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Best Caribbean islands/resorts for exploring without a car?

Best Caribbean islands/resorts for exploring without a car?

Jan 11th, 2010, 08:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7
Best Caribbean islands/resorts for exploring without a car?

My boyfriend and I (both early 30s) are planning a trip to a Caribbean island for late January/early February. We're having a really hard time deciding where to go (despite many hours of internet research and forum reading)! The islands we're thinking about right now are Puerto Rico, USVI, Aruba, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and the Cayman Islands. We're hoping to avoid renting a car if possible, and would appreciate any input on islands or resorts/hotels to look into or avoid from that perspective.

Even without a car, we're hoping to still be able to do some town exploring or day trips if possible, and we would love to combine that with pretty beaches/pools and snorkeling. We're generally active, but not super adventurous and don't need a big party scene (though some low key nightlife would be nice). Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.
greentea123 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
grand cayman would be optimal for you. seven mile beach is gorgeous. most of the resorts are clustered on this beach as are most of the restaurants & shopping. day trips leave from this area as well. you'll be able to walk to a lot & easily taxi to the rest in 5-10 mins. plenty of resorts and quite a few condos available.
the other islands you've selected are too large a/or spread out - too many places to go & things to explore w/out car.
virginia is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:08 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I agree that Grand Cayman would be perfect. Puerto Rico (as long as you base yourself in San Juan) would also work because there are plenty of tours out to the island and you don't want to drive in town anyway. St. John is possible but harder. Barbados would work nicely; the island has a good bus system, and if you stay in the Gap area, you're well located to get into Bridgetown for shopping, plus there are many different activities and tours offered where you don't have to drive. St. Lucia would work as long as you stay in the Rodney Bay area (it's easily navigable through cheap island buses and taxis).Aruba would also work, as would Jamaica or the DR (in the latter two islands you'll spend most of your time in the resort property).

Islands that are really difficult include St. Croix, St. John (depending on where you stay), St. Maarten (I know some people do without a car but I just couldn't there), Bonaire, and Anguilla (though possible here depending on where you stay). I find taxis really expensive in St. Thomas, and there are few resorts where I'd want to spend the majority of my time, but a lot of people go there without a car (you could stay at the Marriott, for example, which offers a ferry service into Charlotte Amalie).

Since cars are really cheap to rent on some islands, it isn't a hindrance to have one unless you are under 25 and just can't rent. If you end up basing yourself at a resort that's not in or near a town, you can also rent a car for just the day or two that you want to explore the island; it isn't necessary to keep a car for the entire trip, and that can cut down on costs.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Staying at a hotel on Palm Beach in Aruba would be ideal. There are literally shopping complexes, resturants and bars right across the street. In front, on the beach side, are also plenty of resturants and bars. There is also a bus stop that will take you downtown for additional shopping, bars and resturants. Tours are good also. We did a full day jeep tour, full day on Palm Island, a beach hopping tour, dinner cruise and bar hopping tour. Most tours have pick up/drop off from your hotel.

Second choice would be Grand Cayman. Most hotels are lined up on 7 Mile Beach. To get into Georgetown you can take a bus or taxi. If you want to go out to Rum Point or the East side you'll need a car.
KVR is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I live in St. Maarten and I do not recommend St. Maarten without a car.
I agree with the above poster. Palm beach in Aruba. all the hotels are in one area. there are clubs and restaurants and shops all within walking distance and their bus system is excellent.
Barbara1 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7
Thanks for these thoughts! I'm leaning towards Aruba or Grand Cayman (though still thinking about Puerto Rico). If anyone has specific resort or hotel recommendations (especially in the areas mentioned above), that would be great. Thanks again.
greentea123 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,111
I would vote for Cayman. The local bus (van) can take you up and down the main street and its only US$1.50pp.

You didn't mention condos, but we like staying at Treasure Island. Saves $$ by buying groceries and using full kitchen. Central location, have their own snorkeling beach and swim up bar. They're running a special now.

And this is a great site for Cayman properties - http://caymanvacations.com/grand-cay...l-condos.shtml
cruisin_tigger is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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There are several hotels to choose from on Palm Beach in Aruba. Westin, Radisson, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Occidental, RIU and the Marriott.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn and liked it just fine. Nice budget friendly hotel. The Westin, Radisson and Hyatt get good recomendations. The Marriott is very family friendly. The RIU and Occidential are all-inclusives.
KVR is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 119
Puerto Rico we did without a car as there were plenty of cabs to go around if needed.We stayed at the Mariott which was very nice. Aruba also did without a car, for the matter of fact Curacao & Jamaica which you havent listed also.In Aruba based on where u plan to stay u can walk to alot of things like restaurants ,casinos & return to your hotel whenever ure sick of it.We stayed at Manchebo Beach in Aruba , low key, no nightlife in the hotel but the most gorgeous beach & best service, very very clean & walked to casinos, restaurants or took cabs/buses if I can recall.Jamaica , we stayed in an AI -Grand Lido & didnt venture out at all but I dont recommend doing that kind of a vacation.In Curacao, I know its not on your list, if you stay at the Kura Hulanda - top notch accomodations , u can walk out of the hotel & be in the midst of very good dining & a short cab ride away you'd be in the downtown area with all the restaurants & shops you desire.Hope this helps.Goodluck
drsaloni is offline  
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