If you're dreaming of escaping to the shores of the Caribbean, you're certainly not alone. In fact, beach vacations are the most popular type of vacation among U.S. travelers, with 57% of travelers preferring a beach vacation among other destinations.
While long, lazy days on Caribbean shores often come with a hefty price tag, don't sticker shock scare you out of an unforgettable beach vacation. These five islands are among the cheapest Caribbean islands, perfect for a warm-weather getaway among the sand and waves; you'll be shocked at how affordable your ideal Caribbean vacation could be!
With an incredible mix of charming historical cities, world-class beaches, stunning tropical rainforests, and adventure travel activities you'll never forget, Cuba is a Caribbean island destination with a bit of something for everyone. Take a spin across the largest island in the Caribbean in a vintage American car, just one of the highlights of a memorable trip to an island that is truly one of a kind.
You can't experience the natural beauty of Cuba without visiting the best Cuban beach destinations. Varadero is easily the island's most famous beach town. Whether you stay in an affordable guest house or spring for one of the high-end resorts, Varadero's white sand beaches are all public, which means you'll never be more than a few blocks from this award-winning beach, ranked by TripAdvisor as one of the best in the world. Easily accessible from Havana, it makes for a great day trip, though once you catch a glimpse of the impossibly clear water and powdery sand, you'll wish you'd planned at least a weekend here.
While Havana and other historic gems on the island's western side tend to attract more visitors, make sure to visit the other side of the island as well; fly into the island's eastern capital of Santiago de Cuba and head to the tiny, historic town of Baracoa. The first city founded in Cuba, Baracoa was spotted by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the Americas, who wrote of its unique tabletop mountain, El Yunque, in his diaries.
If you're from the United States, you might be surprised to learn that Cuba isn't off-limits to American travelers; it's actually still easier to travel to Cuba than it has been in decades, despite recent years of changing regulations. For most travelers, it's as easy as simply buying your ticket and jetting off!
Remember that due to the U.S. embargo of Cuba, debit and credit cards from U.S. banks won't work in Cuba, so you'll need to travel to Cuba with cash. Recent inflation and Cuba currency woes mean the U.S. dollar is stronger than ever, which can benefit U.S. travelers visiting the island.
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The Bahamas are world famous for their untouched beaches, but did you know that The Bahamas can also make for an affordable Caribbean vacation? To save money in this close-to-home island paradise, ditch some of the big-name islands for the lesser-known hidden gems still yet to be overwhelmed by visitors. Consider the Berry Islands, an up-and-coming archipelago with more flight access than ever.
You'll enjoy lower prices and a less-crowded beachfront, perfect for a romantic getaway or a family vacation with plenty of space to spread out.
For a quick and affordable escape to the islands, consider a two-day or three-day cruise from the port cities of Florida. Last-minute deals on cruises can be a great way to have an all-inclusive experience in The Bahamas for a fraction of the price you might expect to pay at luxury resorts on one of the country's more popular islands.
Leave the passport at home! U.S. citizens won't need it to visit this vibrant island paradise, easily accessible from the mainland with countless direct flights from a variety of cities. Visiting Puerto Rico is both a convenient option for U.S. travelers and a great way to save money. No need to worry about foreign transaction fees or bank charges in Puerto Rico; plus, English is widely spoken.
Whether you're looking for an all-inclusive resort, a high-rise condo rental in San Juan, or a beach house along one of the island's many pristine beaches, you'll find it here. Plan to stay in San Juan for some of the island's most impressive resorts as well as easy access to attractions in historic Old San Juan.
Cobblestone streets with colorful architecture await, alongside must-visit attractions like the grand Castillo San Felipe del Morro, an impressive Spanish colonial fortress. Cool restaurants serving up flavorful Puerto Rican favorites and international dishes await; just make sure to head for a spot with a rooftop to take in a stunning sunset with a drink in hand.
Looking to get off the beaten path in Puerto Rico? Head to Puerto Rico's little sister islands of Vieques, Culebra, or Icacos, which are just a handful of the islands off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico that make for incredible day trips or extended stays.
