Transportation Options for the Caribbean

Getting to and around the Caribbean is easier than you might think

Photo credit: © Roxana González |

Choosing a mode of travel to your Caribbean destination may be easier than choosing the location itself. With so many very diverse destinations, the opportunities are seemingly endless.  Whichever location ends up suiting your personal travel style the best, you'll not only need a way to get there, but a plan for getting around.  Take a closer look at each option and you may be surprised with which choice ends up working best for you.  

Air Travel

If you're looking for a quick trip, traveling by plane is your best bet. Numerous major airline carriers have regular flights to the Caribbean from departure points all over the world. You can even book airline transportation along with your lodging for a package deal.  In recent years, as Caribbean tourism has become more and more popular, airlines have increased their trips to the region and lowered prices.  Air travel, without a doubt, the most popular means of visiting the Caribbean. 

Some of the larger locations in the Caribbean, like Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Jamaica also offer commuter flights to get around.  While they are not necessary (or even available) on small islands like Saba, they can be extremely useful in the Bahamas if you want to be visit more than one island during your stay.  Flights between islands or large cities can be expensive, but worth it if you need to save time and want to make sure to pack certain attractions and activities into your vacation. 


The more adventurous traveler can take ocean travel a step further by chartering a private "bareboat,"  hiring a skippered boat for a little company, or embarking on a fully crewed yacht for total luxury on the high seas. Crewed yachts come complete with a personal chef and an expert captain, so all you have to do is relax.  Ports in every Caribbean nation invite guests to sail their private watercraft into the country's seas, though each location has its own rules and regulations. 


Cruising is great for vacationers who want to experience as much of the Caribbean as possible.  Cruise ships take you from port to port over a journey that can last as little as two days or as long as two week.  Nearly two dozen cruise lines offer a wide variety of vacation packages and continuously sail to the Caribbean, especially in the winter months. Travel with family on Disney liners, enjoy lavish cruises on luxury liners, or experience romantic couples cruises on board the "Love Boat" company, Princess Cruises.


There are two countries in the Caribbean in which tourists traveling from North and South America can drive to: Mexico and Belize.  Options include bus, train, and car, be it a rental or your own vehicle.  Although driving to either of these locations can be time consuming, it is a great way to see the countryside and really make the most of your journey to vacationland. 

Rental Cars

Renting a car may offer the most freedom if you want to get around the nations of the Caribbean on your own time and take the course you choose.  For the most part, as long as you are over 25 and have a valid driver's license in your home country, you will find it easy to rent a car throughout the Caribbean.  There are, however, a few places in which renting a car is simply not possible, such as Bermuda where local regulations prohibit foreigners from driving on the island.  

On the whole, road conditions in the Caribbean can take some getting used to.  While larger cities usually have well kept paved roads, when you hit the less populated areas you'll often encounter pot holes, dirt roads, and even animals blocking the route.  In these locales, cars are not recommended as your primary form of transportation due to the road hazards.  Other countries make it easy for drivers, like Puerto Rico, which follows similar road regulations as those in the United States.


Taxis are available in pretty much every country in the Caribbean, and are especially prevalant around airports and hotels.  Even if there doesn't seem to be a cab around, you can simple call a local company (or have the concierge at your hotel do it for you) and order a cab to meet you in a particular location.  Taxi services in the Caribbean are convenient but can be expensive, especially when the driver is giving you a tour of the island.  Taxis in the Caribbean are not discernible from other cars like you might be used to back home.  The color of the license plate, or a particular number or letting on the license plate is typically the best way to tell a cab from a regular vehicle.  


Buses are typically the most affordable type of transportation in any country, assuming the country actually has a bus service available.  You'll find that most large cities have buses that run from areas heavily congested by hotels to huge attractions and beaches, and sometime to the airports.  Some countries opt to have privately operated minibus services that come when called rather than operating on a set schedule.  Whichever type of bus services offered, it is almost universal that cash is the only means of payment accepted, so always be prepared. 


Ferries are available, if limited, in nearly every country in the Caribbean, whether it be to get between two islands in the nation like St. Kitts and Nevis , or to travel from one locale to another by taking a more scenic route around an island rather than driving through it.  The type of ferry may vary by country and even city, but are usually a great option for travelers trying to save money or who love to be out on the open sea. 

While there are many transportation options throughout the region, the services available in the Caribbean do vary and public transportation may not always be reliable. Always make sure to check ahead before charting your Caribbean course, and your travels are sure to go off without a hitch. 


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