Here's how to get more bang for your buck!
Plan your vacation to Caribbean islands that are in close proximity to each other, and visit two or more islands via ferry. 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.
St Thomas, USVI Ferry
The ferry service in the USVI runs frequently between St. Thomas, St. John and the British Virgin Islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. VI Sea Trans also operates service between St Croix and St Thomas.
Tortola - British Virgin Islands
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. While no passport is required for American travelers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you must have a passport to enter the British Virgin Islands.
Ferry Service in The BahamasIt'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, St Barths and Saba
The tiny island of Saba can be also reached from Dutch St Maarten three times a week - Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday - Reservations recommended.
Montserrat-Antigua Ferry Service
Travel between Montserrat and Antigua on Jaden Sun ferry is approximately one hours based on weather conditions.
Ferry Service in The Grenadines
Port Elizabeth - Bequia, The Grenadines
Photo courtesy of Travel Agent Central
The islands of The Grenadines are often referred to as the "Jewels of the Caribbean". The ferry service in Kingstown, St Vincent is the starting point to reach Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, and Union Island. Note: Carriacou in the southern Grenadines can only be reached via boat through Grenada.
Guadeloupe, St Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, and Les Saintes
L'Express de Iles operates ferry service between Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Lucia and Marie Galante.
The express ferry 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.
Check the ferry schedule before planning your trip.
St Kitts/Nevis Ferries
Also one ferry service operates shopping trips to the neighboring islands of St. Eustatius (Statia) and St Maarten.
Puerto Rico FerriesGovernment-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.
Trinidad to Tobago
Inter-Island Ferry Service leaves downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad to sister
island Tobago. The 20 mile trip takes approximately 2 1/2 hours.
Cuba via Florida Ferry Service
The bilateral agreement between both sides that would allow ferry sailings between the USA and Cuba has yet to be finalized, however all parties are hopeful that by summer summer 2017, ferry travel will be up and running between Florida and Cuba.
The inaugural sailings will be from Miami to Havana and/or Port Everglades to Havana. The 250 nautical mile journey will take about 10 hours to complete.
From Key West, the sailing distance to Cuba is around 90 nautical miles, and will take just 4 hours. American Cruise Ferries, Baja Ferries, Baleària, CubaKat, Havana Express, FRS, Attica Group & United Caribbean Lines are companies lined up for the service.
Island hopping through the Caribbean takes time -
even by ferry
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 on board. Also remember you will have to clear immigration in each country, and pay departure tax when you leave each island.
Happy Island Hopping!
Travel 2 the Caribbean