Cheap caribbean vacation
December 4, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Cheapest Caribbean vacation: where to go, how to begin?

Buying a Caribbean Vacation for my mom as a holiday gift. We'd like to do basically nothing but sit on a beach on an island for 3-4 days. But I am not too wealthy! It doesn't have to be happening or in an outoftheway spot, as long as it is not dingy. Are there any hidden gems I am missing? Are there websites I should be visiting daily? I was suggested TravelZoo but it seems sort of hit and miss, and my travel dates would be in March which seem blacked out a lot. What can I reasonably expect to have to pay? Is there any chance of finding a flight+single hotel room (all inclusive or not) for $1000-1200 from the East Coast? Puerto Rico seems like the cheapest (and pretty easy to get to), but is it worth going to a resort there? Thanks very much.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
1000 pp? Nassau, maybe.
posted by gaspode at 6:22 PM on December 4, 2012

Instead of only the beach/island, how about a cruise to the beach/island? They're pretty inexpensive and they leave from various east coast cities.
posted by headnsouth at 6:27 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you absolutely sold on the Caribbean? You can get some decently cheap 3+ star Mexico all-inclusive vacations that are tailored to just that - sitting on the beach drinking free booze and eating all you can eat. I know if I pay attention I can get <$1000 pp for a week on the the west coast of Mexico flying from Vancouver; I'd guess similar prices exist to the east coast of Mexico originating from the eastern seaboard.
posted by cgg at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2012

I've made this recommendation here before and heard back from very happy MeFites: the Grand Case Beach Club on the French side of St. Martin is easy to get to, not expensive, very pleasant, has its own beautiful beach, and is close to other great beaches on St Martin as well as Islet Pinel and Tintemarre islands just off shore. And, the adjacent town of Grand Case has some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean.
posted by nicwolff at 6:48 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check out for deals on resort packages including flights in that price range.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 6:51 PM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

So here's a longshot, but if you're on the northern end of the East Coast, you may consider swinging up to Canada and going from there; has a page for each city, and on each city's page, there is an all-inclusive deals tab, which is a really good search of flight + all inclusive resort deals. They show sub $800pp deals throughout March for a week at a 3*. Caveat: The cheapest resorts are usually in Cuba, which usually doesn't pose a legal / passport problem or whatever (they just don't stamp), but I realize may pose a personal ethical problem.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:17 PM on December 4, 2012

Your best bets: Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic
posted by Kruger5 at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2012

That and scour the deals section of Budget Travel magazine (one of the few magazines to which I still subscribe). All kinds of places you might not otherwise consider, for pretty surprisingly low prices. We've taken at least three trips found there and had a great time. Sure, you get the odd tired charter plane now and then, but that's not that big a deal.

More often that not I've found Mexico a less expensive destination that most islands. You shouldn't forget your meal and other costs. Islands can be *considerably* more expensive for food (Grand Cayman and Turks were REALLY pricey).

As you narrow down your selections hit up the reviews area on, they tend to be reasonably accurate. Just prepare to weed out the whiners (look to see if they carp about other places too).
posted by wkearney99 at 6:49 AM on December 5, 2012

I'd do a cruise.

Fly to Florida and get on a boat. Cruises are cheap, all-inclusive and incredibly relaxing. You're in a sweet spot right now, the cruise prices are low and you have plenty of time to arrange for a decent price in airfare.

Puerto Rico is very nice, and a lovely mix of interesting cultural things to do and warm, relaxation in the sun.

Bahamas, I've never left the boat. Unless you're going to Atlantis, and staying on the property the entire time, I wouldn't bother.

Coastal Florida. You'll want to avoid Daytona Beach (spring break) but Ft. Lauderdale area is likely to be a great deal. This would be from Hollywood, FL north to Boca Raton. Lots of large hotels, sun, surf, etc.

Key West, FL. If you can get a deal on a hotel, many people enjoy Key West.

But you can see all of these places from a Cruise Ship and it will be SO much cheaper than a hotel, separate food, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:54 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check the "Frugal Traveler" column on the NYTimes website. Their Frugal Traveler column addressed just this topic within the past few weeks. A package won out - hands-down.
posted by citygirl at 10:41 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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