50's mom + 19 yo son Mid-Jan vaca ideas

Old Nov 21st, 2013, 02:51 PM
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50's mom + 19 yo son Mid-Jan vaca ideas

I want to have a vacation to remember. For the last 20 years I've usually just carted my kid and his friends around places close to home that were cheap. Now I want some degree of luxury on a vacation for ME, although the $12000/week at one resort is definately more luxury than I can afford.
I dont want to feel like I am in the USA or surrounded by tourists... want beautiful beaches, interesting things to sightsee in the day, interesting people to meet, and snorkeling (we're both certified divers but out of practice) for sure. I dont care about shopping and am not a big drinker or foodie.
OTOH, at night I would like SOMEthing to do besides stare at stars.
My son who is in the middle of his sophomore year at college, asked if he could come along. Says he needs a break someplace warm. He's paying his airfare with his summer job savings - I'll pay the rest. I don't mind but this means I now have to factor in that HE might not enjoy those places that are uber private. He isn't a big niteclub partier, but I'm sure he would like to be around other young people his age now and then and do what college kids do.
Some of the resorts I liked the most online were tagged for romantic couples. THe others for families with young kids.
What is in the middle for us?
I've been considering Aruba as the casinos at night sound fun, the weather reliable, and the beaches beautiful. But I heard its more arid than tropical, fairly commercial, and feels like Florida. I've also considered the Virgin Islands, but dont know much about them yet. Someone also suggested Panama or Costa Rica (I know, that's another board - but I thot I'd add it in) but I keeping thinking lush jungle island with beaches and a fun town we can drive to in the evening.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2013, 08:17 PM
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Aruba is a desert with some very nice hotels lined up (with tropical settings). It has gambling, great food, nightlife that you might not want to lose your son in. It is commercial, has nice beaches and is a reliable beach vacation spot. Does not sound like the island you want.

Grand Cayman is also more arid. Great snorkeling and scuba diving available. Food was good. Nightlife is quieter and more like a beach bar vibe. (safer in my opinion for the 19 year old) Definitely not lush.

St John *american, has beautiful beaches with most of it being state park land so is more lush. You can stay at the Rosewood resort Caneel Bay. Nightlife would be low key beach bars here as well. Just a short water taxi ride to St Thomas for more action, shopping type of stuff.

Costa Rica would have lots of activities such as ziplining, volcanoes, and would truly be a jungle with beaches.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 01:26 PM
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How much luxury do you need and more important, what is your total budget for this trip?
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 03:01 AM
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If your part of the budget is $1200 including air, you might be out of luck.

January is the height of peak season in Caribbean, which means air and room costs 2-3 times as much as other times of year.

And you'll get bottom of the line for that price, definitely not luxury.

If you can have your son up the money to have you both at around $2000 you might have a chance, although still pretty low on the scale.

Air that time of year is roughly $500-$700 pp.

That leaves you $700 including taxes (usually around 12-25% depending.

So for $600 a week (you didn't say how long) you're maybe looking at Isla Mujeres Mexico, maybe Belize, maybe Dominican Republic (although DR is not the best for snorkel, but other 2 are)

Maybe even Akumal region of Mexico.

At your price these are probably you're only options. They will be far from luxury. (unless if by luxury you mean just out of the country, not room standards)

To save more, because food is amazing expensive (think prices if Ritz or Marriott restaurant prices for all meals) you might want to find a place with a small kitchen to bring a cooler of food with you.

Virgin islands and Aruba are way out of your price. Won't happen at either.

Try Akumal, try Roatan, try Belize.

You can try sites like Travelzoo.com for sales, but many don't happen in janaury, again, kinda peak season.

Also consider the bed configuration. Most places under $100 nightly will just have 1 double bed. To get 2 beds you need higher budget.

Ex. Villa Kiin in isla Mujeres is $105 plus taxes nightly


Cabanas Maria del mar has 2 beds for around $96 nightly


Roatan has a couple of places

Las Rocas around $95 nightly


Splash Inn Dive is $94 nightly for 2 queen beds:

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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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LOL. She didn't say her budget WAS $1200; she said $12,000 was to much luxury.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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Wow, silly me!

