Best Beach Under $1500/person

Old Feb 5th, 2010, 10:12 AM
  #1  
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Best Beach Under $1500/person

Planning to take a trip to the caribbean - most likely spring of 2012.

Our total budget per person (including rountrip airfare) and at least 5 nights is $1500. Preferrably under that.

First of all, is that amount realistic?

Second, our main priority is the beach / view / external resort as opposed to a great room/restaurants/etc.

Think the movie "The Beach" - what a view, what a setting. That sort of thing is tops on the list.

Any suggestions would be great! Just starting to think about where we might want to go. This would be my wife and I and a couple of friends/siblings. Not a romance trip, a fun in the sun trip.

No Jamaica, Mexico, or Dominican. More interested in St. Lucia / Barbados / Antigua / Cayman areas.
whatyouare is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:09 AM
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Unfortunately, you have selected some of the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean. I was going to suggest Shangri-La Caribe in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico but see you don't want Mexico. Take a look at Ti Kaye Resort in St. Lucia, might be within your price range, depending on the cost of airfare. I too have seen "The Beach" and think that St. Lucia is probably closest to that lush, tropical feel you want.
eileen is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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Hi whatyouare,
Good to see someone else who plans as far in advance as I do

Good news is you want to travel off season which will help in your budget. I'm not sure where you are flying from so it's hard to say about the airfare.

I haven't see "The Beach" (is it any good?) but looked up pictures of it online. I'm thinking Maho Bay Camp on St. John might suit you if budget is a big thing and you're planning on not being in your room much anyway. There are tons of beautiful white sand beaches with the mountainous backdrop. If this isn't what you're looking for accomodations wise, there are plenty of villas to rent as well on St. John which are typically cheaper than a hotel if divided w/another couple. Most have private pools too.
http://www.maho.org/Rates.cfm

We stayed at the villa Andante by the sea (www.andantebythesea.com) which we loved. Right now it's 3300 for the week in off season, so figure about 1500 p/couple for the week. But that doesn't include airfare. If you look on the guest comments page most of those pictures we took (our daughter is the little blonde girl).

St. Lucia is a mountainous island as well-more mountainous and lush than St. John. We stayed at Stonefield villas and loved it there as well. Right now you could get a 2-bedroom villa there for $2500 for the week. Figure split that 2 ways and it's not bad.

Let me know if any of these interest you and I can send you the links to my photos, or more info. good luck!
kellybeaches is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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just reread your post-1500 p/person, not couple. Well that makes a big difference! You should be good with either option I recommend above then, and airfare shouldn't be a problem (unless maybe you're coming from Alaska!)

You may want to check out Jalousie in St. Lucia too. White sand beach nestled between the Pitons. Looks like a scene right out of "The Beach". We would go there for the beach-gorgeous, gorgeous! Lots to do on both islands too.
www.thejalousieplantation.com
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Old Feb 6th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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There's just nothing like The Beach in the Caribbean, at least not at your price range. That movie was shot in Thailand, and the scenery in the Caribbean is just nothing like that. There are certainly some beautiful beaches, but by 2012, I think $1,500 per person is going to be a very tight budget. Airfare could cost you $500 to $600 per person assuming you are flying from NYC or Atlanta or Miami. That doesn't leave much for lodging, car rentals, food, etc. But it's possible.

If you just want to lie on the beach, the best values are Mexico and the Dominican Republic. If you are unwilling to consider either of those places, perhaps Cuba will be open to Americans by then. But there are cheap resorts elsewhere in the Caribbean. I'd probably concentrate on places where you can fly nonstop, but it's far far too early to start planning your trip or really evening thinking about it. In two years, who can possibly guess what prices will be like?

Also consider timing. If you want to minimize your budget, definitely go after April 15 and before July 1. That will give you the best combination of low-season prices and weather.

St. Lucia is one of the Caribbean's most scenic islands, but the most dramatic scenery is in the south, where the resorts are few and quite expensive. Antigua is also beautiful and has some relatively cheap all-inclusive resorts on beautiful beaches; the downside is that the food is horrible and rooms are not very nice. But the upside is that you could probably afford it.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 03:55 PM
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Thanks for all of the replies!

I wasn't necessarily looking for something that mirrored Thailand in 'The Beach', more that I was after an awesome setting as opposed to an awesome hotel.

I am flying from St. Louis, and the $1500 was to include airfare. Though I see that I may have picked some of the higher priced destinations, so that $1500 will have to be increased or we'll have to pick other destinations.

The Jalousie looks awesome to me (if not ideal), I'm not sure we can afford it. That's one place that caught my eye during my brief online search.

