17 Cheapest Caribbean Islands in 2022 For All-Inclusive Resorts

As of summer 2022 there are around 400 all-inclusive resorts spread around the Caribbean, with more being constructed every year. More than 130 of those are in the Dominican Republic, with nearly 60 others in Jamaica. The Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel area has more than 130, 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 becoming 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 rooms 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 choices.

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.

COVID-19 Update for 2022

As of summer, 2022, things have gotten better in the travel world and especially for most of the countries on this list. All of the biggest islands for all-inclusive resorts have dropped all COVID and vaccination restrictions and travel is just as it was in 2019. A few countries on this list are still requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test just before arrival, so it’s important to know the current rules.

Mexico COVID-19 rules: No COVID or vaccination restrictions or requirements as of summer, 2022.

Dominican Republic COVID-19 rules: No COVID or vaccination restrictions or requirements as of summer, 2022.

Jamaica COVID-19 rules: No COVID or vaccination restrictions or requirements as of summer, 2022.

A generally safe environment

In case you are only starting to plan your first-ever all-inclusive holiday, it’s worth noting that ALL of these resorts mentioned below are in the Tropics, meaning that it’s warm every day and every night. Guests generally spend almost 100% of their time in their private hotel rooms or in the open air. Even the hotel lobbies and most restaurants are in the open air in the Caribbean, so it’s a much safer environment than visiting a big city hotel and amusement parks and so forth.

Updates for 2022

CataloniaPuntaCanaSome Caribbean resorts are closed for the time being and many of the still-operating resorts have increased prices this year. You’ll be paying more than you would last year, but bargains are still available and when you consider everything you get the all-inclusive resorts are great value.

>>>23 Europe all-inclusive destinations from cheap to expensive

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. The cheapest months are generally May, June, September, October, and November. The islands that are popular with Europeans can be busy in July and August, which drives room rates up.

The best-value time of year is from around January 10 through the end of February, because you get perfect weather and smaller crowds than around Christmas and in March.

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 somewhat 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.

The Best Deals?

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

The 17 Cheapest all-inclusive resort destinations in the Caribbean

1Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$120 – $329 per night for two people, all inclusive, tax included
  • Low season: US$120 – $329
  • All-inclusive resorts: 33

On 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 and a lot of fun.

>>>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


2Cozumel, Mexico

  • High season: US$148 – $352
  • Low season: US$136 – $211
  • All-inclusive resorts: 16

A small Caribbean island just across the channel from Playa del Carmen and just south of Cancun, Cozumel has 16 of its own all-inclusive resorts with rates mostly in the lower end and middle of the pack for Caribbean all-inclusives. On Cozumel you get the benefits of being on an island, but also the convenience of being a short ferry ride from an interesting town and some famous ruins and other sights.

Cozumel has its own airport and if you can get a direct flight into it you can often get a good fare. But the Cancun Airport is much larger and has many more direct destinations, so you might actually save both time and money by flying in and out of that one.

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


3Playa del Carmen, Mexico

  • High season: US$201 – $291
  • Low season: US$161 – $449
  • All-inclusive resorts: 30

Only about an hour by road south of Cancun and its huge airport, Playa del Carmen is a lively tourist town filled with hotels, shops, and activities. Nearly all of the all-inclusive resorts are on the edges of town or on the beach on the road from Cancun, so guests at these resorts will need to make special trips to enjoy the town itself.

Room rates at all-inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen are very competitive, and package prices are unusually good value because they come with a flight into Cancun, which is known for bargain flights. This isn’t an island, but being out of the Yucatan Peninsula it feels a lot like one. The nightlife in Playa del Carmen isn’t as famous as that of Cancun, though the town far more interesting in most other ways.

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


4Cancun

  • High season: US$203 – $425
  • Low season: US$160 – $304
  • All-inclusive resorts: 85

While 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 choices for an all-inclusive holiday when you factor in the flight. The area has over 80 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 disapointing resorts 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.

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

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


5Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • High season: US$210 – $392
  • Low season: US$201 – $300
  • All-inclusive resorts: 23

Featuring about 25 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.

