Cheapest Caribbean Islands: 32 destinations

Cheapest Caribbean Islands: 32 destinations

COVID-19 situation

As of late December, 2020, most Caribbean islands are actually allowing visitors from the US and elsewhere, although most of them require proof of a very recent negative COVID test. Mexico has the least restrictions and so far there are no widespread outbreaks at resorts or among tourists.

We have the COVID rules and guidelines for visitors for some countries in this article, and a more complete list can be found at the link below.

>>>Best vacation destinations for Americans and Canadians during COVID

Best cheap Caribbean destinations for all kinds of trips – All-inclusives, nightlife, culture, chill-out, super-cheap, and more.

Prefer an all-inclusive Caribbean holiday?


The all-inclusive trend has simply exploded in the Caribbean, particularly on just a few islands and in Mexico. It’s actually possible to book an all-inclusive resort for just a bit more than a nearby resort where you pay as you go, so they are actually the best value for most visitors. The best all-inclusive deals are mainly in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, but interestingly enough, most of the best all-inclusive resorts are in the same places, so value is great.

The main difference is whether you want to be free to try nearby restaurants or spend time exploring the island, or whether you are mainly interested in relaxing in the sun with the least hassle possible. If you book an all-inclusive resort you’ll obviously want to spend most or all of your time on the property, so it’s important to pick one that has everything you want in one place.

>>>17 Cheapest Caribbean all-inclusive islands and destinations

Cruises are another way to actually save money in the Caribbean. Not only are they all-inclusive, but the entertainment and transportation comes as part of the package. See our list of Caribbean cruise lines ranked by price for the details.

Planning your own trip?

Find the best deals for cheap Caribbean vacations:

Below are the 32 most popular Caribbean destinations (some with a few per island, plus Mexico) ranked from cheapest to most expensive. Those not sure if they can afford a trip at all will obviously choose from the ones near the top, while those who would rather avoid people who aren’t sure if they can afford a trip or not will find better choices further down the list.

Criteria for the index below

  • Hotel rates are the average of the 4-cheapest 3-star (and up) hotels in high season for two people, including all taxes and fees. Hotels that don’t get very-good or better reviews are not counted.
  • Airfare for the cheapest round-trip high-season flight available from NYC
  • 7-nights + Flight Index is 7 nights hotel for two plus two round-trip airfares from NYC, including all taxes

Caribbean islands and destinations ranked by price

(prices are for high-season winter travel)

1– Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel, Mexico

By far the busiest destination in the Caribbean, Cancun is obviously not an island so it might not count for some people. But Greater Cancun also consists of Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya area as well as the nearby island of Cozumel, so it’s a huge cluster of resort areas all served by one busy airport.

With cheap flights from almost everywhere and hotels starting at suspiciously low prices, Cancun is easily the cheapest Caribbean destination and a great choice for the Spring Break crowd as well. It’s worth noting that the cheapest hotels in Cancun won’t be within walking distance of the beach, although most will have a pool. The new hotels along the Hotel Zone tend to be good value compared to Caribbean islands. If you want to stay in a lovely town rather than along a strip of new hotels, look for places down in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, which are only an hour south of the airport by taxi or shuttle.

>>>Best Cancun all-inclusive resorts for couples, families, spa lovers, and more

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $35
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $238
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $767 for two people
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, budget travelers from all over Europe, Spring Breakers
  • Check current Cancun resort and package deals

Mexico COVID-19 rules: Land borders are restricted but flights are not. A negative test is NOT required, though passengers can expect to be screened (not tested) at airports upon arrival. Land borders were set to reopen to Americans on November 21, but it’s now been pushed back (again) to at least December 21. It’s better to just fly.

2– Samana, Dominican Republic

Samana has quite a few posh and expensive resorts, but it’s also got a nice mix of more affordable simple hotels near the beach. This is a newer resort area that is expanding at a fast clip, with a new airport with increasing services as well. Samaná is the whale-watching capital of the DR, with some very nice beaches to boot. They do have a small airport nearby, but most visitors fly into the large Santo Domingo Airport and take a one-hour taxi or shuttle ride.

