Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Vacations: Where Should You Go?

If you’re trying to decide between these two fabulous beach-oriented destinations, you may be wondering, what is the difference between Caribbean and Mediterranean vacations?

We’re here to help with our detailed comparison of the Caribbean vs. Mediterranean to help you choose.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Quick Take

There are plenty of reasons to visit both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. It can be tough to choose, but these two gorgeous areas have some pretty significant differences that will factor into your decision including location, weather, and available activities.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Overview

The Caribbean is a popular tropical destination with a range of islands featuring breathtaking beaches and jaw-dropping water. The islands in the Caribbean are quite varied, including scrubby and desert-like landscapes, mountainous and volcanic landscapes, and lush tropical rainforest landscapes.

The Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by Europe, Asia, and Africa, so it offers mostly mainland destinations along the coastline of European countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey. There are also some islands in the Mediterranean including Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica, Cyprus, Malta, and some of the Greek islands like Crete.

Obviously, then one of the main differences between the Caribbean vs. Mediterranean is location. The Mediterranean is in Europe, so flights from the U.S. can take 7 hours or more depending on your final destinations. The Caribbean, on the other hand, lies just south of the U.S., and most islands are only one to four hours away by plane.

Another major difference is climate, as the Caribbean is warm all year round while Mediterranean destinations get cooler in the winter.

In general, the Mediterranean is less expensive than the Caribbean, as accommodations and food costs tend to be somewhat more affordable—especially in countries such as Greece, Croatia, and Turkey. (Although you may have to pay a lot more for flights if you’re coming from the U.S.) However, the Caribbean can be inexpensive as well, especially if you travel during the offseason.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Accommodations

Both the Caribbean and Mediterranean offer a wide array of accommodations to suit all sorts of travelers.

The Caribbean offers a huge range of accommodation types, from inexpensive to super-swanky. There are hostels, hotels, condos, resorts, and AirBnBs, so it can be good for a budget getaway, a mid-range vacation, or a once-in-a-lifetime splurge like a honeymoon.

In the Caribbean you can find affordable resorts, family resorts, adults-only resorts, all-inclusive resorts, luxury resorts, and even nude resorts. You can also find resorts with overwater bungalows in the Caribbean.

The Mediterranean also offers a range of places to stay, including guesthouses, boutique hotels, and rental apartments. You can also find all-inclusive resorts in the Mediterranean, as well as family-friendly resorts and adults-only hotels. Prices range from very inexpensive to quite high, depending on where you go, what level of accommodation you choose, and what time you visit.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Things to Do

The Caribbean is perfect for relaxing on the beach; watersports including snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing; outdoor activities of all kinds including hiking; and adventure sports such as ziplining and ATV tours (on some islands). You can also find a range of historic sites and cultural activities, as well as charming towns to explore (again, depending on the island you visit). Different islands feature different activities, and there are plenty of unique attractions such as the world’s only drive-through volcano (on St. Lucia) or an underwater sculpture park (in Grenada).

Both the Mediterranean and Caribbean offer an assortment of beautiful beaches to relax and play on. In addition to the picture-perfect white sand beaches that the Caribbean is famous for, you can also find golden, pink, and black sand beaches. Many beaches have very calm water that’s perfect for swimming, paddling, and snorkeling, but some Caribbean beaches have bigger waves for surfing.

Mediterranean beaches vary quite a bit depending on where you go, but tend to be rockier than Caribbean beaches. However, you can find lovely soft sand beaches in the Mediterranean as well, and there are some breathtaking options. Many Mediterranean beaches are located in or very near towns or cities, so will be somewhat more developed than Caribbean beaches.

The Caribbean is a top destination for snorkeling and scuba diving, but you can also enjoy these activities in the Mediterranean. While it doesn’t have the coral reefs you can find in the Caribbean, there is a diversity of marine life as well as interesting sites like shipwrecks and “blue holes” to explore.

While you can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in both, there are some definite differences when you compare the Caribbean sea vs the Mediterranean sea. The Caribbean is smaller than the Mediterranean, and it tends to have a warmer temperature year-round. The Mediterranean can get cold in the winter. It also tends to be calmer than the Caribbean, as it is mostly surrounded by land.

If you’re interested in nightlife, most Caribbean islands have bars, nightclubs, and live entertainment in the evenings (although some are much livelier than others). You can also enjoy a huge variety of festivals in the Caribbean.

