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best honeymoon island without car

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My fiance and I would love to go to the Caribbean for our honeymoon in July. The complication is that we are both under 25, so lots of money and the ability to rent a car are both lacking. We want it to be very relaxing but are also outdoors people so we still want to be able to go hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, etc as opposed to just stay on the beach at a resort the whole time. Which islands are best in terms of price and ability to get around and see things without a car? At the moment we were thinking St. John, St. Martin, Aruba, Antigua, or St. Lucia.

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    Maybe this will help:

    St. John is one of the most expensive island destinations in the Caribbean and you'll really need transportation (rental car or taxis) to access the major points of interest and beaches.

    St. Lucia is a big island and you'll need rental car or taxis to get around. Skip it if you have a limited budget and can't afford to pay for taxis as you won't be able to get around by walking.

    Same too about Antigua.

    That leaves both Aruba and St. Martin which are your best bets. There are plenty of hotels/ resorts on both islands that fittest budgets and are within walking distance ofany restaurants, bars, and points of interest. You'll still need some transportation if you want to visit the entire island but there will be lots to do without it.

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    We have been to many Caribbean Islands and Mexico numerous time and have never rented a car. We prefer guided tours to see and do and we try to stay at resorts that are within walking distance or a short cab ride away to get to restaurants/bars.


    From the list of destinations you tagged, Aruba seems to fit what you are looking for. All the hotels on Palm Beach are within walking distance to many restaurants, bars, shopping and entertainment. Aruba is one of the best destinations for public transportation. Their bus system is easy, convenient and inexpensive.

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    I've been to St.Maarten/St-Martin many times and have never rented a car (I don't drive). I stay in different parts of the island and do not find it a big deal being without a vehicle(except maybe Oyster Pond, Anse Marcel areas).

    Your best bet would be the Dutch side, Maho area (Sonesta Maho). Lots of restaurants, clubs, Mullet Bay Beach (beautiful!) super close by. They have bus service (can't remember what it's called) that is very cheap.

    I take cabs once in a while to get to other parts of the island like Orient Beach, which is worth it.

    Beautiful island, gorgeous beaches, ziplining, butterfly farm, lots to do, you can find inexpensive places to eat or not.

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    sounds like we should consider Aruba and the Dutch side a lot more than we have.

    How do these islands compare in terms of nightlife vs very laid back? Although we both enjoy a good drink, we typically aren't into the nightlife scene. One of the things that attracted us to St. John was the idea that it would be very peaceful, relaxed, and nature-oriented, yet we could take a ferry to St. Thomas for literally one day to explore shopping/nightlife, etc. All islands advertise "relaxed" and "nightlife" so it's really hard to tell what the actual culture is.

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    aruba & st. martin are both very busy islands. not at all quiet/peaceful like st. john.
    you might look at grenada. the topography is similiar to st. john & it's a small island so even if you wish to take the minibus or taxi somewhere it won't cost that much. http://www.grenadaexplorer.com/Transport.htm
    grenadian by rex, true blue or flamboyant are mid priced. it's tropical looking & has lots of personality - really romantic!

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    I've never been to Aruba but from what I read it's pretty americanized and a party place, though i'm sure there are areas that aren't. Someone will correct me if i'm wrong i'm sure!

    St-Maarten: Forget Maho then, lots of activity there. Same for Simpson's Bay.
    I stayed in Great Bay (Sonesta Great Bay) as well, pretty quiet, matter of fact a bit too quiet in the evenings. It's close to Phillipsburgh (you can walk along the beach, of course I didn't do that seeing as I was alone.)

    Grand Case on the French side (St.Martin) is great. I wish I could live there :) It's quiet during the day , just restaurants along the beach, some nice quiet bars (Calmos Cafe is awesome). Restaurants are a bit pricey though, except for the lolos (vendors cooking up bbq fare).
    Check out Grand Case Beach Club (stayed there too!)

    You could always take a catamaran trip right off the beach at Grand Case Beach Club and spend the day sailing and snorkeling at Prickly Pear Island with a stop at for lunch made by the crew (very good!). I also did the trip with a stop at Mead's Bay in Anguilla.

