13 Cheapest Caribbean islands in 2016 for all-inclusive resorts

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As of late 2015 there are almost 300 all-inclusive resorts spread around the Caribbean, with more being constructed every year. More than 100 of those are in the Dominican Republic, with nearly 100 others in Jamaica. The Cancun/Playa del Carmen area has a few dozen, and the rest are spread among other islands. When researching Caribbean vacations, you’ll find the cheapest all-inclusive deals are clearly on the islands with the most resorts.

With so much competition it’s getting more clear that the Dominican Republic is the cheap vacations value leader and the best choice for most people. The Punta Cana area is home to dozens of newer resorts that have a thousand or more room each, and the new airport and new highways make it the easiest and most efficient place to reach as well. But those looking for something smaller and more exclusive also have choices, so we track all of the islands that have more than a few all-inclusive resorts. In other words, the best all-inclusive resorts are often on islands with only a dozen or so.

To make your decision at least a bit easier, we’ve sorted through the entire Caribbean to compare prices of these all-inclusive resorts, and listed the destinations from cheapest to most expensive below. We’ve previously ranked Caribbean islands by price for regular hotels, but the order here is quite different.

Updated for 2016

CataloniaPuntaCanaWe’ve done more research and run all of the numbers again to produce a fully updated list for 2016. This year the Dominican Republic dominates cheap all-inclusive vacation packages even more than it had in previous years. The message is clear in that if you want a luxury all-inclusive at the best value then head to the DR.

The rankings for the other islands didn’t change much in the past year, and thankfully prices for affordable vacations in general haven’t changed much at all. Particularly during the off season, all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are amazing bargains for what is included.

New: Best cheap Caribbean destinations for all kinds of trips – All-inclusives, nightlife, culture, chill-out, super-cheap, and more.

High season vs. Low season

PuntaCanaPoolIn all of the Caribbean “high season” runs from December through early April, and the “peak season” is the last week of December and the first week of January. In May and November you might find “shoulder season” rates in some places, and generally June through October is the “low season.”

The list below is ranked based on high season rates because that’s when most people visit the Caribbean, but it’s worth looking closely if you are going in the off season because the order would be quite different, and some destinations are far cheaper while others only drop prices a bit. In other words, if your schedule is flexible then cheap all-inclusive trips are even cheaper September through November.

Air+hotel packages are often the best deals

The room rates below are obviously for the resort only, with airfare extra. Depending on your departure point, you might find slight differences in the order if you choose an air+hotel package. Regardless of where you are starting, it’s worth checking the prices of the airfare and the hotel separately, and also as a package. Usually the air+hotel package will be cheapest, but certainly not always, so it’s worth a few more minutes to confirm before you buy.

It’s also worth considering a cruise, since they also operate on a mostly all-inclusive basis and they can be incredibly cheap, even during high season. Check our list of the cheapest Caribbean cruise lines for more information.

Check for today’s best deals from our Caribbean partners

13 Cheapest all-inclusive resort destinations in the Caribbean

Rates below are per night for the cheapest rooms at each resort, for two guests, with all meals and drinks included. Most resorts charge a bit more for ocean-view rooms as well as for premium food items and top-shelf beverages.

1Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (cheapest)

  • High season: US$135 – $373 per night for two people, all inclusive
  • Low season: US$80 – $373

Gran Ventena Puerto PlataOn the northern coast of the Dominican Republic you’ll find the district of Puerto Plata, which may not have the country’s nicest beaches, but it does have a great abundance of cheap all-inclusive vacations. Flights into the local airport aren’t as cheap as into many other areas on this list, so flight+hotel packages might not reflect the amazingly low prices of the resorts themselves.

During the high season the deals available at the 30 or so all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata are definitely among the best for any Caribbean island, and during the off season (particularly September and October) the prices are so low that some of them look like mistakes. As long as you are clear that this is nothing like St. Barths, then Puerto Plata offers great value.

>>>Best all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata for couples, families, nightlife, golf, foodies, and much more

Nearest airport: Gregorio Luperón International Airport (code: POP)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, New York-JFK, Newark, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Québec City, Toronto-Pearson, Halifax, Winnipeg, Glasgow-International, London-Gatwick, Manchester (UK), Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Amsterdam, Brussels


2Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$188 – $708
  • Low season: US$113 – $609

Dreams Punta CanaWith nearly 60 hotels that offer all-inclusive deals, Punta Cana has the greatest concentration of these resorts on any Caribbean island. The resort area occupies the far eastern tip of the Dominican Republic and the hotel beaches can either face northeast or southeast. The busy local airport gets direct flights in from all over North America and Europe, and airfares are reasonable for the Caribbean.

With so many to choose from, Punta Cana has resorts big and small, up and down the price range, though it’s worth noting that a few of the cheapest places tend to get a lot of negative reviews from guests. The vast majority of hotels here are in the same general price range, and most offer very good value for the region. With new highways and an efficient new airport, Punta Cana should probably be the first choice for any value-oriented traveler who appreciates gorgeous beaches.

Nearest airport: Punta Cana International Airport (code: PUJ)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US, Canadian, and European cities


3La Romana, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$181 – $373
  • Low season: US$142 – $256

Casa de Campo La RomanaOn the southern shore not far west of Punta Cana in eastern Dominican Republic, La Romana is probably best known to the legendary 5-star resort called Casa de Campo, which remains popular today. There are about 10 other all-inclusive hotel choices in the region, and most of the others are in the lower to middle price range, some with very appealing off-season prices.

