Anguilla? St Maarten? Antiqua?

Jan 25th, 2005, 06:08 AM
  #1  
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Anguilla? St Maarten? Antiqua?

I need assistance. Which of these islands would be best for our family? Or any other suggestions. We have two girls, ages 8 & 12. First Caribbean trip for our girls; second for us. We are beach and nature lovers. Looking for a place with white/light sand; snorkeling; boat trips, etc. Not really interested in nightlife. Nice if other children were around but not necessary. Thanks!!
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Jan 25th, 2005, 08:00 AM
  #2  
Sunnyboy
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I've been to all three. For starters they ll offer plenty of boat trips but that's where any similarity ends.

Anguilla will have the whitest sand and best beaches of the islands on your list. This is a quite island (no wild night life), with some good off-beach snorkeling, great restaurants and you are likely to encounter some familes with children (but how many will depend on the time of year you go - more families during school holidays). Anguilla is a flat coral
based island with little natural vegetation and no "topography" to speak of so it may not fill your "nature lovers" desires.

St. Maarten/St. Martin is a much more active island with good beaches (mostly golden sand) some limited off "beach" snorkeling, plenty of restaurants, an active nightlife and plenty of duty free shopping. This island gets lots of cruise ships so it will be crowded at times. You'll find many families visiting the island. St. Martin is hilly but not particularly lush. There are some decent places for hiking and exploring but it is far from being an eco-tourist's dream. There is a butterfly farm which your children might enjoy.

Antigua offers your choice of 365 golden sand beaches (many are small and just average in quality), most of the good snorkeling sites are "off shore" so you will need to take a boat to reach them. This island has many AI resorts and seems to attract lots of honeymooners and couples. Like St. martin, Antigua is hilly but not overly lush (no rain forests, waterfalls, nature preserves, etc.)

Hope this helps.

 
Jan 25th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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Been to 2 out of 3, but heading to St.Maarten this March. Anguilla is "very" quiet with not a whole lot to do, especially with kids. Good snorkelling though. There are a few good restaurants.
Don't know where SunnyBoy ended up in Antigua but we think very highly of the island. It indeed has a rain forest on the south east side of the island. We stayed at the Holiday Inn (All inclusive) and were very pleased. Brought my two boys and they loved it. There are many things to do with the kids. Shirley Heights was awesome, helicopter rides were fantastic. Took Eli's eco tour. This was a highlight of the visit. He is very informative and offers a grade A tour with many activities (book ahead). The people are very friendly and it's easy to get around. Public transit (vans) are usually only a dollar. We often hired "MR. Tie" to drive us where ever and when ever we wanted to go. The beach at the Holiday Inn was great. About 1 mile long and served as a great place to watch a sun set. Well worth the money and being all inclusive, made it easy when it came to the kids eating and extra activities. Shows every night in the resort. Very safe place to be. Plus you aren't hounded from pushy people trying to sell you things.
Hope this helps you out. Roy
Roy_Boy is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 02:23 PM
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I can't comment on Anguilla or St. Maarten, but I happen to love Antigua and have visited several times, once with several children ages 1-13 in tow. I love the Long Bay Hotel on the north east coast for its good snorkeling from shore, good food, cottage style accommodations, absolutely terrific staff, and great value. www.longbayhotel.com for more info. The View House cottage would be perfect for your family--one king size bedroom, living room with two twin size daybeds, two bathrooms, small kitchen, spacious deck with great views, umbrella table & chairs, and a hammock. Rates include breakfast and dinner each night. Nice beach area as well as a bay/lagoon on the other side of the property. It's also within walking distance of Devil's Bridge, a rocky outcrop where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean.

Antigua is small enough to get around easily and large enough to provide a variety of topography--lush pockets of rain forest on the south west coast, high rolling hills over 1/3 of the island, and a more arid atmostphere on the east coast. Lots of small beaches perfect for a private family picnic and some that are very active with every imagineable water sport available.

Long Bay now offers its own private snorkeling excursions for its guests, but there are other companies on island for that, too. Eli's eco-tours are great and I've enjoyed the larger catamaran daysails with Wadadli Cats. I like the museum and cathedral in downtown St. John's for a touch of history. Nelson's Dockyard is also nice when the cruise ship passengers aren't crowding it. There are a few hiking trails around the island, mostly along the west and south coasts, that provide fantastic views across to Montserrat.

