1st trip to Caribbean. Suggestions please

Sep 15th, 2008, 06:30 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
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1st trip to Caribbean. Suggestions please

I want to surprise my wife for her 30th birthday and our anniversary with a 4-5 day trip starting December 18th. It will be the first time in the Caribbean for us both. We will be leaving from St. Louis and am looking for a destination with a beautiful beach and water. I would prefer a nice upscale romantic place to stay with not too many kids. I just want a great place where we can relax with no worries. I'm trying to keep under $5000. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
pumpkinfarmer is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 03:10 AM
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We are planning a similar trip and found that around Christmas time, prices are very high and many places are already booked, so you'll want to act fast. We are happy with what we found on St Croix... not as much nightlife and fancy resort stuff as you might find on some other islands, but more peace and relaxation. Prices are more reasonable too. We are booked at Chenay Bay, but it seems like there are some other good deals on St Croix as well, so you may want to check it out. Happy Planning!
msteacher is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 04:09 AM
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We liked Grand Cayman. Not sure how they faired in the last hurricane.
The island has great snorkeling and nice restaurants. The Ritz is fairly new there. There is also a Westin and Marriott. (We stayed at the Marriott).
Also, fodorites here love St. John for nice beaches and waters. Caneel Bay Hotel is located on the prime real estate there.
girlonthego is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 07:07 AM
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You may find at that time of the year (between Christmas and New Years, many resorts require a minimum booking of 7 days or more.
Lois is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 11:12 AM
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My dates are flexible. It sounds like it might be in my best interest to book earlier. Any nice romantic places that aren't huge resorts?
pumpkinfarmer is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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If you really aren't interested in big resorts & want a very relaxed, laid back experience, you might want to check out Culebra off the coast of Puerto Rico. You can find more Culebra specific info at http://culebrablog.com .

Palmetto Guesthouse, Culebra
Palmettoculebra is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Hey Pumpkinfarmer,
A few things to remember. First check and see if you can fly non stop anywhere in the caribbean from st.louis. That would save time since you are planning for only 4-5 days. Islands that are usually easy to fly to are Grand Cayman, Aruba, Puerto Rico and maybe St. Thomas and Mexico (Cancun area).

In Aruba, the Bucuti hotel is a smaller hotel located on a nice beach. They discourage children. I believe they have rooms called the Tara Suites that are very nice. Good restaurants in Aruba.

Puerto Rico's main island beaches are not as nice as some of the other islands. Staying in Cuelbra will take some time to get to. Much better if you have a longer time period. PR will have good dining and some sightseeing/history and shopping. Not sure about a smaller resort there.
We have kids so we tend to stay at larger resorts.
I think the Cayman Islands had the nicest water and beaches. You can snorkel right from shore. It is a low-key island with not much nightlife. It does have excellent food. The Marriott, where we stayed was a smaller Marriott. There is a place called the Reef Resort that Tom Cayman(a frequent poster here) runs. I did not go there so I don't know much about it. You may want to google it and see if it is what you might want. The Ritz looked beautiful, but it is big.
I have been to Cancun and it was not my type of place, but the Playa Del Carmen or Mexican Riviera area just south of Cancun is supposed to be great. I believe there is a really nice, all inclusive there that is adults only. I think it is called Secrets Excellence. Do a search here. I believe that is one that is mentioned a lot.
Good luck!
girlonthego is offline  
Sep 16th, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Okay I typed in secrets excellence and there were other recommendations from different folks in the mexico area, but also Peter Island (in the BVI's) and Jumby Bay in Antigua.

All are adult only and all inclusive. If you notice the poster, schmerl, she is a frequent caribbean traveler who stays in upscale places and is a couple's traveler!
girlonthego is offline  
Oct 12th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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Most places in the Carib. increase prices as of 12/15 for peak season. If you can travel earlier you can get lower rates. Try Anguilla--either Cap Juluca or Cuisinart--both beautiful and romantic resorts that are upscale--fewer kids at that time of the yr.
NM is offline  
Oct 12th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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for your first time in the islands i think grand cayman would make a good choice. USAir #2684/1123 deps st. louis at 5:55am on gc 2:06pm. ret #1124/2669 deps gc 3:10pm home at 9:26pm. about 7 hrs each way. approx $1400 for 2 tickets.
gc is a relatively small island. this makes the trek from airport to hotel quick. you could be on the beach with a libation by 4ish. marriott, grand cayman beach suites (was hyatt regency), westin, and ritz-carlton are all directly on gorgeous 7 mile beach and have rooms available for the 18th to 23rd. here's a pic of the beach: http://uweb.superlink.net/~rwilmott/cayman/northcem.jpg
plenty of good restaurants. the water is very clear. the temp will be around 75 nights 85 days. this is one of the best snorkleing islands in the caribbean.
there is a mini sub, turtle farm, botanical gardens, some art galleries, snuba, parasailing. stingray city is famous for close encounters with rays. you can actually touch them when they swim up to you.
stl to antigua is 10-15 hr flights.
for st. thomas about 8 each way but you'd have to fly USair down & delta home. $1200/2ppl. the st. thomas ritz is very nice and romantic. island has many good restaurants.
you can get to cancun in about 5 hours on continental for under $1500/2ppl. gorgeous beaches south of cancun in the maya riviera area. playa del carman would be nice to be near for the shopping, dining and general fun. i'm not familiar with the resorts here as we rented a villa but other fodorites will chime in if you repost with something like 5* hotel near playa in the title on the latin america board.
post back when you pick a destination so we can recommend specific restaurants and such.

msteacher, hope you'll do a st. croix/chenay bay trip report when you come home. not much info here on fodors about st. croix. i'm especially interested in snorkeling.
virginia is offline  
Oct 13th, 2008, 06:23 AM
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I second the Anguilla suggestion. It was our first caribbean trip and we were hooked....beautiful waters, uncrowded beaches and awesome (but expensive) restaurants.
mnag is offline  
Oct 14th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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After going to most islands here's our favorites:

Anguilla(staying right on the beach at www.sbvillas.ai & restaurants)

Grace Bay, Provo(beach,restaurants,luxury,& ease of getting around)

St. John(beauty, beach,private villa)

St. Bart's(French influence, restaurants, driving around, shopping)

Grand Cayman(snorkelling)

Barbados(restaurants, beach)

Aruba(restaurants, classy casinos, shopping)

BVI's(beautiful, snorkelling, sailing)

All of the islands have their charm, and will call you back again and again---take your pick, choose a good resort, and you will love it.
TPAYT is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Agree with TPAYT's list and would add Grenada--tropical beauty, jungle hikes. Unfortunately, it's harder to get to from the U.S but there are sometimes great deals on accommodations.
NM is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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The best way to go on vacation. Is an all inclusive trip. The Riu Negril is the best. The beach is beautiful, the pool has a swim-up bar. The food is great. Private hot tubs....very romantic. We met a great tour guide, he would take us into Negril for shopping or any of the excursions. His name was Douglas. His number was:876-483-9779. We saved alot of money using him to take us where we wanted to visit. Go Jamaica. They will treat you very well. Have fun..
sheilaann83 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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To the person who stayed at the RIU Negril: What kind of beer do they serve there (on tap) and are the sand fleas bad during the day or just at night on the beach?
lorikay is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 11:28 AM
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I have been to many of the islands people have mentioned here. My husband and I honeymooned at Peter Island. It is one of the most tranquil, romantic places I have been to. I would also recommend Caneel Bay, Little Dix Bay.
iguanamama is offline  
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