1st Time Caribbean Suggestions - Begging Advice

Old Jan 30th, 2009, 01:34 PM
  #1  
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1st Time Caribbean Suggestions - Begging Advice

All,
Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated. I am a single, 40-year-old male looking to take my first trip to the Caribbean and need suggestions on where to stay (in Feb). I'd like to go someplace where I can "wander" around and aren't restricted to just a resort...but I love resorts, too. I'll be leaving from Atlanta (and because of a deal I won't be paying for the flight).

Things that I'd like:
1. I'd like to stay on the beach if possible.
2. Great beach.
3. Some activities (snorkeling, jet skies, biking, hiking, etc).
4. A couple of nice bars / restaurants.

I don't really care about "great nightlife" as long as there is a bar somewhere that I can grab a bite and a drink or two. Something laid back but not isolated. Since I will be eating out every meal, an AI is okay (if that makes sense). I know I might be asking for too much. I almost want an AI that I can still wander around the rest of the island and explore. Also, if an AI are the adults only ones better?

Seriously, ANY advice will be GREATLY appreciated.


sapsonthego is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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grand cayman might be a great choice for you. plenty of resorts on seven mile beach (the main beach) http://flickr.com/photos/caymanlife/2565378429/
lots of good off-beach & tour snorkeling, access to numerous activities (jet skies, kayaks, parasailing, etc) & tours (stingray city where rays will come right up to you, a mini sub).
plenty of dining options. some nightlife - nothing crazy. but plenty of places to chill with a drink for a few hours.
i've not stayed on this beach but if you click grand cayman in the search box above lots of fodorites have. by reading some trip reports maybe you'll find a resort you like the sounds of.

re adults only ai's. with the exception of the hedonism's most of these tend to be more romantic/for couples.
virginia is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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I'm female early 40s and have travelled solo to several Caribbean islands including Anguilla, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Providenciales (Turks & Caicos), St. Lucia, and St. Martin (daytrip). Safety and the ability to explore outside my hotel are a primary consideration for me, and I felt that all the places I visited were good for that, although I did make specific choices in St. Lucia to stay in a more developed part of the island, and I decided to only do a daytrip to St. Martin because I wasn't sure if I would feel safe there by myself.

Other islands I have researched pretty extensively but not visited include Aruba and St. John.

If you could answer a few questions, I think it might help people give you better guidance:

1) Do you have a particular budget in mind (and how long is your trip)?

2) What level of accommodations are you seeking (luxury, mid-range, budget)?

3) Which activities are the most important to you?

4) What is your definition of "great beach"?

Also, if you make a decision first about AI first, that will eliminate some islands.

I consider a great beach to be one with long, white sand beaches and beautiful, calmer turquoise water. My favorites are 1) Provo 2)Anguilla, and 3) Grand Cayman. I thought there were some nice beaches on Barbados,cannot really judge St. Martin, and I didn't think that St. Lucia's beaches were as nice (it is a volcanic, more mountainous island so it doesn't have the white sand, turquoise water, and long beaches I prefer.

For activities, Grand Cayman and Provo are considered good for snorkeling, but these islands, as well as places like Anguilla and Aruba, are flatter, dryer, islands, and really are not known for hiking and other land-based activities. St. Lucia, St. Martin, and Barbados, offer more in the way of land-based activities. St. John is good for both snorkeling and hiking and has nice beaches, but there are very limited choices for beachfront hotels, and unless you stay in town (Cruz Bay), you can't really walk to restaurants and bars.

Availability of bars and restuarants is not a problem on any of the islands I mentioned, and on most islands, there are places to stay where you don't have to drive or take taxis everywhere. Anguilla is the only island I stayed where I rented a car for my entire trip (I rented a car for one day each in GC and Provo and did not drive at all on St. Martin or Barbados). Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach, Provo's Grace Bay Beach, Barbados' south coast, and the Rodney Bay area in St. Lucia are good choices for walking to bars and restaurants. Given my preference for not eating full meals 3x/day and having dinner at different restaurants, the only place I chose AI on my solo trips was for part of my trip to St. Lucia, when I stayed at a spa and sports focused resort (The Body Holiday at LeSport) that also accommodates solo travelers better than many AI resorts. For your criteria, the downside of LeSport would be that the beach is smaller with darker water and sand, and the resort is not within walking distance to a town area.

If AI is something you definitely want, you are not going to find many options on several islands I mentioned: Anguilla (none), Provo (two - Club Med, which is adults only with mix of singles and couples, on a great beach, with watersports, and pretty basic accommodtions and Beaches, which is a family-friendly resort with lots of kids on the narrowest, most crowded part of Grace Bay Beach), and Grand Cayman (limited options - one place on SMB that is on the verge of closing if it hasn't already, and an AI option at the Reef Resort on the east end, which is more isolated). Aruba, Barbados, and St Lucia all have more options for AI resorts.

