The Caribbean For Less Than $25 A Day

The Caribbean is the string of idyllic islands stretching from the Bahamas in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the South. It’s long been a popular sailing, diving, vacationing and honeymoon spot, but not really a backpacking destination. It may not be the cheapest region to travel to, or be well set up for budget travel, but it’s still possible to travel here on a shoestring.

beach hammock Grenadines-001

Regardless of whether you’re a top-end, or budget traveller, with these tips, anyone can visit this fantastic part of the world!

Accommodation

Backpackers are fairly used to sleeping in hostels or budget hotels. However, in the Caribbean, you’ll mainly only find hostels on the northern islands (Cuba, Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic) you won’t find many, if any, hostels or cheap hotels outside of those places. During our trip to St. Vincent and The Grenadines we couldn’t find a single hostel, anywhere. In Grenada, where we’re currently pet-sitting, there aren’t any affordable accommodation options either.

So, what’s a person on a budget to do?

Couchsurf, house-sit or camp. It’s possible to camp on many of the beaches! All you need is a tent, or just a sleeping bag, as it’s quite warm at night. But if it rains, you’ll be wishing you had some shelter. Many of the locals in this part of the world have profiles on Couchsurfing.org and are more than happy to house visitors for a few nights. House sitting is another great way to travel around this expensive paradise, and live like a local for a few days, weeks or months.

camping on the beach

Transportation

Island hopping is a great way to see the Caribbean, but the cost of ferries can add up, plus, there aren’t always inter-island connections available. Try speaking with local fishermen or cargo boats that are bringing goods from one island to the next. Often they will give you a ride, for a fee, but it will be much cheaper than if you bought an official ticket on a ferry.

Another idea is to hitch-hike on sailboats! Many people do this. Just ask around at the docks, bars, or provisions shops and see if anyone is going your way. Typically, they’ll just let you jump on board, but you may be asked to help out a bit on the boat. Either way, it’s a fantastic way to get around.

Once you’re on your island of choice, opt for local mini-buses, which are typically $2 USD / ride. Private taxis cost much more. Alternatively, you can hitch-hike, which is very common on the islands. Just be prepared to hop in the back of a pick-up truck!

ride on a cargo boat

Food

Unfortunately, even food at the grocery stores in the Caribbean can be quite expensive. Your best bet is to buy local fruits, fresh made breads and anything that you need to “just add water”! Foods like instant noodles and oatmeal are always a good breakfast or snack. If you’re travelling in the right season, you’ll often see mangoes on the street that have fallen from a nearby tree. They’re free for the picking, as long as you’re not on anyone’s property.

On certain days, usually the weekend, you’ll see vendors setting up BBQs on the side of the road. This is a great place to get some inexpensive chicken or pork, as well as mingle with the local people. Look for little shops selling local bakes like roti bread stuffed with chicken and curried vegetables, or other baked goods.

Bottled water can be quite pricey, but on many of the islands, the water from the tap is safe to drink! Beer is fairly priced at about $1.50/bottle. Rum is popular throughout the Caribbean as well and is very cheap.

friday night BBQ

In Conclusion

Many budget travellers are intimidated by the Caribbean, and worry that travelling here may break the bank. Although it costs more to travel in this part of the world than Asia, it’s still affordable if you follow the budget tips above. If you make the effort to get here, you’ll be in for one amazing adventure!

Have you ever been to the Caribbean before? Did you find it expensive? Share with us!

Author’s Bio:

Nick and Dariece are the couple behind goats on the road Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they’ve been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They’re also full time contributors at Travel Pulse and Credit Walk where they share their stories and expertise of long-term travel. Check them out at Goats On The Road and follow them on Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

 

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37 Comments

  • Hi Agness!

    Thanks so much for having us on your awesome site! The Caribbean has been our home for the past 7 months and we wanted to show people that you can travel here on a budget :)

    Cheers!

  • Great tips!! I live in the Caribbean and it can be a very expensive place to live and visit. Finding local food is the best way to keep costs down as usually food is just as expensive as at restaurants in big North American cities. Ask the locals :)

    • I totally agree. Food can be so expensive, especially in restaurants. Local food is the best anyways, we’re happy to eat that :)

      Thank you for commenting Rika!