Direct flights into La Romana Airport are available from many larger cities, but the resorts are also close enough to the Punta Cana Airport that flying into that larger and cheaper facility might save both time and money depending on where you are starting. In fact, when you search for Punta Cana resorts you’ll usually see the La Romana resorts mixed in, so it’s really one big market.

Nearest airport: La Romana International Airport (code: LRM)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, New York-JFK, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto-Pearson, London-Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Munich, Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino


4Negril, Jamaica

  • High season: US$229 – $967
  • Low season: US$146 – $757

Sandals NegrilLocated on Jamaica’s west coast, just around the corner from Montego Bay, Negril has nearly 20 resorts that offer all-inclusive options. This popular and long strip of hotels is where you’ll find some of Jamaica’s best bargains for those who prefer to pay for food and drinks separately, but its all-in resorts are more geared for the mid to upper range guest. More specifically, there are two cheap all-inclusive resorts in Negril, and the rest are much more expensive.

As with the others, you’ll fly into Montego Bay and then take a shuttle to your Negril resort, so you can get good airfare and nonstop flights from all over. Quality in Negril is generally high, but it runs the gamut so the area draws a mix of budget party people up to the luxury crowd.

Nearest airport: Sangster International Montego Bay Airport (code: MBJ)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US, Canadian, and European cities


5Cancun

  • High season: US$148 – $3,310
  • Low season: US$159 – $3,125

Royal Cancun ResortWhile it’s not a Caribbean island like the rest of these on the list, we are including Cancun because it has endless Caribbean beaches, and it’s among the cheapest choice for an all-inclusive holiday when you factor in the flight. The area has over 50 hotels that are fully all inclusive or offer an all-inclusive option, all the way up and down the price range.

As obvious a choice as it may be, Cancun does have a lot going for it, including cheap nonstop flights from all over North American and even Europe. One thing to be careful of is that that there are quite a few dogs mixed in at the lower price ranges, so it’s important to check the reviews before you commit. Those who book carefully will be getting the best value for money in the Caribbean.

Nearest airport: Cancún International Airport (code: CUN)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US, Canadian, and European cities


6Ocho Rios, Jamaica

  • High season: US$199 – $1,156
  • Low season: US$159 – $640

Sandals Ocho RiosWith nearly 20 all-inclusive resorts in the area, Ocho Rios offers many of the cheapest such resorts on Jamaica, with nearby Montego Bay and Negril specializing more in mid-market all-inclusive resorts. Visitors to all three of Jamaica’s main tourist spots will all fly into the Montego Bay Airport, which has very competitive fares and nonstop flights from all over, so the chances of a cheap nonstop to get here are fairly high.

This is another Caribbean destination that has very appealing prices during high season, and jaw-dropping specials during the off season. Interestingly, pretty much all of these resorts get good or great reviews from past guests, so it’s not the minefield of some other cheap destinations. By the way, the town of Ocho Rios has very little to offer on its own, aside from being near the wonderful Dunn’s River Falls. So if you want to go to Ocho Rios then an all-inclusive is the best and only good choice.

Nearest airport: Sangster International Montego Bay Airport (code: MBJ)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US, Canadian, and European cities


7Samaná, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$249 – $472
  • Low season: US$174 – $401

Gran Bahia Principe SamanaFacing a peaceful bay on the southern edge of a peninsula, Samaná has only a handful of resorts offering all-inclusive options, but it’s still worth considering for people who prefer a low-key destination compared to most of those mentioned above. There is a new international airport nearby with nonstop flights from many key international cities, so it’s pretty easy to reach for most people.

The high season prices are in the middle to upper levels for the Caribbean, but the low season special rates are among the best anywhere, so it might be worth even a closer look for those willing to risk the tiny possibility of a big storm altering their holiday plans.

Nearest airport: Samaná El Catey International Airport (code: AZS)
Nonstop flights from: New York-JFK, Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, London-Gatwick, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Lisbon


8Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • High season: US$199 – $1,079
  • Low season: US$179 – $551

Secrets Wild Orchid Montego BayFeaturing about 20 hotels that offer all-inclusive options, Montego Bay in Jamaica has a few rather affordable resorts, but most of them are at least a bit up the price ladder, well over US$300 per night in high season. That said, the resorts here also tend to get very good reviews from past guests, so this should be a great-value option for those who can afford a bit more than the Caribbean minimum.

Being in between Ocho Rios and Negril, and being home to the entire area’s major airport, Montego Bay also has the fastest connections from the plane to your hotel, so it’s also an ideal option for a long weekend trip where every minute counts. The main tourist area of Montego Bay is almost as disappointing as the one in Ocho Rios, so staying in an all-inclusive is your best option.

Nearest airport: Sangster International Montego Bay Airport (code: MBJ)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US, Canadian, and European cities


9Antigua & Barbuda

  • High season: US$284 – $2,700
  • Low season: US$221 – $1,281

Sandals AntiguaUnlike most of the other island groups in the Lesser Antilles, Antigua and Barbuda have many all-inclusive resorts, with nearly 20 to choose from. During the high season, the rates are firmly in the middle to upper end for the Caribbean, but during the off season you can find some very cheap promotional rates. Only a few cheap all-inclusives are on the island, so if those are full then it will be much more expensive.

For guests who are looking to escape the scene of the huge hotels and mass-market tourism of the DR and Jamaica, this is an excellent option. The downside is that flights tend to be more expensive and the airport is served by far fewer destinations, so packages can seem a little more expensive than the resort prices would indicate.