I agree with previous poster about the Tie Man--he's a great driver and well known by children and adults alike all over the island.
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Jan 25th, 2005, 02:29 PM
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ejcrowe: never been to antigua. The Long bay hotel, is that an all inclusive. I have never been to an all inclusive and I am wondering if it might be worth trying that type of vacation. As the kids get older, they eat all the time!!!And they do like the activities. Sorry for hijacking this post. I am just interested in more info on Antigua.
girlonthego is online now  
Jan 25th, 2005, 03:38 PM
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As I said previously. Antigua was a great family island. The boys as well as us adults had a great time at the beach where all of the non-motorized toys are free to hotel (Holiday Inn) guests. There is a volleyball net in the swim up bar/pool area as well as one on the beach. Day boat tours pick you up right at the beach. Eli picks you up & drops you off, next to the resort beside the casino. Helicopter rides out of the resort as well give you a great overview of the whole island. Shirley Heights is the place to be on Sunday night. You can see Eric Clapton's place from there.Make sure you take a cab up there since public trans. doesn't go to the top and it's a long way up. Call "Mr. Tie" and he'll make sure you get anywhere you want. He took us through the rain forest and we picked fruit right off the trees. You have to try a piece of black pineapple! "Sweet". He also showed us many native trees and flowers too. Food was really good at the resort. Besides the endless buffets (breakfast finishes as lunch begins and dinner comes quickly after) you can go to three other restaurants (free except grat.) on the resort. As I said public tranit (passenger vans) are only $1 and go from the resort to town to ??????. Shopping is good in town. Wednesdays are busy with the boats we found. go uptown for better deals. Further away from the 'boat people'. Driving is on the opposite side of the road and goats are a hazard. Some roads are full of pot holes. Better to leave the driving to the experts. sit back and enjoy the sites. Lots of beaches to explore if you'd like too. (365 is their claim) All in all we had a great family vacation.
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Jan 26th, 2005, 05:17 AM
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girlonthego: Long Bay is not an AI hotel, and I'm not an AI fan, but I do know that for large groups who take over the entire hotel that Long Bay does offer an AI rate.
The meals included in their MAP plan are a full breakfast cooked to order and a 4 course dinner in the evenings. Lunches there run from sandwiches to fresh fish to salads and probably average $10. My favorite was an open face sandwich with ham, black pineapple, and melted cheese. Yum! In the rates you get use of suncats, snorkel gear, tennis court, and kayaks, but I don't know if that would be enough to keep your kids interested. Long Bay also has an old fashioned game room with bumper pool, table tennis,darts, board games and a library. Nice nod to yesteryear, but I'm afraid a lot of youngsters these days would laugh at it.

Roy Boy, I didn't know there was a Holiday Inn on the island. Is it on Dickinson Bay? What is it in between?
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Jan 26th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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My wife and I have been to both St Martin and Anguilla and we are going to Antigua the first week in May '05. Thanks to everyone who wrote about Antigua, as it will help me with MY trip in May. One aspect about St Martin that hasn't been mentioned, but should be, is that St Martin, at least the east side, is French. That translates to alot of toplessness, and of course Orient Beach has alot of nudity on it. AS IN TOTAL NUDITY. Now my wife and i found ourselves pretty comfy with it all, but if you and your girls are not ready to have 1/2 of the women around you topless and a bunch of males and females totally nude, then you probably shouldn't go to THAT beach if you choose to go to St Martin. We went in march '04 and there were at least 200-300 people there totally nude, most of who were at the nude resort at the far end of the beach. But remember that people do walk nude all the way up and down Orient Beach.
St Martin is an active place, with LOTS of beach activity on the east side, and casinos and shopping on the Dutch (west) side.

Anguilla, as has already been mentioned , is VERY quiet, but has BEAUTIFUL, WHITE sand beaches--huge and awesome! But it was just too quiet for me and it could be too quiet for kids. We found the snorkeling at St Martin and Anguilla to be only average. Grande Case Beach Club on St Martin offers a good off-shore snorkeling couple-of-hours if you choose that island. Make reservations!

I'm looking forward to Antigua and doing the Wadili Cat cruise and Eli's Eco Tour--I've heard both are great. There is one resort on Antigua that offers four beaches--Hawksbill--and that is where we will stay.

Again, thanks for everyone's reply.
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Jan 26th, 2005, 07:55 AM
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Totally nude???men and women?? I would not be comfortable with that and I know my kids would not be comfortable either. Thanks for the info on Antigua. My kids are easily entertained. We had them at a mostly adult resort in Bermuda and they were happy swimming in the ocean. They are close in age and get along well so we are fortunate. Iwill have to look into Antigua for a future visit. I was just thinking all inclusive recently. I have some friends that have been traveling that route. I normally like good food. This is not always synonomous with AI. Oh well. Good luck on your choice jmkm004
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Jan 26th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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Sorry I meant the Jolly Beach Resort. That was the all inclusive on Antigua. I got mixed up with our Aruba trip. Jolly Beach was an excellent place with a beautiful beach and all the amenities and very family friendly.
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Jan 27th, 2005, 08:04 AM
  #11  
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Thanks everyone for your comments. They have really helped me!!
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