Cheapest Caribbean Islands: 32 destinations by price in 2017

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Extremely popular with both North Americans and Europeans during the winter months, the Caribbean is filled with islands and destinations that range from cheap & basic to posh & exclusive. You'll also find islands where English dominates, but also where Spanish, French, or Dutch are far more common. This list has been totally updated for 2017 to include changing hotel rates and airfare differences to help sort out the best cheap vacations.

Ranking Caribbean islands and destinations by price is challenging for a variety of reasons, so we simplified it by including only a cheaper 3-star hotel room for a week and two cheap flights from New York City. Generally speaking, islands with cheaper hotels will also have cheaper meals and diving etc.

Updated for 2017

We re-ran all of these searches in October, 2016 so the list is up to date for the winter 2016-2017 season. The good news is that most destinations had cheaper airfares, so the average week-long stay is a bit cheaper than the previous year. Norwegian Air now flies from 3 US cities to a few of the islands below, and their bargain airfares have made a huge difference in affordability for them.

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

Prefer an all-inclusive Caribbean holiday?

PuntaCanaPoolThe all-inclusive trend has simply exploded in the Caribbean, particularly on just a few islands and in Mexico. It's actually possible to book an all-inclusive resort for just a bit more than a nearby resort where you pay as you go, so they are actually the best value for most visitors. The best all-inclusive deals are mainly in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, but interestingly enough, most of the best all-inclusive resorts are in the same places, so value is great.

The main difference is whether you want to be free to try nearby restaurants or spend time exploring the island, or whether you are mainly interested in relaxing in the sun with the least hassle possible. If you book an all-inclusive resort you'll obviously want to spend most or all of your time on the property, so it's important to pick one that has everything you want in one place.

>>>13 Cheapest Caribbean all-inclusive islands and destinations

Cruises are another way to actually save money in the Caribbean. Not only are they most all-inclusive, but the entertainment and transportation comes as part of the package. See our list of Caribbean cruise lines ranked by price for the details.

Planning your own trip?

Find the best deals for cheap Caribbean vacations:


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Below are the 32 most popular Caribbean destinations (some with a few per island, plus Mexico) ranked from cheapest to most expensive. Those not sure if they can afford a trip at all will obviously choose from the ones near the top, while those who would rather avoid people who aren't sure if they can afford a trip or not will find better choices further down the list.

Criteria for the index below

  • Hotel rates are average of the 4-cheapest 3-star (and up) hotels in high season for two people, including all taxes and fees.
  • Airfare is cheapest round-trip high-season fare available from NYC
  • 7-nights + Flight Index is 7 nights hotel for two plus two round-trip airfares from NYC, including all taxes

Hurricane Irma update

As most people know, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage to the following islands that are on the list below:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • St. Martin (mostly the French part in the north)
  • St. Barts
  • St. Thomas
  • Tortola
  • Turks and Caicos

There was some minor damage on other islands, but nearly all other resorts are resort areas were unaffected. The hurricane season officially ends on December 1 each year, but hurricanes after November 1 are quite rare. The rest of the islands can use the business.

Caribbean islands and destinations ranked by price

(prices are for high-season winter travel)

1Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel, Mexico (cheapest)

By far the busiest destination in the Caribbean, Cancun is obviously not an island so it might not count for some people. But Greater Cancun also consists of Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya area as well as Cozumel, so it's a huge cluster of resort areas all served by one busy airport.

With cheap flights from almost everywhere and hotels starting at suspiciously low prices, Cancun is easily the cheapest Caribbean destination and a great choice for the Spring Break crowd as well. It's worth noting that the cheapest hotels in and around Cancun might not be within walking distance of the beach. The new hotels along the Hotel Zone tend to be good value compared to Caribbean islands. If you want to stay in a lovely town rather than along a strip of new hotels, look for places down in Playa del Carmen, which is only an hour south of the airport by taxi or shuttle.

>>>Best Cancun all-inclusive resorts for couples, families, spa lovers, and more

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $41
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $270
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $825 for two people
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, budget travelers from all over Europe, Spring Breakers

2A – Varadero, Cuba

In spite of recent thawing of relations for cultural tourism, Americans still can't legally sun themselves in Varadero or any other Cuban resort city. Still, Canadians and Europeans are very fond of this commercialized stretch of beach out on a restricted peninsula. You'll find mostly larger all-inclusive resorts here built specifically for the package crowds. Varadero is relatively cheap and good value for the Caribbean, and quality in its beachfront resort hotels is fairly high. Once Americans can visit Cuba solely for leisure, things are bound to change quite a bit.

