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All islands look alike! Help me Fodor's, you're my only hope...

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Sep 25th, 2011, 02:05 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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All islands look alike! Help me Fodor's, you're my only hope...

I'm so glad to have found Fodor's!
We're having a hard time choosing a honeymoon destination. All the islands look similar. I've been reading reviews & now I'm more confused than before!

First off, we have a few things on our MUST DO list & they are....
Snorkeling, beach side room, & adventure away from the resort/hotel. Maybe a hike, para-sailing would be amazing, bike rides, even some kind of environmental awareness or animal tour.

All inclusive ranks pretty high on a must but only cause I'm not sure the cost of everything & what would be cheaper. This is our first trip to any tropical island & the thought of not having to worry about the cost of drinks, dinner & a few other things would be relaxing!

On the NO WAY list is.... not a huge, busy resort with crowed beaches (like sandals)

Hawaii is also a high contender. Looks awesome & its in the USA. Which means we wont have to get our passports.
We've also found deals for every island possible in the Caribbean & that's my problem! We've narrowed it down to few islands but now they're all looking the same.

Our wedding is May 19 so the honeymoon will be May 20th-27th & honeymoon budget is no more than $5000 total.

I've also been looking on the site 'Unforgettable Honeymoons' & they look somewhat legit. I'm just not so sure in booking with travel agents. Are there any better deals?

I have so many questions & there are too many websites! Plz help me Fodor's.... you're my only hope. (hahaha, I had to throw a little humor in there with the Star Wars reference) =)
MelanieC is offline  
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Sep 25th, 2011, 04:58 PM
  #2
 
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Welcome to Fodors, and congrats!

I'm sure you'll get some help here. The more specific you can be with us, the more we can help.

For starters, you've set a $5000 budget - does that include your flights?
Also, where are you flying from? Are you looking for few connections, or are you willing to make the journey to some of the outer islands? (If you've only got 8 days for your honeymoon, you don't want to spend half of it travelling to somewhere that takes a day and a half to get to, and a day and a half to get home.) So right there, we can start to narrow down some of the choices strictly based on travel time. See? It's getting easier already!!

Don't get too stuck on the AI (all-inclusive) option yet - if you're not the 3-meal-a-day kind of people, or big drinkers, you can get by without AI, sometimes cheaper. Plus, when you decide on an island, and then start researching all the great places to eat, you might be glad you're not limited to the resort!
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Sep 25th, 2011, 05:37 PM
  #3
 
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I'm not Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I'll try to help.

I'm not a fan of the all-inclusive route in general, as I much prefer eating in a variety of restaurants around the island and not staying put so much in one location. That being said, I can understand that it would be attractive to someone in your situation--someone on a honeymoon who's never left the country before.

For starters, there are a couple of things you should know:
(1) The beautiful, lush, mountainous islands tend to have beaches that aren't pure-white sand because they're usually volcanis, and that they get lush because of the heavier rainfall. The flatter, more arid (some would say less attractive) islands made of coral have the stunning blinding-white sand beaches. (this is not to say that it never rains on the flatter, more arid islands, or that the lush islands don't have lovely beaches--but these are generalizations that might help guide your decision)
(2) The more motorized water sports (parasailing, Ski Jets, etc) found around an island, the less good the snorkeling will be because the motors/gasoline harm the coral.

So decide which is more important to you in terms of lushness or white sand, and whether you want excellent snorkeling, or only moderate snorkeling with more motorized activities to choose from.

Oh, and one more thing: if you're going to spend most of your time at the resort, start by looking at the resorts that interest you the most. But if you're thinking of getting out and exploring the island, start by looking at the islands that interest you the most, because once you decide on an island, it's easier to pick a resort.