    There is also the ferry from Marigot (St.Martin) to Anguilla. That would be a nice day, though you might not want to leave Anguilla :)

    Virgin Islands are on my hit list too, but so expensive :(

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    In your original post you said: "lots of money and the ability to rent a car are both lacking". St. John is a very expensive island and there is really only two small towns, Cruz Bay (the larger of the two) and Coral Bay. It is a very hilly island and not very walkable. Since you can't rent a car because of your age you'll end up spending more than the cost of a rental car on taxis to get around to the various beaches and other points of interest. I gather you are on a "tight budget", if so St. John may not be the best island for you to visit.

    Regardless of what island you visit, you'll find it's easy to relax on the beaches and it's also easy to avoid any nightlife, if that's not your thing so I wouldn't let the availability of nightlife be a deterrent.

    Now, if you truly want an island without nightlife look at some of the Bahamas Out-islands like Long island, Cat Island, or Exuma - they will be very quiet. Problem is there's not always a lot to do outside the resorts.

    Check out resorts near Playa del Carmen (Mexico, south of Cancun), many will give you the feeling of seclusion for your relaxation but are within walking distance of the town when you want shopping and/or nightlife.

    Personally, I think you should look at hotels and resorts in Grand Case on St. Martin. Grand Case is a small village with some of the best restaurants on the island yet the hotels in the area are quiet and relaxing spots. The island is fairly easy to reach and has good transportation options for those without a car.

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    If you are on a tight budget, I would definitely check out the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. It offers everything on your list, there are 100s of beautiful resorts to pick from, public transportation is cheap, and the prices for the resorts down there are the cheapest in the Caribbean. There are more activities in this area then you will have time for...

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    Thanks for the advice! Right now it's hard to know our exact budget but it is evident that we will not be at either the most luxurious place or the cheapest place either. I didn't realize St. John was so expensive, I guess that might have to wait a few years. :)

    After looking around a little bit we're considering Grenada, which I'd never heard of. I guess flights can be expensive, but I saw some package deals that might make it ok comparatively. Thanks for the tip!

    I also saw something on another discussion that Nevis might meet similar requirements, which I again have never heard of. Anyone know how that compares to Grenada, St. Lucia, St. John?

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    I've stayed at the Rex Grenadian a couple of years ago; it is within walking distance of the airport. It is situated on a beautiful beach, although there is only one restaurant (indoor), the food is actually rather good, surprisingly. It is a mid range hotel with a few rough edges, typical of a 3 star hotel in the Caribbean I would say. Perhaps read some reviews on TA for some other opinions, personally I would say it is good value for money but you need to be realistic in your expectations of the standard of the hotel in that price range. Grenada is a really great island, one of my favourites in the Caribbean, local people are really friendly.

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    Nevis is a wonderful island, similar in topography to St. John but much more lush. Its beaches, though are not in the same class. It's smaller than St. Lucia and Grenada. It's a little difficult to reach. Unless you can stay at the very upscale Four Seasons Resort (which is within walking distance of 4 beach bars) you are going to need transportation if you want to venture outside of your resort or hotel. Even if you could afford the Four Seasons you'll need transportation to explore anything else. You see, everything is very spread out on the island and, depending on where you stay, you are looking at anywhere from around $15US to $25US each way for a taxi. Public transportation is almost non-existent and not very reliable, especially at night, so without a car or a "transportation" budget you may find yourself staying "on resort" more than you'd like. I have a home on the island and while it holds a place in my heart I do think it is the best island for your situation.

    I know you said you don't know your exact budget BUT THAT"S REALLY THE KEY to figuring out the best place to go. Without a budget you'll end up getting very frustrated making plans only to find out your airfare is higher than you expected or you can't find a suitable resort/hotel in your price range. You want to first pick your island since that's where you'll be doing all the activities that interest YOU and the cost of getting to that island is going to represent a big portion of your budget. Once you do that finding a resort or hotel is easy since almost every island has accommodations to fit most budgets. So here's what I would do if I were you.