Dominican Republic COVID-19 rules: Arriving passengers have to fill out a health form, and anyone showing any symptoms is likely to get a screening at the airport. That’s it.

3A– Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana has some modestly priced hotels that include breakfast, but it’s much better known as the best and cheapest place for luxury all-inclusive resorts at amazing rates. In fact, some of these all-inclusives only cost a bit more than the ones that only include breakfast. There are really good air+hotel packages available that can keep prices down and offer fantastic value for the Caribbean. The modern nearby airport is the busiest in the DR, and the roads in this area are in good shape as well.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $60
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $300
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,100
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, French, Germans, Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Swiss, Portuguese, Russians
  • Check current Punta Cana resort and package deals

3B– Varadero, Cuba

For a couple years Americans were allowed visits to Cuba for “cultural tourism”, and cruise ships started coming as well. But Americans still can’t legally sun themselves in Varadero or any other Cuban resort city and that doesn’t look ready to change in the coming months of 2021. Still, Canadians and Europeans are very fond of this commercialized stretch of beach out on a restricted peninsula. You’ll find mostly larger all-inclusive resorts here built specifically for the package crowds. Varadero is relatively cheap and good value for the Caribbean, and quality in its beachfront resort hotels is fairly high. Once Americans can visit Cuba solely for leisure, things are bound to change quite a bit.

(included as a service to Canadians and Europeans who wonder where Cuba stacks up from a price standpoint)

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: *
  • Cheapest RT airfare from Toronto: *
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: US$1,159 for two people ALL INCLUSIVE!
  • Popular with: Canadians, Europeans including Russians, almost no Americans…yet

4– Rincon, Puerto Rico

If you are a serious surfer and want to give it a try in the Caribbean then come to Rincon, on Puerto Rico’s west coast. Others are probably better off in the more developed San Juan area, but surfers love it here and often rent local houses rather than staying in the somewhat pricey hotels. Flights to the local airport are reasonable, and the sometimes-cheaper San Juan airport is also an easy drive.

5– Aruba

Almost completely flat, Aruba is another Dutch island without a striking volcano at its center. Still, it has a well developed tourist infrastructure and a busy airport with cheap flights from Europe, so it’s a popular choice for northern Europeans as well as Americans. Most hotels on Aruba are in the mid-range and upper end, but there are enough affordable places that get good reviews to make it pretty high on this list.

Aruba COVID-19 rules: Aruba requires a negative test from any visitor over 15 years old, or a test upon arrival. Citizens from quite a few US states also require “additional testing” and information is on the website linked below. You must also purchase Aruba visitors insurance from them, which runs about US$10 per day for most people.

6– San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cheap and direct flights from many cities help make San Juan a good budget choice, even if hotel prices here start higher than other destinations near the top of this list. The Old San Juan area is gorgeous and there are many surprisingly affordable eating and sleeping options there. Starting just next door you’ll find a long string of tourist-oriented areas with some of the best city beaches in the world.

There are virtually no all-inclusive resorts on Puerto Rico, so this is a pay as you go destination. If you want a bit of culture and don’t need nonstop buffets, then San Juan might be the best option in the Caribbean at a modest price. San Juan can also be a great choice for trips of only a few days because airfares are low even if hotels aren’t quite so cheap.

7– Negril, Jamaica

Negril, which is about 90-minutes from Montego Bay Airport by road, has a beautiful west-facing beach and an abundance of cheaper 2-star and 3-star hotels, making it among the Caribbean’s best value destinations for hotels that are actually on the sand. There are also many all-inclusives and upscale & pricey 4-stars, so it’s a good mix rather than just all down-market. The gorgeous area along 7-Mile Beach is lined with smaller hotels and a few larger ones plus a few all-inclusives. THIS is where you want to go in Jamaica if you want to visit the country rather than just visiting the grounds of a hotel.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $76
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $322
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $1,231
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians
  • Check current Negril resort and package deals

Jamaica COVID-19 rules: All visitors 12 years and older must have a negative COVID test that is fewer than 10 days before the arrival date, and an application completed between 2 and 5 days before arrival.

