Caribbean Vacation Rentals Tips

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What can I expect from surrounding towns on our caribbean family vacation?

Caribbean Towns

Caribbean cities are filled with glorious architecture flavored by their British, Dutch, Spanish, American, French, or Danish heritage. Capitals such as Santo Domingo are built just right for walking/talking tours. And, there are even a variety of duty-free shops to enhance the Caribbean family vacation.

After a grand time at the islands it is souvenir time—remember, however, that there are custom regulations and of course limits so you can't be greedy. Each returning person (over 19 years of age) may take back: 2 liters of alcohol, 200 cigarettes (or 250 grams of tobacco), 60ml of perfume, and up to $145 worth of other goods!

What can I expect regarding surroundings of Caribean vacation rentals?

Caribean Vacation Rentals Surroundings

Whether it's an exceptional private villa, a triple star hotel, or that special Caribbean vacation rental, kick back and enjoy sunny days, balmy nights, and warm Caribbean waters. Glorious views of white sandy beaches and tropical fruit bearing trees will greet your eyes and refresh your tired soul! There are beaches to appeal to just about anyone. Just a few types include family beaches, nude beaches, and religious beaches.

If quality is what you crave, look for a Caribbean beach that was awarded a Caribbean Blue Flag beach—based on compliance with 24 criteria covering the following aspects:

• Water Quality
• Environmental Education and Information
• Environmental Management
• Safety and Services

How can I get the best value out of my caribbean family vacation?

Caribbean Family Vacation

Want a wonderful Caribbean family vacation at a deluxe hotel or top quality condo and still get terrific value out your money? Try an all-inclusive resort, where accommodations, meals, jammed-packed children activities, and more are rolled into one price. There is much to enjoy, see and do!

*Ask you hotel or resort about activities for the children. Some have supervised activities like ping pong, swimming, snorkeling, watching movies and many other island type activities to entertain them. And, pick up a disposable camera so they can make there own memories!

Is there an age limit on caribbean travel clubs?

Caribbean Travel Clubs

Some resorts offer getaways at an affordable cost in some of the most beautiful Caribbean spots. These “clubs” provide the Caribbean vacation rental as well as water sports, dining, beverages, entertainment, and recreational activities.

Resorts usually require that a traveler be16 years or older. Depending on which island you are clubbing, weather ranges from splendid to dismal as the low seasons are prone to rainstorms. In other words, pay attention if you're planning on sunbathing. Look at the island's forecast first—rain does not equal tan!

Can the internet assit me in finding Caribean vacation rentals?

Caribbean Vacation Rentals on the Internet

Caribbean vacation rentals can be found by Internet surfing and locating agencies that assist in the rental of villas, hotels, or other accommodations that best fit your plans. In addition, they find the top discount airfare, car rentals, and other all-inclusive package deals. Want to bid on a travel auction? Take note of the following tips:

• Check out several Internet auction sites
• Read the package description thoroughly
• Keep close watch on closing date and time
• Sign on frequently to watch the bidding
• About 10 minutes before closing, stay with it and disable auto bid
• Don't be lulled into a sense of security (someone else is probably waiting for the last minute too)

Now – win that bid and pack your bags!

What about Belize in the Caribean?

Belize in the Caribean

The Caribbean vacation villa rental in Belize is as close to heaven as you can get in the West Indies with stunning scenery, a tropical climate, and never ending activities including:

• Snorkeling in crystal water
• Bird watching
• Studying the local monkeys
• Touring (Ambergris Caye to Lamanai with Mayan ruins)

Snorkeling is an exciting way to view the marine life! No special skills needed and no exertion is used to stay a float (your body is naturally buoyant, even lying face down in the water while breathing through a snorke)l. Non-swimmers using a flotation device can snorkel. So – who's game?!


Choosing the Best Cruise Ship Cabin

Like airline seats, do not leave your cabin choice to chance. Consult a deck plan at the cruise ship website for exact stateroom locations and request a specific room. Avoid cabins across from the laundry and housekeeping stations. Avoid cabins next to elevators in in corridors near the dining room with high traffic. Avoid outside cabins on promenade decks where walkers and runners pound past your window early mornings. Avoid cabins below or directly above discos and nightclubs. Choose a cabin mid-ship and mid-level for the smoothest ride.


Repositioning Cruises Offer Great Cruise Values

Each season cruise lines move ships from one region to new seasonal routes. For instance, when a ship "repositions" from the Mediterranean to the caribbean or from Alaska to the Caribbean (via the Panama Canal) savings of 60% or more are common.


Least Expensive Cruises Are May Not Cost Less

Bargain cruise lines offer few amenities and perks and have many hidden costs. Factor in freebies such as free airfare, pre or post night stays, complimentary wine/open bars, shipboard credits, pre-paid gratuities and free excursions that are standard on some luxury cruises and they may acutally cost less.