>>>Best Montego Bay all-inclusive resorts for couples, families, nightlife, activities, foodies, golf, and more

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


6Ocho Rios, Jamaica

  • High season: US$210 – $268
  • Low season: US$168 – $229
  • All-inclusive resorts: 8

With 8 all-inclusive resorts in the area, Ocho Rios offers mostly mid-market all-inclusive resorts, while nearby Montego Bay and Negril have some cheaper and more expensive options. 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$213 – $368
  • Low season: US$143 – $196
  • All-inclusive resorts: 4

Facing 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


8Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$217 – $295
  • Low season: US$117 – $191
  • All-inclusive resorts: 82

With over 80 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.

>>>Best Punta Cana all-inclusive resorts for couples, families, nightlife, foodies, golf, and more

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


9La Romana, Dominican Republic

  • High season: US$228 – $295
  • Low season: US$135 – $191
  • All-inclusive resorts: 13

On 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 12 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


10Negril, Jamaica

  • High season: US$235 – $342
  • Low season: US$166 – $272
  • All-inclusive resorts: 16

Located on Jamaica’s west coast, just southwest of 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 fairly 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


11St. Lucia

  • High season: US$310 – $407
  • Low season: US$240 – $340
  • All-inclusive resorts: 12

More remote and a bit more exotic than most of the choices above, St. Lucia is arguably the most beautiful of all Caribbean islands. The island has a handful of resorts that offer all-inclusive options or are completely all inclusive, and most of those are in the middle to upper 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


12Antigua & Barbuda

  • High season: US$352 – $1,204
  • Low season: US$253 – $878
  • All-inclusive resorts: 17

Unlike most of the other island groups in the Lesser Antilles, Antigua and Barbuda have many all-inclusive resorts, with more than 15 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

Update: Antigua suffered some 2017 hurricane damage and Barbuda was essentially destroyed, but most resorts in Antigua were quickly able to reopen. All of the all-inclusive resorts were on Antigua, so the situation hasn’t really changed and they could use the business.


13Barbados

  • High season: US$364 – $364
  • Low season: US$286 – $1,266
  • All-inclusive resorts: 10

In 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. Barbados is very popular with Europeans and it has a long stretch of mansions and beach houses and exclusive shops and restaurants that make it a favorite with the rich and famous as well.

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


14Nassau, Bahamas

  • High season: US$397 – $418
  • Low season: US$397 – $404
  • All-inclusive resorts: 5

The 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 five 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


15Grenada

  • High season: US$565 – $1,573
  • Low season: US$462 – $629
  • All-inclusive resorts: 3

Grenada is partly famous for being less developed than many of its Caribbean neighbors. As of late 2019 they were down to a single all-inclusive resort that is also extremely expensive, but a couple more moderately priced resorts are finally reopened a bit later in 2020. This is an English-speaking island so it mostly appeals to Americans, Canadians, and Brits.

Flights into Grenada aren’t among the cheaper ones compared to some of its neighbors, so this isn’t an ideal destination for those looking for great bargains. However, that also means that it tends to cater to a more thoughtful group of visitors, which will appeal to many.

Nearest airport: Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND)
Nonstop flights from: Miami, Atlanta, New York City, Toronto, London, Frankfurt


16Aruba

  • High season: US$601 – $787
  • Low season: US$501 – $629
  • All-inclusive resorts: 7

Just 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 7 or so all-inclusive resorts tend to be aimed primarily at the upmarket crowd.

During the autumn months you can get better deals 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


17St. Maarten/St Martin

  • High season: US$? – $?
  • Low season: US$? – $?
  • All-inclusive resorts: 3

As of late 2021, none of this island’s 3 all-inclusives are showing availability. Hopefully this will change in early 2022.

Partly a French territory (in the north) and a Dutch territory (in the south), Saint Maarten/Sint Martin only has 4 all-inclusive resorts and all four of them were knocked out of commission in the 2017 hurricanes, but they are now all reopen and probably nicer than ever.

