Sailing the Caribbean on a budget

Sailing the Caribbean on a Budget: 6 Ways to Save Money in Paradise

Written by Zuzana Prochazka
December 13, 2023

Planning a getaway to the Caribbean? Be sure to spend a part of that time on a boat because these islands are perfect for exploration by water. Boating sounds expensive, but, with the right planning, it doesn’t have to be. You can charter for an afternoon, a day, a weekend or an entire week. Shorter trips are less expensive but so are certain locations, times of the year, boat models, etc. Here are six ways to save money on your Caribbean boat trip:

  1. Plan to go between July and Oct. 
  2. Knowing your boat types 
  3. Affordable destinations in the Caribbean 
  4. Dial in your excursion needs 
  5. Taking the helm 
  6. Finding the right boat rental with Boatsetter 

Start planning your Caribbean boat trip with Boatsetter 

1. Plan to go between July and Oct.

Sailing the Caribbean on Budget (with friends)

Prices in the Caribbean vary by the time of year with high, low and shoulder seasons. High season (December to April) is expensive and crowded because many people are escaping winter back home. Low season (July-October) has a greater chance of a hurricane occurring and many businesses shut down due to a lack of customers, so there are fewer shops and restaurants open.

This makes the shoulder seasons (May, June, November) just about perfect with steadier winds, fewer tourists, lower prices and greater availability for boats, hotels and flights. Shorter charters are typically cheaper but sometimes you can negotiate four days for the price of three or an entire week at better rates.

2. Knowing your boat types

The Caribbean is full of multi-hulled boats like catamarans. Their shallower draft means they can get into more places and they’re a more stable platform which helps minimize seasickness. That said, they are generally larger, more intimidating to run and more expensive to rent.

If it’s just you and your significant other, consider renting a monohull sailboat which will be easier to manage and lighter on your wallet. Smaller boats are usually more affordable than larger ones, but age and amenities also figure into the price. If you want a full-service outing with a captain, chef, air conditioning and water toys, be prepared to spend some cash.

3. Affordable destinations in the Caribbean

Sailing the Caribbean marine life

The islands of the Caribbean are spread out and cover a huge territory. Some groups, like the US Virgin Islands, are easier and cheaper to get to which saves money on flights. Others, like the British Virgin Islands, have hundreds of boats for charter so availability and pricing are better. Some, like the Bahamas, are close by so you can fly over for a weekend rather than splurging for an entire week. Start with what you want to do and then pick the island group best suited to that.

4. Dial in your excursion needs

Save money by outlining exactly what you’re looking for. If you want a sunset sail for two, don’t book a 50-foot catamaran designed to carry 25 guests. If you’re looking for a private snorkel tour for your group of eight with kids, you and the little ones may have enough in just a half day so don’t book an eight-hour excursion. The more you know about your needs and expectations, the better choices you’ll make.

5. Rent a bareboat

Sailing the Caribbean on Budget (with friends)

On Boatsetter, you’ll find captained boats and bareboats (boats you can rent and operate yourself). If you have boating experience, you could cut the cost of your Caribbean boat trip by taking the helm yourself and renting a bareboat. 

6. Find a (safe) anchorage

Instead of docking in a marina or using a mooring for the night which can both be expensive, find a safe anchorage and drop the hook. Provision local foods like beer, dairy products and produce which is grown on the islands rather than being imported. Purchase alcohol in duty free shops on the way down and bring a small amount of spices for cooking rather than having to buy these in bulk and leaving them behind after the charter.

7. Find the right boat rental with Boatsetter

Sailing the Caribbean on Budget

You can choose models like Fountaine Pajot catamarans in St. Lucia or Lagoon 52 catamarans in Georgetown in the Bahamas. You can also opt for a monohull like the Dufour 52 at the Scrub Island Base in the British Virgin Islands. There are literally thousands of sailboats available to cater to your needs and if you’d rather get a fast powerboat, there are even more of those. Lastly, if you own a boat, consider putting it to work for you through Boatsetter because boats hate to sit at the dock unused.

What to read next: Florida to Bahamas Boating Guide: Everything You Need to Know

About us

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