Be Flexible

Cruise fares vary as much as $500 or more between high season and low or shoulder season. Delaying sailing by just one week may result in significant savings.


Book Late

Due to competitive early booking discounts, last minute deals are not as prevalent as in the past. It also may be difficult to get reasonable last minute airfare. However, flexible travlers living within driving distance of cruise ports should register online with cruise lines and cruise specialists for last minute email offers.


Book Early for Discounts

Cruise specialists say best fares are usually four to six months in advance. Booking early also offers the best choice of cabins, dining and cruise excursions.


Look Before You Book

Visit websites of major cruise lines for itinerary and fare options. Check cruise line "specials" for promotions and special discounts. take a virtual tour of ships. Look at the demographics of passengers in cruise ship adverrtisements.


Age Matters

New ships have more affordable private verandahs/balcony cabins and mini-suites. New ships have the latest technology such as Internet cafes, state-of-the-art fitness centers, interactive game rooms and luxurious full-service spas. Soundproofing is better on new ships and room decor is fresh and updated. Older ships offer a slower paced, more traditional and formal lifestyle.


Size Matters

Ships carrying less than 1000 guests are considered "small." Small ships offer more personalized serviced, are quieter, easier to get around and can get into ports where mega ships can't. large ships carry 1,000-3,000 passengers or more. The larger the ship the more activities, dining options, blitzy public spaces, high tech options and large scale production shows.


Personality Matters

Over 80% of travelers express the desire to take a cruise. The "right" cruise is a memory of a lifetime. The "wrong" cruise is a disappointing disaster. The difference lies in choosing a cruise that matches personal interests, style and demographics. A sophisticated senior will be miserable on a cruise with swinging singles or a cruise crawling with kids from toddlers to teens. Each cruise line targets a different market. A memborable cruise means choosing a cruise line that caters to your personal interests and needs. Average rule: the longer the cruise the older the cruisers.

What Are Some Good Caribbean Shopping Tips?

Caribbean Shopping Savvy

Few travelers resist the lure of Caribbean shops, bazaars and markets. Research guidebooks and Websites and learn about local specialties. Make a list of things you want to buy and a gift list. Study prices for the items on your wish list on EBay or Google items for price comparisons. Customs regulations and fees vary according to your destination. Read Know Before You Go from U.S. Customs to avoid having purchases confiscated or paying exorbitant duty fees.

No matter where you shop, seek out unique mementos that have meaning long after your trip. Here are some specialties found in the Caribbean Islands:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands – Flavored rums and rum candy, fine jewelry, diver's watches and local crafts.
  • Bahamas – Baskets, Rum and local crafts.
  • Antigua – Duty-free Scottish cashmere, hand-printed fabrics, rum liquors, and silk robes and skirts.
  • Barbados – English china, African-batik, spices, run, pottery, baskets and leather goods.
  • Cayman Islands – Duty –free designer jewelry and perfume. Treasure-coin pendants and rings, Tortuga Rum Cake, chocolates, Caymanite beads, turtle sculptures and enamel iguanas.
  • Jamaica – Appleton Rum, Tia Maria, Blue Mountain Coffee, Reggae CDs, knit caps and folk paintings.
  • Aruba – Imported china and designer fashions. Aruba Aloe lotions, Delft blue tiles and vases, Palmera rum and coconut bonbons.
  • Grenada – Spices and local crafts.
If you enjoy shopping in markets and bazaars, learn to bargain with best. Ask your Caribbean vacation rental agent/owner about local bargaining protocol. As a general rule, begin bargaining at 50% off the asking price and expect to settle for about 30%-40% off the seller's original price. Don't haggle over pennies. When negotiations reach that point, give in or walk away. Consider the economic conditions where you are and how much a few cents means in a poor economy.

Are There Special Considerations for Caribbean Vacation Rentals?

Caribbean Vacation Rental Reminders

There are many advantages to renting private beach houses and villas. First, there's the space. A hotel room becomes more confining each day when the entire family shares one room and bath or even a small suite. Vacation villas offer multiple bedrooms and baths, spacious living and dining areas and private outdoor amenities such as tropical gardens and plunge pools. Then, there's the benefit of being able to dine in privacy and avoid paying exorbitant resort dining charges. It's simple and economical to hire a local chef or whip up fresh seafood dinners on your own fully-equipped kitchen. No reservations required. No long wait times.

