Top 10 Affordable Destinations in the Caribbean
Everyone needs a break now and then, right? After grinding hard for 300+ days a year, it’s only natural to crave a beautiful beach somewhere, with crystal blue waters where you can just relax and unwind from the stress everyday life has.
The problem is, these “paradise islands” and destinations tend to cost more than your average break away.
For many, this makes the thought of a dream vacation sitting on a paradise island with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other a dream and nothing more. But what if we told you that there are pristine beaches out there, which you can travel to without burning a hole in your wallet?
The Caribbean, famous for it’s white-sand beaches, amazing culture, and paradise-like islands is a place that is considered to be out of the price-tags of many hard-working people.
But did you know there are actually tons of budget-friendly holiday deals that you can jump on? There are also some amazing resorts in the Caribbean which don't cost a fortune.
Check out our list of the cheapest and best-value places to visit in the Caribbean below:
1. The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has been gradually increasing the “wow” factor, which is driving more tourists to visit its pristine beaches and exotic resorts. Oftentimes, when planning way in advance, you will be able to find some pretty amazing weekly package deals.
This is thanks to two of the biggest resorts in the region, Punta Cana as well as Puerto Plata and Samana,. Hotels here have an inventory of over 70,000 rooms which helps them keep pricing affordable.
One of the main reasons why the DR is so cheap though is due to it’s close proximity to the U.S. After all, it is only a three-hour journey from the East Coast.
You can use travel websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor to find great packages that suit your travel dates.
Of course, if you do plan on traveling to the Dominican Republic, there are a few things that you should know to keep track of your finances.
Prepare To Invest Some Dough In Water
No one wants to suffer from a stomach bug while on vacay, right? Well, the big thing about the DR is to avoid drinking their tap water. There are plenty of access-friendly places where you can buy bottled water. Just be prepared to budget a bit of cash to make sure you have water on demand.
The Local Currency Is Only Available In The Country
The Dominican Republic Peso cannot be imported or exported. Which means, when you leave the country, you will need to exchange your left-over pesos back to USD. The problem with doing this is that you will lose almost 30% to fees and currency conversion.
Which is why it is recommended to work out a strict, yet fair budget of what you will be spending, and only convert what you need. This will avert any unnecessary wastage.
If you are considering the Dominican Republic you might also want to consider Dominica. This mountainous Caribbean island has natural hot springs, tropical rainforests and is really good value for money. Morne Trois Pitons National Park is home to the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake. The park also encompasses sulphur vents, the 65m-tall Trafalgar Falls and narrow Titou Gorge. To the west is Dominica’s capital, Roseau, with colorful timber houses and botanic gardens.
Ah, the land of the hippies and Ganga lovers. No, but seriously - if you want some of the most beautiful beaches in the Carribean, tied with an amazing cultural experience, Jamaica is an amazing place to book a holiday for.
Being famed for it’s beaches, you can find plenty of really awesome budget-friendly packages for you and your loved ones. However, from experience - try to aim to go in the summer, as there is so much you are going to want to do there, as long as the weather permits it.
The most popular destination in Jamaica is the beach town Negril. There are tons of accommodation types available here. From all-inclusive resorts to backpackers and house stays. Of course, all of this competition has forced the island to keep competitive rates for tourists.
Some tips if you are planning to head to Jamaica:
The biggest thing that will break the bank for you in Jamaica is transportation. Taxis can cost an absolute fortune. Something you will find out when you need to take the 2-hour taxi to get from the airport to your accommodation - “been there, done that.”
One solution is renting your own car when you want to go sightseeing. However, it can be challenging as local drivers can be super aggressive. View some tips for staying safe in Jamaica. Also, remember that you should stick to the left side of the road (kind of feels strange.)
Another idea is to go for bus tickets. This is by far the cheapest form of transportation. But be sure to do research into the bus company that you decide to go with.
There is good news - the u.s dollar is widely accepted. One benefit for tourists traveling to Jamaica is that unlike the Dominican Republic, there are no fees for currency conversion. In fact, a ton of places accepts the U.S dollar. However, we recommend keeping some local currency on hand for when shopping at street stalls. As well as basically anything that isn’t a tourist trap.
3. St. Croix
St. Croix is one of the lesser known destinations in the Caribbean and it is also one of the most under-rated. This budget friendly island is in the shadow of the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands, and due to the lesser tourist numbers you are guaranteed a really authentic vacation.
There are lots of attractions, beaches, outdoor activities like swimming and snorkelling and also lots of good value hotels and resorts to choose from. Flights here, especially from the United States are great value and as this is a US island, if you are a US citizen, you also don't need a passport!
The Bahamas is one of the most famous islands in the Caribbean with over 6 million tourists visiting every year. These Caribbean tropical islands are popular due to the ease of getting here, flights from Miami are just one hour and are very cheap!
