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April vacation with toddler, great beaches! Help, please.

April vacation with toddler, great beaches! Help, please.

Dec 14th, 2011, 07:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 10
April vacation with toddler, great beaches! Help, please.

Hi all -

I'm new to this forum and am seeking the wisdom of all the posters out there.
My husband and I will be taking our first real family vacation (just us three) with our 22 month old son in early April. We desperately want to head to the Caribbean for some sun and beach fun.

I've been researching like crazy and am running into all the usual problems, high cost, bad trip advisor reviews, only giant resorts...etc. I need the help of experienced Caribbean travelers. Here is what we're looking for, any and all ideas welcome!

1. An island with calm beaches (st. martin looks amazing - but I've read too much about crime there. It may be the experience of only a few, but I lived in New Orleans for years and don't want to be worried about looking over my shoulder when I'm trying to keep my eye on the kid). What other Caribbean islands have the calm beaches that St.Martin has?

2. A hotel with direct access to one of these great beaches.
3. Not all inclusive (or option to not be all inclusive - breakfast at the hotel would be nice, but we like to get out and explore and meet people when in a new place).
4. Nice towns for dinner and shopping nearby.
5. Day trips to other beaches with activities would be a plus.
6. I'd prefer to spend less than $300.00/night - of course, less would be better - but everything I've been interested in seems to be in this price range. (not including plane fare).
7. Preferably a non-stop flight from NYC. Although a great option would be worth having to take a second plane or ferry.

I genuinely appreciate any help you can offer!!
sunnyvaca is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
a condo resort like the sands (has screened porches/decks) or royal west indies on provo in turks & caicos might suit you well. provo has all but the shopping, with excellent restaurants. no where near as busy as st. martin.
both resorts are right on the normally very calm for swimming (& always stunningly beautiful) grace bay beach, as are all but a couple of provos resorts.
flts available from jfk, ewr or lga 6-7 hrs with stop. look for a flt that gets you whereever you choose to go that arrives early & leaves late to optimize your time on island. getting up at 4am is a pain, but when you're taking a swim or sitting on the beach with a fruity cocktail at 3pm you'll be glad you got up.

secret harbour beach resort on st. thomas is excellent (calm, gradual, sandy entrance) for kids but may be to pricey. has a restaurant but you'd need a rental car to go out to dinner. good dining options. great duty free shopping in charlotte amalie.

you could look at akumal beach resort in akumal mexico, which is approx 45 mins drive south of cancun. it is ai but fairly inexpevsive, so you could still go out to eat when you choose to. it too has good kid beach. tons of duty free shopping in nearby playa del carman.

if you can move your time to end of april/beginning of may prices will drop at resorts.
virginia is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
The Sands on Turks and Caicos.

The Westin or Marriott on 7 Mile Beach in Grand Cayman.

Any hotel on Eagle Beach in Aruba.
KVR is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 09:49 AM
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I looked into Sands and it looked great...then I started to see reviews that suggested it had become a bit run down in the past few years.

Any thoughts on the Ocean Club/Ocean Club West in T&C?

Thanks for the responses! So helpful.
sunnyvaca is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
www.littledixbay.com one of my favs Great toddlers programs cheaper www.maho.org or the Westin St John deals for me from $80 betterbidding.com also great perfect beach cute island safe www.pinksandsresort.com www.runawayhill.com. Atlantis.com
good childrens programs prices for a bigger resort. Usually
get best flight deals on www.spirit.com Happy Planning!
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Forgot the Hyatt Palm Eagle beach in Aruba has good childrens
prograns diving and gaming flat desertlike though.Warmest water that time of year if that matters to you.Been to all islands above Virgins Harbor Island are very prettiest for me.
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 06:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
In April you can have a very nice beach holiday in South Florida. In the winter we go to the Caribbean but in April/May we head to South Florida.

For Caribbean, try Aruba: Marriott Ocean Club or Marriott Surf Club via www.redweek.com or www.tug2.net for Oceanfront condo rentals. These are timeshare properties located on beautiful Palm Beach, Aruba.

For South Florida, try Lago Mar (Fly to Ft Lauderdale) or Pelican Beach Resort www.pelican beach.com (not condo but right on the beach in Ft Lauderdale). Or, look for Florida condos at the sites above for timeshare rentals in Florida.

Or, for $300 night, look at a place called Wright-by-the-Sea in Delray Beach ( fly to Ft Lauderdale or PBI). Very modest but for $300/night in April you may be able to get a 2BR apartment with a nice view of the beach, lovely beach for your kids to play, nice little pool. Good restaurants nearby. www.wbtsea.com
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 04:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,336
Look into packages through Jet Blue, Continental, or AA for Turks and Caicos. Friends of ours just got a four night stay in T&C at Seven Stars ( really nice place, central to everything) for $2500 incl. air.

