The Caribbean doesn’t have to be an exclusive set of islands, reserved for the Beyoncés and the Kanyes of the world. You can experience the stunning white sand beaches, relaxed vibe and friendly people, without spending a fortune doing so. In this article, I’m going to break down some simple tips that can help you travel the Caribbean for very little. How little? Using these tricks, you can easily get by on less than $50 / day! Let’s get started.
1. Choose Your Countries Wisely
While I would never recommend that travellers restrict their destinations solely based on their budget, the Caribbean can be an expensive – and thus limiting – place to travel. If you’re on a strict budget, you probably won’t be able to visit places like Palm Island in SVG, or Calivigny Island, Grenada.
Some cheaper islands to consider:
Grenada: Hotels are pricey at around $100 / night, but great meals and transport won’t cost you much.
Carriacou: Some budget hotels in Hillsborough for around $50 / night, cheap food on the beach and tours to nearby islands for under $50.
Cuba: A great budget travellers’ destination. Rooms at casa particulars for around $20 / night, meals for under $1 and intercity buses are around $5 / hour. Cuba can be much cheaper outside of the resort.
St. Lucia: Parts of this country are amongst the most exclusive spots in the Caribbean, but you can still find a piece of paradise on a budget. Some hotels are $40 / night, meals can be cheap and transport is great.
2. Hitch Hike
Not only can your thumb save you hundreds of dollars on the road, but also in between islands. Head down to one of the many marinas and ask the yaughties if they’re planning to set sail any time soon. We met a couple of girls in SVG who had travelled through the entire Caribbean by hitching on sail boats!
Hitch hiking on the road is also common practice on many Caribbean islands. Not all places in the region have great public transport like Barbados, so your thumb can go a long way. Just be sure you are hitching in a safe place, as many islands in the Caribbean (particularly Jamaica and Trinidad) may not be smart places to be walking on the road alone.
3. Eat Locally
While restaurants that cater to tourists tend to be very expensive in the Caribbean ($20 – $50 / meal), if you head to a local rum shack, Caribbean restaurant or barbecue, you can typically get a meal for around $5.
This is also a great way to meet the locals and learn about other things that can be done on a budget.
4. Enjoy Free Activities
You really don’t have to join a tour or pay an entrance fee to have fun in the Caribbean. All beaches are free and many national parks are also free to enter. You can hike to waterfalls, trek up mountains, walk through sugar cane plantations and swim in natural pools… all for free! You just have to know where to look.
You may have to get transport to take you to these places, but if you utilize the second tip in this article, you’ll be good to go! If you’re hitching, consider heading to these types of places on the weekends when the locals typically go. There will be a far better chance of catching a ride with a family that’s heading to the waterfall for the weekend.
5. Camp on Beaches
This is a huge money saver in the Caribbean. In pretty much every country, the beaches are 100% public and you can camp on them at any time. Locals tent out on beaches on many of the islands as a weekend getaway, so you’ll have a great chance of meeting them and having a bit of a rum party on the sand.
Hotels in the Caribbean typically cost around $100, so by camping out for free, you’ll be saving a lot of money on your trip. Couple this with cooking camp food and maybe even fishing for your meals (there will likely be lots of fishermen around to show you how), and your trip in the Caribbean can be almost free.
Just like hitch hiking, it’s not smart to camp on all beaches. Make sure you ask the local authorities where it is safe to camp. If you find a beach where there are a lot of locals already camping, it’s probably very safe. Just make sure you keep an eye on your valuables and lock up at night.
There You Have it!
You can actually live quite well in the Caribbean for $50 / day. You can camp out on beaches some nights, and enjoy a hotel room with a hot shower other nights. If you utilize hitch hiking and cooking for yourself once in a while, you’ll be able to enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant a couple of nights / week as well.
The Caribbean is a beautiful place to travel and it’s available to everyone! Head out there and explore. Sail from paradise to paradise and find a little piece of heaven for yourself, without breaking your bank.