Linda Cooper of "Travel Time With Linda" shares her best experiences and travel tips.
The show focuses on the glamour, luxury, and adventure to be had in the Caribbean, a section of the world that seems to offer something for everyone, Cooper told Travel + Leisure. While there are so many amazing places to visit in the Caribbean, Cooper said the first thing to do is to figure out what you’re looking to get out of your time away.
“You can really personalize your vacation based on what your needs and wants are,” she said.
Cooper suggests mixing downtime with cultural immersion in order to get the most out of your vacation. “You really should research your chosen vacation spot, but you aren’t going to want to plan every single minute of your vacation. Have a wish list of the top three things you want to do while you visit so that you actually get out and experience the culture because that’s so enriching,” she said.
In case you still can't decide how to narrow down your many sun-drenched options, Cooper offers Barbados, Costa Rica, and The Exumas, in the Bahamas, as her top three picks.
“Costa Rica really resonated with me,” Cooper said. “It is the most beautiful place and they have this ‘Pura Vida’ phrase that really stayed with me.”
Cooper noted that Costa Rica is a great option for coffee drinkers and those who are interested in the craft, because the country has great opportunities to learn more about the process.
“There is this local factory and this group of local farmers come and bring the beans there for different types of coffees,” she said. “And, they also use the beans to make liquors, soaps, and other things and you get to see the way it happens all the way through.”
And while in Costa Rica, Cooper said that spending time at the Diamante Adventure Park is a must-do. “You get to walk through the life cycle of the butterfly,” she said. “They put fruit on you and these beautiful, vibrant butterflies land on you, it’s just wonderful.”
She noted that for those looking for more of an adventure, the park also has zip lining available as well as an animal sanctuary that includes sloths, monkeys, pumas, jaguars, and toucans.
Cooper says Barbados is a great destination for those who are looking to fully immerse themselves in a new culture. “In Barbados, the people are warm and welcoming. You leave feeling like you can’t wait to get back,” she said.
She said that Barbados has something for everyone, including great markets for shopping, fitness/wellness tours, and adventure spots. However, she explained, the country is widely recognized as the birthplace of rum and the beverage is something everyone should experience. “Rum tours and tastings are so much fun,” she said. “It’s an experience that everyone will remember.”
Mount Gay puts together tours that touch on the history, craft, and sailing heritage of the beverage. Tour guides and mixologists also discuss the different blends and dish on some of the best contemporary cocktails to make with rum.
If you’re looking to beat the crowds and have a quiet, relaxing vacation, Cooper said that The Exumas, in the Bahamas, cannot be any more perfect.
“Highbourne Cay is the gateway to The Exumas and has an unbelievably low-key vibe, so if you’re looking for a place to really be secluded and private, this is for you,” Cooper said.
However, just because you want a bit of privacy doesn’t mean you can't get in on the action. Bitter Guana Cay, filled with endangered Exuma Island iguanas, secluded beaches, and beautiful restaurants are available throughout the chain of islands. Not to mention one of the most popular attractions of The Exumas – swimming with the pigs on Big Major Cay.
“The Exumas are just an amazing place and one of those beautiful, untouched parts of the world,” she said.