Sadly, $5000 isn't a large budget for a week if it includes airfare AND an AI that's a cut above average. You can scour the internet for deals, though. Without knowing more about you, I'd suggest the following:

La Source on Grenada. It's an island less-touristed by many Americans, it's lush and mountainous BUT also with some gorgeous beaches and that beautiful blue water. And this is an independently-owned AI (as opposed to a chain like Sandals) that also includes a daily spa treatment per person, PER DAY. Nice, eh? They just reopened in the last 18 months after being closed for a couple of years for renovations, so everything is nice and new. You can also take a resort course for scuba diving, all included in the cost, or just go out snorkeling.

That's just a generic suggestion that will cover your intitial requests, but if you come back here and re-post with some specifics, we can help you narrow things down. And make more suggestions.
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Sep 26th, 2011, 02:58 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
First Congrats!

Second relax lots of wonderful places for you.

Third look at www.weather2travel.com Climate Guides in May

bookit.com luxurylink.com good values AIs can save but crowds

almonresorts.com St Lucia nice but non AI hotels more romantic

frequently cheaper... jademountain.com is an amazing place

but a bit of a budget buster.

Jamaica roundhill.com rockhousehotel.com cheap first class

down on Spirit.com great romantic for me in the past.

runawayhill.com Bahamas awesome valentinesdive.com


Lastly on a budget less rain for more variety including

volcanoes rain forest beach dive awesome romantic

Princeresortshawaii.com Hapuna Princs priceline.com deals

konaweb.com stayhawaii.com might have a look there 4 hrs

to KON from LAX have had a wonderful romantic time there paid

$1K/wk flight lodging car on priceline last.


Probably Hawaii for me is your best safest cheapest fit.

Happy deciding!
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Sep 26th, 2011, 03:05 AM
  #5
 
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KOHALA COAST. The Kohala Coast is ... boasting generally sunny year-'round weather, ... with whale-watching opportunities from December through May, ... bestbnb.com/kcoast.html

Kohala Coast is the best place to Stay Hapuna Prince

or Romantic B&B have both worked well for me in the past.

More rain over on the Hilo side do not go there.
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Sep 26th, 2011, 03:09 AM
  #6
 
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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution -- processes that thrust ...
www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm -

One of the most amazing destinations in the world for me.

Only place on the planet to see TerraForming....
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Sep 26th, 2011, 03:51 PM
  #7
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I, on the other hand, am a huge AI fan, so if you decide to go that route, I can probably help you. Be aware though that there are few destinations that AI is either not an option or not a good option. The majority will be located in Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican Republic. I do not recommend the DR to anyone very often, and since you already ruled out big resorts, it's probably not what you are looking for anyway.

We have been to many destinations and have all of our vacation pictures posted. If your interested check them out. You may find what you are looking for.

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn

Your must have's and budget can virtually be found anywhere in the Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. May is a good time to travel as you will find much cheaper rates right after the Spring Break/Easter time perios.

Congrats!
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Sep 28th, 2011, 07:55 AM
  #8
 
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Melanie,
Congratulations! We've traveled pretty extensively around the Caribbean and I think you're going to find that for the most part, all inclusive=big busy resort with crowded beaches. The best we've encountered was the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen, at least at the time, the only AI in the "Leading Hotels of the World" group and within your budget. Good water sports and snorkeling in the area if you're willing to leave the resort. I also would highly recommend Anguilla for a honeymoon...it's off season there so you could make it work for your budget and some of the best beaches, dining, exploring and relaxing in fabulous resort anywhere. Also look at villa rental in St. John...fabulous scenery, parks, snorkeling, etc. Let us know where you end up!
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Sep 28th, 2011, 10:34 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Dear Melanie,
I used to be a travel agent, and have visited many of the islands, so I hope this is helpful.
I agree with the previous person who said that we need to know where you are traveling from to determine what your flights would look like. From New York, where I live and there are many flights, it would still take all day to get to St. Vincent or Grenada, some of the more remote spots in the Caribbean. If you are only going for 7 days, that would factor into your decision.
If you like to be active, as I do, I would look into some of the smaller all-inclusives south of Cancun, like the Royal Playacar. I stayed there as well when it first opened up, and it is lovely, and relatively small. The beach there is gorgeous. You have to remember that all of the activities you mention are going to carry quite a high price tag, which will be on top of the cost of room, air and food. The other thing that is great about that area of Mexico is that there are many things to do in the area: you can visit Chichen Itza, Tulum, go into Cancun for a night of dining and dancing, etc. I think this would be the best value for your money. It is also pretty easy to find flights to Cancun from anywhere in the US.
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Sep 28th, 2011, 03:24 PM
  #10
 
