Time for a tropical vacation? Below is a list of beautiful islands to visit in general aviation-friendly Caribbean countries. BasicMed went into effect May 1, and The Bahamas is the first country outside the United States to accept BasicMed for U.S. pilots flying in its airspace.
The AOPA website has extensive information and assistance for pilots who would like to fly outside the U.S. Another excellent resource is Caribbean Sky Tours, with offices in Florida and Mexico. Join the Caribbean Sky Tours Pilots Association for $49.99 a year and enjoy access to a wealth of flight planning information specially tailored for flights to Mexico, The Bahamas, other Caribbean islands, and Central and South America. Services include eAPIS help, international fuel prices and weather, downloadable charts, country-specific regulations, procedures, forms, pilot guides, online forums, and member pricing on additional services to smooth your way in and out of international airports.
Turks and Caicos: Southeast of The Bahamas lies the British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos, an archipelago of 40 low-lying islands known for some of the world’s best diving. The more developed Providentiales is home to Grace Bay, consistently voted one of the world’s best beaches, and a long reef. North Caicos is the lushest island, with a protected lagoon and large flocks of pink flamingos, pelicans, and other birds. South Caicos is the fishing capital with a beautiful natural harbor and superb diving to breathtaking walls. Grand Turk, popular with cruise ships, is the capital island where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World in 1492. Learn more about flying there in AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman's feature, "The Meridian Club: Luxury, with a runway."
Holbox, Mexico: Isla Holbox is a small island off the Yucatan Peninsula just north of Cancun. This sleepy island with its dirt runway is where, in summer, you can board a boat that will take you offshore so you can swim right next to the world’s largest fish: a whale shark. Whale sharks can grow to 50 feet. Plankton eaters, they won’t harm you, but being underwater with a school bus-sized fish is the thrill of a lifetime. Other airports in the Yucatan allow you to visit luxury resorts or ancient Mayan pyramids.
Cuba: This nation, about 90 miles from Key West, is slowly opening up for GA travel. Walk through Old Havana, peer down the gritty side alleys, and marvel at the mid-century American cars. Learn how and read about AOPA Pilot Editor Ian Twombly’s Cuban adventure.