Vieques boasts the incredible Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent bay you'll need to see to believe, while Culebra is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, the stunning Playa Flamenco.
Have you heard of the tiny eastern Caribbean island of Dominica? No, this isn't the Dominican Republic; Dominica is its own Caribbean country, still a hidden gem among its overrun, over-priced neighbors. While Dominica was badly lashed by Hurricane Maria in 2017, it's back and better than ever, even named on Lonely Planet's prestigious 2023 Best in Travel list.
Known as the "The Nature Island" of the Caribbean, Dominica offers a totally unique Caribbean experience. Covered in lush rainforest and featuring incredible miles of hiking trails past plunging waterfalls and stunning peaks, Dominica is the perfect spot for an adventurous and active getaway.
The island is even home to the world's second-largest boiling lake, powered by the same volcanic heat that heats hot springs around the island. It's truly a sight to behold and worth the strenuous hike.
If you're looking forward to relaxing on the beach with a drink in hand, don't worry, you'll have plenty of opportunities for that as well. The island has plenty of great beaches and beachfront resorts for your Caribbean dreams. While it isn't beachfront, the brand-new Coulibri Ridge is among the buzziest places to stay on the island.
Its impressive architecture, ultra-sustainable and hurricane-resistant, and enviable position on a hillside perched above the jungle with expansive ocean views make it truly one of a kind.
It's easier than ever to reach Dominica, with airlines adding new direct flights to the island from both the United States and beyond. The island's off-the-beaten-path feel is more than just an attractive feature; it also keeps it among the cheapest Caribbean islands for visitors.
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The Dominican Republic is the most visited island nation in the Caribbean, welcoming millions of visitors every year to its pristine shores. However, it's also well known for its luxurious yet budget-busting resorts, leading many would-be travelers to assume it's too pricey for an affordable island vacation.
While the Dominican Republic is an excellent choice for a luxury beach getaway, it can also be among the cheapest Caribbean islands for savvy travelers who know how to plan an affordable visit without sacrificing the experience.
Forget the beaches of Punta Cana and head for any of the island's lesser-visited yet just as beautiful beach destinations; you'll save hundreds and be pleasantly surprised to find an array of places to stay at all price points. Consider the laid-back beaches of the Samana Peninsula, and choose a smaller guest house rather than an all-inclusive resort. You'll be able to enjoy fresh local meals at beachside restaurants and undisturbed beachfront perfect for a memorable beach day.
Located in the southern Caribbean, just off the coast of Venezuela, Curaçao is a bit further from the United States than other affordable Caribbean island destinations on this list. Though your flight may be longer, it's about to get a lot cheaper: JetBlue is adding even more flights to this island paradise in the spring, following several other airlines doing the same to meet growing demand from U.S. travelers to visit this hidden gem.
One of the most attractive features of Curaçao is its vibrant capital, Willemstad. The colorful Dutch Caribbean architecture lining the city's port is picture-perfect and hides a surprising array of galleries, shops, and restaurants that make the capital a veritable Caribbean foodie capital. Take it all in from the walls of a colonial fort or by walking the floating Queen Emma pontoon bridge that connects the two distinct sides of the city.
While the island boasts recently refurbished and brand-new beach resorts by the likes of Sandals, Hilton, and Marriott, savvy travelers know to save money by staying in one of Willemstad's cool boutique hotels instead. Combine a cool Caribbean city break with day trips to Curaçao's best beaches, mostly hotel-free, untouched, and located just a quick drive towards the island's rugged west end.
Cove beaches like Playa Lagun and Playa Jeremi boast incredible snorkeling, while Grote Knip and Kleine Knip are a pair of white sand beaches perfect for long beach days with all the amenities.
Your Unforgettable Caribbean Escape
Your dream vacation might be closer than you think at these unexpected Caribbean destinations. With a few easy travel tips and some creative planning, enjoying a dreamy beach vacation at one of the cheapest Caribbean islands to visit doesn't have to do a number on your wallet.