Renting a car in the Caribbean can seem like an easy and dependable transportation choice, but every island is different, and some locations don't even offer the option. It is important to take the time to learn what is available to you in your proposed vacation destination so that you are prepared no matter what local agencies throw your way.
Rental car agencies are available and competing for business in nearly every Caribbean country. Most offer an array of international chains as well as local companies for travelers to choose between, and each has its merits. Locally owned agencies can sometimes offer lower prices but the risk of traveling without all the standardized services that chains can deliver may not be something you are comfortable with.
On some islands, rental agencies are located in airports and hotels, but a few islands in the Caribbean do not offer car rental service at all. You can also book a car rental online before you even reach the islands; rentals are sometimes included in package deals with airfare or hotel stay.
Requirements and restrictions can vary. If you are concerned about minimum and maximum age restrictions, insurance requirements and the like, consider contacting each firm directly, before making a final decision.
These national car rental chains have locations throughout the Caribbean:
|Rental Company||Telephone Number|
No matter how you book, consider these finer points of automobile renting in the Caribbean:
Car choices and availability may be limited during peak travel season.
Car rental rates are currently in the vicinity of $35(USD) to $150(USD) per day.
Weekly rates, where available, are often discounted.
Some car rental agencies offer discounts to AAA members.
Vehicle options are usually larger sport utility vehicles (SUVs) like Jeeps or Suzukis, or smaller sedans such as Toyotas or Hondas.
You will be required to pay a deposit, have a credit card, or show proof of auto insurance in order to rent a car.
Although the legal driving age on most islands is 18-years-old or younger, most agencies will only rent to drivers who are 25 or older. Some companies will rent to 21-year-old drivers. Younger drivers will certainly want to inquire before they travel and should expect to pay more.
Gas prices vary from island to island; be sure to factor in the cost of gas to your overall car rental budget.
There may be many differences between driving in the Caribbean and driving in your home country. While some island roads may be remote, unpaved, or narrow, others may be dense with traffic and erratic local drivers--traffic may even be slowed by animals wandering the roads. On many islands the left side of the road is the right-of-way, but on others the right side is correct. When signs are posted, they are often in local languages and give distances or speed limits in kilometers.
Many Caribbean islands will also require you to obtain a temporary driving permit, which generally costs around $15 (USD) to $25 (USD) depending on the island, and often will expire three to six months from the date of issue. Permits are usually available at airport terminals, police stations, and sometimes even 24-hour locations. Many Caribbean islands will honor your home driver's license for a short period upon arrival while a few may honor it for several months and some not at all.
With all of this in mind, most tourists still find renting a car to be the best option for them thanks to the independence it give them to come and go as they please, as well as the money it tends to save. If you plan to rent a car, book as soon as you can to ensure you not only have a vehicle waiting for you, but also that you don't have to pay top dollar thanks to shortages.
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