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What's The Best eSIM For The Caribbean? We've Ranked The Top Providers in 2024

Jan Watermann, writer at Monito.com

Jan Watermann

Guide

Jun 14, 2024
Advertiser disclosure

Whether you're admiring the colonial facades of Curaçao's capital or snorkelling at Grand Anse Beach on the isle of Grenada, visiting the Caribbean is almost always an exciting and memorable experience. If you're planning to visit the region soon, it should come as no surprise that you won't be able to call, SMS, or access the web on the go with your smartphone as you usually would at home, and if you do manage to get connected via roaming, it can result in hefty additional charges.

However, none of this means you should leave your smartphone at home. If your device is a newish model (i.e., from 2019 or later), there's a good chance it'll support an eSIM. These nifty digital SIM cards can be downloaded and installed before you travel, promising blazing-fast internet in the Caribbean at a very low cost compared to roaming and great convenience compared to physical SIMs. In this guide, we explore everything you have to know about eSIMs in the Caribbean and the best deals for you.

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As we'll explore in more depth in this guide, when choosing an eSIM, you have two options. The first option is for you to go through a digital eSIM provider, and the second option is to purchase an eSIM directly from your network provider or carrier. We strongly recommend the first option. After all, with reputable online providers, you can always be sure you'll get good support, excellent rates, and quality instructions that normally exceed those of the big carriers.

According to our review and comparison of the best options on the market, here are the three best eSIM providers for the Caribbean and other countries worldwide:

Best For Cruises: GigSky

GigSky

📡 Network(s)

Varies

💵 Price /GB

$35.14 - $24.66

📅 Duration

1 - 15 days

📶 Speed in the Caribbean

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

GigSky is a smart way to get internet if you're going on a Caribbean cruise. It's an eSIM provider that gives you mobile data via local network carriers. However, GigSky is no ordinary eSIM provider: it's the only one that offers special packages designed exclusively for cruise holidays.

With GigSky's Caribbean cruise package, you can access mobile data onboard the ships of all major cruise companies (including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and dozens of others) and switch to mobile data on land in 48 countries across the Caribbean and Americas – another big advantage compared to using the ship's more expensive WiFi since you can switch to mobile data whenever you step onto dry land.

Although very convenient, the major drawback of GigSky's Caribbean cruise plan is that it's rather expensive, with a 512 MB plan costing $17.99. However, compared to standard cruise WiFi packages, it's not that bad at all and includes land coverage. Another drawback is that the longest duration is 15 days, so if you plan to visit the Caribbean for longer, you'll need to pay to renew your plan a second time. If you're looking for a cheaper deal, we recommend looking at Airalo and Yesim (which we discuss later), although these don't offer data onboard cruise ships.

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Best For Low Data Usage: Airalo

📡 Network(s)

Flow, Digicel, BTC, Claro

💵 Price /GB

$15

📅 Duration

7 days

📶 Speed in the Caribbean

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

Airalo is an excellent eSIM provider for the Caribbean. Its online platform offers regional access to data via big local telecom carriers in multiple Caribbean nations. For example, Airalo works directly with carriers like BTC in the Bahamas, Flow in Jamaica, and Digicel in Martinique to provide you with high-speed coverage directly from their networks, no matter where you are in the Caribbean.

However, Airalo's Caribbean data bundle is limited and only really useful for short trips: 1 GB for $15, valid for only seven days after activation. Although it might sound like a little, most travellers should be able to get by with this amount for ordinary browsing, navigation, and social media. If you want to stream, download, or make video calls occasionally, you might need more data (in which case Holafly or Yesim, which we'll look at next, would be better deals).

Airalo also offers data to 24 countries in the Caribbean, which is more than its competitors. This means that if you're island-hopping or travelling to a less-touristy Caribbean nation like Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bonaire, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, or Trinidad and Tobago (among a few others), then Airalo will be your best bet.

Setting up and activating your Airalo eSIM happens entirely on your smartphone, and it's very quick. In our test, we just took two minutes (watch our how-to video on YouTube to see how it's done). Moreover, you can easily top this up via the Airalo app if you start running low on data during your trip. This saves you time and hassle compared to buying a physical SIM, where you'd usually need to stand in line at the counter to buy or top up your card or package.

We also recommend Airalo in general, especially if you travel overseas often. The service provides an excellent connectivity companion while you're abroad in dozens of countries. To find out more about this excellent eSIM provider, take a look at our in-depth Airalo review.