Nearest airport: V. C. Bird International Airport (code: ANU)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, New York-JFK, Newark, Charlotte, Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, London-Gatwick, Frankfurt


10St. Lucia

  • High season: US$311 – $1,120
  • Low season: US$232 – $720

Sandals St LuciaMore remote and a bit more exotic than most of the choices above, St. Lucia is perhaps the best value island outside of the large ones off the tip of Florida. The island has about 15 resorts that offer all-inclusive options or are completely all inclusive, and most of those are in the middle range of prices for the Caribbean.

Finding cheap airfare to St. Lucia is often the tricky part of doing it on a budget, so that’s the price you pay for getting off the beaten path a bit, but if you can find an airfare+hotel package that looks good then it’s definitely worth a good look.

Nearest airport: Hewanorra International Airport (UVF)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, New York-JFK, Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, London-Gatwick, Frankfurt


11Barbados

  • High season: US$352 – $1,353
  • Low season: US$273 – $627

Barbados Beach ClubIn spite of its remote location at the edge of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is a large and popular hotspot for winter vacations, with nearly 100 different beach resorts on offer. Of those you’ll find only about 10 that offer all-inclusive packages, and those tend to be rather expensive compared to elsewhere in the Caribbean, at least during the high season.

Due to its popularity it’s not too difficult to get reasonably priced flights to Barbados, so you might find air+hotel packages that are appealing. Again, if you want an alternative to the DR and Jamaica, this is an option to consider.

Nearest airport: Grantley Adams International Airport (code: BGI)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, New York-JFK, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Frankfurt


12Aruba

  • High season: US$410 – $611
  • Low season: US$297 – $532

Rui Palace ArubaJust off the coast of Venezuela, the island of Aruba is somewhat different compared to most Caribbean islands, with a dry climate all year round. The island has quite a few good bargains for those interested in traditional beach resorts, but its 10 or so all-inclusive resorts tend to be aimed primarily at the upmarket crowd.

During the autumn months you can get relative bargains at all-inclusive resorts on Aruba, which is even better considering it still gets almost no rain and is usually clear of the main hurricane zones. The island continues to be popular with Europeans, and airfares are quite reasonable from most major cities.

Nearest airport: Queen Beatrix International Airport (code: AUA)
Nonstop flights from: Atlanta, Baltimore, Orlando, Miami, New York-JFK, Boston, Chicago-O’Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Toronto-Pearson, Amsterdam, Milan-Malpensa


13Nassau, Bahamas

  • High season: US$420 – $805
  • Low season: US$349 – $769

Sandals BahamasThe greater Nassau area and the Paradise Island area in particular are very popular for winter holidays, but they aren’t good places to find affordable all-inclusive resorts. With only about four options, including one cheap and disappointing resort, the Bahamas is not fertile ground for all inclusive deals.

The best thing Nassau has going for it is that it’s very close to Florida and flights are usually quite cheap and frequent, so it’s a good choice for a long weekend when you don’t want to spend most of your coming and going days in transit. But for a week-long trip you’ll get much better value for the money by going to the DR or Jamaica.

Especially outside of peak season it’s worth looking at Atlantis, Paradise Island deals and specials, which can be up to 40% off.

Nearest airport: Lynden Pindling International Airport (code: NAS)
Nonstop flights from: Most major US and Canadian airports, London-Heathrow


New for 2016: Best affordable Caribbean destinations for each kind of trip

Best cheap Caribbean destinations for all kinds of trips – All-inclusives, nightlife, culture, chill-out, super-cheap, and more.

Book your own all-inclusive vacation from the best deals today

Photo credits: Royal Cancun Resort, Gran Ventana Beach Resort in Puerto Plata, Sandals Ocho Rios, Dreams Punta Cana Resort, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Sandals Negril, Casa de Campo in La Romana, Gran Bahia Principe Samana, Sandals Grande St. Lucia Resort, Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort Bahamas, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, Barbados Beach Club Resort, Riu Palace Aruba Resort



59 Responses to “13 Cheapest Caribbean islands in 2016 for all-inclusive resorts”

Ron Smith says:

Looking for single occupancy long term stay. Any suggestions?

 

I would also include Curacao on the list. Comparing Aruba and Curacao, the latter has considerably more visitors than Aruba (at least this was the case in 2013).

 

    Ana,

    I do have Curacao on the main Caribbean islands list, but it didn’t make this list because there were only 2 all-inclusive resorts on the island when I last checked. I only cover the islands with many more options for this list. Thanks. -Roger

     
Shawn9i3 says:

I would also include Curacao on the list.

 

    Shawn9i3,

    I’m only aware of 3 resorts in Curacao that are all-inclusive or offer it as an option, and none are too cheap. This is why I didn’t include the island on this list, but I appreciate the idea and if they open more resorts I will add them for sure in the future. -Roger

     
Chelsy says:

Haiti and Trinidad should be included as well in my opinion

 

    Chelsy,

    Neither of those countries made this list because it only focuses on places that have more than a few all-inclusive resorts. Even today, I don’t see any all-inclusive resorts in either of those countries. Trinidad and Tobago does make the full list of cheapest Caribbean islands because there are plenty of other kinds of resorts and hotels, particularly on Tobago. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

     

You forgot about San Andres. This is an island of Colombia in front of the coast of Nicaragua. It offers cheap all inclusive resorts!! It is also beautiful just like the other islands. The Colombian currency makes it cheaper than Aruba or the Bahama’s. 🙂

 
    susan goodale says:

    Im looking at san andres right now for christmas vacation this year. Need great swimming and active and fun. Any suggestions?? family of seven adults..so need to be able to afford it!!!

     

      Susan,

      San Andrés sounds like a great choice, although I’m not sure how many all-inclusive resorts they have. There are probably cheaper places as well, but that partly depends on where you are starting from. Have a great trip. -Roger

       
Mary57 says:

I am looking for a vacation in March with my husband leaving from Dallas Fort Worth. What is a good choice that won’t be surrounded by spring breakers?

