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Feb Vacation help...:(

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My husband and I want to go to the Caribbean but are so confused (there are just too many islands), running to libraries for books and doing endless search on Google- this vacation is turning out to be too much work!
We want to take this vacation for out 1st year anniversary (feb), we want a nice warm place, with beaches and water activities like beginners snorkeling n stuff. Not a overly tourist place. A relaxing beach vacation, with culture.
We like to eat out, but not looking at fine dinning or expensive restaurants, we get enough of that in CA.
We don’t want to go all out on our budget but not counting pennies either.
We do like to hike and adventure stuff is wfun too.
Any help, suggestions welcome…. 

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    What you describe pretty much fits all of the islands, I think. If no place is particularly calling your name, you can just flip a coin. Maybe check flight schedules to see which are the most convenient and direct from your home location?

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    Making the first trip to the Caribbean can be daunting because of all the choices. Here are some hints to help make your choices easier:

    1) Recognize that no two islands are alike and each has it's own distinct personality and no one island "has it all". Also, there's really no such thing as a "perfect" island - just different islands. Don't get caught up in the "grass is greener or should we say the water is bluer on the other island syndrome. It's best to pick one island that most interests you and make your plans. There will be plenty of time in the future for you to visit other islands. Use the Destinations link at the top of this page. Click through to the Caribbean and read the brief descriptions/summaries of the islands listed. Choose the 2 (3 if you are energetic and not easily confused) islands that most interest you and concentrate your search to those islands. It will make the decision process much easier.

    2) Unless you have a very specific and narrow agenda almost any of the major or well know islands will be great for a first time trip - all but a very few offer nice beaches, plenty of water activities, interesting local culture, various activities for people of all ages and, of course, restaurants to dine at.

    3) Getting to the Caribbean from California can be a chore, depending on the final destination sometimes requiring 2 or more connecting flights and/or ferry rides - perhaps having to overnight somewhere while enroute (probably a major airport in central or eastern US). That's why it's probably best to select one of the major islands that can be reached non-stop from that airport rather than a tiny island reachable only by small commuter planes or ferries. It will save you lots of wasted travel time.

    4) When seeking recommendations (on a travel forum) for specific resorts it's always helpful to give us some idea (in actual dollar terms) of your budget. Terms like "not too pricey", "won't break the bank", "affordable" or as in your case "We don’t want to go all out on our budget but not counting pennies either" are meaningless without a point of reference. We really need to know "how many pennies" you have in order to make meaningful suggestions. With that in mind, if you have reasonable expectations and a realistic budget you can find accommodations in many different price ranges. Just remember, that generally speaking February is consider "High Season" in the Caribbean so room prices will be more than during the summer months when fewer people visit the islands. It's a matter of supply and demand. Also, don't go expecting to find 5-star or 5-star accommodations for 3-star prices - it just doesn't happen.

    5) Remember that you'll pay a premium for "location" (i.e. beachfront rooms vs. garden view rooms or resorts on the beach vs. resorts that are set aways back from the beach). Remember too, that no matter which room class you pick you'll still have the full use of all the resort's amenities. Similarly, if you choose to stay at a resort that's not beachfront you'll still be on that particular island and have access to all it's beaches.

    6) Any island from Puerto Rico and south will be "warm" in February. As a point of information average temperatures vary only by about 5 degrees F. from the northern Caribbean to the southern Caribbean
    so I wouldn't let "temperature be a deciding factor. Avoid the Bahamas or even the turks & Caicos in february as they can be much cooler - other than that you'll be fine.

    Good luck finding YOUR spot.

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    If you've never been anywhere in the Caribbean, I would suggest a cruise for your first trip. It's a great way to get a glimpse of what each island has to offer, and will help make the selection easier on where to revisit for a longer stay. I fell in love with Bequia Island and Dominica Islands. That said, I am returning to St. Lucia for a 2-week stay because I likes the ammenities at my chosen resort, which is also a wellness spa called BodyHoliay. So, in leiu of a cruise, determine your budget - most 4/5 resorts start at $400 a night, some are all inclusive, some aren't. But that doesn't mean you can't find a lovely getaway for less. A stay at a typical luxury resort will cost roughly the same as a cruise, so it might be something you want to consider.

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