Caribbean Sports Picks

Islanders join most of world in favor of football (soccer)

People playing football at Ipanema Beach in Rio
••• Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

As in much of the world, football (called soccer in the United States) ranks as the most popular team sport in the Caribbean. Nearly all of the countries cheer on a national team, with a number qualifying for FIFA World Cup competition over the years. Otherwise, passions for spectator sports seem to reflect the colonial history and cultural ties.

British Commonwealth Sports

Cricket, a bat-and-ball game with little resemblance to American baseball, attracts recreational players and fans of professional play on many of the islands in the British Commonwealth or with a history of British settlement (Barbados and the Bahamas, for example). While some predict enthusiasm for this English export may wane as FIFA football dominates television air time, others believe cricket embodies the soul of sport in the Caribbean with its distinctive West Indies style of play.

You can find at least one formal or informal match taking place on any given day throughout the English-speaking Caribbean, with iconic World Cup cricket ovals in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, and Grenada. Though not nearly as common as cricket, rugby, another quintessentially English sport, does draw its own set of fans in the Caribbean.

Spanish Cultural Influence

While the Spanish cultural traditions found throughout many of the Caribbean nations did not directly influence the love of baseball, an American creation, its popularity in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Curacao and Puerto Rico seems to at least suggest a shared predilection for the sport. The Caribbean Series televises events that take place throughout the region, and American MLB scouts frequent the islands in search of new talent.

You can cheer on the players in surprising sophisticated community baseball games in towns throughout the Latino Caribbean or even join one of uncountable impromptu pickup games.

Ancient Contests in Modern Times

You can also find both horse and dog racing, cockfighting and even bullfighting in the Caribbean, illustrating the sweeping global influences on this polyglot region. Pari-mutuel betting on horse races attracts tourists to the Barbados Turf Club and the Hipodromo Camarero outside of San Juan in Puerto Rico. Cockfighting fans, or tourists curious about the appeal of the bloody spectacle, can find their way to one of the several venues in San Juan and Vieques, Puerto Rico; or in the Dominican Republic, Haiti or Cuba.

Tourists can attend bullfighting events in Cancun, Mexico, in mountainous areas of the Dominican Republic and in Costa Rica.

Leisure-Time Fun

Residents and visitors alike enjoy all types of water sports in the Caribbean, especially boating, fishing, diving, surfing, and windsurfing. Much of the music and dance in the Caribbean emanates from African roots and modern residents have turned the artistic expression into a sort of sport. Golf and tennis are the most popular leisure sports sought by tourists, and resorts throughout the island cater to recreational players.