Best of the Caribbean: Perfect Music

Caribbean music-med 368 228.jpg

Relaxing music relaxes your heart. Musicians' rhythms in the Caribbean seem to match the baseline of waves splashing onto the shore, calming any traveler within earshot of both. As part of the "Perfect Caribbean" guide that appears in the November 2009 issue of ISLANDS magazine, readers and editors point to this Caribbean music as their favorites.

Aruba: Steel Pan Fans of steel pan flock to hear artists including "Pan Man" Lee Connor play the iconic steel drums on Aruba.

Bay Islands: Punta Rock From his native Belize, Andy Palacio put punta rock on the Caribbean map as the music spread to places including Roatan and the Bay Islands. He helped champion Garifuna culture -- descended from Africa, Arawak and Carib people -- all the way to his death in 2008. Garifuna bands continue his legacy as they weave African drumbeats with more expected island rhthyms.

Dominican Republic: Meringue Everyone knows that while you're vacationing in the Dominican Republic, you can't dance without meringue music.

Jamaica: Reggae The natural Caribbean harmony may sound the sweetest on Jamaica, with the easy beats of reggae soaking into the island. "Negril buzzes as reggae pumps," says reader John Comfort of South Carolina. "Mellow mood, enticing mystery, and colorful unity of ocean and land lead to a mystical enchantment." And reader Andrew Wilkins went so far as to compose an ode: "Cool sand between my toes and stars so close you can touch. Locals light the bonfire as my eyes grow heavy with the rhythms of irie." Reggae relaxation has spread across the islands as the Caribbean soundtrack, whether during a set with Bankie Banx on Anguilla or on the radio on St. Croix.

Martinique: Zouk Travelers know that other islands beyond Jamaica have signature vibes too, especially when there's a need to pick up the beat. On Martinique, you can't have a party without the party music of zouk.

Trinidad: Soca Soca enlivens the Carnival on Trinidad like nothing else. It too has spread, with one reader pointing us to a video of St. Lucian soca artist Herb Black doing a bouncy singalong of the song "Suzette." "Somebody in de crowd say her name loud! SUUUUZZEEEEEETTE!"

Contest: Win a Caribbean Trip! Don't see your favorite Caribbean spot listed here? Let us know what we missed -- and you could win a free resort stay. Enter our new "Caribbean Favorites" contest.