Although it’s still comparatively cheap to the rest of the Caribbean, costs in the Dominican Republic have recently been on the rise, so now is the best time to go. Thrifty travelers can live on around $40 per day if they live like the locals do. Things like car rentals and outdoor activity tours can rack up large amounts of money, but food and public transportation are very affordable. There are a number of reasonably priced beachfront resorts in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.
Prices in the American commonwealth of Puerto Rico are typically around the same as in the US. By taking buses, self-catering, and finding budget accommodations, you can enjoy the sandy beaches of Puerto Rico for around $80 per day. Dining out can destroy your budget, so while breakfast and lunch are reasonably priced, plan to stay in for dinner unless you want to fork out $20-30. Admission to tourist spots like museums is surprisingly affordable—usually around $10 or less—but activities like diving are reserved for big spenders.
Trinidad and Tobago
One of your safest bets for a budget vacation is the beautiful coastlines of the dual-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where you can slide by on around $80 per day. Tobago, though arguably more picturesque, tends to be more expensive than Trinidad. Avoid Carnival season (the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday), when accommodation rates jump through the roof, sometimes more than 100 percent, and you’ll also find increased taxi fares, drink prices, and more.
The lovely lush coasts and urban bustle of Curaçao can be explored at a relatively cheap rate. Wander through Willemstad and try some of the local dining options in the Old Market (Marsche Bieuw). Try the fried plantains, polenta, and pumpkin pancakes for just a few dollars each. Amble in the Shete Boka National Park for $5.50, or just lounge on the soft, sandy shoreline under the shade of gently swaying palm trees at the island’s free beaches. To save money, avoid taxis, enjoy a barbecue on the beach, and try renting a room through Airbnb.
Nicknamed the Spice Island, you won’t have to worry about your wallet while you run around the cinnamon and nutmeg-scented air of Grenada. Inns, cottages, and lodges tend to be cheaper alternatives to hotels or resorts, coming in at around $40-70 per day for a room. There’s much to do on this island beyond sunbathing on the beach, though it’s easy to spend a whole day relaxing on Levera Beach. Explore the laid-back, fun city of Georgetown where you’ll find numerous restaurants, hotels, and local businesses.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of a group of islands located directly to the west of the British Virgin Islands—St. Croix (the largest), St. John (the most relaxed), St. Thomas (the most populated), and some other minor islands. Traveling between these islands can get pricey, but you can manage it for around $80 per day if you’re careful. Finding cheap hotels is the hardest part of budgeting here, but alternative accommodations like couch surfing, camping, and Airbnbs can bring down those costs considerably. Take shared taxis, cook your own meals, and make sure you don’t miss happy hour. Taking these extra steps means you can splurge on a few pricier activities like a snorkeling trip or a nice meal.
Sparkling turquoise water, a wild nightlife scene, scenic gardens—Barbados has all this and more, and you can easily visit the island on a budget. Stay in one of the guest houses to save on accommodation, and you’ll still be within minutes of the sea. The island’s buses are cheap and tend to be on time, and as for dining, you can always find fried fish and some local rum for a reasonable price. Spend your day frolicking in the cool water and playing in the sand—all of Barbados’ picturesque beaches are free to the public.
Explore the outdoors in St. Lucia. The sharp peaks of the iconic Pitons serve as a scenic, cheap day out (if you’re willing to hike up 2,600 feet). There are plenty of Caribbean Sea views along the way up, as well as wide-ranging plant life and waterfalls to look at. Stay in a guesthouse instead of a resort to save a few bucks, and dine out for lunch and snacks instead of dinner. Most activities on the island, aside from diving, are relatively cheap, and buses are the most affordable way to get around.
Jamaica is by no means an inherently cheap destination, but there are certainly ways to budget-travel your way through the island. Avoid the touristy bars and restaurants located around Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios, and you can live on about $100 or less per day. Eat at local restaurants where a plate of jerk will cost around $3.50, take shared taxis or public transport, and negotiate on prices at roadside stalls, markets, taxis, and sometimes at hotels. If you can make do with basic accommodations, there are plenty of relatively cheap places to stay on the island.
You don’t want to miss the extraordinary Bahamas, and luckily you don’t have to if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices. The beautiful shores are perfect year-round, and there is plenty more to do here than simply enjoying the beaches. Finding accommodations is the biggest hurdle to get around, but guesthouses and budget hotels are available for much less than touristy resorts, though their locations might not be as central. Affordable food can be found if you eat at local restaurants, avoid resort-area dining, and stick to local rum as your drink of choice. Biking is a fantastic alternative mode of transportation, though you may run into some less-desirable road conditions in the Out Islands.