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3 day trip in the Caribbean or Mexico

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May 8th, 2014, 06:11 PM
  #1
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3 day trip in the Caribbean or Mexico

Hi fodorites,

New here and this is my first post.

Married young (late 20's) couple from Australia visitng USA for the first time in August 2014 for 3 weeks. We are travelling to Vegas, Miami, New York and LA (in that order) then back to Australia and we have 3 spare days on the agenda where we would love to visit the Caribbean (something different and relaxing). I hear August is hurricane season in the Caribbean so I thought I would put the question out there. Is it a mistake visitng the Caribbean Islands in August? If it isn't can someone please give me some options. Some of the options that came up during my research have been Bahamas, St Maarten, Cayman Islands and St. Barts or even the Rivera Maya in Mexico but I am open to anything. This is a summary of what we are after:

1. Direct flight to a Caribbean Island and return. Either from Vegas - Caribbean Island - Miami OR Miami - Caribbean Island - New York.
2. Time frame - 2 nights/3 days in August 2014.
3. Agenda - relaxing, beautiful water, chilled out, snorkeling, beautiful hotel, good street food and restaurant food, a bit of history or something to see and do during the day other than shopping. We have NY and Vegas to shop in and USA is going to be pretty full on with daily tours and walking so we don't mind just relaxing.
4. Budget - $300.00 or $400.00 USD a night or under for room only. $50.00 - $100.00 a day for food (2 - 3 meals without alcohol).

Any suggestions, recommendations and advice will be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Piyumi.
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May 8th, 2014, 06:54 PM
  #2
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You've got three strikes against you: Time of year, only two nights, and very high airfares. Not worth it, if you ask me. Since you're leaving from NYC-Vegas, I'd recommend looking at Shelter Island or the Hamptons instead.
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May 9th, 2014, 04:39 AM
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From Miami maybe, but only if you add a night. You'd on be anywhere for 1 full day. Pretty expensive for just 1 day.

Meals, most dinners are $100 per couple, sometimes some hotels include breakfast, but not a reasonable food budget. (you're pushing it in the States too unless fast food and breakfast included in rooms-- the cities you picked)

Air from Miami runs $500-$600 on a good day

You usually loose day of travel and coming back. For example, arrive on island around 2:30, leave island around 2:30, but must be at airport by noon
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May 9th, 2014, 06:01 AM
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First - while the official Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 the peak time for storms is during September & October. Even then the odds of a storm brewing or striking a particular during any given week are small, so that's a plus.

Second, the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos are relatively short flights from Miami so that's another plus.

Unfortunately, everything else about your "plan" is a minus.

1) Three days is a very short time frame. As others pointed out if you fly from places other than Miami you'll spend a minimum of 2 days traveling back and forth giving you only one "full day on the island you choose. From Las Vegas or LA the trip might even require an overnight stay while "en route".

2) The Caribbean is an expensive destination, even in Low Season which is when you are planning to travel. St. Barth's and Grand Cayman are 2 of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean and are out of your budget range. Besides getting to St. Barth's takes multiple flights (even from Miami) which will add to your airfare and travel time. Your food budget is way too low for one person, let alone the two of you.

Given your parameters a trip to the Caribbean is simply not a good idea. Suggestion: While you are in Miami take a short trip to the Florida Keys. Depending on which one you visit they can be reached by car in anywhere between 1 to 3 hours. you can spend your 3 days there actually "doing things" other than traveling.
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May 9th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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If you can fly from New York, you can visit Bermuda for couple nights, as it is a short flight. But it is very expensive unless you stay in an B&B, which doesn't mean it's cheap. The beaches are stunning and there is plenty to see. It's in the Atlantic rather than the Caribbean and is subtropical. You can eat relatively inexpensively if you stick to places like the Swizzle Inn.

As you are Australian, be sure to check out any visa requirements for any destination you end up going to.
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May 9th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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I agree with the others that if you want to include the caribbean then at a min you should stay three nights. Your best bet would be to fly out from Miami. The islands I would consider would be turks (direct flight but like Blamona indicated it will be 500-600pp for the flight). You can get a quick flight to Nassau (55min) for under 350pp. I would personally pick Turks over Nass. You can also fly direct to St Thomas from MIA for roughly 450pp. Other islands will typically require a connection. The Bermuda idea above is also a good one.
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May 9th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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I wouldn't do it.

August is not reliable weather. 3 days is way too short. It will be expensive for what you'll get out of it. I'd take those 3 "extra" days and add them on to the places you've already decided to visit.

