Best first island? Favorite island?

Dec 9th, 2004, 12:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 138
Best first island? Favorite island?

What island in the carribean would you recommend to a first-timer?

I'm planning a wedding in the islands and many people who attend will be in the carribean for the first time. I have been focused on a couple of islands, but just want to make sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned.

sls15 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Every island is different and if you include all the Bahamas Out-Island there are literally hundreds to choose from and no one island "has it all". Your request is very vague. Tell us more about what type of experience you are seeking. Do you want secluded islands with miles of deserted beaches or do you prefer lush moutainous islands with rainforests and waterfalls? Are you looking for lots of night life, casinos, and beach bars? Do you want the comfort of an "Americanized" island with chain restaurants or are you looking for an island with a decidedly European flair or do you want "Old World Caribbean"? Do you think your guests want to do major shopping while on the island? Would they be interested in watersports, scuba or snorkeling (some islands are better than others)? Are you looking for upscale, mid-priced or budget accomodations? Are you looking for private island resorts, big full service resorts, small intimate inns, or condos? Do you want everyone to stay at the same hotel or resort? Do you want All-Inclusive or would you rather be able to "dine around" the island? How about ease of getting to the island? Are you looking for places you can get to non-stop from from your departure city (tell us where you are traveling from) or are you willing to take two or more connecting flights to get to your intended destination? Also, it would help if you tell us the islands you have already eliminated and those you have focused on as that will make it easier for us to help you.
Dec 9th, 2004, 12:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 138
Sunnyboy, thanks for helping me focus. I dashed off that last post without enough thought. Sorry!

My two front runners are St. John and Harbour Island, which I previously posted about, and thank all for their responses!

What I'm really looking for is an island that offers beautiful beaches, reasonably priced lodging as well as the 4 star resorts, and most importantly an "intimate" feel. By that I mean that we're attracted to the idea of being able to get to know the place in our week or so on the island, something with a small town feel if that makes any sense.

The reason for this post is that I had all but made up my mind on St. John, but the prices there are quite high compared to some other recent finds (the Buccaneer on St. Croix for example).

So overall, I just want to make sure that I have considered all of my options and am making an informed choice.

I hope that helps...and thanks for any and all advice!

sls15 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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As far as prices go, in the Caribbean you generally "get what you pay for" and while you didn't say where on St. John you were thinking of staying neither the Buccaneer nor the island of St. Croix can come anywhere close to the experience you would have on St. John so you are comparing apples and bananas. Also the term "reasonably priced" means different things to different people so it would help if you could state a dollar amount you and your guests are willing to spend. I gather from your post that some of your guests want "4-star accomodations while others may be seeking less costly options. If that's the case you will generally find those choices available on most islands (I hope you were not expecting to find a 4-star hotels for Motel 6 prices - it just doesn't happen in the Caribbean).

Since you like St. John but found it too pricey you might want to consider looking at St. Kitts or Nevis. They have a similar small island appeal and are less touristy but you should know their beaches, while nice in their own right, are not on the same par as those on St. John. You will, however, find very attractive accomodations in all price ranges (there are some really nice Plantation Inns that are very romantic on both islands).

Antigua is another island worth considering. It boasts 365 beaches and is a very popular wedding destination because it has a variety of resorts in all price ranges. It is, however, going to be more crowded than either St. John, St. Kitts or Nevis.

Also look at Virgin Gorda. It is similar in size and topography to St. John, has very good beaches, lots of watersports and a very laid back lifestyle. The drawback is it is difficult to get to and there are not a wide choice of accomodations but it may be workable for your group.

Avoid Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, St. Martin, St. Thomas as they are too crowded to fit your particular desires. Anguilla has fantastic beaches but, in general, you'll find it more costly than St. John. The same holds true for St. Barths.

I really suggest you first pick your island (after all it's your wedding). After you do it should be easy to find accomodations on that island that will meet the needs of both you and your guests.

Hope this helps you narrow your focus.
Dec 9th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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hi sls15
Congratulations on your engagement!

Just had my wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (in October). Had 68 guests attend. It was the most beautiful day of my life, and EVERYBODY who went was thrilled with the experience. We haven't had one guest - including family members (and you know how they can be) - say anything negative about the experience. It was wonderful.

Been all over the carribean (family from PR) and I can tell you, this is my favorite island. I would be happy to give you any more details if the Dominican Republic (specifically Punta Cana) is on your short list of possibilities.

