Sleeping

Your budget is likely to be the key determining factor in where you stay, but this will stretch further in some islands than others.Youth hostels are non-existent, while camping is not a viable option in general although some islands, such as Puerto Rico or the French Antilles, have well-organized campsites; however, on many islands camping is actually forbidden.

The cheapest accommodation can be found in
guesthouses
, small, privately run establishments which sometimes offer breakfast but do not rely on a full restaurant service. Many of these are not registered with the local tourist office and therefore difficult to find until you get there. They may be perfectly adequate if you are not very demanding, or they may be flea pits. You will soon find out why they have been left off the list.

Turning up at a cheaper place may not always yield a room because competition is great. Note also that, if booking ahead, tourist office lists may not include the cheapest establishments, so you may have to reserve one or two nights at a mid-price hotel for when you arrive and then ask around for cheaper accommodation if that is what you want. The longer you stay the better deal you will get, so negotiation is recommended. Remember also that high season runs from mid-December to mid-April and everything is more expensive then as well as being more heavily booked. The best deals can be found in - you guessed it - hurricane season.

The Dominican Republic and Cuba have the most hotel rooms in the Caribbean, so there is no real problem in finding a space there. The most popular form of accommodation for independent travellers in Cuba is to stay with a registered family in their home, a
casa particular
. In Havana they cost around US$25-40, but elsewhere they are about US$15-30. Food and lodging with families is far better value and much more rewarding than staying in a hotel, although it is not legal in the beach resorts of Varadero of Guardalavaca and not available in remote places such as Cayo Coco.

In Jamaica there are places costing less than US$20 but they are not to be recommended. Haiti is surprisingly expensive. The Dominican Republic, on the other hand, has a far greater range and mid-range hotels can be found in fairly decent areas, although not beachfront properties. In the eastern Caribbean cheap places can be found in the capital cities, from where you can use public transport to get out to beaches and places of interest, but you will have to pay more if you want to be on the beach. Further south, Trinidad and Tobago have lots of good value places to stay, either in town or close to the beach.

We assume that most Footprint readers are not interested in the
all-inclusive resorts
, although we include details of a few, partly to alert you if they predominate, such as in Ocho Rios in Jamaica or Playa Dorada and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. We also include the super-luxury hotels, although we do realise that few readers will be able to afford Richard Branson's Necker Island at US$25,000-42,000 a day. Some, however, are within range for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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