 

    Mary57,

    Generally speaking, the Spring Break crowd gravitates to the closer and cheaper Caribbean destinations, especially Cancun and Jamaica. So you’ll have your best shot at avoiding them by choosing one of the more expensive islands. Also, you might do well looking to the area around Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun), or even Cozumel. Best of luck. -Roger

     
susan goodale says:

Hi roger. What do you think about costa rica…guanacaste for a christmas family vacation. Would be flying out of toronto. Weather?. Food?. Beaches?. Looking at flamigo beach rezort or tamarindo diria beach resort. Any suggestions? thankyou.

 
Susan says:

Looking for a warm climate all inclusive for Feb. 2016 with nice beaches. Wanted to go to Greece, looked up the average temp, not warm! Suggestions?

 

    Susan,

    Yes, I also remember being surprised to find that the Greek islands and pretty much everywhere in Europe (except the Canaries) are cold until April or May.

    If you want an all-inclusive beach holiday then your best and cheapest options will be in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or in the greater Cancun area. All of those places are tropical and warm year-round, and about 90% of the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are in those 3 countries.

    If you wanted to stay closer to Europe you might look at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which has remained mostly safe even in recent years. It’s not in the Tropics so it’s not as warm as the Caribbean, but it’s very cheap. Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Eric says:

Cuba is a very cheap vacation with many all inclusives. I understand that you might be from the U.S so that might be why you didn’t put it in the list but for us Canadians it’s great!

– Eric

 

    Eric,

    Very good point. It’s true that I’m from the US, but I’m aware of how popular Cuba is for non-Americans and I actually have it on the main Caribbean destinations list. However, you’ve reminded me that Cuba is probably even more popular as an all-inclusive destination and that it’s very cheap for Canadians and others. So I will add it to this list soon. Thank you. -Roger

     
khai says:

Agree with Eric, although not the highest standard Cuba remains the cheapest all-inclusive destination for many nations.

Also wanted to point out that more important than just pure price is price with air ticket as people won’t just hike (or hitchhike) to these countries. So ultimately it comes down to plane ticket price when picking the cheapest destination.

 

    khai,

    Yes, Cuba does seem to be very good value for non-Americans, and soon it might also be good value for Americans.

    As for the airfares, those are incorporated into our larger list of all of the Caribbean islands, although not into this list dealing with all-inclusives. But fortunately, the cheaper islands for all-inclusives also tend to have some of the cheapest airfares, so the order of the list will mostly stand up.

    And just for the record, the list above isn’t meant to be gospel for every potential traveler, but we are confident that it helps people sort out the cheaper options from the mid-range and high-end options. Thanks for the comments. -Roger

     
Reg says:

Is November a bad time to go to Dominican Republic? I read that it rains alot in Nov.

 

    Reg,

    The Dominican Republic doesn’t actually get very much rain at all. It’s true that November is officially part of the wet season, but most of the island only gets a few inches (10 cm) during the month. In Punta Cana, which is the most popular resort area, it’s even less. I’m actually headed to Punta Cana myself on October 19.

    Also, the rain in tropical areas like the DR tends to come and go quickly. In other words, it will be sunny for most of the day, and then clouds form around 3pm. Then it pours for maybe 20 minutes, and the clouds are gone by 4pm. So even if it does rain, you just get under cover for a short time and then resume your holiday. Have a great trip. -Roger

     

We are a wedding party of 30-40 people, is Punta Cana a good place to spend 3-4 days?
thanks,
Cathy

 

    Cathy,

    Interestingly, I’m in Punta Cana as I write this, at the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Resort. Punta Cana is perfect for large groups like that because the resorts are huge and the infrastructure is new and robust so you can move around quickly. Better still, the value at these all-inclusive resorts here is amazing. They deliver a first-class product at a surprisingly reasonable price.

    Also, there are dozens of honeymoon couples at this resort at any given time, so they are well suited to helping with celebrations and decorations and such. This particular resort is actually 6 resorts in one, with over 3,500 total rooms. I’m in the adults-only wing, and there are also family wings and more modestly priced areas. And there are quite a few similar resorts nearby, including the Riu resort next door, which also looks great. So yes, I highly recommend Punta Cana for a large destination wedding, and you won’t find a better deal anywhere. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Geri says:

Hi there Roger,

Looking for adults only AI in either eastern Caribbean or possibly southern Caribbean. Have been to both Cancun, (Playa Del Carmen, Myan Riveria, and Isla Mujeres numerous times) as well as Aruba and the Punta Cana in the DR. Now looking for something relatively easy to get to from the east coast states, preferably direct flights. Possible stay, February/March 2016. Any suggestions or favorite places of yours would be greatly appreciated.

 

    Geri,

    This is a bit tricky because something like 80 or 90% of the all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean are all bunched in the DR, Mexico, and Jamaica, so there aren’t a great number of options on the other islands.

    Jamaica isn’t everyone’s favorite island (I quite like Negril, although not necessarily for all-inclusives), but at least there are many direct and affordable flights into Montego Bay. There are many nice resorts near Montego Bay itself, as well as heading towards Ocho Rios as well as down to Negril.

    But you might be happier in Antigua and Barbuda or St. Lucia, from the sound of where you’ve already been. Both of those islands have close to 20 different all-inclusive resorts, and both have frequent nonstop flights from many large North American airports. St Lucia in particular has some really good deals as long as you can get a convenient flight. Best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Barb Meyer says:

Any suggestions for a nice spot all-inclusive, mexico, Caribbean, costa Rica, Caymens etc open to just about anything. Going on spring break but with 2 teenagers so not really “adult only” but not looking for kid-friendly either. Looking around $1500/person.