The wedding was held at the Paradisus Resort in Punta Cana, DR. But before we chose that place, we visited 8 other all-inclusive resorts so could give opinions on those if you like. Good luck.
Dec 9th, 2004, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 44
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. When making your plans, be sure to check out the legal requirements for getting married on a particular island before you plan your trip. Some islands have residency requirements where you have to be on the island for "X" amount of days before you can legally be wed. I believe only Mexico requires a blood test once you have arrived - but it will be important to know what is required before you book your trip.
KimberlyO is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 04:54 PM
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If you want small-town Caribbean feel, Harbour Island is your place, especially compared to STJ.

If romance and solitude are what you want, then St. John is fabulous. But with all those wedding guests trying to find their way, I'd opt for HI logistically. STJ involves much greater distances from airport to ferry dock to island to doorstep, which translates to confusion and stress. With HI it's the same type of connection, but each point is close - like five minutes - you can't get lost and it's fun - not stressful.

P.S. Girl thoughts: A bride would look so beautiful on those PINK Bahamian beaches in her white dress...aaah! Have a wonderful wedding!

P.P.S. When? Bahamas really are much warmer/tropical in the April-October time frame.
joan is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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My favorite island is Jamaica, St. Lucis is also very green and lush very tropical.
Kimberly is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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I think Jamaica would be a perfect setting for a wedding. It's a very popular paradise for all kinds of people.It offers an amazing variety of recreation and activites. Several beautifully restored Georgian homes. It's very romantic, but lots of shopping and watersports. Water temperature is about 78 degrees. There are many different areas on the island to chose from. Mo Bay's hotels are no more than 20 minutes from the airport. Other areas are further away. Regardless of how you are used to eating, be sure you try some of the local specialties including the Pepper pot soup and jerk chicken. The Blue Mountain coffee is wonderul in the morning, as is the Tia Maria after dinner.
Knowing is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 03:45 PM
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Defintely look at Tobago for wedding, is cheaper than most islands and offers people a REAL look at traditional Caribbean not built up tourist meccas.
Traveler863 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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What about Bermuda? It is an island with loads of charm, not very big, quaint town, a few very nice hotels, some quaint small hotels. It is very pretty island and summer would be the best time for a warm wedding. It is a friendly and safe island also.
girlonthego is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 08:01 PM
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absolutely nothing wroning with Bermuda suggestion, in fact flights might be good for various participants. One note, Bermuda is incredibly expensive.
Traveler863 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I agree with SunnyBoy about Antigua. I have visited almost all of the islands. But, I noticed a difference with this one. The people were different. We spoke at length with one of the natives and he told us that everyone respects everyone elses property. If they take a piece of fruit from one of their trees because they need it and are hungry--that is fine. But, to take it to steal is not allowed. The island is divided into many small villages and I mean small. The topography and beaches take your breath away. The water at one beach was so beautiful and bright that it was hard to look at! Very romantic as well and easy to navigate for your guests.
I did not agree with a previous poster about Dominican Republic--Punta Cana. It is a pretty island with good beaches. Not much to do there other than the jeep safari. Snorkeling is not interesting at all there. As far quaint little shopping areas-other than staying on your resort--didn't see much. The island seemed pretty flat so not as much interest as some of the others. Definitely did not feel as safe there as other islands--a few people were sitting on front porches with shot guns!

Once again, congratulations! Just celebrated my 26th! Last year for our 25th was India--now that was an adventure! Hope all your plans go well.
irieblue is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 06:42 AM
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Now you've done it, irieblue.
My short list had Anguilla, Nevis/St. Kitts, and Turks & Caicos. Now you made me go and bump up Antigua! Those "365 beaches" are tantalizing.

We enjoy renting villas as opposed to staying in a resort. Any villas come to mind on Antigua?
joan is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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I love Jamaica but I also know that the poverty, vendors, etc, turns many people off.

I think Antigua is a good choice. Great beaches, little poverty, lots of accomodations choices, plenty to do. St. Lucia is one of my favorite islands but it is really pricey as well as hard to get to IMO.

I do not care for Bermuda at all and the US Virgins are not at the top of my list - I much prefer the BVI personally.

Harbour Island is a wonderful spot but very small and not too much to do if there are families attending. For couples, it is wonderful!

So many choices!

kfusto is offline  

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