The all-inclusive resorts here are all in the mid range on the price scale, so each of the four could be considered by almost anyone looking to come here. You’ll get lower prices and better value at the destinations nearer the top of this list, but this island has many fans who come back every year, although it’s also usually crowded with cruise ship passengers during daylight hours.

Nearest airport: Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM)
Nonstop flights from: San Juan, Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm

  • Check current St. Maarten all-inclusive package deals

  • Note: Sandals & Beaches

    Sandals is arguably the most famous high-end all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, and Beaches is the company’s family-oriented brand. Curiously enough, those chains DON’T show up on most travel search sites so they aren’t included in the information in this list. Generally speaking, Sandals and Beaches would be among the more expensive all-inclusive resorts on these islands, and they are famous for including more than their competitors in the room rate.

    It’s worth mentioning that Sandals now has 3 all-inclusive resorts with overwater bungalows, two in Jamaica and one in St. Lucia. They obviously aren’t cheap, but still they are an extremely popular ‘bucket list’ experience for many romantic couples so they tend to be booked well in advance.

    >>Why Sandals might be your best Caribbean all-inclusive choice

    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

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    All Comments

    1. Kim says:

      Do you have any insight on destination weddings? We are looking for all inclusive (middle of the road budget). We are flexible with dates to help keep the budget lower. I would like a resort with options for all ages as far as activities, pools, restaurants.

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Kim,

        I don’t have much information on destination wedding destinations, but I do know that many of the better resorts in the Caribbean offer really nice packages. You might check one of the Beaches resorts, as they are the family-friendly part of the Sandals chain, which is the finest in the Caribbean. I know they have packages that if you book, say, 5 rooms for guests then the wedding couple gets a free room and can do their wedding at one of the ultra-scenic locations on their properties. They are all-inclusive resorts and they are always offering pretty deep discounts on their normal (high) room rates. You can get similar packages like that from other Caribbean resorts, and generally you’ll get much better value than in Hawaii. You can get good package deals in the Mexico beach resort areas as well. I hope this helps. Best of luck with it. -Roger

    2. Joel says:

      I’m looking for vacation in March for my husband and I from Chicago. Where is the best place to go that will offer variety of thing to do beside sitting around on the beach. THANK YOU.

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Joel,

        My favorite tropical destinations that have a lot to do other than just sitting on the beach or staying within a resort complex are Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. As you’ve certainly heard, Puerto Rico was devastated by a hurricane a few months ago, but San Juan itself was the first area to get back to normal, and especially the tourist areas like Condado Beach and Old San Juan. From what I hear there are still businesses that have yet to reopen, but by March I think you’d barely notice it and not only could you probably get some good deals, but you’d be helping them out. Old San Juan is a gorgeous colonial town with fantastic bars, restaurants, shopping, and sights. And the beaches even near the center of San Juan are some of the best in the Caribbean. Still, I can understand why some people might not want to go there quite yet.

        Playa del Carmen is also a full town that has hundreds of small hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and everything else you’d want. Unlike Cancun itself, which is mainly just a strip of high-rise hotels and time-share buildings along a lovely beach, Playa del Carmen is a proper tourist city with many choices of things to do. The beach on Playa del Carmen is good rather than great, but you can also take the ferry across to Cozumel for better beaches. There are the interesting ruins of Tulum nearby, and the blockbuster ruins of Chichen Itza as the most popular day trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

    3. Phil says:

      Norwegian Cruise Lines is offering 4 days trips to the Bahamas and Cuba leaving from Florida. They dock in Nassau and Havana and offer day long excursions in those areas. For many Americans like myself, this is a good way to visit Cuba. You’re doing a great job Roger. Thank you!

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Phil,

        Good point. I’d like to see Havana and a cruise seems like a good way to at least see the highlights. The normal “cultural” visits that Americans can still go on seem wildly overpriced at this point. -Roger

    4. Karen says:

      How come CUBA is not on the list. I LOVE to travel, been to a lot of these places and more but CUBA continues to be my favourite all inclusive budget destination!