 

    Barb,

    In my opinion, the best value for all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean is in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, or in the greater Cancun area. Those airports have the most and cheapest flights from the most places, and they are both very efficient in how they are able to treat guests with a very good experience from the time you land until the time you leave again. For absolute best value and an excellent product you can’t beat Punta Cana. There are a bunch of Spanish hotel chains there that have these resort complexes that are made up of medium sized hotels that each cater to a different audience. The Riu and Bahia Principe are among the better options, and each has about 5 different hotels within one complex. One will be adults only, another is family oriented (water slides and such), and others are for mixed groups like yours. You can use the facilities at any of them (except kids can’t go into the adults places, of course), so you have an incredible number of options.

    The one thing I’d point out about Punta Cana is that it’s most ideal for people who are mainly there to relax locally. There are various tours and day trips like an island excursion or swim with dolphins etc, but they are all very mass market. The Cancun area, on the other hand, has huge nightclubs and various outside restaurants, as well as trips to Chichén Itzá or Tulum, which are both famous ruins that are worth a look. Depending on where you stay, you might also be close to the town of Playa del Carmen or Cozumel, both of which are really interesting (tourist-oriented) towns with loads of other things to do.

    So if you are more in the mood to stay in the resort like most people do, then Punta Cana has the best product and best value. But if you might want to see some interesting things nearby, then the Cancun area is probably the best choice. Best of luck with this and feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Patricia says:

Hello Roger,
We are currently trying to decide on a winter holiday destination (Feb) and are at a bit of a crossroads. In the past we have traveled from Canada to the Bahamas (2x), Cuba(3x) and for the past 6 years to Punta Cana (we agree with best value for our money). We do love it there but would like to try somewhere new (but still affordable-mid range). We do not require nightlife or “action” but are looking to swim, relax and enjoy time as a family with our daughter (age 8). Our musts are: warmth, beautiful, clear, turquoise waters, lovely sand, we enjoy lots of palm trees on the beach but it is not a must. We are open to non all-inclusive’s as long as there are good and affordable eats nearby…we are not overly fussy (pizza/pasta is always popular with us). Are there any new places you would recommend for us? Many Thanks, Patricia

 

    Patricia,

    Whether you still want to do an all-inclusive or you are open to an a la carte hotel, I’ll highly recommend the area around Cancun. There is the main hotel zone in Cancun itself, with great beaches and a mix of all-inclusives and other hotels. Nearby you’ve got the Riviera Maya area with many large resorts leading down to the town of Playa del Carmen and the close island of Cozumel. The beaches in Playa del Carmen aren’t quite as nice as the others, but there is plenty to do and many great and affordable restaurants in the pleasant downtown area.

    The only other suggestion I have is greater San Juan, Puerto Rico. There are almost no all-inclusives but it does have affordable restaurants and great variety. Most people you’ll encounter speak English so it’s easier than many other islands. Hopefully this helps and I’ll be happy to try to answer more questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Melanie says:

A good friend of mine & I (2 adult females) are looking for an all inclusive affordable vacation. We’ll be going in January next year. Prefer not to go to Mexico. Ideas?

 

    Melanie,

    Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has the best all-inclusive deals on high quality resorts in the Caribbean, so I’d look there first. It also has a new and efficient airport so getting in and out is quite easy. You’ll be amazed at what you can get for your money there. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
JOHN says:

Hi, Have been to Punta Canta about 10 years ago @ an all inclusive and food options were tettible. Have they improved food quality?

 

    John,

    I was in Punta Cana in late 2015 and I was extremely impressed with the food at the buffets, and they also had included a la carte restaurants that people were quite happy with. I stayed at the Bahia Principe cluster of resorts, which I chose over the Riu cluster of resorts next door. Both of those (about 11 hotels in total) get great reviews and positive comments on food, and my experience was the same.

    I can’t comment on all of the all-inclusives in Punta Cana, obviously, and I’m sure there are at least a few that spend less on food and preparation. So what I’d recommend is reading the reviews carefully on the resorts you are considering, and see what people are saying about the food. As far as I can tell, the heavy competition there has pushed many of them to do a great job with food, and the rates on those places are still really good considering all that you get. Best of luck with whatever you decide. -Roger

     
Whitney J says:

Hey Roger –
Planning honeymoon vacay for July 2016 and looking for tropical all-inclusive .. DR, St. Lucia? What resort would you recommend? Any specific suggestions?
Thanks

 

    Whitney,

    If you are looking for an all-inclusive in the Caribbean then your best value by quite a bit will be in the Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic. St. Lucia has a few resorts and it’s definitely a bit more scenic, but the resorts are quite a bit more expensive for the quality you get. Also, Punta Cana is excellent in the sense that it has a fairly new and efficient airport with lots of incoming flights, and new highways that make ground transportation a breeze.

    On my trip there last year I booked at the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Don Pablo Collection, which is the adults-only hotel within the enormous Bahia Principe resort on the beach. The room was huge and lovely, the service was excellent, and the food was surprisingly good even in the buffets. They also have several a la carte restaurants that are included. There were many honeymoon couples there, for what it’s worth.

    And amazingly, the price was so low that it felt like a mistake, yet it was all legit and you really don’t even need to tip (much) while you are there. The downside might be that the resort is huge when you include the 5 or 6 different hotels within the complex. However, at the Ambar resort, only guests staying in that hotel could use the facilities because it’s the most expensive one and it’s adults-only, so it’s actually quite exclusive and not over crowded while you are there.