There are thousands of private beachfront vacation rentals on the Internet. Renting the right place for a honeymoon or family retreat requires research and due diligence. Follow these tips from a vacation rental specialist to ensure rental success:

  • Make a list of everything you require for the “perfect stay.”
  • Search and compare Caribbean vacation rentals on the Internet. Note exactly what is and is not included in the rental. Study photographs for details. Read fine print carefully for restrictions and cancellation policies.
  • Call rental agents or owners and clarify any questions or with special requests.
  • Ask for references from previous guests.
  • Ask about availability of discounts for early booking, multiple nights or advance payment.
  • Contact local Tourism Boards to verify offers and inquire about past guest complaints.
  • Book early for the best rates and dates. Popular destinations such as Bahamas vacation rentals fill rapidly, especially during high season (December-April).
  • Never pay cash for a vacation rental. Paying with a credit or charge card offers buyer protection in case of default or problems.
It's a beautiful day in the Caribbean. What are you waiting for?

What Are Day Passes? How Do You Get Resort Day Passes?

Get a Day Pass to All-Inclusive Resorts

Here's a little known Caribbean Island tip! You can enjoy Caribbean stays and save money away from the crowds in the privacy of beach houses or beach vacation villas and tap the perks of all-inclusive resorts without paying their hefty daily room rates. Here's how it works. Purchase a day pass that provides access to resort facilities, including dining and bars. For instance, at Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica, you can purchase a day or night pass and, once on property; enjoy the resort just like a guest, including unlimited dining and bars. Day passes cover all facilities from 10 am until 6:30 pm for $65. Night passes are $75 per person and cover all amenities from 6:30 pm until the wee hours

Other resorts offering day passes include: Harbour Village Beach Club on Bonaire, Sugar Bay Club on St. Kitts, Ti Kaye Village on St. Lucia, Sandals and Grand Royal Antiguan Beach Resort on Antigua.

Day passes are often not advertised, but there's nothing to lose by contacting all-inclusive resorts at your destination and requesting a day pass. Reservations are usually required and passes are limited during peak holidays periods.

Should You Purchase Travel Insurance for Caribbean Travel?

Protect Your Caribbean Travel Investment

When was the last time you knew in advance that you or traveling companions would get sick or that a storm would close the airport and stop all travel? Travel is expensive and it pays to spend a few dollars more to protect your travel investment. Research insurance you already have. Many seniors are unaware that Medicare does not provide coverage outside the United States, including the Caribbean. If your personal health insurance does cover you, call customer service or visit their website out-of-area and international claims procedures. According to U.S. Department of State health and safety information, medical care in much of the Caribbean is limited and medical evacuations cost $35,000 or more on average. It's critical to know what insurance protection you do and do not have. A comprehensive travel policy covers both medical and trip cancellation/interruption events. The cost of travel insurance varies with the coverage provided. Least expensive is not the only criteria you should use to select a policy. Policies are priced by type of coverage, length of trip, cost of trip, and sometimes travelers' ages. Average cost of comprehensive travel insurance is approximately $65.00 per $1000 of the trip cost. Compare travel insurance policy terms and rates at

what Are Some Good Festivals in the Caribbean?

Caribbean Carnivals and Celebrations

Festivals and celebrations are a passion and priority in the Caribbean. Each year the calendar is filled with festivals, carnivals and celebrations around the region. Here's a sampling of annual parties in paradise:

  • Antigua, Aruba, Curacao, the Cayman islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis all celebrate annual Carnivals or Carnavals usually in the weeks preceding Lent. .
  • Jamaica is known as the home of reggae music and the Reggae Sumfest and Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival are annual music festivals worth the trip.
  • Learn to dance the Merengue at the Santo Domingo Merengue Festival.
  • The Barbados Jazz Festival and Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest grow in popularity every year.
  • St. Lucia lays claim to “The Best Party in the Caribbean” with a springtime jazz festival.
  • June brings the Bahamas Goombay Festival and in December you can celebrate the Christmas holidays with Junkanoo in the Bahamas.
If you enjoy a good celebration, plan ahead. Caribbean vacation rentals go fast around festival dates. Unlike most major holidays, these festival and celebration dates change each year and it is best to do an Internet search or check with the Island Tourism Authority for the current festival dates.

What Are Some of the Best Caribbean Hot Spots?

Caribbean Island Hot Spots

The islands of the Caribbean are filled with unique attractions and rich cultures. Here is a sample of what some popular Caribbean “hot spots” are known for:

  • Caribbean includes the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. If shopping and nightlife are your passion, St. Thomas offers some of the best shopping, best golf courses and exciting nightlife in the Caribbean. It is also a popular cruise port with ships arriving early morning and sailing late in the afternoon. For a more secluded getaway and great snorkeling, opt for tiny St. JohnSt. Croix.
  • Best windsurfing and kite boarding is found on Barbados, Bonaire, Dominican Republic and Aruba.
  • St. Lucia , St. Martin (French side), St. John and Peter Island are most often cited as the “Most Romantic Caribbean Islands.”
  • Anguilla, Bonaire, Nevis and Paradise Island, Bahamas rank high on family-friendly lists.
  • St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Aruba and the Dominican Republic get top the leader board for great golfing.
  • Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Grand Cayman and Barbados offer some of the most scenic beaches.
  • Grand Cayman Island is a diver's dream with over 250 dive and snorkel sites and Bermuda, Bonaire and Curacao also offer great dive sites.
  • National Geographic cites Grand Cayman, Saba, Dominica and Montserrat as the most extreme Caribbean landscapes.