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Karen,

        That is an interesting question. The majority (almost 60%) of visitors to this site are Americans, and we still can’t stay at the all-inclusive resorts in Cuba. A few years ago I added Varadero, Cuba to the main Caribbean islands by price article, for the sake of non-US visitors. But I also know that the all-inclusive resorts in Varadero are very popular and also very cheap, so I will add an extra entry for Cuba to this list soon. Thank you for the reminder. -Roger

    5. Cotton says:

      Hi Roger,
      Just discovered this site. I am single, not looking for a meet-up except with nature. I welcome good fresh food and drinks but my goal is for mindless relaxation by snorkeling, walking on the beach, napping etc. I would like to travel the last week of June. I hope to stay 10 days. I do have some flexibility. I am open to suggestions for the best places and prices. Your thoughts would be gratefully appreciated.

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Cotton,

        Since you mention that price is one of your issues, I’d recommend staying somewhere near Playa del Carmen. Flights into Cancun are relatively cheap, and the resorts in that area are very good value so you get a lot for your money. You might even consider staying on Cozumel, which is a short ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen.

        You could get even better value in the Dominican Republic, but I wouldn’t recommend it for nature lovers, since most of the resorts are huge and built on giant plots of manicured land and beaches. There also are many worthwhile sights nearby, where in Playa del Carmen you can go to nearby Tulum and also Chichen Itza on a day trip, both of which are very worthwhile.

        The main issue I’d recommend you research is to find an all-inclusive resort that suits the social scene that you want. The reason I say this is that I did a solo research trip to Punta Cana and I stayed in the adults-only luxury wing of the Bahia Principe Resort there. The resort was fabulous and I was extremely impressed by it, but it was not well set up for a solo traveler at all. I don’t blame them for designing the resort to cater to couples and groups, as that is 99% of their business. The problem I had was that all of the bars and restaurants were set up that each table was somewhat private. So if I had a drink in one of the lounges, I would take up a table for 4, and I’d be 10 feet away from the next tables. The only “social” bar was this tiny sports bar that was in a weird corner of the resort. I wasn’t going there to find romance or make friends, but still I did find it a bit awkward to be the only solo person in a sea of couples and groups.

        That said, I’m sure some resorts are better set up for solo travelers. And Playa del Carmen itself is a very cool town where you can take a taxi into the center and have everything at your fingertips. If that appeals to you it would be better to find a resort that is close to the town, as many of them are spread way up and down the coast.

        If I was to do another all-inclusive resort by myself, I’d check the reviews to see what other solo visitors said. I’m sure there are some places that are better suited to singles than the place I went to. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

    6. Tracey says:

      Hello!

      Roger you are so helpful and informative, I just knew when I started reading that you were the BEST person to ask for advice for what we are trying to plan. My husband and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary on May 30th and are trying to decide where to go. We may be bringing our 14 year old son, not sure on that yet, but basically what we are looking for is an all inclusive trip for a week and to a place that’s NOT crowded. We love our privacy and if we could afford to stay at a place with only us we would lol.

      Is there anywhere you would recommend staying that would be somewhat less crowded and not a lot of people left and right?

      Thanks so much!
      Tracey

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Tracey,

        Congratulations on the upcoming anniversary, and it’s flattering that you think I am the one to help. The obvious dilemma is that the standard business model for all-inclusive resorts is to have enough guests there at any given time to make providing all of those things affordable enough to be worthwhile. So in general, all-inclusive resorts tend to be large. I might have other ideas if I think about it more, but right now my first idea could interest you…

        In Central America there are a handful of small overwater bungalow resorts that mostly run on an all-inclusive basis. They are mostly “eco resorts” where rooms do not have all of the electronics, but are still very comfortable. Have a look at some of these a bit down the page on this list of overwater bungalow resorts in the Caribbean. A few of these places have about 6 total rooms, which are far smaller than any other all-inclusive that I know of.