8– La Romana, Dominican Republic

La Romana does have just enough inexpensive hotels to make it this high on the list, but the area is mostly known for larger upscale resorts. The famous Casa de Campo Resort started the trend, and it’s still almost exclusively a package resort area for the upscale crowd. La Romana is often included in the Punta Cana market when you search for hotels, so you can fly into that airport if it’s cheaper, and take a shuttle to your resort on the brand-new highways between them. In fact, flights into Punta Cana Airport are almost always cheaper so that is what we used for this entry.

9– Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata includes several clusters of resort beaches along the northern shore of the Dominican Republic. The hotels here are among the cheapest in the Caribbean, and this area is also known for very affordable all-inclusive packages. The diving and snorkeling aren’t top-notch, but at least it’s good value otherwise. Flights to the nearby airport aren’t as cheap as they used to be, and the Santiago Airport a bit further south is 90 minutes away by road. Those looking for a luxury all-inclusive at an appealing price would probably be happier in Punta Cana (see above).

10– Ocho Rios, Jamaica

About 90-minutes east of Montego Bay Airport on Jamaica’s northern shore, Ocho Rios is similar in price to Montego Bay and Negril (see below and above). It’s also a very popular cruise port, so the local waterfalls and other attractions can be jammed or nearly empty depending on the day.

There are large and impressive resorts all along the north shore between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, including many all-inclusives. But similar to Montego Bay, the actual town of Ocho Rios is underdeveloped, unimpressive, and somewhat annoying, filled mostly with nearly identical souvenir shops and a few jewelry malls. If you want to stay in a small hotel and try different restaurants and bars along a beach, go to Negril and stay clear of Ocho Rios.

11– Montego Bay, Jamaica

Jamaica’s busiest airport is near the heart of Montego Bay so visitors can be checked-in sooner here than if they went to Negril or Ocho Rios nearby. This is a very well developed and touristy area along Jamaica’s north shore, with plenty of large all-inclusive resorts all the way up the price scale. All along the north shore you’ll find a string of large hotels (many all-inclusive), and there are a few good activities as well. But the actual town of Montego Bay, centered along the so-called “Hip Strip” is disappointing. In other words, if you want to stay in an independent hotel and try many nearby restaurants and bars, go to Negril. Montego Bay is really only good for its larger resorts.

12– Grenada

Known for its beautiful volcanic views and for not being overly developed, Grenada is a good choice for English-speaking folks looking to get away from the package crowds. Prices at the resorts are mostly in the middle range, but a few top-end places are here as well. Flights can sometimes be cheap, though be sure to check hotel prices before you book the airfare.

13– St. Maarten/St. Martin

Famously divided with a French half in the north (Sint Martin) and a Dutch half in the south (Saint Maarten), this island otherwise treats itself as one destination. Almost all (cheap) flights are into the airport in the Dutch area, and hotels are grouped together as well, with both halves being mid-range choices with almost nothing in the low-budget category.

14– St. Lucia

Arguably the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, St. Lucia is an interesting mix of options with some surprisingly good deals at hotels combined with rather expensive airfares. Flights aren’t always expensive though, so this is a good island to put in an airfare alert and pounce when a bargain appears. This is a popular stop for cruise ships and there is also a great mix of upscale resorts, so St. Lucia is justifiably popular for many different groups.

15– St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Known largely as a stop for cruise ships and a Caribbean shopping mecca for inexpensive jewelry, St. Thomas also has great scuba diving and all the usual water sports available. Hotels here are quite expensive compared to others higher on this list, but at least cheap flight deals are possible, making this a good-value option for visits of only a few days. St. Thomas was also hit hard by the 2017 hurricanes so some of the cheaper hotels are no longer on the market.