There are affordable fares all year round into both Nassau (New Providence Island) or Freeport (Grand Bahama Island) with several airlines offering journeys. Both islands offer different experiences, Nassau is lively with bars, entertainment and nightlife whilst Grand Bahama is more relaxed and quiet.
Hotel prices are competitive especially compared to similar Caribbean islands nearby.
Belize is such an underrated destination. This country might look small on a map but there is so much to do here, and it offers a great alternative to other overcrowded expensive Caribbean islands.
Belize is famous for adventure sports especially scuba diving but there is a lot more to this country. You can go zipling through the jungles, see stunning waterfalls and explore ancient Mayan ruins. And if you just want to sit on the beach or relax in the pool, that’s OK too!
More and more hotels and resorts are opening up every year and you can experience luxury right on the beautiful beaches. You might want to consider staying at the incredible Placencia Belize Luxury Resort, this is one of the newest resorts to open which offers a boutique, Caribbean-luxury vacation experience near the popular village of Placencia.
Lots of local travel operators offer tours, of for exploring independently, view our advice for driving in Belize.
6. Saint Barthélemy
Saint Barthélemy, or St Barths as it is commonly known is one of the most popular Caribbean islands with the rich and famous, it is where you will often see celebrities like Simon Cowel staying. Although this is a luxury destination, it can also be done on the cheap especially if you visit out of peak tourism season and avoid some of the most lavish accommodation options.
No matter if you are planning a short or long stay, renting a car is the most practical and affordable way to visit all the main tourist hotspots around St Barths. If you are looking to choose the best car rental company in St Barth, consider the following tips to access the most cost-effective car rental offers.
For your travels to St Barths, it is advantageous to have a comfortable method of transportation. Several agencies offer car rentals of top brand cars for short or long durations. This will allow you to fulfill you to go where you want, when you want. You can book your vehicle online before your departure, in order to have access to it as soon as you arrive at the airport. It is also possible to rent one once you get there as there are several car rental agency platforms at the airport where you can compare prices.
As for the type of car, you can rent a luxury car, city car, SUV to ensure optimal comfort. So, insist on the fleet of vehicles available to customers as well as the offers in line with your requirement. Also, don't forget to review the price, equipment, seating capacity and insurance of the selected vehicle before concluding your rental agreement.
Grenada is a Caribbean country comprising a main island, also called Grenada, and smaller surrounding islands. Dubbed the “Spice Isle,” the hilly main island is home to numerous nutmeg plantations. It’s also the site of the capital, St. George’s, whose colourful homes, Georgian buildings and early-18th-century Fort George overlook narrow Carenage Harbour. To the south is Grand Anse Beach, with resorts and bars.
8. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a beautiful Caribbean island with beaches, mountains, waterfalls and a tropical rainforest, colonial buildings and lots of resorts.
There are a range of experiences available, from exploring the lively capital and largest city San Juan, to going off the beaten track into nature and spectacular scenery.
Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, U.S. citizens do not a passport to travel here. Several low cost airlines fly to Puerto Rico from destinations in the United States including Florida which is only 1000 miles away.
Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurrican Maria which struck the island in 2017 and tourists are slowing returning. This is a big boost to the local economy.
When you think of Cuba you automatically think of Havana, old buildings and cars right? Well, Cuba has lots of amazing beaches and resorts throughout the country. Prices are cheaper than similar Caribbean islands and the cultural experience of visiting Cuba is amazing.
Be sure to learn some basic Spanish travel phrases before arriving as not many people here speak English.
10. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is by far one of the most busy destinations in terms of tourist numbers, millions of people visit every year. Due to the amount of hotels and resorts here you can get great deals all year round. There are also very cheap flights from mainland USA and Europe.
More Tips to Travel to the Carribean on the Cheap
Another island which almost made out top 10 list is Curaçao. This Dutch Caribbean island, is known for its beaches tucked into coves and its expansive coral reefs rich with marine life.
The capital, Willemstad, has pastel-colored colonial architecture, floating Queen Emma Bridge and the sand-floored, 17th-century Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. It’s also a gateway to western beaches like Blue Bay, a popular place to go scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Here are some more tips how to visit the Caribbean without spending a fortune:
- Use Skyscanner to search and compare flights and book early
- Find accommodation on Booking.com which has hundreds of places to stay
- Travel out of season, you can get flights, accommodation and cruises at a fraction of the price of periods like Christmas and summer
- Avoid the more expensive islands like Anguilla, Saint Martin, Providenciales (Caicos Islands), Aruba, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, US Virgin Islands and Nevis (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and consider visiting some of the lesser known islands for better value
Hopefully our list of the cheapest places to vacation in the Caribbean has given you hope you can visit this beautiful region on a budget. Now go search for flights and accommodations and start planning your dream trip today.