(included as a service to Canadians and Europeans who wonder where Cuba stacks up from a price standpoint)

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: *
  • Cheapest RT airfare from Toronto: *
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: US$1,086 for two people
  • Popular with: Canadians, Europeans including Russians, almost no Americans…yet

2BCuraçao

Thanks to some surprisingly cheap JetBlue flights from New York City, Curacao can be excellent value for some travelers. Officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao has excellent diving and some of the cheaper hotels in the southern part of the Caribbean. It also has a large and busy airport which helps keep airfares reasonable from North America and several key European cities. Curaçao is also seldom in the path of hurricanes, so autumn trips are a great value here.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $83
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $276
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,132
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, Italians, scuba divers from all over

3Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata includes several clusters of resort beaches along the northern shore of the Dominican Republic. The hotels here are among the cheapest in the Caribbean, and this area is also known for very affordable all-inclusive packages. The diving and snorkeling aren't top-notch, but at least it's good value otherwise. Flights to the nearby airport aren't as cheap as they used to be, and the Santiago Airport a bit further south is 90 minutes away by road. Those looking for an all-inclusive would probably be happier in Punta Cana.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $63
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $363
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,166
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Irish, Brits, Northern Europeans

4Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana has some modestly priced hotels that include breakfast, but it's much better known as the best and cheapest place for luxury all-inclusive resorts at amazing rates. In fact, some of these all inclusives only cost a bit more than the ones that only include breakfast. There are really good air+hotel packages available that can keep prices down and offer fantastic value for the Caribbean. The modern nearby airport is the busiest in the DR, and the roads in this area are in good shape as well.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $60
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $407
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,235
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, French, Germans, Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Swiss, Portuguese, Russians

5Barbados

While it's a bit farther than other cheap Caribbean destinations, there are some very good airfares from the US to Barbados. This island has many good-value 3-star beach resorts in addition to some very posh and pricey resorts. Barbados has a well developed hotel scene so it won't feel as exotic as some of the smaller islands nearby. The diving here is excellent so it's great value for the scuba set.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $98
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $285
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,255
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans

6Rincon, Puerto Rico

If you are a serious surfer and want to give it a try in the Caribbean then come to Rincon, on Puerto Rico's west coast. Others are probably better off in the more developed San Juan area, but surfers love it here and often rent local houses rather than staying in the somewhat pricey hotels. Flights to the local airport are cheap, and the sometimes-cheaper San Juan airport is also an easy drive.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $109
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $250
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,262
  • Popular with: Americans, Spanish, surfers from everywhere

7La Romana, Dominican Republic

La Romana does have enough inexpensive hotels to make it this high on the list, but the area is mostly known for larger upscale resorts. The famous Casa de Campo Resort started the trend, and it's still almost exclusively a package resort area for the upscale crowd. It's often included in the Punta Cana market, so you can fly into that airport if it's cheaper, and take a shuttle to your resort on the brand-new highways between them.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $96
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $309
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,287
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, French, Italians, Spanish

8Guadeloupe

Still an official part of France, Guadeloupe is very unusual in that it's sometimes actually cheaper to reach by air from Paris than from New York. In other words, this is a very French island that caters nicely to budget and mid-range Europeans, but it can be expensive and difficult to reach from North America. Hotels here can be good value if you can get an airfare bargain. Now that Norwegian Air is flying here directly from NYC and some other US cities, this island will be much cheaper to reach.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $116
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $244
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,302
  • Popular with: French Canadians, French

9Negril, Jamaica

Negril, which is about 90-minutes from Montego Bay Airport by road, has a beautiful west-facing beach and an abundance of cheap 2-star and 3-star hotels, making it among the Caribbean's best value destinations. There are also many all-inclusives and upscale & pricey 4-stars, so it's a good mix rather than just all down-market. The gorgeous area along 7-Mile Beach is lined with smaller hotels and a few larger ones plus a few all-inclusives. THIS is where you want to go in Jamaica if you want to visit the country rather than just visiting the grounds of a hotel.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $76
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $416
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,363
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians

10St. Lucia

A surprisingly good value considering its remote location, St. Lucia has many very nice 3-star beach resorts at very good prices. The problem is that flights are sometimes weirdly expensive, so whether you can afford to come here or not will largely depend on getting good airfare. This is a popular stop for cruise ships and there is also a great mix of upscale resorts, so St. Lucia is justifiably popular for many different groups.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $90
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $378
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,386
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans

11Martinique

A favorite of French-speakers from Canada and Europe, Martinique has a relatively large population without a great number of resorts, so it doesn't feel as touristy as many other islands. You'll find great cuisine here, and quite a few budget hotel options as well. Flights getting here used to be expensive until Norwegian Air started flying in from the US. Suddenly, Martinique is within reach of mid-budget travelers.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $138
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $216
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,395
  • Popular with: French Canadians, French

12San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cheap and direct flights from many cities help make San Juan a good budget choice, even if hotel prices here start higher than other destinations near the top of this list. The Old San Juan area is gorgeous and there are many surprisingly affordable eating and sleeping options there. Starting just next door you'll find a long string of tourist-oriented areas with some of the best city beaches in the world. There are virtually no all-inclusive resorts on Puerto Rico, so this is a pay as you go destination. If you want a bit of culture and don't need nonstop buffets, then San Juan might be the best option in the Caribbean at a modest price.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $122
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $274
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,404
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Spanish

13Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua is one of the more accessible Caribbean islands that is known as a playground for the rich and famous. It's a beautiful place and flight deals are often available, but resorts here range from moderate on up to shockingly expensive. Several celebrities have homes on the island, which tells you something about the crowd that books here. Still, there are some modestly priced hotels that get very good reviews, so it's a possibility for budget visitors.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $119
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $294
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,423
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Italians

