Caribbean Travel Tips
The Caribbean is made up of over 5000 islands, reefs and cays, each with their own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even the most secluded islands have been transformed in to some of the most exclusive vacationing destinations. There is a misconception that a trip to the islands will be extremely expensive and not a viable destination for budget travelers. While accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities can vary greatly island to island and with so many to choose from, you are sure to find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget.
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- Accommodation: Hostels cost around $18USD per evening in the off season, with budget hotels coming in at around $80USD.
- Food: Prices vary considerably depending on which island you are on, with a meal in the Dominican Republic costing as little as $10 or around $30 USD on Aruba!. Best advice? Stick to restaurants away from the cruise ships and families.
- Transportation: Bus services are inexpensive, rarely more than $.50 (USD) to $3USD. On islands without a bus service, a taxi may be the only form of transport with fares of $15USD for even a short journey.
- Activities: In general, tours and historical and architectural attractions are relatively inexpensive ($5-20 USD), however diving and other day trips such as swimming with dolphins are quite expensive, usually costing a minimum of $100 USD
Money Saving Tips
- Travel off-season – Prices for vacations plummet the third week in April. Savings of 30% and more are possible during the “summer” season (April – December 21st).
- Drink local alcohol- Rum is around 1/3 in the Caribbean than in the US and many islands have their own local beers which are much cheaper than the more famous imported beers such as Corona, Budweiser etc.
- Camp - Some islands allow visitors to camp on the beach for around $10 USD, this can be a good way to save money on accommodation on some of the safer, less inhabited islands and on those islands where typical hotel prices are astronomical.
- Take a cruise – Cruising can offer a low cost way of seeing various islands as well as getting your transport, accommodation and food paid in advance. Many cruises can be as cheap as $50 USD per day, especially if booked last minute.
Top Things to See and Do
- Antigua - 365 pink and white beaches can be found in Antigua, one of the largest Caribbean islands. If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or just observe Sailing Week, the world renowned sailing regatta.
- Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica - This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica and at 660ft is an impressive waterfall and collection of plunge pools which lead directly into the ocean. You can add bouldering to your tour for a more energetic way to get back to the beach.
- Havana, Cuba - Often eliciting images of revolutionary heroes and a turbulent history is the largest city in the Caribbean. However, in recent times the city has emerged as a tourist hotspot, rich in history, architecture, and culture. Try to visit the country in July as it celebrates its annual Carnival de Santiago de Cuba in the country’s second largest city, Santiago when the streets are filled with music and dancing from the 24th to the 26th.
- Swim with Dolphins – There are plenty of opportunities to swim with dolphins and other marine life on any of the islands here. Although expensive, this is a once in a lifetime experience for many people. Some of the most popular programs are Anthony’s Key in Honduras and Dolphin Cay, Bahamas.
- Go snorkeling or diving – Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding most islands. In general, diving trips can be expensive at around $125 USD per person but if you bring your own snorkeling gear you can enjoy the underwater sights for free!
- Trunk Bay, St John – Frequently voted one of the best beaches in the world, Trunk Bay is picture perfect with white sands and clear water. It does cost a few dollars to get onto the beach but the coral and marine life you’ll see when snorkeling makes it all worthwhile.
- Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados - Barbados is famous for its rum and Mount Gay is one of the oldest and highly respected distilleries in the world. This tour takes you through the history and process of distillation. At $6 USD it’s worth it just for the huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end.
- Cayman Turtle Farm, Cayman Islands - The Turtle Farm is the most popular attraction in the Cayman Island and is the only farm of its kind in the world as it specializes in controlled breeding. There are plenty of adult turtles weighing in at hundreds of pounds and others smaller than a few inches, all ready for a photo op.