For many years, I have typically taken the safe route and stayed in brand name chain hotels when traveling throughout the states. When traveling to the caribbean, I have typically looked into staying at all-inclusive resorts. I chose the all-inclusives not because I was afraid to be among the locals, but because I was guaranteed to have all of my meals provided for and could guarantee a certain level of comfort and service to my liking— most of the time. However, I have now discovered there is something to be said for straying from the beaten path and staying in a guest house or apartment.
As one who is a very picky eater, it can sometimes be challenging to find nutritious food that I will eat in all of my destinations. Given the fact that most all-inclusives I have visited run approximately $150/night, I do not always get my moneys worth. Yes, the rate includes alcohol and an unlimited beverages, as well as non-motorized sports, but I am not always drinking to exhaustion every night. So, I have actually started reaching housing options that are centrally located, close to public transportation or the “local” (read non-touristy) taxis, and near a local market, convenience or grocery store. With respect to the housing unit itself, I don’t need anything fancy. Just clean with microwave and refrigerator and enough room for me to move about. If there is a stove top or hot plate, that is a bonus.
There are a number of websites where you can explore non-traditional housing options; ;however, I am not paid to endorse any, so I will not in an open forum, but will be open to provide the information offline. However, it is best to make sure you thoroughly research the sites, especially if they are located in countries where you have never visited. All properties are going to display only the best pics online; no one is going to show you the dead roaches on the floor or the mold and mildew lurking in the shower corners. So, read reviews from reputable sites and seek out the feedback from trusted friends of friends if possible. If you are on facebook, there are quite a few travel groups with people who have joined the 100+ club and can be an invaluable free resource for you during this process.
Finally, trust your instinct. If something seems too good to be true, listen to your gut. Housing costs in the caribbean can range anywhere from $50/night for a studio to $2000+/night for a 1 bedroom swanky hotel room, as well as everything in between. You are in control of your holiday and your pockets. Do what works best for you, but just make sure that you take the time to thoroughly research your options and count all of your costs.
Safe and happy traveling people.