Google Flights Guide: Caribbean Edition

June 11, 2024

Table of Contents

Do you use Google Flights to help select your Caribbean destinations? If not, you should be, and we'll show you how.

Flight research is an integral part of our business here at Mango Tree, as we plan custom trips for families headed to the Caribbean and beyond. We’re always tweaking and refining searchines to find the best flights for our clients to our favorite Caribbean islands.  

Google Flights is the key tool that we use in finding the best flights for you Caribbean getaways.  We use Google Flights on a daily basis. 

This article teaches you how to use Google Flights to help select your destination. 

We’ll focus on finding cheap flights to the Caribbean – who doesn’t want a flight deal?  But, perhaps more importantly for families planning travel with kids, we’ll focus on finding the best flight routes that align with your travel style and goals. Direct flights to the Caribbean are a priority for many families, for example, and we can help you find them easily and efficiently.  

There’s no perfect Caribbean destination for your family – instead, there will always be a few options that will be a fabulous fit. Once you have a list of ideas, you can use Google Flights to narrow the options. This article will teach you how to use Google Flights to find the best Caribbean flights.

Let’s get started. Here are our top Google flight hacks for using the flight research platform to identify the best Caribbean destination for your next adventure.

This article is part of series on How to Plan a Caribbean Vacation With Kids – Be sure to check out the other articles in the series, sharing our best tips for brainstorming Caribbean destinations and crafting amazing itineraries with kids. 

Google Flights Guide

What is Google Flights?

Google Flights is an online flight booking search engine developed by Google. It allows users to search for airline tickets across various airlines, compare prices, and find the best plane tickets to their desired destinations. 

The best part about Google Flights is the “Explore” function, which allows you to search for flight routes between your home destination and any region of the world – not just to a specific destination you have in mind.  

This particular tool makes Google Flights a great resource not just for booking plane tickets to a destination you’ve already picked, but for picking that destination in the first place by comparing and contrasting possible flight options. 

Google Flights’ Explore tool also offers a range of other filters that can be layered within the Explore function to refine search results based on factors like departure times, flight durations, and the number of layovers.  We like it much better than Kayak or any other online travel sites. 

The Google Flights tool works for domestic flights and international flights.  But an international flight is such a huge cost component of big trips, that we find that Google Flights research really helps to improve your overall travel experience by helping you balance the desires to save money and also find a flight route that doesn’t make you cringe. 

Google Flights also features price tracking and alerts, which notify users of fare changes, helping them find the cheapest flights.  I like to think of Google Flights as serving a funnel function – start big, and slowly use filters to narrow it down to the best choices for your family.

Using Google Flights To Help Select Your Caribbean Destination

The thing is, when you’re thinking about taking a trip to a tropical destination with your family, there are probably multiple options that could be a good fit.  To be sure, each Caribbean island has its own distinct personality and flair.  But there are overlaps and similarities. So how do you choose? 

Often, it comes down to flights – whether that’s the best direct flights to the Caribbean from your home airport, or the best cheap flights to the Caribbean you can find, depending on your priorities.

So below, we’ll dive into the practical aspects of using Google Flights’ “Explore” feature to narrow down your Caribbean destination choices. You’ll find video tutorials as well, showing us applying our best Google Flights hacks to hunt for direct flights to the Caribbean. 

You’ll be amazed how big of a difference these little Google Flights research tips can make to create a smooth and efficient trip planning process, and to help you pick the island with an easy travel day. 

Flight Research with Google Flights

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Google Flights for Caribbean Travel 

1. Determine Your Ideal Travel Dates and Home Airport  

Our approach to using Google flights to find Caribbean flights starts with the ideal, and then broadens to find other options if the ideal is not available (or is price prohibitive).  

What do I mean by specific? If your home city has multiple airports, start with the airport you’d prefer to leave from.  If you’d prefer to travel Sunday to Friday, start by searching for your ideal departure date, and then adjust as needed if your dates are flexible.  

Check out this short video where we start a search for Caribbean flights using Google Explore. 

As mentioned in the video above, I prefer starting with Saturday to Saturday when searching for Caribbean flights for clients.  Many U.S. cities only get weekly nonstop flights to certain Caribbean destinations, and most weekly flights are on Saturdays, making it a good starting place. 

If you live in a city like Miami or New York, you’ll have more flexibility, with more daily nonstop Caribbean flight options (and better chances at last minute deals too).  

Google Flights Hack #1: Wherever you’re based, enter your home airport and then “Caribbean” as your desired destination. Then Explore! 