16– Trinidad and Tobago

About 95% of the population lives on Trinidad, but about half the resorts are on Tobago and usually people just visit one island or the other since they aren’t close together. Slightly cheaper flights go into Trinidad, but we are using data for Tobago here since it’s more popular with resort-goers. The hotel markets are listed separately as well, but prices and the overall range are quite similar and both offer good value. In other words, if you are considering a first visit, it’s probably best to book on Tobago unless you want to specifically explore the culture (and oil fields) of Trinidad.

17– Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua is one of the more accessible Caribbean islands that is known as a playground for the rich and famous. It’s a beautiful place and flight deals are often available, but resorts here range from moderate on up to shockingly expensive. Several celebrities have homes on the island, which tells you something about the crowd that books here. Still, there are some modestly priced hotels that get very good reviews, so it’s a possibility for budget visitors.

Update: Barbuda (which had fewer than 100 hotel rooms) suffered devastating 2017 hurricane damage, but the larger island of Antigua was mostly spared and most things quickly reopened.

18– Guadeloupe

Still an official part of France, Guadeloupe is very unusual in that it’s sometimes actually cheaper to reach by air from Paris than from New York. In other words, this is a very French island that caters nicely to budget and mid-range Europeans, but it can be expensive and difficult to reach from North America if you aren’t starting in the right city. Hotels here can be good value if you can get an airfare bargain.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $145
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $524
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,165
  • Popular with: French Canadians, French

19– Martinique

A favorite of French-speakers from Canada and Europe, Martinique has a relatively large population without a great number of resorts, so it doesn’t feel as touristy as many other islands. You’ll find great cuisine here, and quite a few budget hotel options as well. Norwegian Air flew into Martinique for a couple years, but the low cost airline ended that in early 2019 so airfares are much higher again.

20– Bonaire

You wouldn’t come to Bonaire for the beaches, because this small and mostly-flat island isn’t blessed with sandy shores like most of the Caribbean, but it does have excellent diving and wind surfing as well. This all contributes to more of an informal atmosphere on Bonaire, with a nice selection of cheap hotels available. Flights aren’t cheap, however, so it’s not ideal for most.

21– St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Larger than nearby St. Thomas, the island of St. Croix is also harder to reach, with very few direct flights from far away. There are also fewer cruise ships stopping in St. Croix, so it really does have a bit more of a remote and isolated feeling, for better or for worse. Hotels are quite expensive in general, though flight deals are sometimes available. All of the Virgin Islands were hit hard in the 2017 hurricanes and a few of the cheaper hotels have yet to reopen as a result.

22– Curaçao

Officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao has excellent diving and some of the cheaper hotels in the southern part of the Caribbean. It also has a large and busy airport which helps keep airfares reasonable from North America and several key European cities. Curaçao is also seldom in the path of hurricanes, so autumn trips are a great value here and come with greater peace of mind. Airfares are extremely expensive in late 2020, which is probably due to almost no flights.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $65
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $1,000
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,541
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, Italians, scuba divers from all over
  • Check current Curaçao resort and package deals

23– Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tourism in the British Virgin Islands is mostly restricted to 2 islands, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. They are beautiful and very low key, partly because there are no long-haul flights coming in so everyone has to change planes at least once. Hotels here start quite high and go up from there, so it’s only a good choice for well-heeled folks escaping the crowds elsewhere. As of 2015, Tortola began to welcome more cruise visits with its new port and pier, so development here will increase as well, for better or worse. Tortola was also hit by the 2017 hurricanes so some of the cheaper hotels are still knocked out.

24– Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is another very popular stop for cruise passengers, and it’s also well known for Paradise Island just over the bridge, which is home to the famous Atlantis Resort and Casino complex. Flights are cheap from most places, but hotels in the Nassau area start in the mid range and go way up from there. There’s great shopping and nightlife here, at least for the Caribbean. Nassau was also mostly out of the path of the 2019 hurricanes so it was completely spared.