You can also look into a studio at The West Bay Club,a gorgeous 3-year-old condo development on a quieter part of Grace Bay Beach. The studios were running a little bit higher than your stated budget ( $375) during our November visit, but sometimes they have specials offering you one or two nights free. We LOVED it there, and were discussing how perfect that beach would be for babies/toddlers, never mind us!
Weadles is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 04:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,705
The Sands is a terrific property.
I think Grace Bay in TC is the absolute best beach in the world for kids. It's generally calm, crystal clear, bright turquoise. Most resorts are condos with full kitchens great for toddlers for snacks and emergency milk. No vendors on the beach so truly relaxing. You can rent a car and in 15 minutes be at Sapadilla Bay or Taylor Bay, a toddlers dream, where water is knee high for hundreds of yards, like a giant wading pool.

There are direct flights from NY on Jetblue, which also helps toddlers because they can watch Spongebob on the TV on the way down.

All the properties there are nice. The reason you might see a bad review is because there might be a "newer" proerty next to it, but all are well maintained and clean and comfortable.

grace Bay Road is miles long, bring an umbrella stroller, so you can walk and go to numerous shops and restaurants within a 5 mile radius. All of it is sidewalk so even easier.
blamona is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 10:13 AM
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Thanks so much everyone - obviously T&C is looking like the way to go. I may have found a great deal at Royal West Indies - just down the road. Is that just as nice?
sunnyvaca is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I don't know anything about Royal Indies. But we had lunch several times at Hemingway's, which is The Sands restaurant. The property looked very nice to us, and we noted that there were plenty of families staying there. It's also a bit closer to many of the restaurants and town, if that's important to you.
Weadles is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 02:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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the main reason i advise the sands is the screened porches. this could be a big deal for you with a 22 month old who will need to nap & go to bed early. other than that royal west indies or ocean club west are both good.
virginia is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2011
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Hi all - just wanted to thank you for your input. After looking around quite a bit...we decided on Anguilla. We were able to use miles for tickets to St. Maarten, so we decided to go a bit further and spend the week in Anguilla. We also found a great rate at the Anacoana Hotel, right on Meads Bay. I hope it will be a great trip.

Thanks for all the input. In addition to the rewards travel, I decided against Turks and Caicos in the end because my research tells me that there isn't a lot of Caribbean culture/character there. I spoke to a friend who travelled there with her boyfriend a few years back and she absolutely validated that.

While we definitely want blue water, beautiful sands...etc., we also want to feel like we are in another part of the world, experiencing another culture.

Thanks so much again for your help - J
sunnyvaca is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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That sounds great!
Looking forward to your trip report. When do you leave?

How do you get from St Maarten to Anguilla?

OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
sunnyvaca, FYI: Anacaona isn't technically *on* Meads Bay. It's a short walk from there, and the property has beach chairs & umbrellas set up on the beach right next to the big Viceroy for their guests, so it's not really an issue. Just make sure you know what you're getting so you're not disappointed by lack of beach views from the rooms, etc.

My first trip to Anguilla was a Meads Bay vacation and it was wonderful--we've been back to Anguilla 4 times since that first visit in 2007. Just be aware that Meads Bay water can be unpredictable and that you'll either need to pick a different beach on some days, or just make it a pool day with your toddler.

Anguilla is a wonderful, wonderful place to visit and the West Indian culture is alive and well there, so I think you'll be happy with your choice.

OceanBreeze1, you can either ferry, take a shared private water shuttle, or a very short flight from St. Maarten to reach Anguilla.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
Thanks, ej!
Trying to figure out how to get to Anguilla from Toronto. Too complictaed for me. I guess I will stick with Aruba. There could be worse places in February, right?
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2012, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
I'd take ANY island in the Caribbean during February if it meant escaping a New England winter!

But it's not complicated at all to get to Anguilla from St Maarten if that's where your interests lie. Otherwise just go and enjoy the heck out of Aruba.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 25th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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Posts: 10
Ej - Thank you for the input. Yes, we are aware it's a short walk to the beach. As long as we have the pools to fall back on, we don't mind. Also, we're opting for a ground floor room with the little bambino - to be on the safe side. So, we'll be looking at the gardens. I didn't know the water on meads bay could be rough, so that's good to know. Either way, we did decide to rent a car during our stay so we can explore the other beaches.

I am so excited! It's our first beach trip with baby. Can't wait!

We're travelling the first week of April. I will make sure to post something afterwards. I am grateful for all the wonderful advice. Thank you.
sunnyvaca is offline  
Dec 12th, 2012, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1
@sunnyvaca, where did you end up going? We have an IDENTICAL dilemma for April travel this year, from the desired time/locations right down to the 22-month old toddler in tow. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thanks in advance.
LisaJZ is offline  
Dec 13th, 2012, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,122
In Aruba at the Divi Phoenix the beach is great there for toddlers. I am partial to Aruba for the friendlist of all islands i have ever encountered. Is my home away from home. The Divi has a small beach, but is calm, and no waves. There is also "baby beach" at the other end of the island. That is ideal for kids and there is snorkeling also but you need a rental car to get there or go on a tour. There is also not much shade there either.
diann24 is offline  

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