If you’re cruising to the Caribbean or DIY island-hopping on a budget, here’s a little secret from the travel pros: skip the pricey shore excursion and head to the resorts.
One relatively inexpensive way to soak up sun is to purchase a day pass that will give you access to a resort’s beach and amenities — meaning you’re essentially a guest for the day. These day passes are usually an affordable alternative to excursions, which can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars just to snorkel or hike.
Here are eight resorts in popular Caribbean destinations where you can enjoy sun-drenched beaches and frozen cocktails for the day.
1. Nassau, Bahamas Meliá Nassau Beach All Inclusive Resort
This all-inclusive resort flies tends to fly under the radar, but offers plenty of value-packed activities, sans the crowds. Here, you can enjoy four miles of white sand and beach access; three freshwater pools; and non-motorized water sports (think kayaking, snorkeling, and more). The day pass is valid from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also includes unlimited dining and unlimited drinks (includes house alcohol).
The cost: $160 per adult; $60 per child (ages five through 12)
2. Roatán: Mayan Princess Beach & Dive Resort
Roatán's clear waters make this destination a hotspot for snorkeling and scuba diving. And, at this resort, you can take part in all the fun, too. A standard day pass gives you access to the property's beach club; however, the property also offers a variety of day pass options and upgrades. For example, consider the all-inclusive day pass, which includes beach club access, lunch, and unlimited beverages.
The cost: Standard day passes are $35 per adult, $15 per kid ages 5 through 12, and $10 per child under five. All-inclusive day pass is $75 per adult, $35 per kid ages five through 12, and $15 per child under five years old.
3. Antigua: Starfish Jolly Beach Resort
Huge pool? Check. Sugar-white sand beaches? Check. These amenities come with one of the most budget-friendly day pass options in all of Antigua. A day pass also includes food and drinks, as well as access to non-motorized water sports equipment between. Just remember to bring your own towel.
The cost: $85 per adult, and $50 for children ages six to 18
4. St. Kitts: St. Kitts Marriott Resort
Kick back with a complimentary drink and watch the Caribbean waves lap the shore with this resort’s day pass, which includes beach access, use of three swimming pools, discounts at the spa and select restaurants and bars, and even free wifi. However, you'll need to bring your own towel and purchase food, since they aren't included.
The cost: $59 per person, kids under 12 are free
5. St. Maarten: Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino, and Spa
The brand-new all-inclusive resort offers great value. The 10-acre property is home to an aqua park for little ones, a large pool with a swim-up bar and water slide, and more. A day pass includes beach access, non-motorized water sports, unlimited drinking and dining, resort activities, and complimentary beach and pool lounge chairs and towels.
The cost: $89 per adult, $45 per child ages six through 12, and free for kids under 6.
6. Barbados: Savannah Beach Hotel
This charming all-inclusive property is the perfect place to relax and unwind when your ship is in port. Here, a standard day pass includes access to the pool, kids club, and spa, unlimited house beverages, lunch, and afternoon tea. Note that bottled water is not included. The property also offers full-day passes and half-day passes.
The cost: Standard day passes are $90 per adult and $40 per child ages three to 12.
7. Dominican Republic: Grand Palladium Palace Resort Punta Cana
Lounge on the beach and soak up the sun at this sprawling Punta Cana property. An all-inclusive day pass includes access to the beach, five pools, 22 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. There's also a kids' and teens' club on-site. Let the fun begin.
The cost: $80 per person for anyone over 13; $40 per child ages two to 12.