Money & costs
In general, traveling in the Caribbean islands is expensive, but costs can vary greatly depending on which islands you visit when, the type of accommodations you choose and how you travel.
Accommodations will generally be the heftiest part of your budget. St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are among the places where you can beat the averages. On islands such as Barbados and Trinidad, a conventional hotel room or apartment can be quite reasonable; on pricier islands such as Antigua, Aruba or Grand Cayman, a comparable room could easily cost twice as much. Places such as St‑Barthélemy and the Virgin Islands are always much more expensive than average. Of course the type of accommodations will also dictate cost – daily rates can vary from US$50 at a guesthouse to US$1000 at an exclusive resort.
Food can be relatively expensive in the Caribbean. A great way to save money is to sample some of the local street food, which is usually both cheap and delicious. Seafood dinners in open-air seaside restaurants (always a treat) can be pricey, but savoring the same fare at a ‘local’ restaurant can cost half as much. Another good way to save costs is to rent a room or villa with a kitchen, shop at the colorful markets and cook for yourself.
Transportation costs vary greatly. Car rentals generally cost between US$40 and US$80 a day. On the more developed islands, public buses provide a cheap way of getting around (plus a good dose of cultural immersion). Some island groups have cheap ferries, and if you make your plans in advance you can get decent-priced air tickets.
Note that irritating little costs can add up quickly, including local hotel taxes, departure taxes and hotel service charges (up to 25%).