Sandy beaches, sunny weather, palm trees, turquoise waters… know where we’re talking about as yet? Yep, you guessed it! The Caribbean. This wonderful set of islands attracts a huge number of visitors every year and tourism plays a massive part economically for some of these islands. The Caribbean is one of those places that we all have wanted to visit at some point. Due to each island’s unique culture, to lay on the beautiful beaches and spend a couple weeks relaxing without the weather letting us down. But how do you get to visit this wonderful region on a budget? Let’s be honest, a trip to the Caribbean can be quite pricey. So, let us help you get to the Caribbean on a budget.
Time of the year
First things first, the time of year you want to go to the Caribbean can be what is sending the prices you’re receiving up. Peak times like when the kids are on school holidays will no doubt be expensive. This is the time families are looking to get away after all. However, if you book for late August, you will get considerably cheaper prices on hotels and flights. When the Caribbean is experiencing warm, dry weather, prices tend to be high too. So anytime between December and April, you’ll be sure to encounter some unwanted price tags. Instead opt for late spring, late autumn or early summer to lower prices on flights and hotels.
All inclusive might be a viable option to look at when it comes to staying on budget in the Caribbean. This is most likely the case when you’re travelling with the whole family. Many all inclusive resorts will be based at a good location, many on sandy beaches. As well as getting your food and drinks included in the price, you may even get a number of activities included too. Depending on which hotel you book, many offer water sports like windsurfing or jet skis and there may even be a kids club, which will keep the kids entertained throughout their stay.
Some Caribbean islands will be significantly cheaper than others, so if you are keen to sticking to a tight budget, perhaps a visit to Cuba or the Dominican Republic is suitable. Cuba is one of the most affordable islands during your stay. However, you may have to keep in mind that you will pay more for your flight. Regardless, Havana is dirt-cheap and many of the main attractions here, such as exploring the Cuban streets and admiring colonial buildings and sites along with street art are cheap! In addition, Barbados has many budget hotels, so if an all inclusive affair doesn’t cut it for you, booking a budget hotel and building your own itinerary may work out a lot cheaper.
Local food and drink
One of the cheapest ways to eat and drink around the Caribbean is by enjoying what the locals have to offer. Some of the time, when you want to drink international brands of alcohol, you will be paying premium prices. In order to avoid that, choose the local beer and rum, like Jamaica’s Red Stripe and Barbados’ Mount Gay rum. In addition, it’s not hard to find local dishes around the islands. Small restaurants and local businesses will no doubt have treats in store for its visitors including traditional island dishes.
If you’re used to your typical brands when it comes to toiletries like sun cream, shampoo and even medication, then you’re going to want to make sure that you bring these with you. No doubt the Caribbean island you’re visiting may have these things should you forget them. But, you’ll have to pay a hefty price due to their importation. Stick to your packing list and make sure you don’t forget any essentials to keep within your budget.
Budget friendly activities
If you want to stay on target towards a set budget, for the Caribbean that may mean having to replace some activities with others. Water sports and adventurous activities will come at an extra cost and can be quite expensive depending on what you plan on doing. Instead of scuba diving and jet skiing, look to replace these with trips to the beach, national parks and strolls around the area to soak up the island’s culture. Explore the colourful, colonial houses in Trinidad, Cuba. Discover the history and culture in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. These are all activities which are not only free but eye-opening.
Some of the Caribbean Islands accept a range of currencies. If you plan on travelling around a few of the islands, it’s recommended to take the local currency as well as some US Dollars in case you need to exchange them when an ATM isn’t nearby or available. Of course, taking your credit card is always handy too.
However, when in Cuba, things can get a little confusing. The standard currency is the Peso, but there are two varieties. The Cuban Peso is used by locals and the Cuban Convertible Peso is generally for visitors. Convertible Pesos are only available in Cuba. It is always recommended to carry and use cash in Cuba as bank cards can be unreliable. Before you leave, check with your bank if your debit and/or credit cards will work in Cuba. Always remember to exchange your money at Cadeca exchange houses, major hotels or banks. Do keep in mind that Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes can’t be exchanged.