My fiance and I are getting married this fall - most likely October. We want to head to the Caribbean, as we live in North Carolina, and we can easily travel to most islands.
We don't have a huge budget, but hopefully enough to stay at a nicer resort for at least a week, hopefully slightly longer. I have spent the last 2 months endlessly researching destinations, and I'm finally realizing that there is no 'right' answer, but I'm hoping to get general opinions of those more well traveled than myself.
What we want in our destination is not just fine beaches, but also affordable activities and excursions. This could look like rain forest, volcanoes, sailing, snorkeling, scuba, hiking, day trips to other islands, whale watching, etc. What we are NOT interested in is nightlife, lots of shopping, lots of driving, fishing, golfing, or sitting on the beach the whole time. We don't want to end up in the most touristy spots, but we don't want to be so far off the beaten path that we are stuck at our resort the whole time either. I would prefer to not need to rent a car, but it's not a deal breaker. I just want a vacation from driving! Riding bikes, or walking, or somewhat reasonably priced taxis would be great options.
Whale watching is something that is a life long dream of mine, so for that reason I am highly attracted to Dominica and St. Lucia. At the same time, I read lots of forum posts saying that those will not provide nice enough beaches. I looked at Secret Bay in Dominica which looks amazing (though we would stay at the resort most of the time), but I've also expanded the list to include St. John, Virgin Gorda, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, Costa Rica and Riviera Maya. I realize Costa Rica is not the Caribbean, but it's still an option that provides a lot of what we are looking for.
T&C seems like the beaches are amazing, but we want more than that, so this has become a back burner idea for now.
The Virgin Islands all look gorgeous, especially beach wise, but I wonder if we will still be able to do things like whale watching and have great snorkeling and hiking as we would in Dominica? They also seem to be more expensive, so hopefully we would be able to go out to eat during our stay if we went there.
Puerto Rico seems like it has a bit of everything, but not quite the best of anything. I'd be interested in the culture, food, bio bay, etc., but it seems almost too close to home. We definitely want something new and exciting! We also were originally planning on marrying at our destination, and if we end up somewhere that would require a residency, we will marry here first, and then have some sort of ceremony - vow renewal ? - at our destination during our trip.
I also want to make sure that no matter where we end up, that we have enough budget left for insurance, because of hurricane season.
I know that no matter where we go, it will be amazing, but we don't get to travel a ton, so i just want to pick an amazing spot that is unforgettable.
I apologize for the abundance of information, it's just all swimming in my very overwhelmed head! I am trying to pick a destination in the next few weeks, so that we can then start pricing out accommodations and book our trip. Any and all thoughts and advice on these places, or some I may have overlooked, would be greatly appreciated.
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