How to Travel Between Caribbean Islands
Island hopping is one of the best ways to see all of the riches the Caribbean has to offer. After all, while you’ll find glistening turquoise waters everywhere you go, each island has its own unique history, culture, and even distinct ecosystems, everything from thick jungles to expansive wetlands, from lush coral reefs to mangrove forests. How to travel from one island to the next, however, is another matter altogether. Each approach to island hopping has its own logistical challenges.
If you plan it right, though, you can have an adventure-packed vacation, bouncing among any number of the approximately 700 islands in the region.
Here’s how to travel between Caribbean islands. Take A Cruise. The easiest way to travel between Caribbean islands is by booking a cruise, whether on one of the mega-ships from companies like Royal Caribbean or Carnival or on a smaller carrier like Windstar.
There are several drawbacks to taking this route: You don’t get to pick which islands you visit, and you’re on a ship with thousands of other people, meaning that almost everywhere you go is going to be packed with other tourists. You also generally tend to spend a day or less in each destination, meaning that, depending on how you like to travel, you might feel that you don’t get enough time to explore what each island has to offer. Ferry Around.
Traveling by ferry is one of the most beautiful ways to get around. You can enjoy the cool breeze, the bright sun, and the beautiful water as your water chariot rushes from one island to the next. No worries about getting back to port before your floating city takes off without you; no need to waste time at an airport. While there’s no unified ferry system throughout the region, you can find ferries that will take you from island to island. For example, while there are no ferries that go to or from Barbados, the British Virgin Islands has an extensive intra-BVI system that makes hopping from island to island relatively easy. This is a low-cost option that allows you to determine your own island destiny. Take Flight. Of course, time is of the essence when you’re trying to hit all the sights and relax. If you don’t want to waste time chugging along on a ferry, there are plenty of regional and international airlines that serve any number of islands. Another reason to consider flying? If you’d like to visit more off-the-beaten-path islands without shelling out for a private yacht, some smaller islands are only served via plane from other Caribbean destinations. Condé Nast Traveler compiled a list of the safest airlines in the Caribbean, which operate crafts as big as giant Airbuses and as small as nine-seaters. Plan accordingly. Charter A Yacht. This is one of the best—and priciest—ways to hop around the region. If you’re willing to shell out a pretty penny, you can charter your own crew to sail from port to port, making your own itinerary based on whatever your heart desires. Generally, this means you’ll have a full crew, kitchen and wait staff included, which means plenty of time to relax while cruising through the beautiful, calm surf. No matter which way you choose to travel around the Caribbean, your best bet for saving money and avoiding the logistical headache of planning is to work with a travel advisor! I can develop an island-hopping itinerary that works for you. Share your preferences. Tell me about your dream adventure to paradise. I'll handle the rest.