Port Tips for Caribbean Itineraries

Top tips for visiting ports around the Caribbean - Photo by Canva

A port stop in the Caribbean usually includes a few (or maybe all) of the following: sandy beaches, turquoise waters, cocktails, water sports, or cultural attractions. One thing is for certain — with so much to choose from you will be spoiled for choice on any trip to this region! We’ve rounded up a list of top tips for ports around the Caribbean to help plan your next visit. 

Aruba - Oranjestad

Member tip: We went ashore and rented our own Jeep for the day. $150 paid for the three of us to do our own off-roading tour of the island. We hit Baby Beach, the caves in the National Park, off-roaded to the Natural Pools, and then headed to the ruins of the gold mill and to the California Lighthouse. - AmandaPeter

Member tip: The water here is indescribable - it is so beautiful! If you are planning a water excursion, this is the place to do it. We did a catamaran sail and snorkel, and were able to see amazing sea life and even a sunken ship. - kristilizzy

Our tip: Visit the Donkey Sanctuary while in Aruba. Not only will you be helping to support the continued efforts to ensure these animals are safe from harm and abuse, but you also get to feed and pet them...that is if the donkeys want you to.

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Shore excursions in Aruba

The Bahamas - Nassau 

Member tip: There is a beach within walking distance of the port. Nice place to settle in for the day while in port if you don't want to pay for a beach excursion. The Seagulls Bar is right there on the beach - killer drink deals for those that are into that. - AlexandraMarie

Our tips:

Avoid the huge casinos and instead head to the beach on the side of Atlantis. If you want to keep away from tourist traps, we recommend staying away from downtown Nassau.  

There is a local bus that goes around the island and is only $1 to go pretty much anywhere you want to go. Be sure to check your route as there are several to choose from. 

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Shore excursions on Nassau

Barbados - Bridgetown

Member tip: Fab beach. Make sure to go to the Boatyard where $20 gets you a free drink, chairs, umbrella, and the chance to snorkel with turtles and a shipwreck. Excellent! - frostwalker

Our tip: The Bajan Bus is an inexpensive way to get around the island while doing a bit of an island tour at the same time. However, beware of your surroundings. There can be a high crime in downtown Bridgetown.  

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Shore excursions in Barbados

Belize - Belize City 

Member tip: Was such an unBelizable port! We did a tour to the Altun ha ruins! I'm absolutely fascinated by Myan ruins that I can't wait to go back to see the other ones! - blair5508

Member tip: Belize is awesome, but be sure to plan ahead. It is not a destination where you can come and just wing it. - Gonzocruising

Our tip: One of our favorite excursions in Belize is the cave tubing adventure. Not only do you get a bit of a city tour along the way, but the cave tubing is fantastic...nice cool water, great guides that educate as well as entertain. 

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Shore excursions in Belize

Bonaire - Kralendijk

Member tip: Bonaire has amazing snorkeling, but take water shoes if you visit No Name Island - seriously. Your feet will thank you as you depart the water taxi and step into rocks and bits of coral! - Hoorayforvacay

Member tip: Gorgeous island - we were told it is the scuba diving capital of the world! We took a taxi to Spice/Eden Beach for $2.50 per person each way to the beach and rented snorkeling gear when we got there. There are plenty of fish to see snorkeling right from the beach. - sbeaule71

Member tip: One of our favorite excursions. We rented golf carts ($90/double, $100/4 people) and were able to tour around the island at our leisure. The salt flats, pink water, and flamingos were fascinating. Snorkeled a bit at 1,000 steps (there are actually 44 steps to the ocean at the diving spot). The water is amazingly blue. - oregondreamhome

Our tip: Bonaire is the number one rated diving destination in the Caribbean. If you aren’t a scuba diver, there is still plenty to see by snorkeling the pristine waters. Our suggestion is a private sail and snorkel excursion that is great for couples, families or small groups as it gives you the flexibility to spend more time in the water or under sail and it includes snacks and drinks.

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Shore excursions in Bonaire

Curaçao - Willemstad

Member tip: We went to Blue Bay Beach (8 dollars per person one way) which is less busy than the main touristy beach. For 8 per person, you get a lounge chair and use of their bathrooms. There is also a restaurant and bar with beach service. - Bellerio2000

Our Tip: Consider booking the Curaçao Complete Island Tour where you will visit both the west and east side for a comprehensive island experience. Highlights of the tour include stops at the Curaçao Liqueur Distillery (where the famous Blue Curaçao is made!), the Queen Juliana Bridge, beach stops, drives through notable neighborhoods, and more! 

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Shore excursions in Curaçao

Grand Cayman - George Town 

Member tip: We took a $4 taxi ride to 7-Mile Beach because we’d heard it’s been classified as the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. It did not disappoint! Right away there were so many places to rent beach chairs (don’t pay full price - they start at $20, but we got ours for $5 each including the umbrella!). - MargaritaMama5

Member tip: I highly recommend Hemingway’s on Seven Mile Beach. Chairs/umbrellas “free” just need to purchase $25 worth at the bar. Beautiful, quiet, & awesome service! Rent a cabana if you can! - tjon2134

Our tip: Grand Cayman is known for its swim with the stingrays excursions. For this one, you have to purchase through an approved tour operator and we recommend doing this ahead of time as there is limited space as the area is only reachable by boat. These gentle giants are playful and love a nice squid snack. Your tour guide will also make sure you have an opportunity to kiss one for a great photo op souvenir. 