    In some ways it’s like a perfect vacation factory that they have set up, and the Riu resort complex immediately next door also looked amazing and guests there said it was fantastic. That said, if you would prefer a smaller hotel that feels more secluded and less polished, especially if you don’t mind paying more, then St. Lucia could be a good option. I’ve not stayed in any all-inclusives there, so I can’t personally recommend one. I hope this helps, and congratulations. -Roger

     
Shawn W says:

Hello Roger,
I am looking to invite my friends on a 40th birthday bash at a island resort 2016 in Nov. Some are married and other singles. Any suggestions? Looking to have fun not to expensive since its about 8 months away..

 

    Shawn W,

    I’ll try to help if I can. First off, the article above is only about all-inclusive resorts, and I just want to make sure you are clear that that’s what you want. Those resorts are built such that guests arrive there straight from the airport, and pretty much stay at the resort until they go back to the airport. You can book excursions like as fishing or swimming with dolphins or cultural tours of ruins and that sort of thing, but those cost extra and many people just stay in the resort the whole time.

    The nice part about that is that the larger Caribbean all-inclusives are designed to be large resort complexes with a variety of restaurants and bars and such within each one, so you can get plenty of variety. But of course you are pretty much shielded from the culture and every day life outside the resort. If that’s what you want I’ll repeat once again that Punta Cana offers the best quality at the best prices.

    The Punta Cana Bahia Principe complex has 6 separate hotels inside and guests can use most of the facilities at all of them, depending on which one you book. And the Rui Punta Cana next door has 5 hotels in its complex. The room rates are very reasonable, the rooms are large and fairly luxurious, the food is surprisingly good, the beaches are gorgeous, and the drink service is excellent. I recommend either of those, although there are about 20 other resorts in the Punta Cana area that are also quite good.

    However, if your group is more interested in interacting with a local culture, then I’d recommend either Playa del Carmen or the nearby island of Cozumel. Both of those also offer excellent value with reasonable flights into Cancun International. Better still, you can choose from dozens or hundreds of different restaurants and bars, with generally very good prices, depending on your mood. The beaches aren’t as nice as the Punta Cana beaches, but they are still pretty nice.

    I hope this helps. If you were thinking about something different, let me know and I’ll give it another try. -Roger

     
Sarah says:

Looking to go somewhere nice the end of June. The last week. I’ve been to punts Cana, Mexico and was looking at Jamaica. But it’s hurricane season. So what do you think would be my best bet going June 27 to July 3. And what hotel. I like adults only. Luxury with jacuzzi on balcony! Please help. And what should I book on?

 

    Sarah,

    This is a bit tricky. First off, I wouldn’t worry about hurricane season until you get into August. The season “officially” begins on June 1, but the storms that might alter holiday plans almost never appear until August or September. I visited many Caribbean islands from June through October of last year, and never thought twice about it, and of course there were barely any clouds, much less storms.

    If you are looking for luxury with a private Jacuzzi I think St. Lucia might be your best option in an all-inclusive. I haven’t been there yet, but people rave about the high-end resorts there and the scenery is far nicer than in the DR or Jamaica.

    There are actually a few excellent resorts that might fit what you are looking for just a bit north of Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. I haven’t stayed in any of them, but that is a wonderful area for resorts and the flights into Cancun are always reasonable. Also, it’s actually on the mainland so in the unlikely event of a storm, it would be easy to go inland a bit.

    As for Jamaica, I’m not a big fan to be honest. I quite like the Negril area, though not really for luxury all-inclusive resorts. There are some incredible Sandals all-inclusives in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, as well as the ultra-luxury Royal Caribbean resort near Montego Bay. But of course, they are quite expensive.

    As far as where to book, you should start by clicking on the links on the article above. I link below each destination to the online travel agency that offers the best deals for each place. In the Caribbean it’s mostly to Expedia because they offer daily deals and offer full service packages. Believe it or not, they also have or match the best rates you can get anywhere, and their resort-area pages are nicely designed for the user. Best of luck with this and let me know if you have any other questions I can answer. -Roger

     
Sandra says:

Hi Roger,
I am going to Jamaica and staying with my bro for the first week I am there. 2nd week I will need accommodation and want to relax, so all incl resort is what I am looking for. So, couple of questions: Is it better to look for something once I am there? Or better to book hotel/AI thru internet or agent before I go. And, if I book thru an agency is it better to book with air, even though I will not be staying the entire time at a resort? The dilemma… if I book before is it more expensive? If I wait until I’m there will they raise the prices to a ridiculous amount so I pay more? Thanks!!

 

    Sandra,

    I’ve never heard of anyone booking an all-inclusive resort in person on the spot, although I’m sure that at least a few people do it every day. I’m 99% sure that you’d get a far better price booking online before you leave. Those all-in resorts are very competitive in price at online travel agencies because they know that cheaper places get listed on top. If you show up in person, they know that it’s a huge hassle for you to go from place to place shopping around, so they don’t have much incentive to give you a decent discount. But online, they have to discount heavily just to stay full.

    Expedia tends to have the same discounted rates as the other online sources, and they are the easiest to use with the most information at your fingertips, so I’d start with them. As for doing an air-hotel bundle, you’ll have to test it yourself. I think on some websites you can only bundle a flight for the same period as the resort you booked, though Expedia should let you just add your flight and resort, even if they are different dates. If you can do that it will probably be your best deal, but it should be pretty easy to compare the separate prices in just a few minutes, so you will know for sure before you book.

