8 Ways to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean

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Let’s be honest...who doesn’t want to have the best vacation in the Caribbean? The area is full of paradise beaches, crystal clear waters and a relaxing vibe. The list of places to go is huge. But while they are might be amazing, they can be super pricey if you don't plan correctly.

Today we want to help you not only to get the best out of those places but to avoid overspending on things you shouldn’t.

For all the reasons mentioned above, the Caribbean is a very popular area in the world, and the majority of these exotic places live off of tourism. That’s why locals many times will try to get the biggest amount of money from each visitor, but after reading this post you will not be one of them. So here are 8 ways that you can have the best vacation in the Caribbean while saving money. 

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Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #1: Learn to Bargain

In the Caribbean, most islands are actually fairly cheap when it comes to local food and transportation. The reason that everything seems expensive is because of what we all as tourists allow to happen. We are all guilty of accepting a price when it is told to us, because why wouldn’t we?

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After visiting these islands so many times we have learned that bartering, and being aware of what the price SHOULD be, is very important and can save you a ton of money.

When it comes to people selling souvenirs, services, or excursions, they will always start out high, sometimes even double of what the price should be! When a price is offered initially, shoot for a price extremely lower. Try this at a few places and see what kind of deal you can get.

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Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #2: Skip the All-inclusive

One of the biggest mistake people make is thinking that the best vacation in the Caribbean is an all-inclusive resort.

If you are going for a Caribbean getaway, these resorts are the biggest money waster. They lure you in with all you can eat and drink, but the reality of it is that the food is Americanized and low quality, and the liquor is not only cheap, but watered down.

best vacation in the Caribbean- all inclusive resort

All inclusive resorts may have nice amenities, but the quality of their food and drinks is by no means a deal.

Did you know that you could get a meal in Mexico for just a few dollars? Did you know that beers usually cost about $1? The money you would save by going to a normal hotel would cover your food, drinks, and so much more. Not to mention, if you go to an all-inclusive, you are pretty much not traveling or experiencing anything new.

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If all you want is to relax by a pool, than we’re sure there are closer and cheaper options than these resorts.

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Hotel Zone, best vacation in the Caribbean
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There are so many great places to stay in the Caribbean for better prices than all-inclusive resorts.

Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #3: Don’t Say Yes to the First Offer

Whether it’s for a car rental (which we will also advise you about in this post), to get an excursion, or to buy a souvenir in the street, don’t feel tempted with the first good offer you get. Prices can vary a lot, especially if you are nearby the port.

It’s just like at the airport, everything will be more expensive because they will catch you before you can actually experience real prices in town. So ask for prices, but try to walk away from the port to get better prices.

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Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #4: Use Local Currency

Stop using dollars. Sure it’s convenient to use dollars, especially because almost everywhere in the Caribbean will take them. But did you know that they inflate the price by up to 40% when you use dollars? Go to an ATM and take out some local currency.

This will save you everywhere you go! (This particularly applies to people traveling to destinations for more than just one day.)

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Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #5: Avoid the Port Area

If you are on a cruise, avoid any shops or excursions inside the port. Here is where everyone has dollar signs in their eyes. While they may boast duty free prices and large sales, this does not mean you are actually getting a good deal. Go beyond the port to find local shops where you will get better quality and better prices.

Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #6: Eat Local

If you are looking to have the best vacation in the Caribbean, then you need to eat right. The best places to eat are always local! Señor Frogs, Margaritaville, and Hard Rock might be the worst places you can spend your money. They are overpriced with mediocre commercial food. What could be worse?

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Seafood Lima
Huevos Rancheros, popular food in Mexico

The best food is always those from the small local restaurants.

The key here is to walk down those streets that have less people, go into those restaurants that aren't extremely decorative, and order those dishes that seem unfamiliar. This is the way you will not only have the best food, but have a genuine experience, and spend half the money! 

Bahamian Conch Salad

Conch salad is a local food in the Bahamas that is cheap, healthy, and delicious.

Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #7: Do Your Car Rentals Online

One of the best ways to insure you have the best vacation in the Caribbean is to actually explore the islands!

If you are renting a car, rent online. People that offer you car rentals will start their offers at no less than $40 to $50 US dollars if you are at a cruise port, and the cars might not even be the ones they’ll show you in a picture.

But if you rent a car online, you can find them for prices as low as $6 US dollars! (depending the destination). In Cozumel especially, there is a huge price difference from the downtown price to the airport price. Remember, many places in the Caribbean live off of the tourism so locals will try to get an extortionate amount of money from you.

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Way to Have the Best Vacation in the Caribbean #8: Avoid Expensive Excursions

If you are on a cruise or in a resort and get an excursion, 9/10 times you will be paying at least double what you could potentially pay.

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If you are on a cruise, the “Beach break” excursions are the ultimate rip off. Essentially, you will be taken on a bus to a beach. Maybe a chair or drink will be included, but it would be a fraction of the price to go on your own.

best vacation in the Caribbean- tortola

Make sure to do excursions that are unique experiences. Beaches you can go to on your own for much cheaper.

This isn't to say that all excursions are bad, you just need to know which one is worth the money you are paying, and which ones you can skip. For example, visiting Chichen Itza by plane is one of the best things you can experience and is worth every penny! Paying someone $30 to take you to a beach? Not so much.

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Danni used to work in Shore Excursions onboard NCL, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and we will be happy to help you choose which excursion is right for you!

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Chicen Itza by plane, best vacation in the Caribbean
Sailing around the island of Tortola

Save your excursions for unique experiences only.

Here are some examples of unique excursions worth booking:

The Caribbean is a beautiful place! We just want to help people from wasting their money, so they realize traveling can be wonderful without breaking the bank! Looking for the best vacation in Caribbean? Check out our Caribbean guides to some of the most popular islands! 

Ready to plan your next trip? Let us help! With Scratch Your Mapa Travel Planning you can now save both time and money in the process. Want to learn just how it works? Check out our travel planning packages.

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