The Caribbean is made up of over 5000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s 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. With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean
1. Sail around the Virgin Islands
2. Visit Havana, Cuba
3. Hike Gros Piton in St. Lucia
4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas
5. See Trunk Bay, St. John
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados
Barbados is famous for its rum, and Mount Gay is one of the oldest and most respected distilleries in the world. This tour takes you through the history and process of distillation. For $10 USD, take the tour – it’s worth it just for the huge discounts on Mount Gay that you receive at the end.
2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica
Jamaica is home to the reggae music and culture. While Bob Marley’s legacy reverberates throughout the island, you can get the most out of your reggae immersion by visiting the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Marley’s hometown. Admission to the museum is $25 USD and the museum is open daily (except Sundays) from 9:30am-4pm.
3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica
This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. At 660 ft, it consists of 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. Entry is $20 USD.
4. 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, averaging around $150 USD per person, but if you bring your own snorkeling gear you can enjoy the underwater sights for free.
5. Turtle Farm, Cayman Island
This 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 that are smaller than a few inches. No matter their size, all seem ready for a photo op. It’s open daily from 8am-4pm and prices start at $18 USD.
6. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia
Looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning? Try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy in St. Lucia. Expect to pay around $75 USD for the use of twelve different zip-lines.
7. Visit 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 regatta.
8. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica
Port Royal, at the mouth of Kingston harbor (Jamaica), once held a reputation as the “wickedest city on earth.” In the 17th century, it was a haven for buccaneers and consisted mainly of bars and brothels. At the end of the century, much of the city sunk as the result of a huge earthquake. Underwater archaeological excavations are underway, but you can still visit some of the ruins and tour a small information center during your visit.
9. Kayak around the islands
One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. Prices will vary by island, but for example, you can expect to pay around $100 USD for a six-hour guided tour in Aruba.
10. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas
If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas, which consists of informative historical exhibits and a replica pirate ship. Admission is $12 USD and it’s open daily 9am-6pm with abbreviated hours on Saturday.
11. See Bermuda’s famous cathedral
If you’re looking for history, great architecture, or spectacular views then you should stop by the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. The church was built in an English style in the 19th century.
12. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John
Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?
13. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica
Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Walk along the mountain’s edge, and find yourself in a sea of clouds, with birds and monkeys screeching around you. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in an afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD and the park is open daily from 8am-6pm.