Nightlife in the Mediterranean will vary widely depending on the destination you choose. Some areas are known as party spots with dancing until dawn, while others are sleepy villages where everything shuts down after dark.

A significant difference between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean is that there are a lot more historic sites in Mediterranean destinations, and those sites are quite a bit older than any in the Caribbean. In fact, this region has some of the most famous historic sites in the world. If you’re an ancient history buff, you’ll want to choose the Mediterranean for your vacation.

Another difference is that you can go wine tasting in many Mediterranean destinations, as well as explore amazing towns and cities that are culturally rich and full of shops, cafes, bars, and interesting sights. You can also take trains to and from many Mediterranean destinations.

If you’re trying to decide between a Caribbean vs Mediterranean cruise, you will find there are a lot of differences. The weather in the Caribbean tends to be warmer (and warm year-round); the atmosphere on Mediterranean cruises is often more upscale and passengers are from more international backgrounds; and Caribbean cruises tend to have more itineraries and be cheaper.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Weather

The Caribbean is warm all year round, but it has a dry season and a wet/storm season. While specific dates vary depending on the Caribbean island you choose, in general the wet season is during the summer. Hurricane season runs from June to November, and this affects most Caribbean islands except for Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Trinidad & Tobago. Barbados, while still technically in the hurricane zone, rarely sees storms,

The best time to visit the Caribbean for good weather is during the winter months of December, January, and February. For fairly good weather and lower prices, look at the spring.

The Mediterranean has a more variable climate with hot and dry summers plus cooler and wet winters. While July and August can be very hot and crowded, that is also peak season and prices will be higher. Dry season in the Mediterranean is April through September, while the rainy season is October to March.

Although severe storms are very rare in this region, tropical cyclones called “Medicanes” can occasionally occur from September through December. The best time to visit the Mediterranean for good weather is from May to June, or September to October.

Is the Caribbean or Mediterranean warmer?

The Caribbean is a warmer climate, with summer temperatures reaching the 90s on most islands and winter temperatures not really going below the 70s. The Mediterranean has a more seasonal climate, with the warmest weather from May to September and colder winters.

Caribbean vs. Mediterranean Culture and Atmosphere

The Caribbean has a variety of islands, each with its own unique culture that combines the indigenous population with the influences of European settlers and the African slave population. Since different countries colonized different islands, there is quite a range of cultures throughout the region. However, islands tend to be laidback and relaxed, regardless of whether they are more or less developed or have a more active nightlife.

You can find European influences from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, as well as some influences from the United States in territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Mediterranean offers a mix of European, African, and Asian cultures in its wide variety of destinations featuring ancient ruins, medieval towns, and bustling cities. The atmosphere ranges from the glamorous French Riviera to more rustic and pristine areas like the Croatian coast.

And while you can find people who speak English in most of the Mediterranean destinations, it is not as widespread as it is throughout the Caribbean.

Caribbean vs Mediterranean Food

There are quite a few differences between Caribbean vs. Mediterranean food, despite the prevalence of fresh seafood in both.

First of all, different Caribbean islands will feature different types of dishes depending on their history and whether they had Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, or Dutch settlers. Each island has its own special take on “Caribbean cuisine,” and includes fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown on that island as well as the types of seafood that are commonly found in surrounding waters. For example, the Bahamas is famous for conch and lobster, while Jamaica is known for its jerk chicken and ackee and salt fish.

And while the “Mediterranean diet” is famous—consisting of fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil and herbs, whole grains, and seafood or lean meat—you will actually find a huge variety of food throughout the area depending on the country you visit. Obviously, the cuisine is very different in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia. Some of the most famous dishes in the Mediterranean are souvlaki, patatas bravas, panini, shawarma, and caponata.

Conch fritters

Which is bigger the Caribbean or the Mediterranean?

If you are comparing the Caribbean vs. Mediterranean sea, the Mediterranean is bigger than the Caribbean.

Is the Caribbean part of the Mediterranean?

As you’ve probably figured out by now if you’ve read this whole article, no, the Caribbean is not part of the Mediterranean. They are located in very different parts of the world.

Now that you’ve read our comparison of the Caribbean vs. Mediterranean, what do you think? Which area will you choose for your next vacation? Regardless of which one it is, our expert travel agents can help you plan the perfect trip!

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