Caribbean Island Vacations Anyone Can Afford

By Holly Johnson on 28 April 2017 0 comments

Dreaming of a Caribbean getaway? Don't let costs deter you. Certain Caribbean islands offer optimum bang for your buck with cheap flight options, inexpensive accommodations, and free activities to boot.

Start with a great travel rewards credit card to help you earn free flights or hotel stays. Then check out this quick guide on the cheapest Caribbean hot spots nearly any time of the year. (See also: How to Use Travel Rewards Credit Cards to Earn Free Flights)

Jamaica

Just a short flight from any southern U.S. city, Jamaica is an island steeped in history and culture. Budget travelers will find plenty of affordable all-inclusive options here, along with bargain hotels. Adventure-seekers can zip line through the jungle, glide down the Martha Brae River on a raft with friends, ride a reggae bus to see Bob Marley's childhood home, or climb the rocks at Dunn's River Falls.

Where to stay

Both Montego Bay and Negril host an array of all-inclusive resorts that include meals, drinks, and activities, with affordable pricing for families. One to check out is the IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach. This mega-resort packs in the guests thanks to its ideal beachfront, pools galore, and plenty of activities for kids. Or stay at the Holiday Inn Montego Bay All-Inclusive Resort, where two kids under the age of 12 stay free and rates start at just $188 per night.

How to get there

Plenty of American airlines offer stellar rates to Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport. You can get direct flights on all the major carriers. (See also: 6 Budget-Friendly Beach Destinations)

The Bahamas

Choosing the Bahamas over any other Caribbean island will save you both time and money. After a 55 minute flight from Miami to Nassau, you land in a multi-island paradise with plenty to do and see. You can shop in Nassau's famous cruise port, partake in a snorkeling excursion, or nosh on popular Bahamian cuisine like shellfish, lobster, and pigeon peas with rice. Bask in the area's crystal clear waters until you're truly relaxed.

Where to stay

The Bahamas can be expensive if you don't know where to go, with the average price for an all-inclusive ringing in at several hundred dollars per night during high season. One great exception is Breezes Bahamas in Nassau, a "super-inclusive" experience with pricing as low as $129 per person, per night. Off-the-beach hotels in Nassau cost as little as $80 a night. Meanwhile, rental condos nearby are both affordable and plentiful.

How to get there

Nearly every major airline flies to Nassau. Discount flights from Miami are often less than $300 per person, round-trip all year long. (See also: 7 Ways That Anyone Can Travel for Free)

St. Thomas

Since St. Thomas sits squarely in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you don't need to worry about a passport. Once you're there, an array of free and low-cost (pay for parking only) beaches are at your disposal. Snorkel with stingrays and sea turtles on Sapphire Beach against the beautiful backdrop of nearby St. John. Explore the island's breathtaking views in a rugged rental jeep, or visit Coral World Ocean Park for a hands-on look at Caribbean wildlife.

Where to stay

All-inclusive properties are rare on the island, and expensive when you find them. For a cheap family getaway, a rental condo near the beach is the way to go. At Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, one bedroom rental condos start at around $129 per night.

How to get there

American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, and Delta Air Lines all fly to St. Thomas. Round-trip fares from certain domestic airports, such as Chicago O'Hare, can run as low as $300 round-trip. (See also: 5 Cheap, Amazing, and Undiscovered Vacation Destinations)

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is known as an all-inclusive haven with beautiful beaches and a family-friendly atmosphere. Snorkel with stingrays, sharks, and turtles in the warm, clear water. Take up a game of Ping-Pong or chess at your resort as your family basks in the sun. Embark on a nature and wildlife tour or go scuba diving with a certified guide. Cities like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata offer affordable lodging options that mean money left over for these activities and more.

Where to stay

Both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana offer an array of affordable all-inclusive resorts perfect for families. At Barcelo Bavaro Beach, for example, rates start as low as $115 per person, per night. Rent an in-city or beachfront condo for as little as $79 per night.

How to get there

Most major airlines offer affordable flights into Punta Cana (around $300 round-trip at certain times of the year). Discount carrier Southwest Airlines also flies to Punta Cana with nonstop options from cities such as Chicago. (See also: How My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards)

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico offers lots to see and do. Stroll through beautiful Old San Juan for a look back in time, visit El Morro, a 400-year-old fort that towers above the entrance to San Juan Bay, or relax on a beautiful San Juan beach. Head west for a fun trip through a natural rain forest, or to kayak through the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo.

Where to stay

If you want a beach vacation mixed in with some rain forest fun, stay at Fajardo's crown jewel — the El Conquistador Resort. Here you'll find a private island and huge resort with plenty of activities just minutes from the entrance to El Yunque National Forest. Doubles start at about $200 a night. Small bed-and-breakfasts and rental condos in San Juan can run as low as $100 per night.

How to get there

All of the major U.S. airlines fly to San Juan. Expect to pay around $300 and up for round-trip flights. (See also: 11 Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar)

Barbados

If you're willing to fly a little farther, there are plenty of bargains to be had in tropical Barbados. Cheap food and drink is plentiful, and the island is dotted with eateries perfect for the price-conscious. In Barbados, the crystal clear water is the biggest allure and free to enjoy. You can also explore the old city of Bridgetown, snorkel over a shipwreck, or visit Hunte's Gardens in St. James Parish.

Where to stay

You'll realize the overall affordability of Barbados best when you rent a vacation condo. Groceries are on par with prices in most American cities, and excursions are a deal. Rent a condo on the island's "Platinum Coast" for as little as $149 per night.

How to get there

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue offer service to Barbados from specific American cities. Expect to pay around $400 for a round-trip fare, although fares can go lower. (See also: 25 Incredible Places You Must Visit Before You Die)

To save money, plan ahead

A Caribbean getaway can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Still, certain islands offer more ways to save than others. As you explore your options, price out each component of your trip. While an all-inclusive vacation can be easy to plan for, budgeting for an A la carte vacation requires some number crunching. (See also: Get a Free Vacation in 9 Months With Credit Card Rewards)

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