2. Use Google Flight Filters to Expand Your Options. 

The Google Flight filters are a key component to hacking the search for cheap flights to the Caribbean.  You can use filters on the left sidebar once you’re in the Explore feature to search by convenient departure and return times, nonstop flights or flights with only one connection.  

Think about what will make your life traveling with kids easier: For instance, a direct flight that leaves after 9 AM and returns between noon and 7 PM can make your trip much smoother with kids in tow than a flight leaving at 5am, which requires a 3am airport arrival. 

Follow this video tutorial to refine your flight search.

Google Flights Hack #2: Really dig into the filters to find the ideal flights to the Caribbean for your family. 

3. Refine Your Search Using the Duration Filter 

When searching for flights to the Caribbean, you’ll find that many flight paths include an overnight stop – especially if you’re coming from the northern half of the United States.  That’s because most flights to island destinations leave hubs like Miami, Charlotte, or JFK in the morning, and you may need to get to that hub the night before to make the connection.  

We often talk our clients through the process of an overnight pit stop, and in fact find that it can be a more relaxing way to start a trip with kids than with a 35 minute early-morning connection.  But, naturally, when searching for the best flights to the Caribbean islands, it would be nice to know which islands you can reach without that overnight connection.

If a direct flight to the Caribbean isn't available, consider layovers wisely. A layover in a city like Miami or New York can be an opportunity for a brief rest and can often lead to better flight options the next day.

Here’s how to use the Google Flights “Duration” filter to find those flights.

Eliminating long layovers by setting a maximum travel time helps you to find flights that won’t exhaust your family.

Google Flights Hack #3: Using the duration filter to find the best Caribbean flights without overnight or long layovers. 

4. Explore Different Travel Days 

If you’re not finding the cheap flight to the Caribbean airports you’re hunting for, be open to traveling on off-days – especially if you don’t have a great nonstop flight available to you on the weekends. 

For example, a connecting flight to Grenada might cost $1,200 for a Saturday to Saturday flight but only $565 for a Thursday to Thursday flight. Adjusting your travel dates can make a significant difference in cost. 

Google Flights Hack #4: Don’t be afraid to travel on weekdays, or away from peak times if your budget calls for cheap flights to the Caribbean. 

5. Save and Compare Flight Options

Once you have a list of potential destinations, save your flight research. Screenshot flight options and save them in a Google doc or spreadsheet. This helps keep track of your findings and ensures you don’t forget good deals. 

Google Flights Hack #5: Make sure you save your flight research so you don’t have to redo your work when you land on your final destination. 

6. How to Track Flight Prices 

Google flights also has a price tracking feature!  If you’re set on a specific destination, and want to monitor flight prices, this tool will be your best friend.  

We know quite a few parents who set flight alerts for wish-list destinations the minute they have access to the school calendar so they are ready and prepared to jump on a flight when the price drops. 

Setting flight alerts can also help you stay attuned to the regular price of certain flights, so that when you’re ready to buy, you can feel confident that you’re getting a good price and that it’s unlikely to drop, based on the history you’ve seen. 

Flight Research with Google Flights

Which Caribbean Islands Have The Most Direct Flights?

Sometimes you just want to get straight to the beach, without a complicated travel day Well, if you spend enough time on Google Flights (like we have), you’ll start to see trends.  The following destinations have by far the most frequent direct flights from U.S. cities.  

So if you’re specifically prioritizing how to find direct flights to the Caribbean, consider these destinations from the outset: 

        • Puerto Rico 
        • Jamaica (with flights into Montego Bay) 
        • Grand Cayman 
        • St. Thomas (a good hopping off point to explore the Virgin Islands) 
        • Barbados 
        • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 


Note: Southwest Airlines also has direct flights from its hubs to several Caribbean destinations, including Grand Cayman, Nassau, Aruba, Turks and Caicos, and Havana.  Until recently, those flights did not appear on Google Flights and needed to be researched separately. But as of May 2024, Southwest flights will start appearing on Google!

Are you a Google Flights Fan Yet?

By using these strategies, you can find the best flights to the Caribbean that fit your schedule and budget. Whether you’re seeking the cheapest Caribbean flights or the most convenient direct routes, Google Flights is a powerful tool to help you make informed decisions.

And if you’ve reached the end of this article and feel overwhelmed instead of inspired – that certainly wasn’t our goal! But that’s also a sign that custom trip planning is the answer to your trip planning woes.  Let us take it off your plate and find you that perfect flight. 

This article is part of series on How to Plan a Caribbean Vacation With Kids – Be sure to check out the other articles in the series, sharing our best tips for brainstorming Caribbean destinations and crafting amazing itineraries with kids. 

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