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Best For Medium Trips: Holafly

📡 Network(s)

Digicel

💵 Price /GB

$7.71

📅 Duration

15 days

📶 Speed in the Caribbean

4G / LTE

Holafly is another trusted eSIM service that offers eSIMs for the Caribbean. Holafly's Caribbean data package costs $54 once off for 7 GB over 15 days. Although this might sound like a lot, it's a bit cheaper per gigabyte than Airalo ($7.71 versus $15 respectively), and given that it's available for 15 days rather than just a week, we think Holafly is perfect for medium-length trips of just one to two weeks to the Caribbean. This way, you'll save money by buying a single Holafly package ($54 for 7 GB) rather than topping up and buying a second Airalo package for your second week ($30 for 2 GB).

Like Airalo, Holafly's plans in the Caribbean give you data via local carriers, although this time only through Digicel networks in multiple countries. This means you'll get coverage like a local no matter where you travel in the region (however, coverage can still drop in some parts of the Caribbean, such as more remote jungles or mountainous regions, as we'll see later.)

A few disadvantages of using Holafly compared to Airalo include less carrier coverage (potentially meaning slower speeds in some regions), fewer countries included (although the major Caribbean destinations are included), and the fact that Holafly doesn't let you hotspot or tether your connection in the Caribbean. However, depending on your needs and preferences, these may not be disadvantages for you at all.

Although its data packages are limited in the Caribbean, Holafly's data is unlimited in most other destinations. If you're curious, we tested Holafly extensively to see if its data plans really live up to their unlimited promise. The short answer? Yes, but there are a few things you should know. Take a look at our Holafly review to find out what they are.

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Best For The Budget: Yesim

📡 Network(s)

Claro

💵 Price /GB

$3.74 - $14.30, depending on plan

📅 Duration

7 - 30 days

📶 Speed in the Caribbean

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

A smaller and newer company than Airalo and Holafly, Yesim is a Swiss-based eSIM provider offering highly-rated eSIMs for the Caribbean and other regions and countries around the globe. Its website and app are simple, straightforward, and easy to use, and over 300,000 customers have chosen Yesim's eSIMs so far.

Like its larger competitors, Yesim gives you an eSIM card connecting to local carriers while you're in the Caribbean (e.g. Digicel in Jamaica and Orange in the Dominican Republic). It can be installed quickly and effortlessly right from the app or via a QR code sent to your email after purchase. Yesim's packages cost between $11 and $60.50 in the Caribbean for 1 GB to 10 GB (that's just $6.05 to $11 per gigabyte), with all plans lasting 30 days. This is very well-priced for the Caribbean, which means Yesim is the best deal all around, no matter the duration of your trip. However, depending on where you're travelling to, Yesim might hold you back.

Compared to Airalo's 24 and Holafly's 16 countries, Yesim only offers data in 14 countries in the Caribbean. Although it does cover major destinations like the Bahamas, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, a few other popular spots like Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Curaçao, and the Turks and Caicos are unfortunately not yet included in this plan.

How Do They Compare?

In the chart below, we've compared GigSky, Airalo, Holafly, and Yesim based on a few factors you might find important on your trip to the Caribbean or anywhere else in the world. As you'll see, the three are very competitive, with differences normally being slight. If you'd like to compare Holafly and Airalo directly, take a look at our side-by-side review of the two too.

🌎 Coverage

48 countries

24 countries

16 countries

14 countries

📡 Networks

Varies by country

  • FLOW
  • Digicel
  • BTC
  • Claro

Digicel only

  • Orange
  • Digicel
  • BTC
  • Claro

⚡ Data

512 MB - 3 GB

1 GB only

7 GB only

1 - 10 GB

💵 Price /GB (USD)

$35.14 - $24.66

$15

$7.71

$6.05 - $11

📅 Duration

1 - 15 days

7 days

15 days

30 days

📶 Speeds

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

4G / LTE

3G / 4G / 5G / LTE

🚢 Works on Cruises

🔗 Tethering (Hotspot)

🔎 Works With VPN

Visit websiteVisit websiteVisit websiteVisit website

Correct as of 21 March, 2024

Which Caribbean Carrier Is Best?

Rowan Heuvel A Caribbean beach with palm trees at Playa Blanca, Saboga, Panama.

