems from Nevis. Our contributions have continued with civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, whose grandfather was born in Long Cay, Bahamas and his father was born in Haiti -- the history no one tells you. Did you know that the first Black woman to run as a candidate for President of the United States is from Guyanese and Bajan descent? If we fast forward to the present day, we also have Secretary of State Colin Powell (with roots from Jamaica); Cicely Tyson (with roots from St. Kitts and Nevis); and Sidney Poitier (with roots in Bahamas). Our most famous Caribbean American is currently our Vice President - Kamala Harris, making history as the first woman, the first Black, AND the first Asian Vice President. YASSS!
Clearly as Caribbean Americans, we are killing it right now! As a Haitian American, I am proud of my Caribbean roots. I am still honored that I was part of the inaugural National 30 under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders & Changemakers by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, who helped pioneer this month.
Caribbeans are a vibrant part of the American melting pot. Take June to celebrate the heritage, history, and cultural diversity of Caribbean Americans. Take time to explore the traditions Caribbean-Americans carry with them.
Did you know there is some debate on which countries are considered part of the Caribbean? That also depends on whether we are referring to geography or culture. For example, Bermuda and Bahamas are not geographically in the Caribbean, but are very much so culturally. Below is a map to give you a frame of reference.
The Institute of Caribbean Studies’ (ICS) effort to establish National Caribbean American Heritage Month (NCAHM) began in 1999 with outreach to President Bill Clinton asking for the recognition of August as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. This resulted in the first White House Caribbean American Community Briefing being held at the Clinton White House in 1999. In 2000, ICS began leading activities in celebration of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month in Washington DC, building on those efforts from the year before. However, the official campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004 when a legislative bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June 2005 and the Senate in February 2006. A Proclamation making the resolution official was signed by President George W. Bush on June 5, 2006.
Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. 2021 year marks the thirteenth anniversary of June being declared as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
CENSUS QUICK FACTS:
As of June 2018, the Caribbean-American population of the United States was almost 13.2 million (Note that these populations are not mutually exclusive, as people may be of more than one ancestry or ethnic group). Some of the largest Caribbean ancestry groups in the U.S. include:
5.8 million Puerto Ricans
2.4 million Cubans
2.0 million Dominicans
1.1 million Jamaicans
1 million Haitians
208,000 Trinidadians and Tobagonians
19,000 U.S. Virgin Islanders
HOW TO OBSERVE
Observe it similarly to how you would observe Black History Month:
Share your experiences and knowledge during National Caribbean-American Heritage month.
Learn the history of immigration from the Caribbean by visiting museums and exhibits.
Talk with friends and family members and learn about their experiences and culture.
Support Caribbean businesses -- eat food from Caribbean owned restaurants; spend your money at Caribbean-owned businesses
Visit the Caribbean & support locals -- go beyond the resorts! Take a tour from a local Caribbean guide.
Follow, like, and engage with the content by Caribbean creators.
Use #CaribbeanAmericanHeritageMonth to share on social media.
One way I plan to celebrate National Caribbean American Heritage Month is by amplifying the voices of Caribbean people from as many islands as possible through a special series of blog posts.
This year's theme is Our Shared History, Our Shared Future. The commemoration of Caribbean American Heritage Month aims to remind Americans that our greatness lies in our diversity. I hope to display this diversity by featuring recommendations by dope content creators stemming from the Caribbean in this blog post!
Table of Contents:
Anguilla: Eat lunch at Scilly Cay
Recommended by Khara of @thebrunchbelle
Why: One of my absolute favorite experiences on Anguilla, and one that I highly recommend to anyone visiting the island, is lunch at Scilly Cay. Scilly Cay is an islet just off the coast of Island Harbour, Anguilla with a restaurant that serves up the best lobster and crayfish. It’s essentially a restaurant in the middle of the ocean, and is what I imagine comes to mind when people think of the word “paradise.” There’s panoramic water views, beach life, delicious food, $5 rum punches, live old time string band music, and all around good vibes!
Antigua & Barbuda: Visit Shirley Heights Lookout
Recommended by Aaliyah of @astoldbyali
Why: If you google Antigua, you’d probably see a picture of this infamous location -, Shirley Heights Lookout! I’d say visit this historical landmark for the most breathtaking views - you can hike (not difficult) or drive in. Bonus: on Sundays, they have a sunset party with good food, music & Caribbean vibes!
Aruba: Visit Arikok National Park
Recommended by Glendeline of @glendelinexo
Why: It is located in the heart of Aruba (the city of Santa Cruz). I would highly recommend a sunrise hike. It is absolutely breathtaking. It will lead you to the North coast of the island. Watching the sunrise over the hills with a beautiful morning glow over the beaches is a must-do. Aruba has such a beautiful and natural landscape.
The Bahamas: Climb up the highest point in Cat Island
Recommended by Ian of @thebahamiantraveler
Why: This would depend on which island you visit as each island typically has an attraction/activity that it is known for. New Providence (Nassau), amongst other things, has captivating food tours which are a good way to immerse yourself in local cuisine. In Exuma, there is the world-famous swimming with the pigs. In Cat Island, you can climb up the Hermitage to the highest point in The Bahamas. In Long Island, you can swim in Dean’s Blue Hole which is the world’s second deepest blue hole. Each island has something to offer, and I’d recommend doing some quick research before visiting.
