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Help me choose an island ! About to give up :( Need your help !

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Two years ago I stepped onto one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on in Tulum Mexico. I felt satisfied, at ease, It was amazing. I always told myself if I ever come back there I would come back with an amazing girl and share that with her. I’m a bit of a romantic :)

Flash forward to now and my girlfriend wants to travel. She wants to go to a beach. We’re on a budget similar to a trip to Mexico, but could go a bit higher for the right place. So why not go back to Tulum? Because I’ve become addicted to travel and every trip, I am trying to one-up the last beach I’ve been to. I love being on islands and that feel, but don’t need to be.

I’ve been spending a month and a half researching spots. And I’m getting frustrated with making my decision. I always like to go somewhere new. Puerto Rico Culebra would have been a good shot, but she’s not a citizen and would need a VISA— too complicated. So, I am about to give up. Before I book my trip to Mexico, I’m reaching out to you. PLEASE HELP ME !

Based on my research, I chose some other places. Ill list them below, along with some things that are holding me back.

Keep in mind, we are going late November to Early December. We’ll be there about a week or so. So I could always try a place that’s usually expensive if it’s technically their down season.

Important things :
1. To stay at a place on an unbelievable breathtaking beach
2. To experience either island, carribean, or latin culture; food, people, maybe some music
3. to be able to rent jet skis and maybe do a bit of water sports
4. Maybe, just maybe, a place we can get a good massage or go to a spa



1. Corn Islands, Nicaragua
1. This place seems cool to me and beautiful and cheap. But, doesn’t look like there’s much to do, at all, aside from the beach. May get a bit boring for a week, not sure.
2. Not sure about the weather in early december 

2. Cuba
1. This place is cool, but not sure how nice the beaches are and I’ll only have a week there. 

3. St. John
1. not sure, I don’t know much about this place

4. Aruba
1. The beaches, like Eagle beach, look unbelievable, but from what I’ve heard, that’s all there is. Not much culture or much going on 

5. Jamaica
1. This place looks amazing for island culture and music and food. Negril looks unreal.
2. Is Negril romantic? I also heard there are too many vendors on the beach to enjoy the surreal experience of being there, but not sure.

6. Grand Cayman
1. This place is amazing. I’ve been there for a day on a cruise
2. My concern is that this place will break the bank. Especially for food and alcohol. 

7. St, Maarten
1. Flight for her is a bit expensive.
2. Don’t know too much about this place, heard there is traffic and not much island culture. 

8. Barbados
1. Beaches look amazing,
2. Does any one know about the culture there?

9. Exumas, Bahamas
1. Not sure how cheap it is or what the culture is like.

10. Curacao
1. Not sure how nice the beaches are 

11. St. Lucia
1. This place may be too expensive

12. Dominican Republic
1. Not sure how nice the beaches are or what the culture is like.

  • Report Abuse

    FIRST, and foremost it would help if you gave us an actual budget range in terms of dollars. All you've told us is you want someplace that will cost something similar what you spent in Tulum BUT we have no idea how much that was.

    SECOND - As you've already surmised Grand Cayman is one of the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean (not that you couldn't do it on a relatively small budget but you'll get more bang for your buck elsewhere. Based on the information you gave I'd save this destination for a time when you have more disposal income.

    THIRD - St. John, Barbados and, to an extent St. Lucia are in the same general price range as Grand Cayman so save them for another time.

    FOURTH - Exuma will probably fill your bill but it's a bit difficult to get to and can be cool in December so it is in the running if you can risk possible cool temperatures. Aruba has pretty much everything on your wish list except "latin culture" - it is very Americanized.

    FIFTH - St. Martin is a busy island but it has plenty of restaurants and a vibrant night life. You can visit beaches, go shopping, hiking and partake of every type of water sport imaginable.

    SIXTH - That leaves the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Curacao, Cuba and the Corn Islands.

    I can't comment on Cuba since it is just now opening up for US citizens or the Corn Islands as I've never been there. I'll let it to others to give you specifics.

    Of the remaining islands the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are among the most budget friendly in the Caribbean. They have lots of culture and some very nice beaches, all types of water sports and plenty of places where you can get massages. In short they offer everything on your wish list. If I were you, that's were I'd look.

    Hope that helps you narrow down your choices.

  • Report Abuse

    "Cuba
    1. This place is cool, but not sure how nice the beaches are and I’ll only have a week there"

    I am also a big fan of Tulum.
    I just got back from a week in Cuba, my first trip there.

    First, all US passport holders and those starting from US airports have to declare one of 12 official reasons for travel to Cuba. Tourism is not among them (yet), although direct commercial flights have opened up. So you have to be comfortable with having to dissemble, even only by checking a box on a form. (No one is hassling on return. No one is asking for the "proof" of your activities that you supposedly have to keep for 5 years.)

    I spent some time in Varadero, about 3 1/2 hours by bus from Havana through some pretty countryside, with direct flights from Miami. It is a long, narrow penninsula with a very beautiful beach. The tip is full of ai resort hotels of varying quality, with lots of construction going on too. Didn't see much of the beach there, nor hotel amenities, or how they operate. Was told they have shows at night for guests.
    The town, where I stayed, has B&Bs, called casas particulares, rooms in people's homes. The quality is pretty basic, (not as nice as similar posadas in Yucatan) backpacker level, and that is mostly the clientele, but they are cheap. The beach is nice, about as nice as Tulum with a slightly different vibe, warm water, people up to their necks with their drinks in hand, chatting with friends. Sail boats to ride on and paddle boats. No big waves, but enough wind in the afternoon for kite sailing. There are small beach stands with palapas and food/drinks. There are restaurants and a few music venues in the town.
    You can take a (long) day bus tour to Havana, or spend a couple of days on your own seeing the sights. It's an interesting city.

    Hope this helps you get a small idea of Cuba. If you have more questions, post.

  • Report Abuse

    1) Negril IS amazing and I believe checks most of your boxes. Yes it's very romantic. It's a bit rough & rugged around the edges there. Not a high-end experience, but an authentic cultural one. You "aren't in Kansas anymore"... for sure!

    2) St. John is beautiful, but it's a bit harder to get to since you need to fly into St. Thomas, then get the ferry over. The logistics of getting there and back would cut into your short one week vacation.

    3) Lots of great place in Mexico, you don't only need to go back to Tulum. Puerto Vallarta has Latin culture, people, food, music. Dec 1-12 is the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe which is a huge celebration. PV does not have the pristine beaches you require. But it's loaded with excitement, things to see and do.

    4) Not, I repeat NOT, the DR (Dominican Republic) it's not at all what you seek.

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