        If none of those appeal to you you might still have a look in some of those areas, particularly in the San Blas Islands of Panama. From what I’ve seen they have smaller resorts there and you might find a land resort that could work. Another place to look would be the islands of Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker in Belize. I don’t know how many all-inclusives they have there, but I do know that nearly all of the resorts are fairly small and also spread apart to some degree. Belize seems to specialize in small-scale tourism, and it has a totally different feeling than the Dominican Republic or Mexico. Hopefully that gives you a few ideas. Let me know if I can help more. -Roger

    7. Olivia says:

      I am going to Now Larimar in punta Cana in May. I have seen that unlike other Caribbean islands I’ve visited, The Dominican Republic has MalarIa, along with the typical problems of chikungunya, Dengue and Zika, they seem to have more problems with food poisoning, cholera and typhoid! I’m wondering if Jamaica or Cuba might have been a safer option. Also as it is on the Atlantic side and I prefer swimming in calm flat warm water I was wondering how rough the water is, as I like swimming in the sea not pools?

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Olivia,

        I’m no expert on insect-born Tropical diseases, but I can tell you that the Dominican Republic has hundreds of large all-inclusive resorts, mostly in Punta Cana, and I haven’t heard of any guests contracting malaria or any of the others. I believe malaria is common in jungles and rain forests and less common on windy beaches.

        As for food poisoning I believe that is more of a resort-by-resort issue. If a restaurant has lax hygiene procedures you can get food poisoning anywhere. If hotel reviews start showing groups of people who have come down with food poisoning, it could ruin their reputation quickly. In my experience the big chain hotels do a great job with this because they know how important food safety is. But if you see a hotel that has problems with it, then avoiding it is probably best.

        As an American I haven’t been to Cuba so I can’t comment. But Jamaica is definitely more wild than the DR. In Punta Cana the resorts are set in manicured grounds that were mostly empty before that, but in Jamaica they are more set in the natural forest and beaches and such. In other words, I’d guess that the DR is a bit safer than Jamaica, but it’s only a guess.

        The sea water in the Bavaro Beach area where your resort is is quite calm. It’s not turquoise, of course, but the tiny waves aren’t nearly big enough even for body surfing, much less actual surfing. I think you’ll have a great time there. -Roger

    8. Marcia Traylor says:

      I am looking for an affordable family-friendly all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Mexico is an option, but Jamaica is not. The budget is extremely important but so is safety and quality. Any come to mind? If I could choose, Turks/Caicos, Barbados, USVI, St Marteen, Bahamas, Aruba…but am open to suggestions. If kids stay free, that’s an added bonus! Thanks!

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Marcia,

        One sort of strange thing about all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean is that they are almost all concentrated on the islands listed here. We list any island or destination that has at least 4 all-inclusive resorts, so the islands not listed have 3 or fewer. If you aren’t interested in the Dominican Republic, which has the most, you should probably focus on Mexico if budget is a priority. Flights into the Cancun airport are going to be quite a bit cheaper than to most of the islands on your list, and since there are well over 100 all-inclusive resorts in that area, you get more for your money as well.

        In my opinion the area around Cancun is extremely safe. Personally, I’m more partial to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, which are both on the list above, than Cancun itself. Cancun has slightly better beaches, but those other two have far more things to see and do outside of the resorts. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

    9. Peter says:

      Hey Roger,

      Can you please help and potentially give me some advice?

      My girlfriend and I (both 25) are looking pretty last second to plan a trip in either Puerto Plata or Punta Cana for the week of April 17.

      We took a look at the weather and it appeared every single day has the forecast of rain/thunderstorms. Is it a bad time to go during the middle of April or are those weather forecasts most likely false? Also, I read a few comments above regarding Luxury Bahia resorts. Is there a specific one you’d recommend? We are looking to just go and relax. Additionally, would you suggest Punta Cana over Puerto Plata? I noticed the prices are significantly cheaper at Puerto Plata, but I’d rather spend a bit more to not be disappointed.

      Looking forward to hearing back from you,

      Thank you!

