So you’ve decided to finally take that trip to the Caribbean that you’ve always dreamed of. In your head are visions of white, sandy beaches, palm trees, crystal clear waters and blue skies. But where do you start? There is much that needs to be decided before you catch your flight and head to tropical lands.

Which Island Will You Visit?

The Caribbean is not an island in itself but a geographical region of islands. The island you visit will depend on whether you liked mountains or flat, vast beaches. Current exchange rates may factor into your decision as well. Some islands accept US currency but some do not. If you aren’t bilingual or multilingual, you may want to choose an island that has a population that is fluent in the English language. Some islands are also more expensive, both to live on and to visit. If you’re on a budget, this may be a consideration for you.

Weather and seasonal conditions should be brought into play if there are certain activities you want to participate in. If you plan to learn to surf, for instance, you’ll want to visit an island that has waters where you can do this. If you want to swim with dolphins or look at sharks, the island you decide on should offer these types of activities. Deciding on what you want to do before you go is worthwhile. You don’t want to get to the island and have nothing to do; unless, of course, you want to do nothing.

Where Do You Stay?

Villas are a popular choice for Caribbean visitors. Many travelers have found that the easiest way to find a villa is through a villa-booking or rental agent. Not only can a booking agent help you find a villa but they can also help you decide on your perfect island destination, arrange tours, car rentals and help with air travel arrangements.

If you are planning on taking your vacation during a peak season like Christmas, plan on booking several months in advance. Otherwise, a few weeks to a month should be sufficient. Prior to contacting a villa rental agent, be sure to make a list of the things you want and need in a villa:

– Child friendly and safe
– Activities offered
– Number of bedrooms and bathrooms and their size(s)
– Single or multi-level
– Internet access
– Handicap access
– Help available: chefs, nannies, cleaners, drivers, etc.

Don’t forget that villas may or may not be all-inclusive. You may need to budget for grocery shopping, meals out and other necessities. If you prefer to have all of this taken care of for you, be sure to discuss it with your booking agent. Scour the internet for Caribbean villa booking agencies and read reviews left by past customers. With a bit of research you’re sure to go into your holiday stress-free and leave the same.

Heather Johnson is a writer for The leading online honeymoon planning resource. Learn all about the best honeymoon destinations today!