1st Post - 1st Trip to Caribbean

Old Aug 4th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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1st Post - 1st Trip to Caribbean

I am planning a surprise trip for my 20th wedding anniversary, (Spring 2011). I wanted to get some ideas on where to stay in the Caribbean. My wife and I love the beach but both need shade. My wife loves to shop especially "local" art and I enjoy trying out new food. Any lessons learned would be appreciated.
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 07:55 PM
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Barbados is a terrific island for "newbies." It has some of everything the Caribbean has to offer, except a volcano. Lovely people, a lush green tropical island with flat and hilly areas. Wide range of hotels, beaches, sightseeing, shopping, restaurants. Many hotels will have shady areas on their beach. See www.barbados.org
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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First timers to the Caribbean often become overwhelmed because there are so many different destinations and it's easy (but wrong) to think that sice they are all islands they are all the same. The truth is every island is different and has it's own unique appeal and no one island "has it all". Another thing to consider, is there's no such thing as a "perfect island" but rather there are "different islands".

I suggest you do some basic research and start out by using the "Destinations" link at the top of this page. Click through to the "Caribbean". Read through the descriptions of the various islands so you get a feel for what each has to offer. Pick 2 or 3 that most interest you and then use the search feature to bring up recent posts about those destinations and read all you can. You can also visit the "official and unofficial travel sites" for those destinations. Simply do a google search using such topics as "NAME OF ISLAND, Things to Do". It will soon become clear which island you should choose for your first visit. You can then concentrate on finding a hotel or resort that fits your travel style and budget.

When doing your research it would also help if you made a list of the 10 or 15 "things" you want most from an island vacation. That will help you narrow down your choices. Once you've narrowed your choice you can then post specific questions about those islands and how they might best meet the requirements on your list.

One last hint, since this is your first trip to the Caribbean you might be better off confining your research to the larger more easy to get to destinations and some of the smaller islands ae difficult to reach and are far off the beaten path. You'll have more opportunities for tourist oriented activities on the more "mainstream" islands.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 06:29 AM
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A few words of advice.

Don't know exactly when in the spring your anniv. is, but many resorts start lowering their rates at that time - usually some time between April 1st and May 1st. You can save a lot of money that way.

For good 1st time destinations: Barbados, St. John, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla (great food but don't know about art). St. John, in particular, has a lot of nice, small, beautiful shaded beaches. Decent restaurants. Art at Mongoose Junction and galleries on nearby St. Thomas.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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The islands are all just so different it's hard to decide. I'd start with a good guidebook so you can read about each one. The larger islands are typically more lush and with more rainfall (ones that are large enough to have mountains). Also I think the 'vibe' depends a lot on the history, whether they were primarily settled by the English, French, Spanish, etc. Those influenes remain strong.

I just got back from 10 days in Negril Jamaica, which I adored, but I'm not sure Jamaica is best for a 1st-timer. It's a bit wooly and wild there.

Places like Bermuda, Bahamas, and the US and British Virgin Islands I think might be good 'starter' islands.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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The biggest differences - imo - are cultural differences between the different Caribbean Islands.

1.There is the French style in the French West Indies

2.The Netherlands Antilles will give you the Dutch style.

3.The British West Indies is still very British.

Everyone has their own ideas, so it's difficult to pick an island that would be perfect for you. You can get shade on any island, the difference is going to be in the hotel. Do thay have a covered area, big umbrella's, big trees?

St John has places that you can shop for local art, i.e. Tropical Details and Pink Papaya. You can also try new foods there. Some restaurants I would recommend: The Fish Trap and the Taramind Court Restaurant.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Just got back from Grand Cayman, I highly recommend it. All hotels on the beach have shaded areas, we stayed at the Marriott and there were plenty of open beach chairs with large umbrellas. There wasn't a day when the beach was 100% full, most of the time only about 50% of the chairs were taken. 7 mile beach is great, soft white sand and beautiful warm water.

You'll find local art at the market in downtown Georgetown, open till 4pm. Great restaurants (Ritz, Guy Harvey, Lobster Pot, Reef Grill)

The island has plenty to do for everyone, but beware it's one of the more expensive islands.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Negril's 7 Mile beach in Jamaica. You will have the best vacation/anniversary EVER! Friendly Islanders, excellent food, lots of nightlife, beautiful sunsets.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 11:15 PM
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Bermuda is not even in the Caribbean. Beautiful though it is, does not have a Caribbean feeling at all. Not sure you can classify Bahamas as Caribbean either.

I agree that Barbados is a great island for a first time visit, along with Antigua, St Lucia and Grenada.
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Old Aug 6th, 2010, 02:12 PM
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Check out the Netherlands Antilles...
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