So you’re coming to the Caribbean and want to make the most out of it. You’ve booked a few things and one of them happens to be a tour. It could sometimes be intimidating asking questions but if your tour guide is a good one you shouldn’t feel that way. In my experience as a Caribbean native, tour guides are very friendly towards visitors.
Most taxi tours might already have a predetermined set of areas to show you on your trip, these usually include sightseeing spots and cultural areas, everything to make you feel like a tourist — but what if you want to feel a little more in tune with locals? Here are 5 things to ask your taxi tour guide.
1. Where can we get some great local food?
If you’re staying at a hotel/resort then it’s most likely that your meals might have a Caribbean twist on various dishes, depending which resort/hotel you booked it might not be too different from things you’ve already tasted before, so why visit a new place just to experience not too different food? If you like your fancy meals with light touches of Caribbean flavour and twists then that’s all good, but if you really want to dive into a Caribbean island’s taste then ask your taxi driver to take you to the best place he likes to get his meals. This part is important, you might ask for the best place to get local meals and he might bring you to somewhere not too different from what you’re used to at your hotel, so it’s important to ask where he/she gets their meals.
Let your driver know that you want a taste of truly local dishes. Below are a few Caribbean dishes your driver might know of or know similar dishes because some islands might have different names for different dishes:
- Roti (you want to try this)
- Bakes (on some islands it might be called “float”, mentioning “roast bake” or “fry bake” might ring a bell)
- Ackra (a type of fritter, there are various types, mentioning “salt fish ackra” might ring a bell)
- One Pot
- Curry goat
- Pumpkin rice
- Dumplings (mentioning “salted pig tail, red beans and dumplin” might ring a bell)
These are of course just a few dishes which you might not even find on a plate at your hotel. We hope you enjoy!
2. What’s your national dish?
This is a separate question because believe it or not some Caribbean islands do not serve their national dish as much as other dishes they may serve, you might end up spending your entire trip and leaving without tasting an island’s national dish, and even asking your driver to take you to get some local dishes might not guarantee getting a hold of that particular island’s national dish. Because some islands do not serve this dish as much as others it might be a bit difficult for your taxi driver to think of a spot where it would be available, so don’t be disappointed if he tells you the same thing.
3. Any zoo nearby?
Whether you’re an animal lover or not you might find it intriguing which animals inhabit a certain island. Monkeys, for example, are not widely spread across the Caribbean but you could find the Mona Monkey in Grenada. There are also animals which inhabit certain islands and could be found nowhere else in the world, not even at other zoos, so experiencing the local wildlife might be a once in a lifetime experience.
4. What makes your island different from other Caribbean islands?
As a Caribbean native I like the phrase “One Caribbean”, because we share a lot in common with other Caribbean islands (more on this in the last point) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t always a little competition between islands, example; you might hear Trinidadians say they have the best Carnival in the entire Caribbean, you might hear another island say the same. When you ask your tour guide this question they most likely will mention a certain attraction which can’t be found anywhere else in the Caribbean, or at least not the same. A St. Lucian taxi driver might mention that St. Lucia has the only drive through volcano in the entire Caribbean and by far the world where as a Grenadian taxi driver might mention their underwater sculpture park.
5. Any local street parties/fetes we can go to?
This is by far a must when visiting any Caribbean island. A trip would not be complete without experiencing a local street party or fete, ask your driver if there might be any concert or event happening during your stay also ask if he/she might be able to take you there. Whenever visiting any country for the first time, it’s always a good idea to have local company if you plan to do some street partying, this, of course, applies in the Caribbean as well, let your driver know what’s on your mind and an arrangement might be possible.