  • Nice article.

    I went backpacking around the West Indies of the Caribbean for 2 months and I agree with you guys. It’s not that easy but it’s possible to travel under 25 USD a day. Grenada was probably the island I liked the most to get to know the locals. People are really friendly here. There is a budget hostel in a Cocoa Farm in Non Pariel by the way. They have dorm-style and private cabin accommodation. Great people too.

    I wrote a guide about the area in case somebody needs more info:
    http://www.cyclingelmundo.com/how-to-travel-the-caribbean-backpacking-on-a-budget-25-usdday/

    • Hey Antonio!
      Wow, just checked out your article, you guys are doing an awesome job on the budget in this expensive part of the world! I’ve been living in Grenada for 7 months now and have never heard, or seen, that hostel? Sounds interesting! Couch Surfing is for sure a great idea.

      Thanks so much for sharing :)

  • its true – i havent been to the carribbean but looked into it before. so expensive! One day maybe. From Australia it’s soooooooooooooo far as well!

    great post though!

    • True, it’s quite far from Oz! It’s more of a North American/European destination I think…but come on over if you can! The Caribbean is beautiful :)

      Thank you for your comment.

  • Hi Nick and Dariece,great post. I follow your blog ‘goats on the road’ and notice you’ve been to many parts of the world. I’m interested to know your opinion cost wise and experience wise how the Caribbean compares to similar beach destinations in East Africa (Mozambique,Tanzania,Zanzibar and Kenya).

    • Hi Rachel :)

      Thanks for the comment. It really depends on where in the Caribbean you are planning to travel to. Places like St. Lucia and Barbados are more costly than Grenada and the Dominican Republic.

      We’ve been to all 4 of those African countries you listed, as well as the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Grenada in the Caribbean.

      If you follow the budget tips above – cooking your own basic food, eating local food, hitchhiking, taking local minibuses, and camping/couchsurfing/house sitting – then you can travel the Caribbean quite cheaply. If you eat at restaurants and stay in a hotel in the Caribbean, it’s quite costly. For Africa, food, lodging and transportation is affordable.

      Honestly, all of the countries are doable on a budget, you just need to be savvy!

      Experience-wise, it’s two completely different parts of the world, each with it’s own pros and cons. English is widely spoken in the Caribbean, more so than in the African countries you listed. All have fantastic beaches, people are friendly in all. The Swahili and Portuguese food in eastern Africa is really good, and the caribbean curries and local foods are good too.

      I hope this helps somewhat?!

  • The Caribbean is one of those destinations I’ve always dreamt of, but just thought I could never afford. Thanks for showing me otherwise! I’ve visited the Caribbean sea in Mexico and Honduras and it was flat out gorgeous so I can only imagine how the islands must be like.

    • The islands in the Caribbean are lovely :) Never been to Honduras, but it’s supposed to be beautiful there!

      It’s much cheaper to travel in Mexico and Central America than it is to visit the Caribbean, but honestly, by following some simple budget tips, you’ll be able to do it!

      Thanks for commenting Miriam :)

  • never would I of imagined the Caribbean to be so affordable. Thanks for this inspiring article…. packing my bags as we speak (not really, but the idea is nice)

  • Thanks for this! I have been to the Caribbean albeit the Dominican Republican. It was years ago and the only time I’ve been in that neck of the wood. It was awfully expensive, and I didn’t like it. Having said that, I think it was because I was pregnant. I didn’t like anything at the time LOL!

  • Great advice! We found a really rickety old hostel on Trinidad for about $14 a night including food. The buses were super cheap there and on Tobago we did a work exchange with workaway- that made it pretty reasonable. I don’t think you would want to camp most places on Trinidad- local people were very keen to tell us that it’s not safe and they do have quite a dodgy crime rate!

  • Thank you so much! No, really. I’ve been surfing the endless pages of web to find some sense in my idea of “backpacking” Caribbean. Flooded by negativity and “you need at least 2000 per week to island hop Caribbean” comments have gotten me down low. After reading your post, I’m full on enthusiasm again! So thanks again, Ill defo be following your guidelines. AWESOME PICS TOO, guys! :)

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