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Antigua? Anguilla? St. Johns? Which resort? Help!

Antigua? Anguilla? St. Johns? Which resort? Help!

Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 02:41 PM
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Antigua? Anguilla? St. Johns? Which resort? Help!

Hello all. I am a new-comer to fodors, and will be a new-comer to the Caribbean when I go in a couple months. I'm looking for some advice on which island to go to and which resort to stay at. I've been doing quite a bit of research, and have narrowed it down to Antigua, Anguilla, or St. Johns. The resorts I've been looking at are Galley Bay in Antigua, Cuisenart Resort in Anguilla, and Caneel Bay in St. Johns. Are there any other places I should consider on these 3 islands? Any suggestion on which island/resort combination is the best? I'm taking my wife for our 4 year anniversary as well as a college graduation gift. Neither of us have ever been anywhere tropical in our lives. We are so looking forward to it, but I want to make sure it is everything we've always dreamed it would be. We're not looking for alot of action (ie Sandals). We're looking for a very quiet, relaxing place with beatiful beaches and water. Good service and good food. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Matthew LeStrange
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 05:45 PM
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we have been throughout the caribbean and all of the islands have something to offer.....however, we have been to caneel bay on st john last year and have booked this spring as well..we snorkel, relax, and just veg out for 12 days....nothing compares to the beaches at caneel..nothing.,..service was superb and the food was plentiful....highly, highly recommend the best..
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 05:51 PM
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You've picked three very nice islands and three excellent upscale resorts. While there are other places you can consider they will only add to you confusion. I've been to all three islands and resorts. Given your perameters you will probably not be disapointed at either one. As a point of clarification, Caneel Bay is on the island of St. John not St. Johns. If you tell a travel agent you want to go to St. Johns you will end up on Antigua as that is it's Capital.

The islands you've selected are quite different from one another. St. John is mountainous, has lots of fairly lush vegetation and numerous light golden sand beaches touched by clear torquoise colored waters. There are excellent snorkling reefs and spectacular views of several neighboring islands.

Anguilla, on the other hand, is flat and scrubby. It is rather featureless but it boasts some of the finest powdery white sand beaches in the entire Caribbean. It is a very quite island that is perfect for those wanting a relaxing vacation. The snorkling is decent but no where near as good as the waters off St. John. There are quite a few very fine gourmet restaurants on Anguilla, so if good food is very important, this islands is a perfect choice for you.

Antigua is a much larger island than the other two. It is hilly but no where near as lush as St. John. The island claims to have 365 beaches, most of which as small. There are many places tp eat but Antigua is not noted for fine restaurants although there are some good places. There are a lot of resorts on Antigua and therefore the island appears to be more crowded than the other two. The snorkling around is just OK and nothing to write home about.

Since this is your first trip to the Caribbean I strongly suggest you choose Caneel Bay. St. John is probably closer to the picture of a Caribbean island that you have in your mind's eye. Save the other islands for future trips. Hope this helps.
 
Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 06:08 PM
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Cap Juluca is a better choice than CuisinArt type of trip you're describing IMO.
Having stayed at Caneel and Cap Juluca I can tell you that the beach itself at CJ is superior, but because there are more beaches at CB there is a better beach-space-to-guest ratio at CB. Also CJ is luxury oriented whereas CB is more understated, and the food on Anguilla is considerably better than on St. John. St. John is a very lush and beautiful island, while Anguilla is all about the beaches. It's interior is not a tourist draw.
If you are going to Antigua, I would at least look at Jumby Bay. Check luxurylink.com to see if they have any auctions ongoing. 5 night stay packages have been sold for less than the prices Galley Bay is quoting, and it's a much nicer resort. Rack rates at JB are not cheap.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:30 AM
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Wow! Thanks for all the great posts! I can't believe how fast I got such quality responses! This is a great site!

I'm leaning toward Caneel. The more I read about Caneel and St. John, the more it sounds like the perfect place for the type of vacation my wife and I are looking for. So, I have a couple Caneel specific questions I hope someone can answer...