Barbados: Look at view from Cherry Tree Hill
Recommended by Sancia of @sincerely.sancia
Why: This is the most breathtaking view of the east coast coastline especially during a sunny day. One thing you must do on the island is have a freshly cut coconut and taste the flavorful jelly from its shell. However, you must visit the island during the crop over season. In addition, The colorful costumes with feathers on Grand Kadooment Day, when revelers jam down to the spring garden with their bands, is a sight to see. You must add this particular event to your bucket list!
Belize: Snorkeling and Diving in
Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Blue Hole
Recommended by Cinnamon from @ontheroadwithcinn
Why: Belize is home to the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere and the second largest in the world, making it a scuba diver's paradise. Therefore, any trip to Belize should include a snorkeling or diving trip! One of the most popular spots to see an abundance of marine life and bright coral is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. However, the most unique experience of all is to see the Blue Hole. The world's largest sinkhole is a bucket list dive experience, but just as special from above! You can book flights or helicopter rides to admire the beauty from the sky.
Bonaire: Explore the salt pans in the
southern part of the island
Recommended by Miri of @ms_miri_bella
Why: This is where you can experience the island at its purest and see the beautiful flamingos in their natural habitat. While here, immerse yourself with the history of the 'katibunan', or slaves who have endured hardship during the Dutch colonial time by working long days under the sun in the salt pans in order to provide for their families who mostly lived in Rincón. Hope this inspires you!
British Virgin Islands: Visit The Baths -- National Park
Recommended by Niqua of @travelingwithniqua
Why: A must do is a visit to our famous National Park - The Baths on Virgin Gorda. It showcases our natural scenery, which are our boulders that were made from volcanic activity. The boulders are all incorporated with these beaches. You also must try a Painkiller drink at any of our local restaurants.
Cayman Islands: Interact with Stingrays in Stingray City
Recommended by Chelsea of @island_epicurean
Why: Stingray City is a must do activity in Grand Cayman. This sandbar is located a few miles from the mainland with water being about waist deep. You get to interact with stingrays in their natural environment. However, after decades of visitors, they are used to being held, fed and even kissed.
Cuba: Explore outside of Havana
Recommended by Marissa of @mimaincuba
Why: Go outside tourist areas, walk around, and see how people live outside the shine. Really, just don’t limit yourself to Havana!
Curaçao: Take a stroll in Downtown Punda
Recommended by Shang of @sintshng
Why: Curaçao has a lot to offer, It depends on what type of trip you’re coming for. Curaçao is rich in history, history going back to the slave period. Curaçao also has 30-something beaches that you can choose from ranging from the pig beach to the turtle beach. You also have to visit our distillery where you can see how we make the REAL Blue Curaçao Liquor, and get a taste for yourself. Go on a UTV ride or a jeep safari ride and get dirty knowing facts about Curaçao. You must take a stroll in downtown Punda where you can learn about our histories, walk on the floating bridge called “The Swinging Old Lady” and get your hands on some local food, snacks and drinks.
Dominica: Visit the different waterfalls and sulphur springs
Recommended by Akima of @amika.__
Why: A must see in Dominica is the Paradise Village located in Bourne. This is a plant nursery where you can find a wide variety of tropical plants. They also have a few animals and a wide area to walk around. If you’re coming to Dominica for vacation a few things you should not miss are canyoning, hiking, whale watching, island tours, the Indian River tour which is famous in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, visiting the different waterfalls and sulphur springs, and zip lining.
Dominican Republic: Experience the fresh
Dominican Alps in Jarabacoa
Recommended by Gerry of @dominicanabroad
Why: There are just too many things to do and places to see in the Dominican Republic! However, if I had to pick three places (sorry, I still can't pick just one LOL) it would be Santo Domingo for history and culture, Jarabacoa for a taste of the fresh Dominican Alps, and Bahia de las Aguilas to experience one of the best beaches in the world. For three must-do things, I would pick: trying iconic Dominican dishes (a MUST!), experiencing DR outside of the resorts (PLEASE), and embracing our natural wonders (beaches, hikes, waterfalls, and much more). As an added bonus, I highly recommend going into northern Haiti with Atlas Travelers for 3 days of Haitian history, culture, and beaches!
Grenada: Explore the rural countryside via
Sunhunters Bareback Jeep Tours
Recommended by Kered of @keredclement
Why: You must venture off the beaten track to explore the island's interior. My favorite way to do this is via Sunhunters Bareback Jeep tours which can take you to serene parts of the rural countryside and will take your breath away!
Guadeloupe: Scuba Diving at Cousteau Reserve
Recommended by Esthécy of @bullesdamour_off
Why: I think you absolutely have to do some hiking and scuba diving. For hiking, I would recommend “Porte d’enfer” or that of Souffrière and for scuba diving in the Cousteau Reserve.
Guyana: Visit the Rupununi
Recommended by Mia of @mia_not_mea
Why: A must do (if you have some extra cash) is visit the Rupununi. It is different from the coast and the experience is unlike any other. If you are strapped for cash, I like to bring my friends to feed manatees at the National Park. It's a simple, but unique experience. You can take a walk in the park, feed some manatees in the ponds and even walk to the seawall, grab a hot dog and look out at the Atlantic Ocean.