I suppose we have places like St. Lucia, Barbados, etc. on our list because they aren't the typical caribbean vacation - most people seem to hit Mexico, Dominican, etc. and since we don't get the opportunity to do this much we wanted something a bit more out of the ordinary.

Thanks again for all the replies, I'll filter through them again and follow up on the suggestions.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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You can't afford the Jalousie Plantation Resort at that price point. Perhaps you should think a bit out of the box. Some of the resorts on the cays in Belize have lovely beaches and are pretty inexpensive. But the airfare is going to be a killer for you and will eat up half your budget. If you don't consider big package-tour destinations like Jamaica, Antigua, Mexico, or the DR, you are unlikely to find something in your price range. That's true even today, so I can't imagine what the prices will be like in two years time.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Doug is right - your budget is on the low sidebut all is not lost. If you set your sights a little lower you'll be able to find an attractive place. You don't need top of the line resorts to enjoy the Caribbean. Consider places like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Cozemel, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Antigua. You can often find package deals to resorts in those places that are near your price point. It won't be the "Ritz" but you'll be able to lime on a good beach.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:44 AM
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You have received a lot of good advice already, but I wanted to share a few thoughts and also express my strong agreement with Doug's point that no one can predict what kind of buying power you will have in spring 2012. I have been to many of the places that you mentioned, or others mentioned in response to your post, and I firmly believe that you can go to many islands, even those known as "expensive" islands on a budget, if you are willing to shop around and make compromises. Some of my trips were several years ago, but I traveled to Grand Cayman in December 2008 for 5 nights for just about $1400 (capitalizing on an airfare sale and getting a hotel through an auction site at a very low rate), and I spent a week in the Riveria Maya for just over $1100 (excluding air since I used a "free" ticket) in April 2009.

The places that most always will be the most economical are destinations like the Domincan Republic and Mexico that have lots of packages and all-inclusive resorts. Mexico, in particular the Riveria Maya, offers a lot more options than Cancun; Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Isla Mujeres are completely different experiences but offer the advantage of usually cheap flights to Cancun and generally low costs once you get there.

Places that are further away or less popular destinations usually are more expensive to fly to. From the Washington DC area, flight-only prices (low to high) to the places mentioned that I am familar with usually are: 1) Cancun, 2) Grand Cayman, 3) Barbados, 4) St. Lucia.

In terms of the kind of destination, I'm still not quite sure what you are seeking. Being flexible about not staying in a luxury hotel is a key to having a great trip within your budget, but I'm not sure what "awesome location" means to you. It seems like you may prefer a more lush/tropical island, so in that case, I'm not sure that an island like Grand Cayman, which has very nice white sand beaches and nice turquoise water but is a flatter, more arid island is a good fit. Another island you might want to consider if you are looking for a hillier, more lush island is St. Martin, which also tends to have somewhat cheaper airfares.

Another way to stretch your travel budget is to use frequent flyer miles or hotel points if you have them, to cut down on some out of pocket costs. Considering how far in advance you are planning your trip, you have plenty of time to take advantage of some of the credit card offers to earn points or miles if you don't have them now (a lot of credit card offers give you a large number of bonus points, often enough for a free ticket, for getting the credit card and spending a minimum amount in a specified time period). You also have enough time to book frequent flyer airfares as soon as the airlines allow you to book them (usually about 330 days ahead), which generally is when you have the most availability for the lowest amount of points.
beachdreams3 is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2010, 12:56 PM
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Thanks!

'awesome location' for us means the overall setting of the hotel/resort. The hotel itself is secondary to a great beach, great overall setting, great views. Our focus is the beach setting as opposed to a great hotel/hotel room.

After some of the replies here I'm certainly expanding our search and have bookmarked some of the above mentioned locations in Playa Del Carmen and the Virgin Islands.

We have quite a while before we go, plenty of time for us to save up some money (main reason for the wait), and plenty of time to narrow down where we want to go.

So, my plan is now to be more realistic about where we can stay on our budget, while still looking for a great beach setting.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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One more suggestion,check out skyauction.com when you get closer to your travel time. We got a great resort for only 1/3 the rack rate.
eileen is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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I would recomend Cocobay in Antigua. It is by far the best location in all of Antigua. The views are amazing from the seafront cottage plung pools. The views from the hotel infinity pool are some of the best I have seen in the Carribean. They sometimes have package deals on Luxurylink.com. The hotel has raised its prices in the past couple of years but you may be able to get a deal on a third party website. There are two beaches. One for the hotel on and the other one is completly deserted except for a small beach bar. Also a day trip to Barbuda is a must. Barbuda has the best beaches in the Carribean. Good Luck
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