The islands of the Caribbean brim with natural beauty, from crystal blue waters and pristine beaches to striking flora and fauna. With bright colors to match the vibrant culture and art, local flowers across the region often represent deeper meanings and messages. And as you’re thinking about how you’re going to show your love and appreciation to friends and family this year, consider some of the Caribbean beauties you may be able to find nearby.
With such unique flower species down in the Caribbean that have gained popularity around the world, there’s a variety to choose from that are sure to stand out. From the bright cattleya orchid to the famous dahlia, you can’t go wrong.
We picked some of the most stunning blooms you may want to look for at your local shop, many of which you can spot while on a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean.
One of the many vibrant blooms you’ll find in Barbados is the plumeria. Native to Central America, this flower can now be found in tropical climates—like in the southern Caribbean—during their bloom from spring to early fall. You may recognize the plumeria from your last Hawaiian luau—they are probably most famous for their use in making Hawaiian leis.
However, when you visit our new homeport of Barbados, you’ll find them scattered across the island—they love the heat. The plumeria’s fragrance is strongest at night since it uses its smell to attract moths for pollination. Don’t worry, they smell great during the day too, so a gift of plumerias will still fill a home with a sweet fragrance.
Rose, St. Lucia
The rose is one of St. Lucia’s national flowers, having won the national flower competition back in 1985. Long before it reportedly bloomed in the western part of the world, the rose is said to have first sprouted in Asia nearly 35 million years ago. It was 5,000 years ago when people first began cultivating the flower in their own gardens in China, and they have since become a staple we all see in poetry, religion, art, music, perfume and décor.
Greek and Roman mythology turned the rose into a symbol of love after Aphrodite, the goddess of love, cried over the death of her romantic partner Adonis. The rose comes in shades of red, pink, white, yellow, purple and even orange, each one holding a different meaning. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an arrangement without at least one rose.
Hibiscus, The Bahamas
You’ll spot hibiscus growing all over—quite possibly even during your visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay. Found to thrive in warmer climates, this flower features five large, oval-shaped petals with light green leaves that can often appear in many other colors, like red, yellow, white, pink and purple, which hold different meanings similar to the rose. For example, purple symbolizes freedom.
In the Victorian Era, the hibiscus often served as a symbol of delicate beauty. Representing so many sweet and even powerful messages, the bloom makes a beautiful choice to show someone you care.
Mexico’s national flower is both practical and impressive. Native to Central America, the Aztecs referred to the perennial plant as acocoxóchitl or “flower of hollow stems,” which they used to transport water. It certainly didn’t take long for the Spanish to notice the dahlia with its large and colorful two-toned blooms and great height—they can range from 1 to 5 feet tall.
The New World beauty was brought back to Madrid and quickly gained popularity from there. Today, the vibrant flower represents elegance, creativity and dignity.
Cattleya orchid, Costa Rica
This orchid variety grows throughout Central and South America and is abundant in Costa Rica—which you will now be able to visit from our new homeport of Barbados. You may recognize it from the corsage you wore to your high school prom, but they’re also common in bouquets and planted in pots since they can grow up to 2 feet tall.
These blooms are slow growers, taking four to seven years to mature from a seed. And since they’re slow to grow, they’re also (extremely) slow to wither—with regular maintenance and good care, a planted orchid can live up to 100 years. If you really want to show your “undying” appreciation, maybe forgo the more traditional flower arrangement and take a chance on the potted cattleya orchid.
Though brightening up your home and others’ with these blooms is a great temporary fix, we can’t wait to brighten up your days on a Caribbean cruise. Head here to see how Royal Caribbean can take you to the tropics in the future.