On a Budget
You don’t have to be a high roller to afford a Caribbean holiday. Read our tips for bagging a bargain and you’ll soon be on your way
Lofty aspirations don’t always require a ridiculously huge budget. With a little planning, you could be feeling the Caribbean’s powdery sand between your toes sooner than you think.
The Caribbean people love to party. So put on your dancing shoes and join them in their street parades and carnivals. Dance to reggae, soca and steel pan and soak up the Caribbean vibe – all for free. There’s a carnival or festival taking place somewhere in the Caribbean virtually every month.
Trinidad’s carnival (February) is one of the most famous, but there’s also Junkanoo (December – January and June – July) in The Bahamas, Batabano (May) and Pirates Week (November) in the Cayman Islands, plus plenty on other islands and countries, including St. Kitts, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Martinique. Check the various tourist office websites for dates.
Barbados’ Sugar and Rum Season, which runs until 15 April, features rum distillery tours, cookery classes, and other events, some of which are free.
You don’t have to eat in a fine-dining restaurant for it to taste good, though there are plenty of gourmet options on islands such as Barbados, Anguilla, Martinique, Curaçao, the British Virgin Islands and Saint-martin.
You’ll find cheap street food, beach shacks and fish fries everywhere. Tuck into mouth-watering jerk chicken with rice and peas in Jamaica, lechón aside (spit-roasted suckling pig) in Puerto Rico, callaloo stew in Trinidad and Tobago, cabrito (goat stew) in Montserrat, and pepper pot (meat, pepper and cinnamon stew) in Guyana, its national dish. And do head to one of the weekly fish fries that take place in Barbados (Oistins), Saint Lucia (Anse La Raye), Turks and Caicos (The Bight Park) and Tobago (Sunday School) to tuck into delicious seafood fresh from the sea.
What better way to get to know an island than through its people? When in Jamaica, consider the island’s ‘Meet the People’ programme which matches visitors to locals with similar interests or professions – it is completely free.
A stay with a family in a homestay – a Caribbean-style B&B – is also a costeffective way to meet local people and experience their lifestyle. You’ll also get the lowdown on the best places to visit, away from the tourist trail. Homestays are also available in Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Curaçao, Puerto Rico and St. Eustatius. Cuba’s casa particulares provide value-for-money accommodation in a diverse range of properties, such as a tobacco farm or a colonial house by the sea.
All-for-one-price packages that include food, drinks and activities can work out cheaper for families and sports enthusiasts. Budgeting upfront means there are no nasty surprises on checkout. However, check what the package includes: premium spirits and motorised water-sports can sometimes cost extra.
You will find all-inclusive packages to suit every budget in islands across the Caribbean, but the concept is
particularly well established in Jamaica, Antigua, The Bahamas, Cuba, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Turks and Caicos.
Some luxury resorts now include 24hour dining, gourmet meals, and dinearound options (for example, Sandals in Saint Lucia and Amresorts in Jamaica). Also, keep your eye out for special deals such as free nights, kids eat free, and board upgrades.
Piggyback your holiday
Those on a budget can opt for the cheapest accommodation at a large resort. For example, guests staying at The Beach at Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas can enjoy all the facilities and
entertainment of the mega resort.
Work for your keep
One of the cheapest ways to island hop around the Caribbean is to work your passage on a yacht. Vacancies are advertised on the quayside in sailing hotspots like Antigua, Martinique and the
British Virgin Islands. Or hop on local passenger ferries, a cheap way to get around and great for people watching.
Spreading the cost
Booking a villa with friends and family helps spread the cost and it’s even better if the rental comes with a chef and housekeeper, as many properties do in the Caribbean. As the party size goes up, the cost goes down, with some villas sleeping up to 20 people.
Islands with a good stock of villas include Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Grenada, Puerto Rico, Martinique, St. Maarten/ Saint-martin and St. Vincent and The Grenadines.
It is cheaper to holiday outside high season (November to March/mid-april). Prices are lowest in summer – the so-called rainy season – making the Caribbean a viable alternative to the Mediterranean during these months. •
All-for-one packages that include food, drinks and activities can work out cheaper for families and sports enthusiasts. Budgeting upfront means there are no nasty surprises at check-out
l Trust Nationa UK receive a rs membe plantat ion t into discoun Barbad os with houses Trust’s l Nationa Houses Open me Program