What can I say, we’re Pirates, we love the Caribbean! From the sing song cadence of the West Indian locals to the turquoise waters and ‘viejo’ Rum we love it all. The Caribbean is full of uniquely vibrant cultures that are as diverse as the islands themselves. But we’re not just regular Pirates, we’re Diving Pirates and we have no fear of Davey Jones’ Locker, in fact we love spending time down there with the denizens of the deep. Like the Labrador Retriever that looks at the water for the first time and immediately plunges in I too feel that I was born to live in the ocean, or at least spend as much time there as I can with the coral and the fish. We’re Point Pirates though, so we can’t just open the treasure chest and throw gold doubloons at the hotels and tour operators. Read on for our favorite Caribbean dive destinations using points and miles.
Bonaire – Widely considered one of the top dive destinations in the Caribbean Bonaire stands out for its healthy reef and corals as well as super convenient shore diving. With countless spots to just pull your truck over on the side of the road and swim a few dozen yards out to the drop off Bonaire is an exceptional dive destination. With the Marriott Courtyard offering rooms at only 12,500 points a night Bonaire lands at the top of our Diving on Points list. We’ve already written an extensive article on Bonaire which you can read by clicking here to find comprehensive information on diving Bonaire on Points.
Grand Cayman – Cayman has a lot going for it including more to do on land than Bonaire for the down days when you don’t feel like diving or if the weather is blustery & inclement. There are countless points hotels on the island, many of them high end which will deplete your points balance in a hurry unless you are sitting on a fat stack of points and just trying to find a way to use them up in one week. For the frugal Point Pirate, the Holiday Inn provides exceptional value through the IHG points program by offering excellent accommodations in a fairly new hotel for only 25,000 points a night. At the time of publication the Chase IHG card is currently offering a staggering 140,000 sign up bonus on the card through April 2,2020 if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months. This card also offers a 4th night free bonus on all reward stays and a free night award on your card anniversary date for a stay up to 40,000 points for the night. We’ve already written an article on Cayman on Points as well which you can read by clicking here to learn all about the Cayman Holiday Inn and visiting Grand Cayman on points.
Cozumel, Mexico – Cozumel earns its place on the list for a lot of reasons but point value redemption is not one of them. Most of the points hotels are all inclusive and ultimately not a great value because Cozumel itself is a value destination. Current exchange rates make all of Mexico a deal and Cozumel is one of the jewels of the Yucatan. The diving is exceptional drift diving along a normally protected coastline and there is a good reason why its one of the most popular dive destinations in the Caribbean. We recommend Scuba Luis for their small intimate service but there are plenty of other dive operators that also have good reputations for safety and quality. For accommodations we recommend the small local places that give visitors a real feel for life in Cozumel and have learned to stay away from the large resort type destinations. Unlike the reputation for much of Mexico, Cozumel is very safe and we never have worries walking about town. Our preferred accommodations, and this feels a little like I’m giving away treasure here because I don’t want the rest of you filling up the bed & breakfast when I need to book my next stay, is Sylvia & Greg’s Stingray Villa. With countless excellent dining options, affordable boutique hotel stay, and world class diving you just can’t go wrong with a Cozumel diving vacation even without points.
Barbados – The most eastern island in the Caribbean, Barbados has a charm all its own. You have two good points options for staying in Barbados. The first and our favorite is the Hilton Barbados Resort available for 50,000 points a night. It’s an older hotel but in a nice location and next door to our favorite dive operator and water sports company Barbados Blue. Need to earn some Hilton points and want to get Diamond status for room upgrades when available and other perks? Take a look at the American Express Aspire card with a $450 annual fee but worth it for the Hilton perks. Think $450 is too much for a credit card? Check out our point pirate page explaining how the cards can very much be worth the high annual fee. Another great Points Hotel in Barbados is the Courtyard Bridgetown Barbados by Marriott at only 25,000 Bonvoy points a night. Barbados is full of interesting things to see and do above the high tide line as well as great diving. Try eating flying fish, a popular local dish, or tour the island by car to see its unique character. During our stay we were constantly impressed by the friendliness of the local Bajans. If you are a water person another great activity is to learn freediving or how to spearfish by local freediving record holder Alex Davis of Freediving and Spearfishing Barbados.
Of course, that is not all of the great diving locations or even the great points redemption locations in the Caribbean, just a few of our favorites that we wanted to share and the stand out best deals. Other great diving locations we’ve visited are the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Belize, and Curacao. You really can’t go wrong diving anywhere in the Caribbean and with hotel chains expanding their point offerings everywhere I’m sure that there will be some new destinations for all of us to try soon. Happy travels fellow Pirates! Aaaargh!