Island hopping in the Caribbean seems like a great way to explore many smaller destinations when visiting the Caribbean Caribbean.
On paper – or on a map – it looks like it should be pretty easy. All the islands look beautiful and close to each other. So just pick three or four that you’d really like to see, then book flights or find ferries that run between them.
In reality, however, this is not quite as practical as it looks at first glance.
Why it’s not so easy to hop between the Caribbean islands
The Caribbean is from the Caribbean Sea That’s roughly 2.7 million square kilometers, so these islands, which all look like they are practically touching, actually have rather large bodies of water separating them.
With the exception of islands that are close enough together that their common waters are protected by both islands, Ferry crossings are usually impractical, including navigation on the open sea. The other alternative is by air, but this can get costly, not to mention there is a lot of downtime at airports.
If you don’t have a few weeks to spare, the disproportionately long travel time can quickly make the proposal unattractive.
However, that doesn’t mean that island hopping in the Caribbean is completely out of the question. The trick is to choose islands that make it practical and comfortable travel experience, leaving you free time to enjoy the relaxed pace of these tropical islands.
Rather than aiming for three or four large islands in the Caribbean chain, more fulfilling island hopping is finding archipelagos that are close enough together to make traveling between them easy and enjoyable.
Practical considerations for island hopping in the Caribbean
There are a few things to keep in mind when planning an island hopping expedition in the Caribbean (or anywhere else).
First, Check that the islands you are visiting are all part of the same country. If not, you will need a separate visa for each one.
Second, be ready to pack light. Flying can greatly cut your time at airports if you can Travel with only one hand luggage. When you’re flying around on ferries, it’s no fun getting loaded with luggage.
If the thought of being away from home for more than a day and having nothing more than you can put in a carry-on bag is unbearable, consider an island as your central starting point. Book accommodation there for the entire trip and go on day trips or overnight stays to other islands. Leave most of your luggage in your central hotel or holiday villa.
Ideas for itineraries on the Caribbean island
Here are some recommendations for getting started with island hopping in the Caribbean.
The Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are a collective term for one Archipelago bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Virgin Islands and separately into the US Virgin Islands St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas as well as the British Virgin Islands Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. Since they are controlled by the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, they are very popular vacation spots for U.S. and British citizens, and offer some beautiful nature reserves and historic sites for the adventurous tourist.
St. Croix is that largest and southernmost of the Virgin Islands. However, it’s a little way from the rest of the archipelago, and it’s probably easier to fly than take a boat. The rest of the islands are all easily accessible by ferry, which makes hopping between them very easy.
Since St. John has no airport Ferry trips from St. Thomas to St. John are extremely common as the main means of access to the island. The longest ferry crossing leads from St. Thomas in the southwest of the main group of the Virgin Islands to Anegada, the northeasternmost island, which takes about 2 hours.
The rest of the main islands can usually be reached in hops from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes very accessible archipelago, with many smaller satellite islands that can be explored on day trips.
The Bahamas is another great opportunity to indulge in some Caribbean island hopping. Southeast Florida is home to over 3,000 islands in this single country, meaning all of your island hops are domestic.
The Bahamas has a rich and exciting culture, both current and historical. Once a safe haven for pirates, it is today lively and bustling country, fantastic for outdoor activities like diving, fishing and golf. Relaxing beaches, exhilarating nightlife and festivals, as well as fascinating historical sites are scattered throughout this archipelago state.
The Bahamas Fast Ferry Service connects the islands with regular round-trip flights, making island hopping a simple affair. The Bahamas Tourist Board offers a few prepackaged island hopping tours that mostly involve a mix of ferries, domestic flights, and transfers by the hotel’s private plane.
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