The fine folks at the USA Today recently published an interesting list of 10 Caribbean destinations you can afford. Those who know the region well won’t be surprised by many of the choices, but a few are head scratchers for sure.
Since so many visitors to this site are looking for cheaper Caribbean holidays we thought we’d republish their list with our own comments. These sorts of things are always more art than science so it’s really a matter of how each person travels and what their tastes are. If you love to shop for clothes you’ll wear at home, there might be one great choice, but if you are just going to lay on the sand and have some nice meals, the choice might be different.
1 – Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic truly is king of the cheap islands (or countries) in the Caribbean as long as you aren’t counting Mexico. Puerto Plata and Punta Cana are just two of many resort areas that specialize in all-inclusive beach hotels, often at shockingly low prices.
2 – Jamaica
If you can find a better island deal than the DR, it will be in Jamaica. One difference is that most of Jamaica’s popular resorts are clustered in three towns all served by the same airport in the northwestern corner of the country. Montego Bay has the airport, but Ocho Rios and Negril are only about an hour away in either direction.
3 – Puerto Rico
The best thing that Puerto Rico has going for it is the cheap and frequent flights from all over North America. The island actually discourages all-inclusive resorts because they tend to have a negative affect on local restaurants and other businesses. As a result, your best deals here are regular hotels, and the food nearby tends to be cheap anyway.
4 – St. Thomas
Shoppers love St. Thomas because it is filled with huge shopping complexes and it has the highest duty free allowance in the Caribbean. Each person can bring in as much as US$1,600 tax free, and Americans don’t even need a passport to visit.
5 – St. Croix
Truth be told, St. Croix isn’t nearly as cheap as the places near the top of the list, but it does have many smaller bed and breakfasts and lodges that offer good value. It also has some interesting cultural sights, which can’t be said for all others on this list.
6 – Curacao
The Dutch-run island of Curacao does have many affordable hotels, though few of them are all inclusive. The trade off is that flights tend to be quite expensive from most places in North America. For longer stays, and especially for those who are interested in the colonial history of the region, this is a good choice.
7 – Trinidad and Tobago
These two islands are often forgotten by most Americans and Canadians, which is a shame. Trinidad is where most of the citizens live, while Tobago is where most of the better resort hotels are located. Flights can be cheap and prices once you arrive are pretty good.
8 – St. Lucia
St. Lucia is another interesting choice on this list. The all inclusive hotels here tend to be expensive, but the regular beach hotels come in all price ranges so it can be done on a fairly tight budget.
9 – Tulum, Mexico
The area south of Cancun goes on for about 70 miles, and at the end you’ll find Tulum. It’s not nearly as built up as Cancun and prices are quite reasonable. You also have the benefit of being able to fly into Cancun Airport, which is known for cheap fares.
10 – Bahamas
As the article points out, the Bahamas are actually north of the Caribbean, but most people consider them a part just the same. Some of the island are so close to Florida that you can fly in for lunch and fly back to Florida again for dinner, though most people prefer to stay for a weekend if not longer. There aren’t many all inclusive hotels, but plenty of wonderful resorts just the same.