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Welcoem to Fodors!

No passports? No problem. Based on your "must do" list and other parameters, here it is, in order of my preferences and matching of your needs.

San Juan, Puerto Rico (overall great for beach & hike to old city etc)

St Thomas, US Virgin Island (least crowded of the 3, most beautiful beach at Megans' beach)

Hawaii, probably the cheapest and most accessible.
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Sep 28th, 2011, 07:44 PM
  #11
 
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I think Hawaii's a better choice for you, since May/June can be the wettest time of year in the Caribbean. If you do decide to go to the Caribbean, please check out the specific island's weather data before you book. We absolutely loved Maui when we visited two years ago, and also had a great time at the end of trip in Oahu. I think it's a perfect destination for honeymooners and you won't have to worry about the weather!
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Oct 7th, 2011, 04:57 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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First off - Congratulations, how exciting for you!

Second - GET YOUR PASSPORTS, like right now. You have tons of time, get to your post Office and fill out the apps. No matter where you go, your life will be a lot easier if you have your passport with you when you travel. Even if it is a non-stop flight form/to any state within the US and Hawaii. Same goes for PR (no, not a state but a territory).

Wherever you decide to spend your honeymoon, have a fabulous time.
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Oct 8th, 2011, 10:32 AM
  #13
 
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As others have suggested....Try looking south of Cancun. The Riviera Maya area is awesome, and has many different AI resorts that will EASILY fit your budget including flights.

Try looking at Cheapcaribbean.com as they have the best deals on AIs that I've seen anywhere. And they will match any price out there.

Just for example, I booked the Grand Palladium Royal Suites for 2 people, Jr Jacuzzi suite, ( 8 nights), everything including airport transfers included....$2800. 5 grand will get you just about any resort you want down there!!
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Oct 11th, 2011, 08:52 AM
  #14
 
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Welcome, best wishes and congratulations!

A couple of observations: Don't limit yourself to locations, but DO limit yourself to resorts that exclude children for this most-romantic trip. (You'll have plenty of time later to do family inclusive resorts.)

Select the hotel based on what your heart does when you look at the pictures of the beach and the room. Get the one with the most beautiful bed and view. Select one with a wonderfuly veranda and sitting area outside. You know the one --- it's all white and fabulous that offsets the aquamarine of the water.

"Which means we wont have to get our passports."

Don't be silly. Getting your passports gives you the freedom at this time in your lives to get up and go when you wish. If this trip is as wonderful as you're thinking, you'll go again. And again. It's a short term expense for a long term gain and you have plenty of time.

Don't forget - the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other US Territories do not require a passport. But check with your new Fodors Friends. For example, I LOVE the Horned Dorsett Primavera in Puerto Rico, except that it doesn't always have the best beach at certain times or clear blue water. If those are important to you beyond just the hotel, that's where folks here can really help.

DO consider the amount of time it will take to reach your destination. For example, if you live in NYC or Atlanta, it will take you a full day + to get to HI and another day + to return. I'd save that for when you have more than a week so that you don't spend more time on the plane than you do on the beach.

Are you guys adventuresome? Consider whether you will want to snorkel, dive, climb, zipline, etc. Some islands have better water than others for these sports.

Give us a list of four or five "must haves." We'll be glad to help!!
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