Since the resort is not AI, I'm a little worried about the cost of food and drink. How much should I expect to spend on food and drink for 4 days/5 nights? My wife and I are not big eaters or big drinkers. A light breakfast, light lunch, and a full dinner would be the norm for us. And probably a couple cocktails a day.

How much cash should I bring for gratuities?

My wife and I are just getting to the point in our lives where we can afford to take trips like this. Since we never have done so before, neither of us have passports. Has anyone had any experience traveling to St. John with only a birth certificate and driver's license? On the Caneel website it says that this is ok, but I've heard that sometimes it's a problem.

Thanks again for all of your help. You all are great!





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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:37 AM
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Assuming you are US citizens you will not need a passport to travel to St. John since it's part of the USVI. You will need a passport or a government issued photo I.D. and original raised seal bith certificate if you are planning to take a day trip to any of the British Virgin islands.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:49 AM
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hi mattdogg24,
you will NOT be disappointed with st. john. please DO rent a vehicle as there are just so many beautiful beaches to see, in addition to caneel's beaches. you should also eat at the other restaurants (lots of good ones-plenty listed in previous discussions on this board). you can use credit cards for restaurants..as a norm, my husband and i usually take $200/person on week-long trips. we use the cash for tips as well as buying souvenirs. but it really depends on the island..some are more expensive than others.
since you don't have a passport, make sure your birth certificate is the original one with the raised seal (plus the picture id of course). but if you two plan to travel some more in the future, best to get a passport at some point. it's a fairly easy proces.
have a FABULOUS time!
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:51 AM
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sunnyboy..your response is a bit misleading. mattdogg24 WILL GO through customs in st. thomas and MUST have the birth certificate and picture i.d. for u.s. virgin islands as well...even though it's u.s. terroritory.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:55 AM
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Let me add a caveat to my last post. It's been a while since I traveled without a passport as I usually visit several different islands on each trip to the Caribbean so you may now need a some type of I.D. when coming back into the US from the USVI. Anyway, if you are thinking of doing a significant amount of travel in the near future you'd be wise to get a passport. It makes traveling in and out of countries much easier. The cost is around $85 and they are good for 10 years. That comes to $8.50 a year which is a very small price to pay for peace of mind.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 09:02 AM
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Thanks caribtraveler for setting me straight. Obviously your post and my "caveat" crossed in cyberspace.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 09:18 AM
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no problem..
i believe the reason they require id is because even though it's u.s. territory, it's not on the "mainland"..anybody could get into st. john or st. thomas via boat and get into the u.s. that way (i.e. illegally) if there were no checks.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 02:22 PM
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Thanks again for all the great information.

While I plan to get passports in the near future, this trip is going to be a surprise present for my wife (she thinks we can't afford it until next year). I'm pretty sure she'd get suspicious if I all of sudden told her she needs to get a passport

So I'll be sure we have our original birth certificates and photo id's with us when we go.

Just about all of my questions have been answered thanks to the great members of this forum. The only thing I'm still wondering is how much I should expect to spend on food and drink for the 4 day, 5 night trip. It's good to know that most places take credit card, but I'd still like to have an idea in advance...$500, $1000, $1500?

Thanks again to everyone who has posted replies. You've been a great help!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 04:36 PM
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We just got back from St. John. I found food to be less expensive and MUCH better off the resorts. We were averaging about $15-20 for breakfast, $20-25 for lunch, and $80-100 for dinner w/drinks for two people.

You can certainly spend quite a bit more or less depending on what you are looking for and using some creativity.

Happy to give specifics if you are interested.

You ab
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Old Jan 24th, 2004, 05:02 AM
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I heard St Johns was vert Americanized
Is this true
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Old Jan 24th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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mattdogg...i think mig has the right prices and is right when he or she says eating off the hotel property is cheaper. i would say a little higher for dinner IF you chose to do a really nice restaurant for the anniversary night..maybe around $120.
dianad..different people have different ideas of what americanized is. what is yours? that can help me and others answer your question better.
 
Old Jan 26th, 2004, 07:57 AM
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I booked the trip! 5 nights at Caneel, Beach Front room! I can't wait!