14Aruba

Almost completely flat, Aruba is another Dutch island without a striking volcano at its center. Still, it has a well developed tourist infrastructure and a busy airport with cheap flights from Europe, so it's a popular choice for northern Europeans as well as Americans. Most hotels on Aruba are in the mid-range and upper end, but there are enough affordable places that get good reviews to make it pretty high on this list.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $94
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $410
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,478
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Dutch

15Ocho Rios, Jamaica

About 90-minutes east of Montego Bay Airport on Jamaica's northern shore, Ocho Rios is more expensive than Negril. It's also a very popular cruise port, so the local waterfalls and other attractions can be jammed or nearly empty. There are large and impressive resorts all along the north shore between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, including many all-inclusives. But similar to Montego Bay, the actual town of Ocho Rios is underdeveloped, unimpressive, and somewhat annoying, filled mostly with nearly identical souvenir shops and a few jewelry malls. If you want to stay in a small hotel and try different restaurants and bars along a beach, go to Negril and stay clear of Ocho Rios.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $95
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $416
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,496
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians

16Samana, Dominican Republic

Firmly in the mid to upper-range for the Caribbean, Samaná isn't ideal for low budget tourists, though it does offer very good value packages, especially from Europe. This is a newer resort area that is expanding at a fast clip, with a new airport with increasing services as well. Samaná is the whale-watching capital of the DR, with some very nice beaches as well.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $75
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $538
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,601
  • Popular with: Canadians, Brits, Italians, Portuguese, Swedish

17Grenada

Known for its beautiful volcanic views and for not being overly developed, Grenada is a good choice for English-speaking folks looking to get away from the package crowds. Prices at the resorts are mostly in the middle range, but a few top-end places are here as well. Flights can be cheap, though be sure to check hotel prices before you book the airfare.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $115
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $410
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,627
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits

18Montego Bay, Jamaica

Jamaica's busiest airport is near the heart of Montego Bay so visitors can be checked-in sooner here than if they went to Negril or Ocho Rios nearby, but hotels here can also generally more expensive for that privilege. This is a very well developed and touristy area along Jamaica's north shore, with plenty of large all-inclusive resorts all the way up the price scale. All along the north shore you'll find a string of large hotels (many all-inclusive), and there are a few good activities as well. But the actual town of Montego Bay, centered along the so-called “Hip Strip” is disappointing. In other words, if you want to stay in an independent hotel and try many nearby restaurants and bars, go to Negril. Montego Bay is really only good for its larger resorts.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $117
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $416
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,648
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians

19Trinidad and Tobago

About 95% of the population lives on Trinidad, but about half the resorts are on Tobago and usually people just visit one island or the other since they aren't close together. Cheaper flights go into Trinidad so if Togago were listed alone it would be a bit further down. The hotel markets are listed separately as well, but prices and the overall range are quite similar and both offer good value.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $117
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $442
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,700
  • Popular with: Americans, Brits, Germans

20St. Maarten/St. Martin

Famously divided with a French half in the north (St. Martin) and a Dutch half in the south (Sint Maarten), this island otherwise treats itself as one destination. Almost all (cheap) flights are into the airport in the Dutch area, and hotels are grouped together as well, with both halves being mid-range choices with almost nothing in the low-budget category.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $145
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $345
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,707
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, French, Dutch

21St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Known largely as a stop for cruise ships and a Caribbean shopping mecca for inexpensive jewelry, St. Thomas also has great scuba diving and all the usual water sports available. Hotels here are quite expensive compared to others higher on this list, but at least cheap flight deals are possible, making this a good-value option for visits of only a few days.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $169
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $300
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,785
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians

22Bonaire

You wouldn't come to Bonaire for the beaches, because this small and mostly-flat island isn't blessed with sandy shores like most of the Caribbean is, but it does have excellent diving and wind surfing as well. This all contributes to more of an informal atmosphere on Bonaire, with a nice selection of cheap hotels as well. Flights aren't too cheap, however, so it's not ideal for most.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $98
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $600
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,886
  • Popular with: Americans, Dutch, scuba divers, wind-surfers

23Grand Cayman, Cayman

If you've heard of the Cayman Islands then you might be a banker because this territory of the UK has nearly as many banks as it has people. It's also a fairly luxurious resort island that is geographically off on its own a bit, with prices starting in the mid-range and going way up from there. Cheap flights are often available so package deals might be good value.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $202
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $268
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,951
  • Popular with: Americans, Brits

24Anguilla

Only a few miles off St. Martin, Anguilla is a small and beautiful island that is near the upper end of the price scale for all of the Caribbean. Flights are expensive, though you can get here by ferry from St. Martin, but hotels are all very expensive as well. A few of the resorts here are among the priciest in all of the Caribbean.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $175
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $433
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,089
  • Popular with: Rich Americans and Brits

25Bermuda

Though it's technically a long way from the Caribbean, Bermuda gets included here because it's a good alternative, especially from April through June when it's warm enough. This is a very British island still, and quite expensive as well, with not a single cheap hotel there, at least any available online.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $238
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $233
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,132
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits

26Grand Bahama, Bahamas

Freeport is the second-largest city in the Bahamas and its location on the island of Grand Bahama is also the second-busiest tourist destination in the island chain. While popular as a cruise destination, hotels here are mostly in the mid-range for the Caribbean, and it's a common short getaway for those coming from nearby Florida.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $206
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $460
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,362
  • Popular with: Americans and cruise-ship passengers

27Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tourism in the British Virgin Islands is mostly restricted to 2 islands, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. They are beautiful and very low key, partly because there are no long-haul flights coming in so everyone has to change planes at least once. Hotels here start quite high and go up from there, so it's only a good choice for well-heeled folks escaping the crowds elsewhere. As of 2015, Tortola began to welcome more cruise visits with its new port and pier, so development here should increase as well, for better or worse.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $184
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $611
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,507
  • Popular with: Americans, Brits

28St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Larger than nearby St. Thomas, the island of St. Croix is also harder to reach, with very few direct flights from far away. There are also fewer cruise ships stopping in St. Croix, so it really does have a bit more of a remote and isolated feeling, for better or for worse. Hotels are quite expensive in general, though flight deals are sometimes available.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $261
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $361
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,551
  • Popular with: Americans, Danish

29Turks & Caicos

A bit north of the real Caribbean, Turks & Caicos has a drier climate than most other islands, giving it a longer in-season range. There are some extremely posh resorts here, including some all-inclusives, but there are some modestly priced hotels as well, making it a mid-range option overall. The cheap flights often available make it good for late-season or shorter stays.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $285
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $298
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,593
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits

30Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is another very popular stop for cruise passengers, and it's also well known for Paradise Island just over the bridge, which is home to the famous Atlantis Resort and Casino complex. Flights are cheap from most places, but hotels in the Nassau area start in the mid range and go way up from there. There's great shopping and nightlife here, at least for the Caribbean.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $282
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $360
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,693
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits

31St. Kitts and Nevis

The twin islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are among the smaller and more modest tourist markets, and this can make them ideal for those not interested in crowds and shopping centers. There are almost no cheap hotels on either island. Scuba diving is very good here though, with shipwrecks and underwater caves. Flights are a bit pricey too, so this is a good choice for scuba visits for upmarket guests.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $249
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $526
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,796
  • Popular with: Americans, Brits

32Saint Barthélemy (most expensive)

Saint Barthélemy (AKA St. Barts) is an outlier because it's not only the most expensive Caribbean island, it also has only a handful of small hotels, and most guests rent villas and condos instead. In reality, there are a few cheaper hotels here, but in-season this is really a scene best suited for the rich and/or famous. Flights are also expensive because you have to change planes nearby just to reach it.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $484
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $531
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $4,450
  • Popular with: Celebrities, the idle rich, the working rich, French-speakers

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.

Notes on the Caribbean Destination Index

  • Many destinations have some cheaper hotels with mostly-negative reviews, and these were not included in the Index. Just as elsewhere, Caribbean hotels that seem suspiciously cheap are often poorly maintained or located, and not good value.
  • Airfares from New York were used because they are often cheaper than from even south Florida, and they are a good gauge of prices from connecting airports. Flights from dominated airports such as Atlanta and Charlotte are usually higher even though they are much closer.
  • All the prices researched are for high-season rates, from early January through March, but not “peak-season” rates in late December.
  • Some islands have better off-season weather and deals than others, and we'll be covering that separately. This is just a comparison of high-season prices.

All-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean are even better value

The prices listed above are mostly for hotels that are not all-inclusive, but the cheapest all-inclusive resorts are often only a bit more expensive than the others so they can be excellent value. All-inclusive deals including airfare are often the best deals anywhere, but still the order of islands and destinations will be similar for those as well.

Planning your own trip?

Find the best deals for cheap Caribbean vacations:

Cheapest flights only

If you are looking for a rental or will be staying in a cheap lodge in a city then you might only be interested in cheap airfare alone. We've compiled two lists for you, one with cheapest Caribbean island airfares from North America, and another with the cheapest Caribbean destinations from Europe.

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53 Responses to “Cheapest Caribbean Islands: 32 destinations by price in 2017”

puertoricoistheplace says:

Great list! I have to agree with St. Barts being the most expensive.

 
admin says:

David,

You make some good points, but I can also see that you didn’t bother to read the methodology that went into this survey. It’s all explained so you could have saved yourself a lot of keystrokes.

The rankings aren’t meant to show the cost of an entire holiday, but rather where each island and destination stacks up, at least by the strict criteria we used. The hotel data was all based on a one-week stay during the same week in late March, and there were some surprisingly good deals in some places, but all available to the general public as well. Barbados has some cheap 3-star hotels (and yes, those are self-reported stars used by all the OTAs. If you have a better measurement please let us know. Obviously they aren’t all of the exact same standard and anyone not taking their first trip will understand that.)

 
admin says:

David,
=The hotel rates were almost exclusively retrieved from kayak.com, using the final (including taxes and fees) rate for each. Check yourself and you’ll still find the same hotels available. Also as mentioned, any hotel that gets more negative than positive reviews was tossed out, so this is a survey of places where travelers are likely to book. It’s not a mushy review of “favorite” hotels.