    1) Determine how much you can comfortably spend on your honeymoon. You don't need an exact figure but just a general range, say within $500 to $1,000 of your target. Otherwise you are going to end up spinning your wheels and getting very frustrated. The Caribbean is not a "cheap' destination although you can find places that are more "budget friendly" than others. the thing is, in order for anyone on this forum to be of real help we need some idea of what that budget is. The least helpful thing you can tell us is that you want something "affordable" or "not too expensive" you don't want to "break the bank". Those terms are very nebulous and are meaningless without a dollar point of reference. So give us a number to work with - once you do you'll get lots of good suggestions.

    2) Once you have your general number you'll have to determine how much of that will be spent on airfares. You don't say where you are flying from but generally speaking you can expect to spend anywhere from $450 to $800 per person for a round trip to reach most island destinations that are serviced by non-stop flights from East Coast and Mid-West International airports. Add more if you are flying from the west coast of if you have to take a connecting flight to reach a gateway airport or if you want to go to a smaller island (like Nevis, for instance). You can get approximate airfares from your home airport simply by going to one of the Travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz or Kyack and putting in your planned dates of travel and your intended destination.

    3) Deduct your estimated air fare from your general budget and you'll know how much you have left for accommodations, food and activities. You can then begin looking at resorts/hotels on the island you are thinking of visiting to see what's available in your price range.

    HELPUL HINTS:

    Airfares are usually less expensive to the major islands that can be reached non-stop from major airport so look at destinations like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, St. Martin, Aruba, St. Thomas, etc. but use the websites I mentioned in 2) above to find out what it costs to get to any island that interests you. The smaller the island, the more difficult it is to get to and that equates to a higher cost. Stick to the bigger (major_ islands and you'll have more money for accommodations, food and activities.

    Since this is your first trip to the Caribbean stick to one of the more better know islands, they will be the ones that are easier to get around as they will have more infrastructure and they are more likely to have resorts and hotels that are in closer proximity to shops, restaurants and activities so you won't have to worry too much about transportation. The bigger islands will usually have some decent public transportation options making it easy to get around without a car or having to rely on taxis. Speaking of taxis, if you plan on using them as your primary means of transportation recognize that taxi fares will not be cheap on any island.

    When figuring out how much you'll spend on food, figure it will cost you about 15% to 20% more than you would pay if you ate the same meals out at the same type of restaurants"back home". In other words, you don't have to eat at gourmet restaurants every night. You can find reasonably priced meals on every island.

    Now finding accommodations is not as daunting as it sounds. Once you choose your island you can do simple google searches using such topics as "Hotel on NAME OF ISLAND" or "Where to stay on NAME OF ISLAND" or go to sites like Hotels.com, Travelocity and type in your intended destination and you'll find listing with price ranges.. You can then visit the websites for the hotels/resorts that are in your price range to learn more about what they have to offer. Remember though, that most islands have a government tax levied on the room prices so take that into consideration when figuring your budget. A good way to save money on accommodations is to choose a resort or hotel that is not on the beach. Sometimes walking a couple of blocks can save you bundles. If you must stay at a beachfront resort consider staying in room with a garden or mountain view rather than the beach view. They are often considerably less expensive than beachfront rooms but every bit as nice and you'll still have access to all the resorts amenities. Think of how much time you'll actually be spending in your room actually awake with the curtains open and looking out at the view - you'll find it's probably not that much.

    Once you do all of the above you can come back here and post specific questions about the island you plan to visit and the resort(s) you are considering.

    Good luck in your search.

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    I am a St. John fan and would like to see if you can make things work to honeymoon there -- though I also honeymooned in Nevis and had a great time. St. John is 2/3 national park, lush, beautiful beaches, good snorkeling, good hiking trails with old sugar mill ruins. Pretty much everything that you're asking for.

    Except budget. Others are right that most of the accomodations are pricey. Take a look at Estate Lindholm, a smaller hotel close to Cruz Bay. Rates for next summer are $170 plus tax for a garden view room, with continental breakfast. You can hike to a couple of beautiful beaches (you guys sound young and strong!) or walk into town. Maybe take a couple of cabs to farther out beaches. If you can splurge (wedding gift suggestion) take an excursion to the Soggy Dollar Bar on neighboring Jost Van Dyke.

    http://www.estatelindholm.com/

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    @RoamsAround- thanks for the detailed tips and helps! I will definitely be referencing your post in the future when I make more plans. I actually have been to the Caribbean several times before, although not for tourist/vacation trips. So while I am completely unfamiliar with the idea of resorts and such, Caribbean culture at least is comfortable for me. We would be flying out of Pittsburgh (which in the past has connected internationally in Miami).