Las Vegas, Miami, New York and LA is already a LOT of ground to cover in only three week's time to begin with. I also question the order of your cities, as you are (literally) going in circles.
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May 9th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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i agree with roams around. the florida keys would be the most practical. they will be hot in august so i'd just pick a spot (ask about where to go on the US board), and drive down.
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May 9th, 2014, 11:22 PM
  #9
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Thanks a lot everyone. I really appreciate all the advice. Caribbean is definitely off the table then. Does anyone recommend Mexico or Cuba? We are huge foodies and happy to increase our budget on food. Any place in Mexico that anyone can recommend in our hotel room budget? And is it worth going there for a few days to relax in August? Again direct short flights preferred. Thanks again for the tips.
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May 10th, 2014, 01:42 AM
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The above replies are relevant to Caribbean and/or Mexico. As others have said, there are short direct flights from Miami to T&C, Nassau and couple other places and there are also short direct flights from Miami to Cancun. 3 nights minimum might make it a worthwhile sidetrip but its the same situation as the Caribbean. It's an 1 or 2 drive to Riviera Maya from Cancun.

I still recommend Bermuda and to fly there from NY, it has everything you ask for except street food, it's not a street food kind of place. It will be hot & humid in August but that's what the sea is for, to jump in it when you get too hot. It's an expensive island and you need to have prebooked your accommodation before arriving and provide proof of where you are staying to immigration.

Cuba is not a destination for a foodie. The only place you can get good quality food is at private restaurants called paladares. To see Havana you need 3 nights minimum and you won't have much beach time or snorkelling etc (although there are beaches close to Havana). I've not flown to Cuba from the US, so not sure how that works, as US citizens seem to be only allowed to go to Cuba on organised visits.

Puerto Rico (San Juan) is also a short flight from MIA, there are beaches around Isla Verde and it's close to the airport.
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May 10th, 2014, 06:41 AM
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I'm going to disagree a little bit with everyone else. Since you're coming from Australia I certainly understand your desire to visit the Caribbean. If you can add a third night to your Caribbean trip I think you can do it. You can fly non-stop from Miami to Grand Cayman via Cayman Airways and arrive in GCM by noon. You'll be on the beach by 2:00. Then your direct, non-stop flight to New York leaves at 4:00 so you'll have the morning for the beach. The Cayman Airways flight from MIA to GCM and then to JFK is right around $500 but don't forget that price gets you to New York. We recently stayed at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites and in August you can get it for about $250. That's an excellent rate for a nice place in Grand Cayman and it's in a great location. There are many very good restaurants within walking distance and there's a bus stop right across the street if you want to do a little shopping in town. You can also easily have an excellent dinner for $100 without alcohol. Yes, Grand Cayman is expensive but you can find ways to save. And there's plenty of snorkeling and of course swimming with the stingrays. With that flight schedule you will have almost 3 full days for the beach/relaxing.

Having said that, however, August is prone to hurricanes and tropical storms. Of course that holds true for Florida, too.

If you want to save the flight expense to the Caribbean don't forget that Miami has great beaches as well. There's nothing wrong with relaxing on the beach there and of course you can have your pick of nightlife and restaurants just outside your door.
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May 10th, 2014, 09:13 AM
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My thoughts are the same for Mexico and the Caribbean. Three days is simply too short a time to make the extra expense worthwhile imo.

That said, yes you can find nice places to stay in your budget in Mexico. Look at the "Mayan Riviera" which is the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Into Cancun then down to Playa del Carmen would work. It's going to be very hot and rainy season there in August.
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May 10th, 2014, 10:57 AM
  #13
 
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I agree with sharona. Grand Cayman has reasonable rates in the summer. Sunshine Suites is US$167 per night, plus tax, for a room and a kitchenette plus a light breakfast. It is across the street from the beach and from the Westin Hotel which charges about US$270 per night. There are moderately priced restaurants, Sunshine Grill, EATS restaurant and Yoshi sushi close by. You also can get food from the supermarket nearby. Also,if you want to splurge on food, there are may excellent restaurants on the island such as Blue by Eric Ripert.
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May 10th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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I think we all agree 2 nights are not worth it, minimum of 3, for anywhere outside the US
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May 11th, 2014, 06:58 AM
  #15
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Yes, and if possible, adjust that itinerary to: NYC, Miami, Las Vegas, LA. Makes much more sense!
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May 12th, 2014, 04:34 PM
  #16
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Hi Sharona,

Thank you for the Grand Cayman tip. I will suss this out one last time and if weather and time is working against me I will have to rule it out. As much as I would love to extend my travel time in the Caribbean I just don't have extra days as our flight from Sydney, Australia is direct into LA and out of LA and are already locked in. I had to shave off one day from LA and one from Miami just to get 2 extra days to visit some other destination. And having travelled all the way from Australia (14 hour direct flight to LA) we thought it would be perfect if we could squeeze in Caribbean or Mexico. That would definitely be icing on the cake for us But I understand where everyone is coming from and truly value your opinion.