  • Cheap 3-star hotel average: $221
  • Cheapest RT airfare from NYC: $280
  • 7-nights + Flight Index: $2,700
  • Popular with: Americans, Canadians, Brits

25– Turks & Caicos

A bit north of the real Caribbean, Turks & Caicos has a drier climate than most other islands, giving it a longer in-season range. There are some extremely posh resorts here, including some all-inclusives, but there are some modestly priced hotels as well, making it a mid-range option overall. The cheap flights often available make it good for late-season or shorter stays.

26– Bermuda

Though it’s technically a long way from the Caribbean, Bermuda gets included here because it’s a good alternative, especially from April through June when it’s warm enough. This is a very British island still, and quite expensive as well, with not a single cheap hotel available online. Flights from the US can be cheap though, so it’s still a decent budget option for a short visit.

27– St. Kitts and Nevis

The twin islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are among the smaller and more modest tourist markets, and this can make them ideal for those not interested in crowds and shopping centers. In fact, even the more populous St. Kitts feels mostly empty with wide-open land, with Nevis even more empty. There are almost no cheap hotels on either island though. Scuba diving is very good here, with some notable shipwrecks and underwater caves. Flights are a bit pricey too, so this is a good choice for scuba visits for upmarket guests.

28– Grand Bahama, Bahamas

Freeport is the second-largest city in the Bahamas and its location on the island of Grand Bahama is also the second-busiest tourist destination in the island chain. While popular as a cruise destination, hotels here are mostly in the mid-range for the Caribbean, and it’s a common short getaway for those coming from nearby Florida. For the record, the 2019 hurricane that devastated some smaller islands in the Bahamas did not hit Grand Bahama, so nothing here changed.

29– Barbados

While it’s a bit farther than other cheap Caribbean destinations, there are sometimes good airfares from the US to Barbados. This island has many good-value 3-star beach resorts towards the south, and a long line of exclusive and luxurious hotels and resorts in what might best be described as the Beverly Hills of the Caribbean. Barbados has a well developed hotel scene so it won’t feel as exotic as some of the smaller islands nearby. Some of the diving here is excellent so it can be great value for the scuba set. Flights from the US are extremely expensive as of late 2020, so until that changes it might be better to look elsewhere.

30– Grand Cayman, Cayman

If you’ve heard of the Cayman Islands then you might be a banker because this territory of the UK has nearly as many banks as it has people. It’s also a fairly luxurious resort island that is geographically off on its own a bit, with prices starting in the mid-range and going way up from there. Cheap flights are often available so package deals might be good value.

31– Anguilla

Only a few miles off St. Martin, Anguilla is a small and beautiful island that is near the upper end of the price scale for all of the Caribbean. Flights are expensive, though you can get here by ferry from St. Martin, but hotels are all very expensive as well. A few of the resorts here are among the priciest in all of the Caribbean.

32– Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy (AKA St. Barts) is an outlier because it’s not only the most expensive Caribbean island, it also has only a handful of small hotels, and most guests rent villas and condos instead. In reality, there are a few cheaper hotels here, but in-season this is really a scene best suited for the rich and/or famous. Flights are also expensive because you have to change planes nearby just to reach it.

Notes on the Caribbean Destination Index

  • Many destinations have some cheaper hotels with mostly-negative reviews, and these were not included in the Index. Just as elsewhere, Caribbean hotels that seem suspiciously cheap are often poorly maintained or located, and not good value.
  • Airfares from New York were used because they are often cheaper than from even south Florida, and they are a good gauge of prices from connecting airports. Flights from dominated airports such as Atlanta and Charlotte are usually higher even though they are much closer.
  • All the prices researched are for high-season rates, from early January through March, but not “peak-season” rates in late December.

All-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean are even better value

The prices listed above are mostly for hotels that are not all-inclusive, but the cheapest all-inclusive resorts are often only a bit more expensive than the others so they can be excellent value. All-inclusive deals including airfare are often the best deals anywhere, but still the order of islands and destinations will be similar for those as well.

Cheapest flights only

If you are looking for a rental or will be staying in a cheap lodge in a city then you might only be interested in cheap airfare alone. We’ve compiled two lists for you, one with cheapest Caribbean island airfares from North America, and another with the cheapest Caribbean destinations from Europe.

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