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-   -   Aruba, St.Thomas or elsewhere with varied interests (https://www.fodors.com/community/caribbean-islands/aruba-st-thomas-or-elsewhere-with-varied-interests-340399/)

KatherineAM Apr 9th, 2008 01:01 PM

Aruba, St.Thomas or elsewhere with varied interests
 
We are trying to plan a vacation for five nights this June. My husband likes sailing and white sand beaches. I like snorkeling off of the beach and natural beauty. Our 13 year old daughter loves to shop and she gets bored easily. I am thinking that St.Thomas may fit this criteria. Aruba looks okay too, except that it seems to lack natural beauty on land. I have heard good things about Guadeloupe and St.Lucia...but they seem expensive and lack the white sand that my husband likes.

What would you guys recommend? (Note: out of the question would be Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, and probably Mexico...been there more than enough times).

flep Apr 9th, 2008 04:20 PM

Sounds like your on the right track with st thomas you can go shopping, snorkeling, and have white sandy beaches. You can also take a ferry to st johns. St martin also has alot of great shopping beaches and snorkeling. You can shop in Phillipsburg for jewerly, and different wares and in Marigot there are many shops there also, but the only draw back about marigot is that they use euros, but it definitely nice. You can also visit st barts and anguilla by ferry. You might also may want to consider Barbados, the beaches are beautiful and they are known for their sailing. As far as st Lucia its beautiful for sight seeing but not for the beach.

virginia Apr 9th, 2008 04:21 PM

the best/most beaches with the best/most snorkeling off beach in the usvi is on st. john. also usvi and bvi are outstanding for sailing. there is not much shopping to speak of. it is much more quiet than st. thomas. you might look at caneel bay or the westin. otherwise most ppl mainly stay in villas.

st. thomas is a very busy but lovely, hilly, lush and interesting island. there is more duty free shopping than you can stand, everything from a harley shop to diamonds, plus an open air locals market on the east end of charlotte amalie. >lots of great island style dresses. many on fodors disparage st.t for being too busy, but i think if you get out and look around it is great. (many feel aruba is too busy as well, but i've not been)
your family might like the wyndham sugar bay. it's all inclusive optional, has a fun pool with waterfall, pool & pingpong tables next to it. pool area has a bar, grill/sandwich take out and a sit down restaurant. the beach is right next to the pool, so you can easily take a burger and painkiller out on the beach. and always has plenty of chairs. they have kayaks, jet skies, windsurfers, and offer parasailing. dh can definetly arrange sailing from nearby sapphire bay marina. snorkeling from their beach is pretty good off to the right side and on around the corner. also very good snorkeling off the beach at near-by secret harbour resort. (this is my fav place to stay but i think your dd will be seriously bored there, it's a 15 min cab ride from sugar bay)
fyi both these resorts are on the east end of the island about 30mins drive to charlotte amalie. the east end town is red hook and it is where the ferry leaves from for st. john. it takes 20 mins. you could go over to snorkel for a day a caneel or asst' other beaches.
hope this helps.

patsfan1 Apr 9th, 2008 07:08 PM

Katherine
IMHO, I would pick Aruba in a NY minute vs STT, better beaches, MUCH more upcale, safer, cleaner, MUCH nicer people, better restaurants and nicer weather. more nightlife as well, shopping and sailing are the only advantages to STT. Shopping is actually pretty good on Aruba but STT and SXM offer the best selection in the caribbean.
Aruba is not a lush island, it is dry, scrubby and desertlike but it is a fantastic all around island with incredible white sand beaches and gorgeous deep turquoise waters and probably has the best tourist infrastucture in the caribeean IMO.
BTW, ST John is far nicer than STT in every way.

I have a feeling your daughter and husband would love Aruba and you would love ST John.
ST Lucia is very lush, has lots of natural beauty but the beaches are not typical by caribbean standards as they lack the white sand/clear waters that you would want. not really an island destination for a 13 year old, more a couples/honeymoon destination.

you should also look at T&C & Anguilla based on your husband's desire for white sand beaches, they dont get any better than those islands.you could stay on Anguilla and day trip to ST Martin for shopping and activities.

Pulley Apr 10th, 2008 02:27 AM

Think about staying on St. John, there is great off the beach snorkeling & going to STT for the shopping. You & your daughter can take the ferry Charlotte Amelia and shop till you drop. The natuaral beauty of St. John is what makes this island so special. There are a variety of places to St. John and in June you should get some great pricing. Have a blast wherever you go!!!

virginia Apr 10th, 2008 02:01 PM

i forgot to mention coral world. it's a marine park. snuba, mini sub, feeding/petting rays, turtles, etc. here's there web site for dd to check out: http://coralworldvi.com/
this is about 10-15 mins from sugar bay.

blamona Apr 11th, 2008 04:19 AM

For what you are seeking, I highly recommend St. John. It offers:

The best sailing in the Caribbean-an excellent way to day trip, especially to Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

The scenic beauty is stunning, hilly, dramatic, palm trees, colorful houses on the hills.

The snorkeling is some of the best in Caribbean.

There is some shopping in St. John, there is a ferry for some of the best shopping in the Caribbean.

I had fun in Aruba when I was younger, shopping was good, beaches are pretty, but the snorkeling is pretty lame, the water not the crystal clear as in Virgin Islands, (it is a beautiful turquoise though.) there are casinos, nightlife, etc. Not really a sailing destination.

Guadeloupe and St. Lucia's beaches sands aren't as white as Aruba's or Virgin Islands.

St. Martin is hilly and scenic, has the best shopping in the Caribbean, has casinos, nightlife, a French side and a Dutch side each with it's own personality, excellent day trips to Anguilla (glorious beaches) and St. Barth (very hilly and dramatic, expensive but chic shopping), not good snorkeling, so again, St. John beats it for sailing and snorkeling.

Anguilla and T&C have the most incredible beaches, but lack the scenery, and shopping you may crave. Sailing is just okay (although T&C you can sail through gorgeous cays) and snorkeling in Anguilla is not good (in my experiences) but great on T&C.

So based on your criteria, my opinion, but I would pick St. John, it will make all happy!!!!




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