    Also, the all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica are quite large and spread out, so you’d have to pay a taxi to take you to one and wait for you and then take you to another one a few kilometers away to check their prices, which would be a headache. It’s MUCH easier to have a place booked and then take a shuttle or taxi directly there from your brother’s place, knowing you’ll be staying there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Sandra says:

      Roger,
      Thank you so much for your quick response. I kind of figure they’d have you paying more showing up in person, however, I’d probably just call around, rather than travel. That being said… it kind of takes time away from the water & beach & sun… lol! I did check with some of the online travel agencies and I think that is the best route. So, thanks again,,, Very much appreciate your expertise on the subject!! Cheers… S

       
Katiee says:

Hi Roger, I am planning a kind of last minute trip to the Caribbean for the last weekend of June. Either 4 or 5 nights. I don’t care for Jamaica so that’s out. I’m wondering what you suggest as a good place for 2 women in their late 20’s? Kind of looking for a good mixture of party scene and other young adults, but also a nice spa, maybe shopping and surfing and restaurants. It would be nice to stay somewhere that there is a little more to offer than just the resort, but not a requirement. Oh and maybe a casino? And looking for an all inclusive, especially if it includes airfare. With it being “low” season, and last minute, where would you suggest to book through? Is there any sites that do good last minute travel deals?
Thank you! Sorry for a million questions! Lol

 

    Katiee,

    Yes, Jamaica has its fans, but I also understand why many people prefer not to go back. For what you have in mind I’m going to suggest Playa del Carmen, which is an hour south of Cancun airport by shuttle or taxi. Actually, that whole coastal area is known as the Riviera Maya, and it has dozens of large stand-alone resorts, many of which are all-inclusive. Those tend to be the huge resorts that are designed so guests never leave, except for perhaps a daytime excursion or two. That might not be what you are looking for, but there are also smaller resorts in and near Playa del Carmen, as well as over on the nearby island of Cozumel.

    I’m not sure if there are any proper all-inclusives right in Playa del Carmen, but you might consider just a normal hotel instead. Cancun, as you may know, is mostly a long strip of high-rise hotels and time-shares, with a few spring-break-style nightclubs near the center. Playa del Carmen, on the other hand, is a real town with hundreds of restaurants and quite a few night spots that are better suited to people out of their college years. So even if you booked at an all-inclusive hotel and you weren’t enjoying the nightlife there, you could easily jump in a taxi and be in PdC shortly. I do believe there is at least one casino there, but I think that it’s mostly slot machines and not like a proper resort casino that you could find on some of the smaller Caribbean islands.

    If that doesn’t appeal to you then I’d suggest St. Lucia or Aruba. Those both have what you have described, although at a much higher price. They are also far smaller so you have fewer options, but there is something to be said for more of an “exclusive” destination, if you know what I mean.

    You should be able to get a great deal this time of the year for a last-minute booking. June is slow in this region because it’s before the Europeans arrive in July. Believe it or not, I find that Expedia is the best choice to book these resorts and air+hotel packages. They do offer loads of last-minute resort deals, and the same airfares that you can get anywhere else, which can be bundled in. Best of all, they make it clear how much you would pay if you booked all through the process. There is another company called CheapCaribbean and you might check them as well, but I find them incredibly annoying because they seem to try to sucker you in with low rates and package prices, which suddenly jump up to the same as every other site on the last screen after you put your credit card in. No worries about the questions, and feel free to ask more if you have them. -Roger

     
Eileen says:

Hi Roger,
A group of us travel annually around February. We have been to Punta Cana, Cabo San Lucas, Montego Bay Jamaica, and Cozumel. We really came to enjoy the great snorkeling experience right from the resort beach in Cozumel. Do you have any other suggestions for an all inclusive that may offer the same experience?

 

    Eileen,

    This is an interesting request. I’m not much of a snorkeler or scuba person myself, but I do know a fair amount about which are the Caribbean places most known for that. And unfortunately, they tend to be clustered in certain islands, while the all-inclusives are very clustered in other islands. As you can see on the list above, the all-in resorts are mostly in 6 or 7 areas in the Caribbean, with a few spread around a few other places.

    From what I can see, Ocho Rios has quite good snorkeling, even better than nearby Montego Bay. As you might know, Ochi is about 90 minutes from the Montego Bay Airport along the north coast, and there are quite a few large all-in resorts along there. There’s also that amazing waterfall just outside of Ocho Rios, so that’s another good day.

    Aside from that, I think you might have to go to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or the area along the so-called Riviera Maya between them to get room rates similar to what you are used to. My favorite is the Playa del Carmen area, which you probably know is just across the straight from Cozumel itself. There are many great all-in resorts there, and it’s a really fun city in general.

    Or you could look into Antigua & Barbuda, or St. Lucia. I believe there is good snorkeling off those, and both of those have at least a few all-ins to consider, although just a bit up the price scale. Good luck and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Mark says:

Hi Roger. Never been to an all inclusive but wanting to try one this fall, mid October. We’ve been to several Caribbean islands (via cruise) and really like Aruba. Never been to Punta Cana but want to go there as well. Any particular resort in Punta Cana you recommend? Our ages are early 50’s. We don’t care about excursions, etc. We’re mainly looking for nice relaxing time with an upscale modern/contemporary resort, but something that isn’t stuffy or that requires dressy attire, etc. We also like to be close to casino for some night time entertainment. Thanks for your help!

 

    Mark,

    Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like Punta Cana is indeed the ideal destination. The newer and larger resorts there are gorgeous, modern, and immaculate, which is hard to believe when you see how low the room rates are for what you get.