And you also made a good point about St. Barts earlier. The reason that one came out so high is that there are very few 3-star and above hotels in total, and the ones there do have very high average rates, at least among the ones that can be booked online. I’m aware that there are also a few simple hotels with lower rates, but this survey was meant to help the typical consumer find which islands and destinations were cheapest, in the middle of the pack, and probably out of their price range. It’s objective and stands on its own. If you’ve visited every hotel in the Caribbean then I’ll happily link to your list of which destinations rank in which order of price and value.
-Roger

 
Joanne says:

Hi David,

I was disappointed with this website as I am a fairly seasoned traveler, with Barbados being one of my favorite islands. Having traveled there several times and I might add, at Christmas, I would say that you need to spend approximately $300/pr night for a decent 2 bedroom condo. The food is New York City prices and definately gourmet. I was looking for another island to visit other than the Bahamas or Dominican with beautiful beaches and fairly reasonable. We always go at Christmas time and are fully aware the premium we pay.
Any information you can lend would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Joanne,

    I feel your pain, or at least frustration. This page doesn’t have any magic solutions to finding cheap Caribbean islands that you’ve never heard of. It’s just a ranking of islands based on airfare and a 3-star hotel room for a week. By pointing out some of the highlights of each island in addition to its approximate ranking, I’m hoping it might help some people consider an island they hadn’t considered before. But I think most people know of the cheapest ones already. Thanks for the comments. -Roger

     
Patty says:

I believe with Trinidad you could include that fact that there is a $100 TT ferry ride (round trip) which can also take you from one island to the next. but you do have to use your passport for identification.

 
    SJ says:

    Agreed! Also, the local airline has several flights per day that can take you over to Tobago in 15 minutes for $300 TT or $50 US. It’s worth the money either way (going by sea or air) as Tobago has a completely different vibe from Trinidad.

     
Wm. Mc Arthur says:

All these destinations are great for travelers but what about relocates ? I’m in San Diego and I make my living off trading exchanges that are based on EST. What can you suggest for a permanent relocation with living expenses comparable to San Diego ?

Thank You

 
Carlos says:

What about Isla Margarita (Venezuela). With the non-official value for the dollar you can stay in a 5 stars hotel for only 20 dollars…

 
Stu & Robyn says:

Roger! Robyn and I were searching for a winter Caribbean holiday to take and ended up here. Ha. Great. Hope all is well, hello from San Francisco.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Stu & Robyn, Very cool to hear that. The site is busy, but this might be the first time I’ve had a random visit from friends. -Roger

     
Stella says:

From east of Canada, Cuba (than Dominican Republic) is the cheapest destination by far in all inclusive package.

 
allan manhire says:

Cancun is recommended visit, very good destination

 
Yogavie says:

Hi,
My friend and I are looking to host a yoga retreat either in July or August. We are both French (from Canada east coast and Paris) so we’re thinking maybe of Martinique, St-Martin or Guadeloupe… Would any of you have any tips for us ?
Is there any Yoga or wellness center you might have seen or explore to any of those places?

Thanks. – Yogavie

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Yogavie,

    I’ve heard of various yoga retreats in the Caribbean, but I have no personal knowledge of any of them. I’d think that there are some good sources out there for this information and I’m sorry I’m not one of them. -Roger

     
Ludlow says:

What a hoot. Cheapest in the Caribbean? Hello, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos are in the North Atlantic people. The Caribbean is a very well defined body of water and no the Caribbean is not a region defined by demographics or politics. Just basic junior high school geography.

Shame on y’all for the misinformation.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Ludlow,

    If you’d read the article and those entries you’d know why they were included in the list. How much free time do you have that you can go around the internet, NOT reading articles, and then commenting on something you thought they got wrong even though it was done that way for a reason? If you read before wasting everyone’s time by making dumb comments, you’d probably live an easier life. -Roger

     
    Panton says:

    I don’t believe you know anything really. Bermuda, Turks and Caicos AND The Bahamas are very much considered Caribbean. What you are saying makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If we were to use your explanation as to what constitutes a Caribbean country then we who are actually from the Caribbean need to be schooled by you. As far as those of us in the Caribbean are concerned those countries are all Cariibbean territories. If we were to use your explanation then countries like Belize, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are not part of the Caribbean, which they most definitely are. Again, if we were supposed to use your reasoning then we need to kick some of these members out of CARICOM, because according to you they are not in the Cariibean. YOU WERE TAUGHT WRONG!!!!! Go back to school.

     
      Roger Wade says:

      Panton,

      Thank you for coming to my defense, but really I’d prefer if we just drop this whole pedantic examination of what is and is not the Caribbean. This is not the discussion page on a Wikipedia article. It’s a travel website, and on all travel websites we group “travel zones” together for the convenience of readers. People don’t want to have to look at a separate list that includes Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas if they are comparing “Caribbean” destinations. There are plenty of other exceptions like that in different parts of the world, and it’s all done for the convenience of readers. Thanks -Roger

       
Manuel says:

You’re definitely not doing your research well, there’s an island called San Andres than is way much cheaper than any of those listed here

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Manuel,

    Thanks for the help on this, but it’s clear that you didn’t even read the criteria that we used, speaking of not doing research. San Andres does have cheap hotels and cheap food, but the flights are expensive enough that it would barely make the middle of this list. Also, the flights take a long time from the US, Canada, and Europe, so it’s not a good choice for many travelers. Still, I might create another list of small islands and more obscure Caribbean destinations to visit, and San Andres would be a good entry for that. -Roger

