Always dream of running off to a deserted island immediately after saying "I do"? Few parts of the world offer as much sun, sand, and sex appeal as the 7,000-plus islands of the Caribbean. Whether you're looking for total seclusion, all-inclusive amenities, affordable packages, or relative ease of travel, there's something for everyone—at every price point.
And no matter your budget, the most important part of planning a Caribbean honeymoon is making your wallet work for you. That means avoiding high season (Christmas and New Year's, a.k.a. the "festive season," spring break, and other school holidays, including Thanksgiving), when rates are inflated and occupancy runs high.
Likewise, honeymooners should look into discounted hotel and resort packages—check out our Brides Reader Exclusives program—to score added amenities like spa treatments, private chefs' dinners, local excursions, and more. But don't get swindled: Just because a package exists doesn't mean it's right for you. Check what's included to make sure it includes things you'd actually enjoy; otherwise, it might be better to book your stay the old-fashioned way and then tack on amenities à la carte.
Here are a few other tried-and-tested ways to save.
1. Time It Right
To score a sweet deal and get great weather, travel during the Caribbean's shoulder season (the end of January to the end of March, and mid-October to mid-December).
2. Fly Smart
According to Steve Simmons of Honeymoons, Inc., in Atlanta, you'll spend less on plane tickets by picking a destination that has plenty of direct flights, like Cancun; Jamaica; San Juan, Puerto Rico; or Nassau, Bahamas.
3. Plan Ahead
Book at least six months in advance and resorts may throw in an additional free night, spa credits, or comped excursions, says Margie Hand, a luxury travel agent with Andavo Travel, based in Birmingham, Alabama.
4. Package Perks
Flight-hotel deals purchased through airlines like JetBlue and American help you spend less than if you'd bought everything à la carte. You might also snag perks like free checked bags—which is worth about $100 per couple.
5. Bring Sundries
If you wait to buy sunscreen on the island, you could pay a 100 percent markup. Not checking luggage? Fill multiple travel-size bottles with the amount you'll need.
6. Consider a Cruise
There are massive deals on Caribbean voyages all the time. (Six nights for $369 a person, anyone?) It's a hassle-free way to see all the island highlights. Check out Seabourn or Crystal Cruises for luxe itineraries; Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, have super-affordable packages with similar routes.
7. Rent a Villa
There's a reason villa honeymoons are trending: "You get absolute privacy and never have to fight for a lounge chair or wait for a table," says Jim Augerinos of Perfect Honeymoons in Washington, D.C. To plan your home-away-from-home vacay, first know your budget. You'll find the best value on quieter islands like St. Thomas, Tortola, and St. Croix, but affordable villa rentals can also be found on luxe islands like St. Barth if you know where to look. St. Barth Properties, for example, has sea-view one-bedrooms for around $2,000 per week in the off-season.
If you want to be pampered—and you have the budget for it—go with a local luxury-villa agency, like Villas by Linda Smith or LaCure Villas, which can arrange an on-call concierge, a personal chef, and daily private poolside-yoga classes. If you're cool with booking your own activities and blending your own daiquiris, try Airbnb or FlipKey.
Or, if you love resort life but want a little more privacy, look into those with their own villas, like Como Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos, where Donna Karan and Christie Brinkley rent out their homes. "Hotel-operated villas give you access to the concierge, on-site restaurants, bars, and activities, plus the chance to mingle with other guests," says Augerinos.
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