Fodor's Caribbean 2012 Paperback – 20 Oct 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The guidebook is divided into countries from Anguilla to the United States Virgin Islands. I don't see Bermuda nor the Bahamas in there but I do see Aruba. Anyway I love the layout and it's easy to use for information.
The countries that it covers includes Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.
The guide also supplies plenty of maps with with marks regarding beaches and historic locations for tourism. The guide is worth the cost and particularly useful if you're traveling to the Caribbean on a cruise for several islands. Be aware that Bahamas and Bermuda aren't in this guide nor is Haiti. Regardless, if you're traveling to the beaches in the Caribbean then this guide is the perfect resource for you.
The people who'd benefit most from the Fodor's Guide are those who don't want to wade through all the websites and just need lists of recommended hotels, restaurants, and attractions that are well-organized in an ergonomic format. To be honest, when comparing certain sections of the print guide (such as the section on Martinique) to Fodor's own website, the website appears to have more information. Also, when comparing Fodor's to the Lonely Planet guide (the print version), Lonely Planet does much better with history, culture, and safety precautions. (I was surprised at how little attention was given to safety issues on Fodor's section on Jamaica.) Lonely Planet also covered the Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti which the Fodor's guide did not. On the other hand, Lonely Planet's information on hotels and tours is much more limited. Lonely Planet is much better for people who want to know the Caribbean in spirit while Fodor's is for those who want the perfect getaway.
One reason to go with Fodor's is that they have so much experience that the information can generally be trusted. But maybe not always. One of the places Fodor's suggested as a shopping destination was Grenada - particularly for spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Well, true, but check with your cruise ship or airline first. It's unlikely that customs will let you bring anything fresh into the country. And although chocolate bars made in Grenada are phenomenally good, from experience, Grenada is not much for shopping in general.
Fodor's does have both an island finder, a chart that helps a reader choose which island might be best for beaches, casinos, nightlife, etc; as well as a chart on the feasibility of getting married on the different islands. If you're looking to get married in the Caribbean, that would certainly be a reason to get this book.
Overall, I think you can do just as well with the websites, but if you're internet-phobic, need access to information on a variety of islands where you won't have the internet (it's a heavy book to take on vacation, mind you, but if you're in a remote resort in the British Virgin Islands or the Grenadines and need to plan your next island hop...), or need a lot of well-organized info on hotels and resorts in a hurry, then this book can be useful.
The Bahamas, though technically not part of the Caribbean, they are culturally a part and 3 out of 5 guidebooks do include them. Frommer's and Fodor's do not. If you want to decide where to go and are thinking also about the Bahamas - then you are forced to buy an extra Bahamas guidebook - almost double the price.
Fodor's (also like Frommer's) omits Haiti and Cuba completely. The listings for backpacker and budget options is almost also non existent and so are descriptions of many off the beaten track places. So the book is generally for package tourists and cruise ship tourists, people that mainly stay in the resorts.
As the Lonely Planet (unlike Rough Guide and Footprint, now in brand new edition) covers everything this book does (all the options and places) and manages to pack many more for the same price, I recommend you buy that.