Cheap Caribbean Holidays Tips
Tips on how to have budget beach holidays in the Caribbean
• The flight there will be a major part of your vacation cost if you’re on a tight budget so choosing a relatively short, one-stop flight with no island-hopping inter-connections (that tend to be both expensive and not especially reliable) will keep costs and travel-time down.
Charter flights will be cheaper than scheduled flights and may offer more room. If you decide to treat yourself to an upgrade and are flying to/from Europe then the return leg is best for a good rest as it’ll be a night flight.
Landing at St Maarten, Caribbean. Photo timo breidenstein
• Consider going off-season, May to mid-December when holidays can be 40% cheaper than at other times of the year but there is likely to be some rainfall though generally it falls as showers, rather than prolonged rain. Early May and early December are prime times for best weather/best prices generally though the south Caribbean islands differ.
Some islands are off the normal hurricane route and pretty good year-round, such as Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba and Tobago. More on Caribbean seasons.
Kralendijk, the principal town and main port of Bonaire. Photo by Bgabel
• The best cheap dive destinations are headed by Bonaire, with fantastic shore dives but not much else to do on the island except windsurf.
Then there’s the Cayman Islands, starting with Grand Cayman for swimming with stingrays and wreck diving as well as stunning Seven Mile Beach, and moving on to Little Cayman for serious cliff diving.
The last budget choice for divers is Tobago, a little developed island with excellent onshore, aprés-scuba life as well as masses of underwater action.
• Book winter hotels months in advance.
• Package deals are almost always the cheapest way to travel, offer some kind of protection and make life easier in a complex region. Likewise all-inclusive hotel deals are generally cheapest at that level of service and enable you to relax about daily spending. However, if you’re looking for a guest house/hostel then these will not be available.
• Guest houses, inns and apartments may be less heavenly than beachside bungalows but will be less pricey too. To find guest houses instead of cheap hotels search under ‘hostels’, that’s where they tend to be listed. Then to ensure that you don’t end up in a dormitory full of backpackers refine your requirements with ‘private room’ or ‘ensuite bathroom. ‘
• Villas can also be rented directly from owners. Search for Caribbean Villa Rentals and lots of choice will appear.
• Special Deals: if you keep an eye out for special offers around the Caribbean, rather than on just one island, you’ll stand a much better chance of finding something really special.
January used to be the prime booking time for the Caribbean, as tour operators encouraged the stampede with early-bird offers. In the past few years, however, the trend has been to book holidays a lot later, which means you can find deals to fill up flights and hotels at any time of the year.
The best way to find out about sales and deals is to sign up for a few tour operators’ newsletters. These only take a second to set up and you will hear about offers as soon as they are released.