Hi WWK,

Totally agree with you that we are going in circles but from Sydney, Australia the smartest flight path would be a direct flight in and out of LA (which is the first and main point of call for us as in it is compulsory to land in LA). So that's why we are doing a circle so we can relax in LA for a few days on our way out back to Sydney on a 14 hour flight. And we didn't want to start with NYC (which would have been ideal) because it would have been 14 hour direct flight to LA + 5 hour flight from LA to NYC.

Hi Everyone else

At this stage I am looking into Bermuda, Maya Riviera or Grand Cayman. If none of those options work (time, cost and weather) then I am going to consider mainland USA like San Francisco or even Niagara Falls which is a short trip from NYC. I know it looks like my decision making is going in circles now but we just want to make the best out of our long journey without overcomplicating it and seeking advice from Fodorites who know way more than us. Visiting somewhere relaxing and with a beautiful beach is the ideal situation for us. Unfortunately 2 extra nights is all we can devote to this extra stop.
If anyone does have any other suggestions please let me know  I am after a place that isn’t hurricane prone thank you so much once again. Really appreciate it.
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May 13th, 2014, 06:26 AM
  #17
 
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Hate to say this but if you are looking for relaxing/quiet time I would nix Niagara falls. The falls ofcourse are spectacular but the surrounding area is Very touristy....lots of tour buses, motels and so forth. So if your main goal is to see the falls thats one thing but otherwise ... Also it is a long drive from nyc(I think 7hours or so)...and if you are going to fly I would personally much rather take a 2 hr flight out to Bermuda from nyc(jfk) (rougly low $300pp) even if its for 2 nights.
Spending your 2 extra days in/around San Fransisco (maybe Napa for a day)is not a bad idea.
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May 13th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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You said "I am after a place that isn’t hurricane prone" -

Unfortunately you are planning to travel in August which is "Hurricane Season" in the Caribbean. While the peak time for storms is in September & October they can and do occur in August in and the later in the month, the greater the odds become. Now, no place in the Caribbean is hurricane free but but the general rule is the further south you go the less chance there will be you'll encounter a storm. However, the further south you go, the longer it will take to get to your destination which could be problematic given the short time you have available for this segment of your trip. Aruba, Bonaire Curacao and Barbados tend to be islands that are relatively storm free. All that said, there's never any guarantee when it comes to predicting the weather so no matter where you go you could encounter less than favorable weather conditions.Since you are planning to travel all over the US for 3 weeks, odds are you are going to encounter some less than perfect weather during your travels.

I still think you are making an mistake trying to visit the Caribbean for such a short time. You are already visiting Miami - there are quite a few places that are an easy drive from there where you can have a very enjoyable and relaxing "beach vacation". Or, at the very least follow earlier advice and stop in Bermuda between your Miami and New York stays as that makes the most logistical sense. Another suggestion would be to spend a few days in Charleston, South Carolina between your Miami & NYC legs. Charleston is a terrific city and there are some very nice beaches within 20 to 30 minute drives of downtown. You could even stay in one of the nearby beach communities (check out Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms) and take an easy "day trip" into Charlestown to see the sights and absorb the culture.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:03 AM
  #19
 
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I know I'm repeating myself but it's silly to try to add on the Caribbean or Mexico for only 2 nights. It will take you practically that long to get there and back. Just put the time somewhere else on the places you are already going.
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May 16th, 2014, 04:20 AM
  #20
 
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PS Miami is not hurricane proof in august either! Actually all the way up the coast to NY could get one. (although rare)

You could always go to Key West for the 2 nights from Miami

I understand that you're coming from far, but you're really trying to pack a lot with big distances in a short time.

I had a trip to New Zealand and Australia and Fiji once. It would be the equivalent of trying to fit in Maldives for 2 nights. Maybe this comparison would help? Actually expensive and almost impossible!
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