Although it can be tempting to think of it as just warm waters and tropical islands, the Caribbean is a surprisingly diverse region — and the regional telecoms sector is no different! Although major carriers like Digicel operate on many Caribbean islands, these networks are often distinct from one another. Although the carriers depend on the country, there are a few carrier names you'll probably hear more than others when buying a regional Caribbean data package:

  1. Digicel (operating in 26 Caribbean countries)
  2. FLOW (operating in 15 Caribbean countries)
  3. CHIPPIE (operating in 11 Caribbean countries)
  4. Orange (operating in 5 Caribbean countries)
  5. TelCell (operating in 3 Caribbean countries)
  6. Dauphin Telecom (operating in 3 Caribbean countries)
  7. Claro (operating in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico)
  8. T-Mobile (operating in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands)

In addition to these, there are many other single-country mobile network operators like Aliv in the Bahamas and Viva in the Dominican Republic.

If your eSIM connects to Digicel, you can be sure that you'll get good coverage in pretty much all cities and tourist destinations in the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Aruba. If your eSIM package offers additional networks like BTC and Claro, that's a bonus but not crucial.

However, it's worth remembering that the Caribbean covers a large region, and the sea covers much of it. Accordingly, your coverage will probably become spotty or even nonexistent if you plan to sail or cruise on the open sea (unless you use GigSky) or travel to a more remote region of a larger island like the Blue Mountains National Park in Jamaica or the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic.

If you'd like to double-check if the region you're traveling to is covered by the various carriers, take a look at this handy map. You can enter the Caribbean country and select the network operator to see their coverage area.

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🌴 Traveling to Cuba? Unfortunately, Cuba isn't included in typical regional data plans for the Caribbean. If you'd like to get an eSIM for Cuba, Airalo is the only provider in this article that offers data plans for the country, though you'll need to buy a separate eSIM package just for the country.

Do I Need a SIM Card in the Caribbean?

Raul Baz Grilled fish and fried rice in the Dominican Republic.

No, you don't need a SIM card as a tourist in the Caribbean, but having one will enable you to access useful travel apps like Google Maps, social media, Uber, or Airbnb without having to rely on WiFi.

A good place to start would be to review your contract from your mobile network provider before you travel to the Caribbean. Most contracts are limited to use just within your home country (or within the European Union if you live in an EU country). For all other countries, so-called 'roaming charges' typically apply. However, there is one exception: specific contracts sometimes allow you to use your data worldwide. If you have a global internet contract, you can also use it in the Caribbean without unexpected roaming charges.

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Otherwise, although precise roaming charges differ according to your network provider, the fees for using mobile internet in the Caribbean are typically around $2 or $3 per 6 MB (six megabytes) of data used, though they could still be higher. For example, if you wanted to download an average-sized app from the Google Play Store onto your Android smartphone, you'd use around 24 MB and pay $8 to $10 in roaming charges. It should, therefore, be clear that roaming with your regular SIM card in the Caribbean is generally not worthwhile and can lead to enormous costs. As we saw earlier, purchasing a local Caribbean SIM card once you arrive or, better yet, an eSIM before you travel is significantly cheaper.

What Are eSIMs, Anyway?

Tatiana Rodriguez A view of a street in Puerto Rico with a flag.

Simply put, eSIMs are regular SIM cards that don't require inserting an actual microchip into your device while providing the same benefits. Newer smartphones (but also smartwatches, tablets, and other devices) can be equipped with eSIMs, and since you don't need an actual SIM card to install an eSIM, you can also get one before your trip to the Caribbean. To do this, all you have to do is visit an online eSIM service, purchase the eSIM you want, and follow the instructions to download and install it onto your device.

Like regular SIM cards, prepaid eSIMs come bundled with a certain fixed amount of data, SMSes, or telephone minutes, which you can use at your leisure while travelling. You get to choose the package you want, and you can generally also extend your eSIM's validity easily right from an app.

Pros of Using an eSIM

In general, eSIMs have numerous advantages and are often a better alternative to regular SIM cards for most tourists. In our opinion, the most significant advantages include:

  • internet immediately upon arrival in the Caribbean,
  • no negotiating with SIM card sellers at the airport,
  • transparent and fair pricing,
  • online extension is often possible,
  • credit card payment is possible,
  • local telecom provider networks are used.

In our opinion, there are only a few reasons against using an eSIM when travelling to the Caribbean (which we'll discuss below). In most instances, we're sure that it's a far better deal than using your normal SIM card from your home country on Caribbean networks.