I don't have the file nearby now, but if you want me to send you some links with lists of adults only and/or AI resorts, just let me know.
beachdreams3 is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2009, 10:59 PM
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Thanks virginia and beachdreams3. You've both already provided a lot of useful information. It sounds like GC might have everything I need.

In answer to your questions:
1) Do you have a particular budget in mind (and how long is your trip)?
Budget isn't really a major consideration but the trip will be 5-7 days.

2) What level of accommodations are you seeking (luxury, mid-range, budget)?
Probably mid-range. Most "luxury" places are a little lost on me.

3) Which activities are the most important to you?
As long as there are some activities, I will have no problem.

4) What is your definition of "great beach"?
That's a great question. As long as there is decent access to the ocean that I can chill on I'm good. I prefer white sand over volcanic but even that isn't a deal breaker.

I, honestly, can have a good time almost anywhere but I don't want to be stuck in an AI resort where there's nothing to do outside of it. The more activities (snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, etc) the better but again if it's a beautiful beach, I can just hang out on it.

Thanks again for the advice...so far...it sounds like GC might be a good choice for my first trip to the Caribbean.

It'll be interesting to see if anyone has other recommendations.

Cheers!

sapsonthego is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2009, 07:01 AM
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GC has a great white sand beach and beautiful water. It is the most friendly island we have been to (the locals were nice). Good dining options, fun beach bars, lots of watersports (great snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, etc..). If you stay at a decent sized hotel, all of the watersports are offered on property. WE stayed at the Marriott. The beach was not too wide there, but it was very nice. The hotel was nice as well (small pool, but we werent' there for the pool). The Westin I think has a larger beach and larger pool.

Aruba also has lots of watersports (banana boat, jet ski, tubing, windsailing, snorkel tours,etc..). Iacutally think Aruba offered more watersports than GC. The sand is very white, the water a little more green tone, but very pretty. Dining options are excellent here as well. More nightlife: Bars and casinos and a crazy bus tour that takes you all over the island bar hopping.
We stayed at the Marriott here as well and it is a very large scale resort. They Hyatt and Radisson are also very nice hotels.
girlonthego is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2009, 08:40 AM
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YOu may want to look into the Caribbean side of Mexico in the Playa del Carmen area.
As far as AI..yes the food and service at the adults only resurts are usually better. Look at the Royal Playa del Carmen. It is an adults only all inclusive right in the town of Playa del Carmen. It is a five minute walk from the actual town. You could visit Mexican ruins, do zip line tours, kayak, sail, etc. to your heart's content.
schmerl is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 04:30 AM
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Nevis is a fun Island with a great beach bar called Sunshines . You can rent a villa their for a decent price and really get the feel for the island . You can have a guid take you on a really fun hike up the volcano . WWe rented a villa called the Seceret Carden on the side of the rain forest with a pool overlooking the Ocean . Monkeys came into the yard every Morning to eat off the fruit trees .
It was a lot of fun . The beaches are good . Not Super white sand like some . But nice ....
DianaD is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Two places come to mind right away that you should look into.

Grand Cayman
Playa Del Carmen
Anguillagirl is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Have you considered Ambergris Caye Belize? I've been there as a single a few times now and have always found alot to do - mainly snorkeling and mainland tours. The barrier reef is just off shore. If you stay in or near San Pedro you'll be within walking distance of numerous bars and restaurants. The beaches aren't as nice as other locations, but they're long and walkable. It's a very laid-back place if that's what you're looking for. For really laid-back, you can try Caye Caulker.

You'll find plenty of information at
http://www.ambergrisecaye.com/.

The site also has an active message board which I've found very useful:
http://ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/
Brian is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 04:28 PM
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All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you ALL for the advice.

I now have a pretty good idea of where I should check out for my first caribbean trip (and some ideas for my second, third, etc).

Thanks again!
sapsonthego is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 80
The British Virgin Islands will suit you well. Specifically, I would suggest Tortola due to the amount of activity / restaurants / beach bars. With a rental car there is loads of wandering available. VERY safe island with very friendly people. With car, stay anywhere on the north Shore. Without, stay in Cane Garden Bay.

Alternatively, Jost Van Dyke is far more compact with a tremendous vibe and a handful of restaurants/bars between White Bay and Great Harbor. White Bay is one of the most beautiful anywhere and home of the famous Soggy Dollar Bar.

Dave

dtstahl is offline  
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