When some travel to the Caribbean, one island offers more than enough. But to get more bang for their buck, others island hop by adding a second island to their itinerary, and spend an afternoon or a few days there.
Ferry and catamaran services offer the chance to explore the Caribbean without having to board another plane. Is it expensive? If you know how to budget, not really, though the private watercraft services cost more.
All the Caribbean islands have some of the same features; namely the beaches and jaw-dropping beauty that continue to entice visitors the world over. But each one has its own personality, culture and in some cases, language. Instead of just staying at your villa or Airbnb in St. Martin or St. Lucia, why not expand your horizons by checking out something new?
With Spring break not far off and summer on its heels, here are a few ways you can island hop in the Caribbean.
1. St. Martin and Anguilla
Beautiful St. Martin is French and Dutch. Dotted by 37 beaches, you don’t need to drive far to get from one to the other, nor will you struggle to find the one with the perfect vibe.
Some say that the French side is more appealing, but when it comes to casinos and nightlife, others argue that the Dutch side is better. You can judge for yourself.
To go to Anguilla, grab your passport and catch the ferry at the port in Marigot. It costs $30 one way, and the journey in either direction is about 30 minutes.
You can catch the ferry from the Dutch side of St. Martin, which will also bring you to Blowing Point Ferry Terminal in Anguilla.
2. St. Lucia and Dominica
If the Caribbean is a crown, St. Lucia is one of the most sparkling jewels.
She doesn’t seduce you on sight so much as she makes you feel like you can’t leave. Her most prominent landmarks are The Pitons, which you can’t help but spot.
According to the St. Lucia website, “Gros Piton stands at 2,530 feet, while Petit Piton is 2,438 feet.” You can climb them, but if you get a guide to accompany you, all the better.
A day or two is enough time to explore its natural attractions, including Champagne Beach and Boiling Lake.
3. Antigua and Barbuda
We’ve featured these sister islands before.
According to Visit Antigua and Barbuda, “Antigua was born out of the sea by a volcano about 30 million years ago, making it a young island in geological time.”
Antigua is “108 square miles, while Barbuda is 62 square miles.” Antigua attracts the bulk of the tourism, but don’t sleep on Barbuda, home of Frigate Bird Sanctuary, the largest in the western hemisphere.
You can get from one island to the other via the Barbuda Express, which runs six days a week. If arriving from Antigua, you can catch the ferry in St. John’s Harbour.
Antigua and Barbuda have a third, less celebrated sister, and when you look at her, you’ll know why that is.
Redonda is oblong-shaped and completely uninhabited, unless you count the birds and lizards. BBC News noted in April 2021 that this ugly duckling had changed into a lush “eco-haven.” But chances of experiencing it in person are pretty remote, since there’s no place to safely dock watercraft.
4. Puerto Rico
Did you know that Puerto Rico has smaller islands and cays?
Puerto Rico Travel Guide suggests taking a ferry from Ceiba on the northeast coast. From there, you can visit Culebra. This tiny, peaceful island is a great option for nature lovers.
Alternatively, you can go to Vieques, which can also be accessed by air via San Juan Airport.
The Vieques website describes the island as “one of the last destinations that truly remains like the Caribbean of the past: quiet, lush, uncrowded, with unmatched natural beauty.”
You can catch a private ferry to Caja de Muertos or Cayo Aurora, nicknamed Gilligan’s Island, with some incredibly beautiful waters.
5. St. Martin and St. Barths
While St. Martin offers something for different budgets, get ready to splurge if you go to St. Barths.
It’s a magnet for the elite. The super yachts and the modern villas, which rent for thousands per week during high season, are proof of that.
Check entry requirements in advance and make sure you arrive at check-in at least fifteen minutes prior to departure.
6. Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
As of now, there is only one ferry company offering service between these islands: Ferries del Caribe.
Take the ferry in Santo Domingo and arrive in San Juan a mere 13 hours later. Yes, this is the scenic route and then some.
The ferry is more of a cruise ship, with a lot of the same amenities. Cabins, restaurants, bars, entertainment sections and a spa.
Exactly how much you have access to depends on what you’re willing to spend. If you decide to fly instead, that’s understandable.