Going on a group vacation with your closest friends and family members can result in the adventure of a lifetime. The Caribbean currently offers a wide variety of options for travelers. In many instances, a larger group can result in a lower price per person, meaning it can be cost effective to travel together. Here are 10 things to consider when booking your next group vacation to the tropics.
If you’re travelling as a big group, it’s always fun to do some activities together to make the trip more memorable. A lot of the islands offer horseback riding so you can explore the flora and fauna of the tropics firsthand. Nearly all these vacation spots offer aquatic activities, ranging from snorkeling to scuba diving to swimming with whale sharks. Some of the calmest and clearest waters in the world are in the Bahamas, Cuba, Turks and Caicos and Mexico.
If several members of your group are looking for a slice of culture, you should choose a destination that offers a rich historical past. Mexico is the best destination because travellers are able to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, which were built approximately 1000 years ago. Jamaica offers a massive dose of culture as well, considering reggae music and the Rastafarian culture has spread around the world. Sip on some Jamaican rum and relax with the locals while jamming to the authentic sounds of the steel drums.
The food really varies in the Caribbean and it can be a hit or miss depending on where you stay. For example, it’s common knowledge the food in Cuba is not that great, partly due to the fact they can’t import products because of the U.S. embargo. So the food can be quite bland at times and you should expect only the basics. On the other end of the spectrum, the food in Mexico is amazing and many resorts and restaurants hire chefs from abroad to create unique dishes. If you’re coming from North America, keep in mind some things may taste a little different, such as the dairy products. Saint Martin’s also been hailed as the culinary capital of the Caribbean and offers a wide variety of great food experiences, from 5-star French restaurants to the delicious street-side lolos.
If you’re with a bunch of people who love to drink, it’s important to choose your tropical destination wisely, because some Caribbean destinations exceed others when it comes to the alcohol. For example, tequila lovers should definitely visit Mexico because it’s home to the agave plant, which is used to make tequila. Authentic Mexican tequila typically has a dead mezcal worm at the bottom of the bottle (yes you read correctly, a dead worm), which has been soaked in tequila. This dead worm is super concentrated and packs a powerful punch, meaning you’ll feel extra buzzed after consuming the tiny critter.
5. Cruise ships
While cruises remain popular for many, they are less popular with locals and those that love to live like a local by renting a villa. This can result in a preference for areas that do not result in much cruise ship traffic when those mammoths dock, such as choosing to stay in Terres Basses or Orient Bay over Philipsburg in Saint Martin, as well as avoiding dock areas on days when multiple ships roll in. Ultimately, how much the cruise ships will affect will depend on how you deal with crowds and the extent to which you value privacy and a low-key holiday.
6. Volume Discounts
In many instances, travelling in a large group can actually save you a bit of money. For example, if you choose to rent a luxury villa with Rental Escapes, everyone in your group can split the cost of the accommodation. This can actually be cheaper compared to staying at an all-inclusive resort, meaning you’ll have more money to do some fun activities and taste the local cuisine.
7. The Exchange Rate
To avoid overspending on your group vacation, keep in mind the exchange rate when selecting your travel destination. Several Caribbean countries use different currencies and you can easily overspend without even realizing it. For example, Turks and Caicos uses the American dollar, which means it can be quite costly for Canadian tourists visiting the collection of islands. In the last few months, the Canadian dollar has significantly weakened compared to the U.S. counterpart, meaning Canadians will feel the financial impact while on their holiday.
8. Choosing the Right Rental
Rentals come in all shapes and sizes – from condos to villas, beachfront to hilltop. Which is best for your group depends on a number of factors. For example, hilltop villas offer more privacy than beachfront villas (especially in areas where all beach in public land), but of course you’re sacrificing ease of access to the beach. Same goes with condos and villas, as while the latter offers more room and privacy, the prior may offer access to the condo’s range of amenities. Be sure to check with all members before you book.
Before you embark on a tropical adventure with your closest comrades, it’s important to do some research and see if the drinking water is safe. A handful of Caribbean countries have different water filtration techniques, so your body won’t be used to drinking it. This can result in diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, which could inevitably ruin your trip. Countries where the drinking water isn’t safe for travelers include Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba (depending on the region), though many villas include water filtration systems which purify the water.
Different areas of the Caribbean have slightly different tipping standards, so it’s worth investigating this if you plan on going out or renting a staffed villa. For example, Mexico and Jamaica have a similar tipping culture to what you’d see in the US, and as such staff should be tipped accordingly. In contrast, more European-influenced areas like St. Barts and the French side of Saint Martin have a less pronounced tipping culture, especially if you’re at a decidedly European restaurant.
There’s nothing better than relaxing on the beach with your closest friends and relatives. You’ll make new memories that’ll last a lifetime and fall completely in love with the Caribbean. If you’re feeling inspired, visit Rental Escapes and let us help plan your next stay in a luxury villa in the Caribbean.