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Peter,

        The real wet season in the Dominican Republic starts in May and goes on through November, but it doesn’t have a season where you can expect long periods of rain over days and weeks. The rain storms are typical of the Tropics, where it’s clear in the morning and then starts clouding up in the mid afternoon. Then around 3pm the skies might open up for 20 minutes or so, but you can see what is happening so it’s usually easy to reach shelter. Then it suddenly stops and starts clearing up, with the skies often being blue again by 6pm. As a result, the weather forecast will have to mention that thundershowers are possible or likely for that day, even though they usually only last 30 minutes or so. And sometimes they happen overnight.

        Once in a while you might get unlucky and a storm will last for a few hours, but almost never more than that, and usually way shorter. The rain also brings temperatures down a bit, which can feel welcome. These thunderstorms can happen any time of year, although more from May through November than the other months.

        Punta Cana has a better and newer airport, and most of the big resorts there are newer as well. The beaches are also a bit nicer.

        Bahia Principe is a Spanish chain of higher-end resort hotels, and the Luxury label is used for their best properties. The only one I’ve stayed at is the one in Punta Cana and I was extremely impressed by the quality and what you get for the money. Overall I think you should pay close attention to the reviews of the resorts and find one that matches what you are looking for. Many of the resorts in Puerto Plata are very nice as well, and there are some less-nice ones in Punta Cana. The Spanish chains, including Riu, seem to offer very good value there. I’m sure you’ll have a great time if you find a resort that gets mainly positive reviews and get it at a good price. -Roger

    10. Overwhelmed says:

      Hi Roger,

      Hoping for a little advice. My husband and I plus our two daughters (10 and 8) are in the beginning stages of planning our first vacation in a long time. Hoping for May. I was originally thinking all inclusive would be the way to go but saw a few comments above stating that a lot of the price goes towards alcohol so I am wondering what your advice would be (my husband and I would have a drink or two, but nothing excessive). We really want gorgeous sand, turquoise water, and something a little more exotic than DR and Mexico, but price is also a consideration (hoping to not go over $7000 CND). We were looking at Grand Bahia in Negril at the recommendation of a travel agent, but then heard some bad reviews of Jamaica in general.

      Basically, we know nothing about the different islands and are starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Just wondering what you would suggest for us. We are looking at staying for 10 days. My daughters want to swim with dolphins and maybe do another excursion or two, but we really want good food, a great resort, and a great beach.

      Looking forward to your advice! Thank you.

      1. Roger Wade says:

        Overwhelmed,

        Out of the thousands of comments on this site, you are the first one to use this kind of a Dear Abby-style name. Congrats!

        I understand your confusion on this. Negril is my favorite part of Jamaica, but the whole island does deserve much of the criticism it gets. Unfortunately, the local merchants and roaming souvenir sellers in Jamaica do become very annoying. Each one becomes more aggressive and more manipulative than the next one, and this ends up causing many visitors to vow never to come back. If you were to book into an all-inclusive that controls the roaming sales people, which I think some of them do a good job with, then I think it’s worth considering. Grand Bahia is a well run chain, but I don’t know about that one.

        As for the all-inclusive thing, if you barely drink or don’t drink, it’s easy to feel like you are subsidizing all of the drunks (including me) around you. On the other hand, you also get buffet meals with an all-inclusive, and the ones at the better resorts can be fabulous. They are also so efficient that normal resorts are often the same price, even though they only include breakfast.

        You might want to have a look at our main list of Caribbean destinations by price. There are many more islands on that one, including some less expensive ones that have few or no all-inclusives. Something like St. Lucia might be good, as it’s very scenic but without the huge all-inclusives. Or St. Maarten, which also has very few big hotels. I think your budget should be enough for all but the most expensive islands.

        And when you are looking you can also look for resorts with a “full-board” option, which includes all meals but not drinks. Many resorts offer different options, and give each guest a wristband depending on which level they paid for. At least with full-board, you wouldn’t have to worry about food, but you also wouldn’t be paying for drinks for people like me either. I hope this helps. Best of luck. -Roger