Language does not have to be an obstacle to traveling or living anywhere in the world. But sometimes it can be nice to converse in your native tongue.
A long colonial legacy in the so-called West Indies by the British means that there are several islands in the Caribbean where English is commonly spoken or even the official language.
And not only can you communicate easily, but you’ll find beautiful beaches, delicious seafood dishes, and vibrant local cultures, as well as opportunities for boating, fishing, scuba diving and other water sports, and more.
To be sure, there are many Caribbean islands that have become havens for celebrities and the world’s well to do packed with luxury boutiques, high-end restaurants, and exclusive communities…sometimes even a private island or two offshore. Think St. Barts, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos…
But you don’t have to be wealthy to live a luxurious island life.
As my researchers share with the properties below, you can live well for less in the Caribbean and find affordable properties with plenty of amenities, on or close to the water, that you can live in full-time…or use as a part-time retreat.
Grand Bahama, The Bahamas
Made up of 700 islands, 30 of them inhabited, the Bahamas is just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. Geographically…the archipelago is not strictly part of the Caribbean. But they often are lumped in with other West Indies islands that are.
And they’re worth mentioning because they are one of the cheapest and easiest island destinations to get to from North America. There are bustling beach resorts but also sparsely populated isles where you’ll have miles of beach all to yourself. Sport fishing is popular, as is diving and snorkeling (thanks to the third-largest barrier reef in the world)…and many of the islands are known for their pink sands (although you find plenty of the white sand variety as well).
Under British rule for 325 years, until 1973, that colonial history gave the Bahamas the English language and other customs from the Old Word. But location traditions like Junkanoo, a cultural celebration with elaborate costumes, dance, and music, and the national dish, conch (pronounced “konk”), also thrive.
This one-bedroom condo on Grand Bahama, near the town of Freeport, is recently renovated and comes furnished in an island style. The building is waterfront on the Bell Channel Inlet, offering views of yachts passing by. The community has a pool, and owners have dock space if you want to keep a boat.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is the epicenter of tourism and expat life in Belize. A narrow island (25 miles long by one mile wide) about 90 minutes by water taxi or 15-minute flight from the mainland, this is a place where a laidback lifestyle is the name of the game. Beach bars, restaurants set up on docks over the water…often with live entertainment…usually with a Jimmy Buffett cover included in the set list. The main modes of transportation are bike and golf cart.
San Pedro town is the only “urban” area, with shops, restaurants, boat charters, markets, banks, medical clinics, and other services available. Homes and condo developments can be found to the north and south. Although the “road” keeps being paved further north, some of the more outlying developments are still only reachable by boat—either your own or a water taxi.
About 2.5 miles north of San Pedro is a one-bedroom condo with private veranda overlooking lush gardens. It comes fully furnished. There is a community pool, as well as 200 feet of beach and shared dock space…the perfect place to have the water taxi drop you off after a day in town.
Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras
Roatán, an island 48 miles long and five miles at its widest, has long been a favorite of scuba divers attracted by easy access to the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second longest barrier reef, just offshore. While cruise ships now stop here often, and there are many beachfront hotels, diving is still huge here, with plenty of dive shops and schools, as well as resorts that specialize in dive vacations.
But even if diving is not your thing, you’ll still have a good time on the water. You can fish, go boating, or just float in the clear turquoise waters that surround the island. And you can snorkel from many beaches. On shore, you have white sands…swaying palms…and cooling breezes…not to mention shoreline bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a cold drink with your toes in the sand.
Properties in the mountainous interior offer expansive views. While those on or close to the water offer not just access to the beach but often dock space.
This furnished three-bedroom home on a quarter acre is the ideal island retreat. It’s set on a hillside, so you get Caribbean views and cooling breezes. It’s just 400 feet from the water. And being located in the West Bay community means you have easy access to one of the island’s most beautiful white-sand beaches and any number of bars and restaurants right on the sand. Not to mention the home is split in such a way that you could live comfortably in the main house with the living area and master bedroom, while renting out the two other rooms to vacationers for extra income.
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