Cons of Using an eSIM

As we've already seen, eSIMs have very few drawbacks and are an excellent option for accessing mobile internet on your Caribbean vacation.

However, one disadvantage is the slightly higher upfront cost than physical SIM cards. That said, eSIMs are still comparatively cheap, especially for use in the Caribbean from abroad. In our opinion, the significantly higher level of comfort and the possibility of having access to the internet immediately upon arrival are worth the extra pennies. Another disadvantage is related to installation, where the process may be unfamiliar to you if you've never installed an eSIM before. However, if you follow the instructions carefully, you'll be fine.

Finally, there's a compatibility issue: not all devices support eSIMs. If your device was released before late 2019, we recommend double-checking on the internet or contacting a representative from an eSIM service to confirm whether your device is compatible before you purchase an eSIM. In general, the following devices will support eSIMs though:

  • iPhone 11 or later
  • iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or iPhone SE
  • iPad 7th generation or later,
  • Galaxy S20 or later
  • Google Pixel 3 or later
  • and many other devices (see our full list of compatible devices)

Can I Call From the Caribbean With an eSIM?

Daniel Seßler A red and white vintage car parked beside a palm tree in Pinar del Río, Cuba.

Yes, you can call abroad from the Caribbean with an eSIM, but once again, using your regular network provider and SIM card could result in surprisingly high calling charges at the end of the month (we've personally encountered as high as $4 per minute!). Fortunately, you can call abroad without the high costs, and there are three ways of doing this. We go through each below:

1. Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) With Data

In most cases, eSIM packages are loaded with mobile data, not with minutes or airtime. However, using your data, you can use web-based apps like WhatsApp, Google Meet, Skype, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and others to stay in touch with family and friends abroad while in the Caribbean.

2. eSIMs With Airtime

Some eSIM services offer talk and text packages alongside normal data packages. These allow you to make direct phone calls or SMSes via local networks in the Caribbean to your home country for only a slightly higher fee than regular data packages. Not all eSIM services offer this service though, but some, like Wraptel, do.

3. International Calling Apps

If you plan to make calls from the Caribbean (or anywhere else abroad) fairly regularly, then your most reliable and affordable option will be to use a third-party app. In our opinion, Rebtel is by far the best service out there, offering low rates and providing you with local Caribbean phone numbers with which you can make calls abroad as though they were completely domestic.

Although it's popular, we typically don't recommend using Google Fi for this purpose unless you plan to go back and forth from the United States regularly (since Google Fi is only available to Americans and will not work if you spend over 90 days abroad yearly). In general, Rebtel's rates are more affordable than Google Fi's too. Look at our in-depth review to learn more about our first-hand experience with Google Fi.

Recap: All About eSIMs in the Caribbean

Luke Michael A collection of kiwis and oranges.

Are you planning a trip to the Caribbean, and do you have a modern smartphone? Then, you should certainly at least consider getting an eSIM. In our opinion, they offer almost nothing but advantages and are generally far superior to using your regular SIM card.

You should compare the available options to find the right provider for eSIMs in the Caribbean. As we've seen, we recommend looking primarily at the network provider and the price. Airalo, Holafly or possibly Yesim are the best choices, depending on how long you want to stay in the Caribbean. To recap, here are what each can offer you:

  1. Airalo: Best eSIM for the Caribbean overall,
  2. Holafly: Best eSIM for unlimited data in the Caribbean,
  3. Yesim: Good alternative to Airalo.
  4. Wraptel: Best eSIM for airtime and SMSes.
  5. Rebtel: Best calling service for international calls.

FAQ About The Best eSIM For The Caribbean

Compare hundreds eSIMs packages for your next trip:

  • Where are you going?
  • How long is your trip?
  • How much data do you need?
33 results
Sort by
  1. Total data

    5 GB

    $21.84

    $22.99

    Data only
    30 days
    Jamaica
    5% off with code MONITO5
  2. Total data

    5 GB

    $28.76

    $31.95

    Data only
    30 days
    Jamaica
    10% off with code MONITO
  3. Total data

    Unlimited

    $28.90

    $34.00

    Data only
    7 days
    24 countries
    15% off with code MONITO15
  4. Total data

    5 GB

    $29.75

    $35.00

    Data only
    60 days
    157 countries
    15% off with code MONITO15

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