     
Lisa says:

Hi there,
My husband and I want to book a family vacation (including our kids ages 13 & 14) during either the last week of December or first week of January. Our budget for 4 is only $5,000 CDN. We are looking at Dominican or Cuba. It looks like Dominican will be a little warmer at that time of year, but we were wondering if you’ve heard anything about the difference in vacation experience and weather (Jan) between these 2 places. We like the Memories resort in Cuba better than one we’re looking at in Dominican (Peurto Plata), but we’re concerned that the weather will be too cool in Cuba.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Lisa,

    As an American myself, I’ve yet to make it to Cuba, but I have been to the DR and many other islands in that area. I’m a bit surprised to see that Cuba is indeed a bit cooler than the DR that time of year. But still, it looks like the days in Varadero average 25C/78F for the high and 19C/66F for the low that time of year. Since Cuba is in the Tropics, the “average” temperature is almost always the actual temperature all year. In other words, if you see that the average is 25C during the day, it’s not like in Toronto where it might actually be 18C one day and then 30C a few days later. In the Tropics, the temperature is always within 1 or 2 degrees of the average, all year round. So if 25C is warm enough for you (definitely warm enough for me), then it should be fine.

    But again, my experience with Cuba is watching travel shows and documentaries and reading about it, so I know that it’s extremely popular with Canadians, even that time of year, but I’ve not been there myself yet.

    As for the Dominican Republic, you might also look at Punta Cana. If you want an all-inclusive, you can’t beat Punta Cana for value and choice, as it’s by far the most popular and competitive area of the DR. The airport is almost new and so are the roads, so it’s really an easy experience. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. -Roger

     
Laurie says:

Wow, either this hasn’t been updated in ages or you looked at airfare prices in the middle of summer. You can’t even fly to Miami from NYC for $350 in winter!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Laurie,

    I normally don’t respond to trolls, but I can’t help myself this time. These hotel and airfare prices are updated every year, for flights and stays in winter. And in case you were being serious, you can book a round-trip flight from NYC to Miami in January 2017 right now for well under US$200 on American Airlines, and even less on Frontier. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

     
Gianluigi says:

Hello!
Thanks for this great article.
I’m thinking about a trip from NYC to one of the Caribbean island between end of April and beginning of May.
Which one would you suggest as the cheapest in total considering airfare/accommodation (renting a place…no resorts)/food? I’m mainly interested in beaches.
Thanks a lot in advance!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Gianluigi,

    It depends on how long you plan on staying. You can get cheap flights to Puerto Rico, but apartments and hotels there are more in the mid range for the Caribbean. So if it’s for a week or less that could still be a great choice, but if you are staying more like 2 weeks you’d probably want a place with cheaper apartment rentals.

    The cheapest islands are Dominican Republic and Jamaica, but both of those are mostly filled with large resorts, and aren’t well suited to an apartment rental. I’d recommend Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun, for the best combination of cheap flights (into Cancun), affordable rentals or non-resort hotels, and good food and good prices. The beaches there are good but not great. Or you could go to Cozumel, which is a short ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen, and it has some really nice beaches although far fewer rental and restaurant options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Gianluigi says:

      Thanks a lot Roger for your suggestions. Personally I don’t like Mexico too much but I could evaluate it. Dominican Republic is definitely worth it but as you said it’s mostly large resorts.

      My vacation would be something between 8 and 10 days. What about Barbados? It seems to me that it’s not difficult to find reasonable apartment rentals.
      Thanks!

       
        Roger Wade says:

        Gianluigi,

        Barbados could be good if you are finding cheap rentals there. I’ve yet to make it there myself and I know the island has many fans who go year after year. And flights seem to be pretty reasonable there these days as well. Best of luck with your trip. -Roger

         
Laura Curry says:

Hi Roger –
I may be making an impromptu trip from nyc between Christmas and 1/1. I’m thinking warm / swimming weather, and appreciate your leg work. May also consider Rome – who knows.

Do you have any ideas / knowledge regarding a quick 3 day +/- trip where I can swim in warm waters, or even dunk in hot springs surrounded by snow? hmmmm – I’ll need to check out iceland…
Thanks!
Laura

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Laura,

    You may be interested in our list of cheap places to go over Christmas and New Year’s list.

    As far as swimming in a warm spring or pool surrounded by snow, they offer that in Finland and in other Nordic countries. Your idea of Iceland could be a winner as well because it’s far quicker to get there than Finland or Sweden. Iceland is so far north that the “day” consists of a few hours where the sun is near the horizon that time of year, but you might also see the Northern Lights as a bonus. Aside from those places, I’m stumped. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Fritz Schleicher says:

Hi Roger,
as a german immigrant living in Nova Scotia I’m glad I found this website and really happy about the tips. My wife and I plan 2 weeks All-inclusive April/May 2017. We’re on a budget so we think DomRep or Jamaica. What are your thoughts?

Thanks

Fritz

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Fritz,

    I’m happy to hear that you find this site useful. My mother was born in Germany and my brother lives there for the last 20 years.