    Right now we're mostly just looking to narrow it down to one or two islands that would work well for us. We're just getting started in the plans, found ourselves overwhelmed, and decided that narrowing it down a bit would probably be good, which you all have been most helpful for.

    You're absolutely right that we need a specific budget, which we will develop eventually. The complication is that we aren't currently living together and don't plan to be before the wedding, which I suppose is unusual. But as a result it's really hard to know right now how much money will be left for a honeymoon after we move, set up an apartment from scratch, deal with the wedding itself, and budget our income. Obviously we will have to make travel decisions before all of that, but we are hoping to wait a few weeks before actually booking so we know more specifically. Like I said, that's why we're just trying to narrow it down right now.

    To give a rough estimate: We for sure have $4,000 already saved and probably will have more like 5 or 6, and I'm just guessing maybe up to 8 if everything SUPER works in our favor. It's a honeymoon so I don't have a problem with splurging, but our definition of splurging is probably a little different than some people's which is why I originally wanted to be clear that upper-end resorts are not really an option.

    I don't know if that helps at all or changes you or anyone else's opinion. Thanks again!

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    Yes, it helps. With a budget of $5,000 to $8,000 you should have no difficulty finding very nice resorts on many of the islands mentioned and still have plenty of money left over for food and transportation. The key is to be realistic in your expectations. The biggest unknown is going to be your "on-island" transportation costs since you are unable to rent a car. That being the case I'd still concentrate on those destinations previously mentioned that are somewhat "walkable" and/or have good public transportation. The less you have to spend on taxis the more you'll have for "fun activities".

    One other suggestion not previously discussed - take a look at Bermuda. It's easy to get to from the Northeast, and transportation is mostly by scooter (which can be easily rented by people under 25). It's one of the few islands where travel by scooter is recommended by contributors on this forum. FYI - most of us will tell you NOT to rent scooters on most caribbean islands (especially the ones you are considering) since the roads on most islands are not conducive for travel by scooters (read not very safe).

    Hope you find your special island.

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    I was going to suggest Bermuda but was put off because of budget, as accommodation is not inexpensive but with this budget, I believe it is achievable. Bermuda is the prettiest island with the most gorgeous beaches, the weather will be glorious in July, public transportation is very good (we rented a scooter this year and did not encounter any issues, however some holidaymakers do and someone did get killed in a scooter accident whilst we were there this past June). I think we paid about $300 for a week's rental, so not cheap but worthwhile to get to the lesser known beaches/sights.

    Take a look at TA photos for Pompano Beach or the Reefs. For a small island, there is alot to do and see apart from being on the beach plus the island itself is very pretty, ideal place for a honeymoon.

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    I did St John, for under 5K without much problem (and we stayed 9 nights at Gallows Point for $300/night). Your budget sounds pretty good to me!! The only problem with doing St John is that I honestly can't imagine trying to get around (without) a jeep for the week.

    Your budget is far from limited. If you have 5k or more, you should be able to find something just about anywhere in the Caribbean for that amount of $$.

    I've been to quite a few Islands, and only once did I spend 5K for two people...and that was on Grand Cayman.

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    Actually, you CAN rent a car in the USVI if you are under 25 (assuming you are over 21). Budget offers rentals for under 25 drivers but you do have to pay a surcharge of $20/day. Here's the link:

    http://www.budgetstt.com/rentalPolicy.php

    July is low season in the Caribbean so you'll benefit from lower prices everywhere (except Bermuda, which isn't in the Caribbean anyway). When I read your first post my immediate thought was St. John. It's very laid back with many outdoor activities but it also has a small downtown that offers some good restaurants and a bit of nightlife. There are some reasonable places to stay in Cruz Bay and villa rentals all over the island. If you stay in or next to Cruz Bay you could probably get away with not renting a car for the entire time.

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    Thanks so very much for the advice and comments! You have all been very helpful. We have officially narrowed it down to Grenada as our first choice and St. John as our second. Step 1=complete. Thanks again!

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