Sailing through turquoise waters aboard a shiny yacht may seem reserved for the rich and famous but in fact it might be much easier than you think. Learn how you too can explore this tropical region by boat; even if you’re on a budget.
Where to Go
When considering sailing in the Caribbean one of the main factors to consider is your airfare to get there. The cost of plane tickets added to the charter cost can make this kind of travel prohibitive, unless you choose the right place to go.
The good thing is that there are fantastic places to sail in almost all areas of the Caribbean. You’ll just need to find a popular hub airport to fly into to get the good prices on flights. Think Nassau in the Bahamas or San Juan, Puerto Rico; anywhere where you can get a good deal. You can then plan your charter according to the nearest beautiful sailing grounds. –And don’t worry; even if you have to fly into a touristy place you should be able to sail away from the crowds and discover the ‘real’ Caribbean.
How to Charter
When choosing a budget charter you have several options.
- Bareboat charters are for those who know how to sail. To be clear, you will need to be a competent and experienced sailor with a sailing resume or certification from a governing body such as the American Sailing Association or Royal Yacthing Association.
- Powerboat charters are bareboat charters that actually do not require sailing. Although it requires skill and attention, the mechanics of sailing the boat are not a part of the requirements.
- Crewed yacht charters are perfect for those who do not wish to be responsible for sailing the boat. It is a more luxurious option in which a crew handles the boat, prepares all meals and serves you throughout your stay.
Saving the Most Money on your Charter
When it comes to finding a way to save the most money, it will depend heavily on whom you go with, how soon you can travel and what time of year you choose to go.
- Go with a larger group. Whether bareboat, powerboat or crewed, the charter will have a set cost and each boat sleeps a certain number of people. Filling up the boat will help each charterer pay less.
- Go during the off season. The off season in the Caribbean runs roughly from May to November. During this time you will find higher temperatures, more humidity and probably a few less restaurants open. But, the charters are cheaper and there are also far less people. You can avoid the bulk of the visitors for regattas and big holidays such as Easter or Christmas and New Year’s eve.
- Go at the last minute. Just like last minute flights, last minute charters are often available at deeply discounted rates. Charter companies would much rather see their boats being used instead of sitting in the harbor. Have a look at LateSail.com; a great example of a charter broker company that can help you find a last minute Caribbean charter deal at a fraction of the normal price.
Saving Money While you are There
The Caribbean is not always known as being a budget travel destination. In fact, its well-known celebrity hideouts like St. Bart’s make it seem out of reach for the budget traveler. But, there are absolute ways to save money while you are there.
Go for budget restaurants; you’ll find many fish shacks on the edge of the water, serving up Caribbean specialties like conch fritters and red beans and rice.
You can also shop and cook meals on board. This doesn’t apply to crewed charters, in which your meals are provided, but it’s great for bareboat charters. Plan in advance to have meals with cheap ingredients that are easy to prepare in a small boat kitchen. In well stocked ports you will be able to load up on provisions (be sure to buy plenty of water and beer too!).
If you are going to indulge in a drink at a bar, skip the beer or wine and make it one that really counts- rum punch, painkillers, daiquiris and piña coladas are strong concoctions that are good bang for your buck.
Stock Up at Home
Certain items in the Caribbean will wind up costing you much more than on the mainland. Shop for strong sun block, insect repellant, comfortable swimwear and sailing clothes before you go.
You’ll also want to have a good hat and polarized sunglasses; all items that you will need but will be cheaper if purchased in advance.
Using these tips you can experience the joys of sailing the Caribbean even on a tighter budget!