    I’d highly recommend Punta Cana, Dominican Republic of the two. Jamaica does have its charm, and more people speak English there, but the DR has pretty much perfected the all-inclusive resort scene in the Caribbean. Most of the resorts there are fairly new, as is the airport and the main highways. The beaches of Punta Cana are also quite a bit nicer.

    If you wanted more of a casual stay at a small hotel with a selection of nearby restaurants I’d recommend Negril, Jamaica. But for all-inclusive, go to Punta Cana for the best quality and value. -Roger

     
Fritz Schleicher says:

Thanks for the quick response. Any recommendation for Punta Cana for a couple on not so big budget?

Thanks

Fritz

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Fritz,

    April and May are pretty reasonably priced in Punta Cana so you should be able to get something really nice. My top recommendations for value are the Grand Bahia Principe hotels and the Riu Palace hotels. Both of those are very professionally run Spanish hotel chains with 5 or 6 different hotels each on one huge beachfront compound. If you are staying at one of the hotels you can use the facilities at most others in the same complex. The ones directly on the beach cost a bit more, and the beach is really nice through there. But all of them have wonderful pools with poolside bars and dining and all of that.

    If neither of those are in your price range then any of the others in that same area that get good TripAdvisor reviews should do well for you. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Sandy says:

HI. I’ve traveled a bit through Asia, Cuba, Mexico, and so, travel is not a scary thing for me. I do it on my own. I’m looking for suggestions on places that I can do a little sunbathing, diving, spelunking, and maybe some backpacking…but mostly some R&R. My stay is short-only 14 days…I’m looking for warm/ hot….humidity is not an issue…but too much rain is. I want to get back home with a glow. Any particular places stand out to you? Obviously price is a determiner, as I wouldn’t be on this forum. I looked at the following and really need some guidance: Lisbon, Brazil, Boracay…..I don’t want it to be overrun by tourists, I like mixing in with the local people. Thank you in advance!

Oh, and I”m planning it for the month of April 9-22.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Sandy,

    Unfortunately, Lisbon and anywhere else in continental Europe won’t be warm or sunny enough for you in mid April to get much of a tan. You’d really have to go in June for that.

    Brazil and Boracay Island would both work, and neither should have enough rain to be a problem. Rio de Janeiro does get some rain in April, but usually in short bursts rather than an all-day drizzle. It’s a bit more expensive than other cities in Brazil, though it’s also by far the easiest for those who don’t speak Portuguese or Spanish. One sad issue in Rio or many other places in Brazil is the petty crime. Especially as a solo traveler, you could be the target of a robbery unless you are so careful that you barely go anywhere interesting. I wish I were just being dramatic about this, but it’s a huge issue, especially for solo visitors.

    You might also consider Cartagena as a base to explore parts of Colombia. The April weather is sunny with no rain, and it’s actually far safer, believe it or not, and cheaper as well.

    Boracay Island is a wonderful little place, but two weeks there might be a long time. I actually spent two weeks there, doing research part of the time, and I loved it. It’s very old-school and friendly. It’s very touristy, but it’s also very relaxing and low-key. Almost all the hotels are on or very near the beach, and very few of them are chains so it feels interesting and unique. You can do diving trips, and there is excellent windsurfing along the eastern beaches. I think you’d like it, and I think you’d like the other people who go there. It’s actually quite easy to meet other people there as well because everyone walks up and down the beach path to get anywhere, rather than riding around in taxis or motorbikes. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Simon says:

Casas in Cuba cost 30 cuc .! cuc is 1 $ .So 30 $ per night .Puerto Plata 10$ night .I am not sure any rooms still near Bavaro beach for 10 $ ,as it used to be 4 years ago .

£ 54 exit fee from Puerta Valarta airport .
30 $ per night in casa in Cuba for 2 weeks ,can be costly for solo traveller .Any cheaper lodging options in Cuba ?

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Simon,

    I’m an American who hasn’t made it to Cuba yet so it’s hard for me to say. I always hear that the cheapest accommodations in Cuba are at the casa particulars, which are rooms in private houses. However, the list above is rating destinations by the cost of 3-star and 4-star beach hotels for the most part. Best of luck with your search. -Roger

     
Michele says:

Hi,

A lot of great information here. I am needing suggestions to lead me in the right direction. I am wanting/needing to get away for about a week this summer. Single, female, traveling solo. I am leaning towards DR or Cancun, only reason being snorkeling with whale sharks, however, my ultimate goal is safety. I am also looking for adults only, all inclusive. Any info helps, thank you.

 

    Michele,

    I stayed by myself at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana on a research trip. I was extremely impressed and loved the resort, but I also found it the opposite of social for a solo traveler. It was mostly couples and groups of couples where I was in the adults-only wing of the Bahia Grand Principe resort. There were some friendly people, of course, but the place was designed that groups pretty much stayed together. The only social bar that encouraged mixing was a small sports bar in a corner of the resort. In other words, I highly recommend the place for couples, groups, and families, but I’d never go to such a place again as a solo traveler.

    Another issue is that the resorts in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata are mostly these huge places on huge plots, and there is almost nothing interesting outside of them. The “town” is a disorganized collection of little strip malls for the most part.

