Not always necessary but sometimes a good idea
Food has to be imported and so meals may be expensive on many islands. Which is why all-inclusive resorts have grown in popularity.
Choosing A Meal Plan
Most rooms are sold EP or European Plan, without any meals included. This is how many experienced travelers prefer to book since it allows them to try various local restaurants.
However, on some islands, the dining options outside of the hotels may be more limited than you like. Or the meal costs, especially dinner, higher than you expect. In the Caribbean, evening meals tend to be quite costly and purchasing a meal plan through your hotel may be a good option.
Remember, there really isn't a lot to do on many islands after the sun goes down. Dinner is often leisurely and the night's entertainment.
Find out what the range of your hotel's ala carte menu, and then compare that cost to a meal plan.
Meal plans are usually sold 2 ways:
AP or American Plan, with 3 meals included.
MAP or Modified American Plan with 2 meals, breakfast and an option of lunch or dinner. Lunch usually costs far less than dinner.
An All Inclusive Resort?
Don't worry, be happy. That's the appeal of all inclusive resorts where meals, alcohol and wine are all included in the basic charge. So are a wide range of activities, everything from scuba diving to horseback riding. Tipping is also covered, as are the taxes (which can add another 20%).
Sandals and the SuperClubs of Jamaica took the all inclusive concept pioneered by Club Med and took it to the next level. Instead of Club Med's small matchbook rooms they offered more spacious accommodations with quality amenities.
And where Club Med would nickel and dine you to death, especially for soft drinks and alcohol, Sandals and the SuperClubs included every possible drink type. Club Med has been on a downhill spiral in the Caribbean every since.
If you're the type who likes to go out and see where you're vacationing, be aware that all inclusives actually discourage that. The resorts already offer most available activities and you've already paid for all your meals and drinks—why go elsewhere?
Indeed, the majority of guests never leave the property unless they're part of a scheduled activity.
The result is that they could be vacationing anywhere. Their only contact with locals is through the wait staff. They might as well be on a cruise ship, far out at sea.
But that is what some vacationers want. Sunshine, relaxation and no surprises. And there is nothing wrong with that. It all depends on your preferences.