January 16, 2014

Backpacking in the Caribbean

When we think of silken sandy beaches, palm fringed coves, and clear blue water, the Caribbean often comes to mind. The region has hundreds of beautiful islands to explore. However, while we're dreaming of this tropical idyll, there will probably be a big issue looming on the horizon like a spot of low pressure in hurricane season: the cost. The Caribbean has a reputation for being prohibitively expensive. This need not be the case. 

For those of us who are really passionate about travel, it seems plain wrong to have to avoid some parts of the world just because of cost. We say - a) why shouldn't we visit the whole of our beautiful planet and b) where there's a will, there's a way. In this blog post we'll tell you about travelling in the Caribbean if you're on a budget.

The coast of Central America

The easiest way to backpack in the Caribbean is to travel up or down the Caribbean coast of Central America. Technically seven countries are considered part of the region: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, but most of us would also include Mexico and the northern coasts of Colombia and Venezuala too. The reason these countries are easiest is that you won't always have to take a boat or plane between islands, but can just hop on a bus. You'll find this much cheaper. 

Boats - ferries and crewing a yacht

There are more and less expensive islands and places to stay in the Caribbean, but you will often find that travel is one of the biggest costs. This is often because you will want to fly. There are other methods of transport however. Where available, locals tend to use ferries. Caribbean-on-line has some good tips on how to get between islands by ferry. If you have a little sailing experience, you can offer your services as a crew on a yacht (of the sailing variety). This will involve free board and food for the duration of your voyage. There are a variety of sites where captains find crew, including CrewSeekers International and CrewBay. 

Splashing out

Don't worry, we're not finished explaining where you can find deals, but we feel that this might be an appropriate place to have a break from budget and mention a couple of exciting things to do in the region. According to dialaflight.com, the beaches and resorts of the Caribbean make the ideal spot to do some celebrity spotting - of course, you don't have to be staying in the expensive resort, but just pay for a day's use of their beach. Another lovely extravagance is to swim with dolphins. Look for the nearest place that offers the service where ever you're staying, it really is the experience of a lifetime.  

Where to stay

From the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas to Richard Branson's Necker Island, the Caribbean is famous for its deluxe resorts. Luckily, there are other options for those of us trying to stretch our cash. Yes, there are hostels and Bed and Breakfasts in the Caribbean. Another tip is to try home stay or an exchange - this would mean staying with a local family in their residence or moving your whole family to their house, while they come and stay in yours. You can always try homestaysgrenada, havanahomestay and the Caribbean section of exchangezones for some good leads to follow up. This way you will learn a little more about Caribbean culture too. 

The cheaper islands

Some islands and some areas are much more affordable than others, so finally we're going to give you a few tips for places to head for if you're after a good deal. So, let's start with the The San Blas islands of the coast of Panama, which are beautiful and little visited, also The Corn Islands of the coast of Nicaragua are also affordable as well as lovely. Any discussion of the cheaper parts of the region would be amiss without mentioning the Dominican Republic. The country seems to consistently offer the cheapest holidays around.

Finally, the cheapest deals are found during the low season. Most tourists head to the Caribbean from the middle of December to late April, if you go out of these times you're more likely to get a good deal.

2 comentarios:

I can definitely attest to there being plenty of cheap/budget options in the caribbean. Even in Cancun! So long as you stay in the city and not the hotel zone. There's plenty of hostels & hotels to stay at in centro and great/cheap food as well. Also the main square - Parque De Las Palapas - always has something going on in the evenings. more so on the weekends of course. You can head off to the hotel zone for your all day beach fix as well via bus or cab.

Awesome advice for making it more affordable to get around the Caribbean! I pinned it to my board fro the Americas for future trip planning... thank you for posting!

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