The Costa Meno: Caribbean Edition
Beach hotels and tropical retreats that aren’t molto expensive
If you’re new-ish here, you might not have read our “Costa Meno” feature that we published in early summer, which focused on affordable seaside finds in Italy. If you missed that, you need to know that Costa Meno is our take on places that are actually in the travel realm of possibility. Not to sound like your great-aunt in a rocker wagging a finger, but there used to be a time when $800 per night was crazy expensive and $1,200 was reserved for honeymooners and the 1%. And then at some point, luxury handbags, shoes, clothes…and yes, hotels all doubled in price and more. Good for them if they can get it, but not so good for us, especially those of us who remember “the good old days.”
So for selfish reasons—and because we love you—we’ve decided to take on the research and put together lists of great places that are priced approachably. We call this list Costa Meno, because we hate saying budget and cheap & cheerful—plus we love its double meaning: both “costs less” and “coast” in Italian. Today we’re sharing our favorite finds from the Caribbean, and we’ll roll out a Mexico list soon, then do France and Greece and Paris in the spring.
These are the hotels and guest houses that generally don’t have marketing budgets, strong social feeds or SEO-boosted websites. Many of them are family owned, which means some quirks and more than a few turquoise bedspreads and questionable art (but, honestly, you’re there for the beach). It takes some digging to find them! Which is what we did. Our methodology: we started with a few of our own favorites and asked friends for their recs, which were surprisingly hard to come by. Then we did a Google deep dive, pricing out double rooms for weekdays in January and February—high season, but not peak festive, when even the smallest beach shack can cost a small fortune. While we tried to stick to a budget of $350 or less—our Costa Meno cut-off in Italy—we found that would mean leaving out a few great options that pushed past $400/night, so we decided to include those too. (The Caribbean is expensive, just no way around it!) Let us know how these are if you try any of them out, and as always, add anything we missed in the comments!