Here's how to get more bang for your buck visiting islands that are in close proximity to each other.
Rather than paying for a short haul expensive flight to visit neighboring islands, these Caribbean island groups provide inexpensive ferry services.
U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and British Virgin Islands (BVI) ferry system
Travelers to both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands can visit back and forth via ferry.
The ferry service in the USVI runs frequently between St. Thomas and St. John - and VI Sea Trans now operates service between St Croix and St Thomas.
In the BVI ferry companies connect Tortola to Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyck and other smallers islands. Note: You must clear customs every time you cross between the US & British Virgin Islands.
Ferry Service in The Bahamas
It's definitely "Better in the The Bahamas" with the fast ferry service from Nassau to several of the family islands (out islands) of Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Abacos, and Cat Island.
Another short ferry ride is available between Eleuthera, Harbour Island, and Spanish Wells.
Ferry Service via St Maarten to Anguilla and Dutch and French Caribbean islands
The tiny island of Saba can be also reached from Dutch St Maarten three times a week - Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday - Reservations recommended.
Ferry Service in The Grenadines
Inter-island ferry connections between islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and Les Saintes
Another great inter-island connections by ferry is between the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and Les Saintes.
There is an express ferry that visits all the islands, which obviously cuts down on the cost of airline travel. Dominica is the nature island of the Caribbean, and often overlooked by regular tourists, but a good fit for eco travelers, and hikers.
Martinique, Guadeloupe and Les Saintes are part of the French Caribbean, and while each one is different, they all have the flavor of French culture.
St Lucia Ferry
Several ferry lines connect St. Lucia with Martinique. From Martinique travelers can ferry between the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe.
St Kitts/Nevis Ferries
The trip only takes 45 minutes, and views of both St. Kitts and Nevis from the sea make this one of the most picturesque ferry trips. Also one ferry service operates shopping trips to the neighboring islands of St. Eustatius (Statia) and St Maarten.
Puerto Rico Ferries
Government-run ferries travel to the islands of Culebra and Vieques as well as the Puerto Rican mainland. Smaller ferries also shuttle travelers across the Bay of San Juan to the Cataño area.
Travelers on the eastern coast can also reach Vieques and Culebra from the port of Fajardo.
Grenada Fast Ferry
Grenada, the Spice Island, offers fast ferry service between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in the Caribbean. The sundeck provides breathtaking scenery along the way.
Island hopping through the Caribbean takes time - even by ferry
From our experience, for a weeks vacation, visiting two islands is ideal. For longer vacations, three islands would be our suggestion. Visiting additional island destinations definitely enhances your travel experience, however you don't want to spend all your time traveling.
Prior to planning your island hopping vacation, make a copy of the ferry schedule - many do not run every day. Keep track of time - especially the last ferry run if you are just visiting for the day.
Check each ferry companies limitation on the amount of luggage you can bring onboard. Also remember you will have to clear immigration in each country, and be aware of each country's departure tax.
Happy Island Hopping!
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