Thanks for all of the tips on dining in St. John. It sounds like eating off-resort is the way to go. So should I rent a car? Or just take cabs? Which is cheaper?

I booked a Beach Front room. I would have preferred to stay on Scott Beach or Paradise Beach, but they were not available. So I have my choice of Hawknest Beach, Turtle Bay, Caneel Beach, and Little Caneel Beach. Any recommendations? What are the views from each of the beaches? Are there any differences in the rooms on each beach? Thanks again for all of your help. You have made booking this trip so much less stressful for me.
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Old Jan 26th, 2004, 10:12 AM
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I think you'll have a great time at Caneel. I've stayed at both Cuisinart and Caneel and would definitely recommend Caneel over Cuisinart (for what its worth, I really enjoyed Anguilla; however, I would stay at Cap Jaluca for the next trip. We stayed at Cuisinart because CJ was booked. The beach at Cuisinart is also very windy).

After our initial trip, my wife and I have been back to Caneel twice.

The advice you got on food prices was spot on. As for cocktails, they run $9-$12. If my memory is right, most of the tropical drinks are $9. I would highly recommend Miles' painkillers at the beach bar on Scott Beach.

As for beaches to stay on, I've only stayed on Scott Beach. Caneel Beach is the busiest beach on the resort since it is close to the beach bar, restaurant, and lobby. It also has all of the watersports as well as the ferry dock.

Hawksnest might be a great option because you can walk right across to Scott Beach giving you two beach options that would not be too far from your room. My wife and I always enjoy watching the sunset on Scott Beach, which faces West. The snorkeling is also really good on Scott Beach.

If you haven't done so already, if you go on the Caneel website and then click on the "Guestroom" link and then scroll to the bottom of the page right above the picture of the Cottage 7 room, there is a link called "Property map eBrochure". This takes you to a pdf of the whole property that shows you where various rooms are located.

As for gratuities, I tip on the credit card for meals and drinks, and then typically leave $5-$10 per day cash for housekeeping. Taxis will require cash, but a trip into Cruz Bay only runs about $4-$6.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jan 26th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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mattdogg24,
I have been going to St. John for 13 years now. It is great. Caneel is the "premier" resort on the island.
Don't stress on the room. Save money there if you can. The whole complex is gorgeous. If you are physically fit, you can walk up and down the hills and visit the North shore beaches. Taxi's from town to the beach are only approx $3-5. However, you will want to rent a car for at least part of your visit. There is so much to see on the other side of the island as well. If you want a great romantic intimate dinner, book at Chateau Bordeaux around 4 or 5 pm so you can see the view at least for a little while before the sun goes down.
(not a sunset side of the island though)
ZOZO's at Gallow's point is also excellent for fine dining or just a cocktail at sunset. If you want just a snack make sure to go to Skinnys in Coral bay and have a chili dog! Another great place to eat is in Cruz bay at "Joe's" ... you won't find a sign to tell you the name of this place. It is just "hut" across from the post office with a barbeque grill out in front.
There are so many food choices on St. John.. you'll never get to try them all!
Banana shack, Beach bar at Wharfside, and Cafe Roma are all great for a reasonably priced meal.
Have a great time... I know you will!
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Old Jan 28th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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You picked a fantastic "jewel" of an island in St. John. Just gorgeous. The beaches, the people and the beauty of the whole island is just wonderful. I agree with the other poster, you should rent a 4 wheel drive to see the island and those beaches.

You can also take 1/2 day or full day sails to the BVI's. This is what is so wonderful about St. John. You have access to other islands, if one chooses.

We just stayed on St. John for the 9 days because of the beaches loved the island.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Jan 28th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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Great! Thanks for all the tips about renting a 4x4 and checking out the island.

Does anyone have any pics of St. John and/or Caneel Bay Resort? Of course I have found tons of pics on the web, but most are "commercial" type pics. I'm looking for pics that were taken by people on vacation. If anyone has links to such pics, I'd appreciate it if you could post them here. Thanks!
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