Do You Need a Passport to Travel to the Caribbean?

Important Passport Update

Although proposed passport requirements changed frequently in recent years, according to the Department of State, Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI):

  • Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document.
  • As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries
Don't wait. As deadlines draw near, passport applications will increase dramatically and processing will be delayed. Even if these deadlines are extended, the Department of Homeland Security always recommends traveling with passport identification. So, if you want to be ready to snap up last-minute Caribbean travel deals, be prepared with a current passport in hand.

Should You Avoid Travel to the Caribbean During Hurricane Season?

Tropical Hurricane Fears and Facts

Since the Caribbean lies inside the Atlantic hurricane track and the best off-season Caribbean vacation rental rates fall within hurricane season (May-November), some travelers hesitate to take advantage of travel savings during this period. The chance of a hurricane disrupting your travel plans is minimal and improved weather forecasting provides advance notice of potential storms. Nevertheless, it pays to keep an eye on advance weather forecasts and protect travel investments with travel insurance. Another option is to vacation in the most southern Caribbean destinations such as Aruba or Barbados that lie outside the hurricane paths especially during the peak storm periods from mid-August through early October

When is the Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean?

Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean

Anytime is a good time to vacation in the Caribbean. The climate year-round is warmed by sunlight and cooled by sea breezes. Of course, when Old Man Winter is wreaking havoc in frigid climates, tropical appeal is at its peak. In the Caribbean, the high season runs from December through mid-April. Although beachfront vacations rentals are cost more at this time, with due diligence you can still find ways to save money on your vacation.

During the off or shoulder seasons, greatly reduced accommodations and air travel offer savings as much as 50% less than in high season. For instance, Air Jamaica, a leading Caribbean airline, offers vacation packages starting as low as $599 for three-night stays including airfare from major cities in the U.S. Also, a search of Caribbean vacation rentals on numerous islands for uncovers summer beach vacation villa rentals sleeping 10 guests for as low as $750-$1200 per week. Sharing costs with family and friends offers significant savings on luxury properties.

How do you find the right Caribbean vacation rental?

Finding a Caribbean Vacation Rental

Imagine pristine beaches fringed by elegant swaying palms. The air is perfumed by tropical blooms. Sparkling turquoise waters are warm and clear as you float above colorful reefs and surrounded by dozens of exotic tropical fish. At sunset, Mother Nature paints a masterpiece across the sea as you sip a tall, cool rum drink and feast of the bounty of the sea. It must be paradise.

The Caribbean Islands extends 1,700 miles from Cuba in the west to Barbados in the East and from the coast of South America north to Bermuda. There are 30 major islands and hundreds of lesser-known and private islands. Each year over two million American visitors escape Jack Frost or the doldrums of daily life for a vacation in this vacation paradise.

The key to a perfect Caribbean getaway is choosing the right place to stay and play. Give some thought to your travel personality and priorities. Is nightlife important? Need family-friendly activities for all ages to fill the days with fun? Want top-rated golf on scenic links? Looking for action and adventure or seclusion to relax and rejuvenate? Caribbean accommodations run the gamut with full-scale, all-inclusive resorts like Sandals and Beaches, upscale condominiums, luxurious beachfront vacation villas big enough for family and friends and secluded beach houses perfect for romance.

One of the charms of the Caribbean is its diversity. No two islands are exactly alike. Search Internet sites of major travel publications such as Fodor's, Frommer's, Travel & Leisure and Lonely Planet for island information. The U.S. Department of State also offers sound advice on Caribbean travel health and safety. No doubt, smart Internet searches of Caribbean vacations rentals will lead you to the destination of your dreams.

Caribbean vacation information?

Caribbean Vacation

We've established the fact that no man is an island but that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy the luxury that those little gems offer!

• Peter Island, British Virgin Islands
• Paradise Island, Bahamas
• Oranjestad, Aruba

Any of those sound alluring? Of course they do and, c'mon, aren't we all entitled to a little fun in the sun? Pack a bag, it's all about tropical waters, marine life and sun laced sea hideaways. Grab a beach vacation rental and enjoy one of these breathtaking islands!

If you're looking to explore this beautiful destination keep in mind that June 1st to November 30th is the Caribbean's official hurricane season. During this period, bad weather can disrupt travel plans. However, if you're the gambling type, taking the risk and booking your trip for this season can get you off-season, reduced rates.

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