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Shore excursions in Grand Cayman 

Jamaica - Montego Bay & Ocho Rios 

Member tip: As you walk out of port, turn left and walk about 400-yards and on the right-hand side of the road is Turtle Farm Park. Completely free to go in and you can see the turtles and giant fish. - scarlettsmummy 

Member tip: We did an excursion to the Hilton Rose Hall Resort. This place must be the best kept secret on the ship. There were only 5 of us on the bus to the resort. What an amazing place this was - it was absolutely beautiful. While there we enjoyed excellent food and all the drinks we cared to have. - tkaye

Our tip: The Spanish landed the first horses in Jamaica in the 1500s and since then, the island has developed a rich heritage for equestrian sports. The Half Moon Equestrian Centre organizes trail rides along the beach and into the surf, as well as lessons and pony rides. 

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Shore excursions in Montego Bay

Shore excursions in Ocho Rios 

Mexico - Cozumel 

Member tip: Paradise Beach was incredibly affordable at $3.00 per person and the request to purchase only $10 of food or beverage. It was as nice as any excursion and was extremely well-kept and clean. - Brian532

Our tips: A great way to see Cozumel is by bike. Head to the Park Royal Hotel and look for the sign that says, “I Wanna Rent.” This small rental outfit will set you up with a bicycle, map, lock, and helmet for only $15. 

If you are looking for a beach break but don’t want to fight the crowds at Chankanaab State Park, we recommend heading to Nacicocom Beach Club or Playa Mia. Entrance is limited, so be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time. These beach clubs include lunch, and all beverages (including alcohol). Playa Mia is family-friendly with a floating water park for kids of all ages.

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Shore excursions in Cozumel 

Puerto Rico - San Juan

Member tip: Wow! San Juan was full of so much architecture and history. The cobblestone streets, colorful row houses, iron balconies, and historic forts were amazing to walk through. Even though there was a free trolley system around the city, everything in Old San Juan was within walking distance.  - aubrav

Member tip: You do not need to book an excursion for this port. There is so much to do close by including shops and restaurants. A 5-10 minute walk gets you to the capitol building, old castle, and beach! - LaceOnline

Our tip: Located on the southern side of the harbor, the Casa Bacardi rum distillery dates back to the 1930s. This 17,000-square-foot “cathedral of rum” is the largest premium rum factory in the world. On this tour, Bacardi fans can witness rum-making from fermentation to bottling at the distillation museum. Tours last 45 minutes and run every day except Sundays. 

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Shore excursions in Puerto Rico

St. Lucia - Castries 

Member tip: Please, visit the Pitons...Those two mountains are stunning. Nothing could have prepared me for that amazing experience. The mud bath is a must too. - gonecrusing

Member tip: This island is like a South Pacific island. There's a shopping area right next to the dock which is handy and we had a great time at the Hotwire Piton Zip Line excursion. A lot of fun! - jimnancy

Our tip: This lush tropical island has a lot to offer from fishing, beaches, sailing, hiking or the laid back train around the island. One of our favorite things to do on this stop is the Jeep Safari and Catamaran Cruise not only satisfies the adrenaline junkies but also allows for the carefree relaxation under the sail. This excursion truly offers something for everyone and encompasses all of the best things to do in St Lucia.

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Shore excursions in St. Lucia 

St. Maarten - Philipsburg 

Member tip: Did a taxi tour then had our driver drop us off at the "boardwalk" area to walk around and shop before we made our way back to the ship. - mscleich

Our tip: Avoid the Dutch side, which is a bit rough, and check out the French side which has great restaurants and hard to find liqueurs and Cuban cigars. The town of Grand Case has a lovely beach and local food stands with homemade dishes and goodies. It’s a delicious way to experience what the locals eat for a fraction of the price of most restaurants.

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Shore excursions in St. Maarten

St. Thomas - Charlotte Amalie 

Member tip: If it’s your first time in Charlotte Amalie then I recommend an island tour to take you all the way up to MountainTop, this was our third time so we spent the day at beautiful Meagan’s Bay. - lucindancarl

Member tip: We went to Coki beach on our own. What a great day! It was a 15-20 minute ride by taxi--about $20 each way for 2. We paid $20 for 2 loungers and an umbrella. I would definitely visit here again if we visit St. Thomas. - LaCastillo 

Our tip: Skip Magens Bay (where there is an entrance fee) and instead grab a cab and head to Secret Harbour which is much more charming.  If you are looking for something completely different to experience, we suggest to cycle boats - this is great fun for singles, couples and groups!

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Shore excursions in St. Thomas

 

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