    As for recommendations, if a casino is important then there are a few resorts that have them, and a couple others (like the Hard Rock) that are easy to visit for an evening from other resorts. Aside from that, I can highly recommend the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort, which is where I stayed most recently. Like several others, there are 5 or 6 different hotels in the same compound, with some being family oriented and others being adults-only, and some being a bit more upscale (although still at amazing prices). If you are staying at one of the adults-only hotels along the beach (others are a bit inland from the beach), you can go into any restaurant or pool or bar in the whole place. The beach is amazing along there, and it’s very relaxing.

    I also toured the similar place next door (also enormous) Riu Palace Punta Cana, which has a similar set up and similar room rates. Both get great reviews, and I can see why. Both are part of large and well respected Spanish resort chains, so they really know how to create a professional product.

    The Hard Rock Casino is just north of those two resorts, but I didn’t visit it. Before I went, I narrowed it down to those two resorts I mentioned, which seemed almost identical and both had great reviews. In the end I chose Bahia Principe because they had free wi-fi all over the resort, and I need it. I think in the Riu it was only in the rooms. Still, from the looks of it, there are many other great resorts along that gorgeous beach area, so if you see a deal somewhere else, don’t limit yourself. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Mark says:

      Thanks for the quick response!! Will definitely check it out. From the website it looks like it’s formal attire for dinner. Am I reading that correctly?

       

        Mark,

        Hmmm…while I was at the Bahia Principe, I only ate at the buffet restaurants, although there are a few included a la carte places if you make a reservation. And at least in the buffet, the dress code could not have been more casual. There’s even a lunch buffet just a few steps from the beach, overlooking a huge pool, and people in there often ate in swimwear. In the main buffet, which is definitely kind of a high-end place with very good food and many choices, shorts and t-shirts were fine, and that’s all I wore the whole time I was there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

         
Martha says:

Hi Roger, we have a wedding to attend in Miami, FL in November and were planning to take a flight from there to Cancun. We have been to Cancun 3 times but only in the summer(we really have enjoyed our time there).we have never traveled to the Caribbean in the fall and don’t know what to expect. Also, we like trying new resorts every time we go, can you recommend an all inclusive in the hotel zone, (not too expensive,we are on a budget), good for relaxing and that offer on site evening entertainment. We are in our early 50’s and we are not interested in the off property nightclubs 🙂 thanks for any suggestions in advance.

 

    Martha,

    It can be challenging to recommend specific hotels without knowing your preferred budget and travel dates, because a resort that might be US$250 a night for dates that I’m looking at, might be US$350 a night for your real dates. That said, if I were your travel agent based on the information you’ve provided, the first resorts I’d ask you to consider would be the Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas and the GR Caribe By Solaris Deluxe, and perhaps also the Beach Palace. All of those are top-rated all-inclusives in the Hotel Zone that have rooms in fall well under US$300 per night for two people. Between those three, I think you’ll find something that suits you very well.

    Cancun in the fall isn’t much different from Cancun in the summer. It’s just a bit cooler, and there can be those fast rainstorms, but you always see them coming and they are almost over in 30 minutes or so. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Kris says:

My biggest question in finding the best all inclusive Caribbean location is Entertainment. I wish there was an easy way to search the AI Resorts with the best entertainment.

 

    Kris,

    This is an interesting question and I’m going to think about how I might be able to answer it in the future. From what I’ve seen, the entertainment at all-inclusive resorts tends to be fairly generic family-friendly shows until 8pm and then generic variety shows and such after that. Then there are the resorts with casinos, but I’m not aware of any good place to find listings and reviews of specifically the entertainment at these resorts. If I come up with an idea, I’ll post it here. -Roger

     
Brad says:

Roger, thanks for all your great analysis. I am planning to take my wife and 2 teenage kids somewhere in the Caribbean for our 25th anniversary next June. I want something family friendly, on the beach. All inclusive would be great but not required. Our budget will be approximately $7,000. We’ve been to Bahamas, Jamaica, Aruba and Mexico, and would like to try something different. We’ve started looking at St. Lucia and Barbados. What would you suggest?

 

    Brad,

    Since you have a pretty good budget, I think St. Lucia or Barbados would be ideal. There are a decent number of really nice all-inclusives on both islands, and in general you’ll get much more of an upmarket experience compared to Jamaica, Aruba, or most of Mexico. St Lucia is mountainous and definitely more photogenic, but that means that it’s also harder to get around the island. Barbados has more and better beaches, and it might be better for a family because there are more things to do in or near the resorts. It’s a tough call, but both have great reputations and people go back year after year, so either would be a good choice. -Roger

     
Take Care says:

Hi,
I’m looking for a Caribbean all inclusive during the fourth of July week in 2017 for our 15 yr anniversary. Any recommendations within a budget of $5,000 (for two including airfare from NYC)?

Thank you

 

    Take Care,

    On that budget you can afford pretty much any island that has all-inclusives, so it’s hard to recommend one island and one resort. Strange as it may sound, the islands that have many of the more affordable AI resorts also have many of the best. You can find excellent resorts in the Cancun area and in Punta Cana, and they provide great value even at a higher price.

    Another factor is that most people tend to stay within their resort the whole time, except for maybe a daytime excursion or two, so as long as the resort itself is wonderful, it doesn’t matter too much if there isn’t much else around. All of that said, at your budget if you are looking for something special, I’d probably recommend St. Lucia, which might be the most beautiful of the islands on this list, or Antigua or Barbados. Those islands have smaller resorts that might feel a bit more special and exclusive. Then plug in your dates to an online travel agency such as Expedia and see which places are offering the best promotions. You’ll be able to get something really good, even if you decide to spend a bit less. I hope this helps. -Roger

     

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