Would you like to take a Caribbean holiday with lots of activities but haven’t done so as prices for airline tickets, hotel accommodations, excursions, etc. make the trip unaffordable? Well, come experience the ‘steak’ of the Caribbean on a ‘bologna’ budget.
One of the best money-saving travel tips is to visit your Caribbean destination in the off season. Think about it. The weather in the Caribbean doesn’t really get cold. There really is no winter to speak of so people can visit year round. However, June to August in the Caribbean can be quite steamy. This is the low season. But this is also the perfect time to visit. The waters are cool and refreshing. The crowds are thinned out and most of all, the prices for most things related to travel are more reasonable. This includes hotel rooms and vendors who are willing to make great deals on everything from prices for scooters and taxi services to tour excursions.
Another great tip is to avoid the main attractions. For example, Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica is a hot spot for tourists. It is also very expensive. So as recommended by the locals, just consider visiting the back side of Dunn’s River Falls. This lesser known side still has beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous bird-of-paradise flowers, hiking trails and an informative guide for free!
Speaking of locals, for a more authentic Caribbean experience, would highly recommend interacting and mingling with people who live on island. This can also help stretch your holiday budget as by finding out where the locals eat, you can sample some delicious local food at a fraction of the cost of the hot spot restaurants. Bonus here is that the atmosphere will be much more fun. Also, go off the beaten path and get away from the main tourist areas. Consider attending regional events like the Friday night fish-fry at Oistins in Barbados. Fresh fish right off the boat is cooked up and eaten in the salty air.
In terms of accommodations, instead of a crowded pricy resort chain, consider a private villa or bed and breakfast hotel. If you are feeling really adventurous, consider staying in a private home for some island hospitality. For example, you can do this quite easily in Cuba for under US$50 per night. Some even include the meals for this price. If you go down the private home route, would recommend that you use an agency or reputable site and check the reviews of those who have previously stayed at these private houses (casas particulares). That said, this is a great way to save money and potentially make some new friends. You will also get to experience the cultural aspects of the place, for free!
Activities abound in the Caribbean, but some of the most popular activities are also the cheapest to enjoy. Swimming on Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands is free, as are most beaches across the region. So grab your towel and a picnic lunch and enjoy a whole day of sun, sand and water. Or if you prefer being active in the great outdoors, hike through lush rainforest and up dormant volcanoes. Explore caves and cliffs.
Go to not just less popular tourist attractions but less popular Caribbean destinations and while there see the sights, museums, historic ruins (like Sans-Souci Palace, the royal residence of King Henri I of Haiti) and government buildings which are usually free or charge a nominal fee to visit. Stroll through coffee plantations, visit working chocolate farms, and sample free chocolate bars and coffees. See local attractions like Hell, Grand Cayman, or the Bat Cave in The Bahamas.
Basically, consider taking a Caribbean holiday to one of least visited islands and go off season or when discounted rates are offered. So start researching on the Internet; deals are plentiful. Consider accommodations beyond a resort and go off the beaten path for food and your general travel experiences. With a bit of research and planning, the Caribbean can be an extremely affordable destination.
Top photo: Beach in St Martin. Photo: ©Claude Cavalera via St Martin Tourism Board.