So what is your budget, you can get tons of luxury for half!
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Old Nov 25th, 2013, 06:56 AM
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Well....she said $1200 for a week was more than she could afford.
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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LOL... actually I was saying 12 thousand for a week was on the high end. My son will pay his own airfare so that's not part of my budget. I have a small inheritance from my mom so am looking to splurge a bit.
The money is less of an issue than the where. I do think I would prefer an island with jungle and mountains. Does that preclude a white sand beach with turquoise water? Or does a place with all of that exist?
I have been thinking about St. Lucia. Maybe a couple of nights at Jade Mountain just to feel rich and be amazed by the views before moving to another hotel... or even another island.
Costa Rica doesn't seem exotic enough. I have been to Belize before... ages back when I did scuba. Cayman too... which just seemed like a big rock.
I don't need shopping or commercialization. My son can deal with sharing half a king bed (he's a skinny guy) for a few nights... yea, already noticed almost everywhere that's nice and on the beach seems to target couples.... Oh well better than some of the places we've traveled in the past.
I would like to have a little night life at least a couple of nights. I know St. Lucia has some town in the north with a casino. Don't have to stay in one place the whole time.
Thanks for the thoughts!
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Old Dec 8th, 2013, 06:27 AM
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Karen: I didn't catch what time of year you are visiting. Also, what does your fine young son want to do with his vacation. I have not met an island I didn't like, but some are better than others for activity.

I hope you will put the USVI on your list. There are beaches and mountains, hiking and snorkeling, bars and restaurants, young people and older ones too.;-) Day trips to the BVI, boating, diving, etc.

BTW, St Lucia doesn't attract a lot of young folks. And the Soufriere area, while breathtakingly beautiful, is a long distance from the "action."
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Old Dec 8th, 2013, 07:59 AM
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How about Negril Jamaica? (you fly into Montego Bay then 90 mins shuttle out to Negril). There's a gorgeous 7-mile beach there. It may be a bit too rustic for what you want? But plenty of R&R opportunities, cute little local restaurants, some nightlife if you sought it out. Take a look at www.negrilonestop.com It's also more reasonably priced that some of the other islands.

The 'Mayan Riviera' Caribbean coast of Mexico as already suggested is a very good suggestion. Again just more bang for your buck in Mexico, and it's a very beautiful area. Fly into Cancun, but continue south to Playa del Carmen, Akumal or Tulum, or the islands of Isla Mujeres or Cozumel (a favorite of divers).
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Old Dec 8th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Playa Del Carmen, as others mentioned, would be a good choice. It's not Caribbean, obviously, but Puerto Vallarta would meet a lot of your criteria.
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Old Dec 9th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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I'm crazy for PV (Puerto Vallarta Mexico) and go there once or twice a year. I didn't think to mention it here since we're talking Caribbean. But you're right Andrews, it does offer everything they're after!
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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As terrific as the beaches and weather are, the resort areas of Aruba ARE going to feel VERY touristy.

Staying somewhere less congested like Eagle Beach will not be where the "action" is.

Aruba is probably not the right choice for what you are looking for.
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 08:07 PM
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Karen, I agree with ArubaLisa, you likely will not find Aruba to your liking based on your wishes. I do think though that you are mistaken on the Costa Rica is not exotic enough! It totally is way more exotic than anything I've seen in the Caribbean. Think of the Howler Monkeys in the trees, now THAT's exotic! Go to Tamarindo, a surfing town your son will love. Zip line over canyons while watching waterfalls in the distance, take a canopy walk in a cloud forest. Oh its endless, and exotic! And awesome people, no hustling. Whatever you choose, enjoy your trip. I'm heading out next month with my 20yr sophomore college student daughter on her winter break to Antigua (our first time there).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 09:17 AM
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I agree with KensBeach - Costa Rica is very exotic and fun. We enjoyced the volcanoe/hiking/ziplines/animals/fishing (inland and deep sea). It's a great place!
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