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Fodor's Annual Caribbean

One of the better guidebooks to the Caribbean.

Review by Phil Stripling

We have the 1993 edition, I am afraid, and it is well- used and marked with our notes and highlighted text. Our use has been to review further places to explore in the French West Indies, and we will comment on the book as to those chapters only. We presume that the accuracy of the book will carry over to other islands as well.

The book is over 600 pages, and it covers very nearly all the islands of the Caribbean (it does not cover Cuba, we note; it covers the Dominican Republic, but not Haiti). Chapter 1 is a lengthy and helpful overview of the Caribbean in general, with tips for travelers from the United States and Great Britain. Topics include seasonal events, what to pack, money issues, health, insurance, the young, the old, and the disabled, electrical currents, credit cards, and tips for cruisers. Each chapter is attributed to one or more authors, which we find helpful in comparing islands -- if we can compare our taste with a known person, we can rely on that persons opinion in the future on other islands.

Our use of the book has been to read up on Guadeloupe, St. Barth, and Martinique. Islands are listed in alphabetical order (other books we have list the islands in order from north to south, which can be aggravating if you are unfamiliar with the geography, but which makes it easier to read about nearby islands if you plan on visiting more than one). We have ripped out the section on Guadeloupe, having found it so useful that we took that chapter with us on a visit. The chapter on St. Barth remains, and a quick review of it shows a well- organized and well- written chapter which covers (even in our 1993 edition) the fast pace of development and the nostalgia for the "old, quiet St. Barts." There is a very brief history and overview, then we get quickly into what you need to know before you go: where to get tourist information, how to get to St. Barth, passport and visa issues, and precautions (the roads). There is a list of hotels, beaches, and places to go, to eat, and to stay. Much lengthier sections are devoted to dining and lodging, and favored places are starred in the margins. We disagree with many of the starred restaurants, but they seem to be consistent in their appeal to American tastes. (A couple of notable exceptions to our disagreement in the 1993 issue: we like and recommend Le Flamboyant; we did not like François Plantation, but it is definitely not skewed to American tastes. See our review.)

Overall, we think this is one of the better books in a series of excellent guidebooks on the Caribbean.

Order from Amazon.com Order Fodor's 97 Caribbean (Annual)
Fodor's 98 Caribbean (Fodor's Gold Guides)

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