    Cancun, on the other hand, is far more social in my opinion. Most of the all-inclusive resorts are somewhat isolated, but there is kind of a “downtown” area at the corner of the two roads that make up the Hotel Zone, with a few nightclubs and restaurants and shops. Better still, Playa del Carmen has plenty of its own all-inclusive resorts, and that is a much larger and really fun town. I visited all of these places as a solo traveler, and while I wasn’t staying at all-inclusives, I am still confident that it would be much easier to mingle with other singles or couples or locals in Playa del Carmen.

    I found all of the areas I have discussed to be very safe. The DR and the Yucatan Peninsula are both tourism factories in a way, and the governments go to great lengths to make sure they are safe for visitors. I wouldn’t say the same thing about Jamaica or some other smaller Caribbean islands. So I guess my final piece of advice would be to check the reviews of the all-inclusive resorts and pay close attention to what other solo guests have said. On Expedia you can click on an option to only see reviews from solo guests. I’m sure there are some all-inclusive resorts that are set up in a much more social way that solo guests feel like part of the fun, but not all of them are that way, of course. Have a great trip and let me know if there is anything else I can help with. -Roger

     
Tamer says:

Why the negative comments?! Can’t you simply say “thank you”? If you don’t like the list, just move on. If you think the list is missing something, then point it out politely and with respect. You don’t have to be rude.

Roger, thank you for the research and the effort you have put into making this list.

 
Amber says:

Hello Roger,
Thank you for the list! I was wondering about Bora Bora in comparison to the other locations on your list? I’ve seen so many beautiful beach pictures of Bora Bora (I love beach calendars) and have always wanted to visit. Thank you!

 

    Amber,

    In my opinion, Bora Bora is far more beautiful than anything in the Caribbean. It has a stunning volcanic peak in its center, and there are native palm trees everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s also far more expensive than any island in the Caribbean for what you get. Those overwater bungalows in Bora Bora start at around US$600 per night and go way up from there. The Caribbean has a lot going for it and there are a few islands that are quite photogenic such as St. Lucia, but none, in my opinion, are as beautiful as Bora Bora or even nearby Moorea. -Roger

     
Yachin says:

Roger,

Thanks for all the useful info! I’m recently married, and my parents gifted my wife and I complete use of their timeshare program through Worldmark and RCI. We only have 1 week, but want to find a Caribbean destination for July or August that will fulfill a few wishlist items.
– Great beaches that offer swimming and snorkeling.
– Local culture for mingling with islanders, not colonial oversight.
– High value for money at local businesses (not doing all-inclusive).
Basically, we want to feel like we live there for the week!

We’ve looked into Aruba, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Anguilla, and Jamaica, but are leaning toward St. Lucia or Anguilla.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks Again!!!

 

    Yachin,

    Congratulations! That is an interesting wish list and I wish I could help you more. I haven’t been to all of the islands you mentioned, but I do think St. Lucia or Anguilla would be probably the better choices. Mingling with islanders is kind of a mixed bag to be honest. When you see the hotel photos and brochures, these islands each look like paradise. But when you start visiting them and go into the town centers you discover that many of the islands have quite high crime rates, and some are fairly polluted as well. St. Lucia and Anguilla are two of the nicer islands and I’d say you’ll probably find what you are looking for there, but you might also want to research this on TripAdvisor forums and that sort of thing. Sorry I couldn’t help more. -Roger

     
Greg says:

Hello Roger,
Interesting list. I am a total non-package kind of guy, but if one jumps up in front of me ….. well … hay!
Anyway, having said that, I AM more looking for cheaper accom, like $30 a night. Where in the Carribean (not Mexico) could this be found?

Thanks

 

    Greg,

    For the most part I’m right there with you as a person who prefers independent places rather than package tours. The list in the article above really is the best answer to your question, and we update it with new room rates every year. The Caribbean is an interesting market. When we check the 3-star room rate averages for each of the destinations above, we ignore any resort that receives a review average rating of below 3.5 on Expedia’s 5-point scale. The average rating is about 4.1, so any resort that gets 3.4 or below means that most people are disappointed after staying there.

    All of that said, there are plenty of 3-star hotels in some of the cheaper Caribbean islands that go for under US$40 per night, even in high season. If you book a place like that just keep your expectations in check because there is almost always a reason why they are so cheap even on a tropical island, if you know what I mean.

    You should be able to find hotels like that in Puerto Plata, and still get good value because the DR is quite cheap in general. I’d say my favorite of the cheaper areas for small hotels would be Negril, Jamaica. Unlike most of the other cheaper areas on the list, Negril is mostly a series of small hotels along Seven Mile Beach. There are little beach bars where you can buy a Red Stripe for like US$1.50, and meals for US$4 or so. Many of the other areas are just big hotels that are often far from each other, so you can’t really visit the local joints when staying there. I hope this helps. Have a great trip wherever you decide to stay. -Roger

     
Edward says:

Correction: the STI airport in Santiago is 1 hr 25 mins from Puerto Plata, not 2 hrs. Also, why publish such a crappy photo of Puerto Plata, there are lots of great ones online, under commons ( free ) license.

 

    Edward,

    Thank you for the update. It’s possible that a new road has been completed since we first put this article together a few years ago. Google says it takes 1 hour 37 minutes, but people online say 90 minutes so that is what I changed it to. And I found a better photo as well. I appreciate the help. -Roger

     

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