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pantanal Aug 21st, 2014 05:19 PM

Best island for nature + kids that is safe and affordable
We're considering a family trip to the Caribbean (2 kids under 6 years old) and would like advice on a safe, affordable (no villas for $1,000/night) island that is great for nature activities and young kids. By nature activities, I include light hiking, going to the beach, easy kayaking, seeing local animals/plants, and generally having more of a nature experience than shopping, water parks, jet skis, etc. We like visiting botanical gardens and nature reserves.

My husband and I have been to Puerto Rico many times (due to work, but we got to know the island pretty well) but would like to branch out and visit a different island.

Also, we would like an island that is easy to visit, by which I mean ease of getting around (no long drives over bad roads) and minimal lodging changes. We'd like an island where English or Spanish are spoken by enough people that we don't have to struggle with language. Again, an easy trip that is as much a vacation as traveling with 2 small kids can be.

Seeing sea turtles hatchlings (for my older child) is a plus.

Thank you for your advice!!

RoamsAround Aug 21st, 2014 05:59 PM

What's "affordable" for you - all you've told us is you don't want to pay $1,000/night? In order for any of the contributors on the forum to make meaningful hotel/resort recommendations we need an actual dollar budget.

Also, tell us where you are flying from and what your budget is for airfare.

When are you planning to travel - that will have a big effect on the cost for accommodations?

In the meantime check out St. John in the US Virgin Islands - 2/3's of the island is a National Park so there's plenty of hiking, the island has numerous calm water beaches, there's excellent kayaking and plenty of "nature".

Also look at Dominica, it's an eco-tourists delight - hundreds of miles of hiking trail, dense rain forests, waterfalls, some calm water beaches. It's a fairly large island so there might be some driving if you wanted to "see the whole island" but you can limit your driving and still have plenty to see & due. It's a natural "turtle habitat" so there's a good chance you could see female turtles laying their eggs - we saw a few during our 5 day stay a few months ago.

St. Kitts & Nevis are two other islands that meet meet your criteria - they are small so driving isn't a major issue and they both offer rain forests for hiking, decent beaches and lots of old ruins to explore. Turtles are know to nest on Nevis so you might see them and the Green Vervet Monkey can be found on both islands.

pantanal Aug 21st, 2014 06:57 PM

Thanks for your suggestions. We're on the East coast of the US, would want to spend maybe $200/night, and would travel off season in May or June.

blamona Aug 22nd, 2014 03:52 AM

$200 nightly is very limited for Caribbean, especially for 4 persons (kids count there, mist rooms are 1 queen or 1 king beds, so you'll need a 2 bedroom)

Your budget leaves you really with DR or Mexico, so I'm actually going to suggest:

Roatan Honduras
Costa Rica

Some of there coasts are still in Caribbean. Dominican Republic would fit except to hike and look for animals you have to travel quite far

These destinations will give you your check list within your budget. $200 nightly these days is very basic, even in non peak season for majority of islands for 4.

RoamsAround Aug 22nd, 2014 04:30 AM

Agree, $200/night for 4 people is a very tight budget so forget my suggestion of St. John - it's not anywhere in your price range. Dominica might be a possibility if you don't mind some very basic accommodations at an "econo-lodge" or small guest house not near the water but you may find r/t airfare to be more than the cost of accommodations.

Look at Timothy Beach Resort or Bird Rock Resort on St. Kitts - they may have something in your price range during May

Bassguy66 Aug 22nd, 2014 06:01 AM

I think St John would be the perfect choice based on what you said you are looking for. Unfortunately, $200 per night for 4 people is just unrealistic for most of the Caribbean.

You may want to also check out Akumal Mexico. Great chance of seeing the turtles hatch there, and prices are going to be better than St John for sure. I'd try to find a 2 BR condo.....which can be had for (close) to your price range. Akumal is a very safe area, and has some amazing snorkeling.

suze Aug 22nd, 2014 12:04 PM

Would you consider the Mayan Riviera (the Caribbean coast of Mexico below Cancun)? It has all you ask for and is better value (less expensive for what you get) than any of the Caribbean islands.

eastenderusvi Aug 22nd, 2014 01:50 PM

Don't give up on St John, IF you are willing to rough it: The cottages are right on the beach. You do have to share bathrooms, etc...

suze Aug 22nd, 2014 01:51 PM

Cinnamon Bay's a great idea. I think little kids would love that campground. The beach is gorgeous.

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