Can't decide where to go

Old Feb 11th, 2002, 02:53 PM
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Can't decide where to go

I can't decide where to go. I have 3 places in mind. St. Croix (USVI), Aruba, and St. Martin (french). I have read many good things and many bad things on all. I want to go somewhere with crystal turquoise waters that you can see the bottom and white sand pristine beaches. We are also new at scuba, so we want a "newbie-friendly" place to dive. Please help, we want to go this June.
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 03:03 PM
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I'd never go back to St. Martin, it may have just been our bad luck but we did not enjoy our stay there. We have been to Aruba 4 times and have always had great weather (usually in early April), good variety of dining and wonderful beaches. We don't scuba, but we do snorkely. Both are readily available just off shore in Aruba including dive sites at sunken ships.

Good luck choosing!
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 04:03 PM
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I like to know what bad things you have heard about Aruba. There is no such thing. Whoever told about something bad in Aruba is not telling you the true story. Aruban people are the nicest there is in the Caribbean & hardley no crime at all. We have been going since 1990 & have never ran into any touble or any such rumors that would start a controbersy. Aruba has been a nice island to visit for years & proably will be for lots of years to come.
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 04:06 PM
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Hello Amanda,
I'm certainly not surprised that you've heard bad things about St Croix and St Martin, but Aruba?!? No way! I've been to all three places and can't imagine anything bad about Aruba. It's clean, safe, much fun, and has absolutely beautiful beaches and tons of great restaurants & nightlife. The scuba is definately good for novices in Aruba as well. Plus Aruba doesn't get hurricanes -- too far south.

I won't return to St C or St M, but I've been back to Aruba twice since my first visit in 1996. To me, with your listed options, it's a no brainer. Good luck and have a ball!
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 04:32 PM
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St. Croix is the more rural of the USVI and the beaches are not as nice as either St. T homas or St. Johns. St. Johns is the premier island in the USVI with the wonderful beaches and great diving nearby in the British Virgins Islands. Good restaurants tho. St. Martin has excellent restaurants and some lovely spots with a French flair but will be busier than St. Croix. Margiot has lots of the French designers and shops for the duty free shopping. Aruba is much more commerical and has less of a caribbean atmosphere and attitude. It is busy and has one great beach that is shared by the majority of visitors. Only on Aruba did people feel that they had to line up for the beach huts by 7am. Lots of familiar fast food outlets, casinos in the hotels and a bit like Las Vegas. Not for everyone. The snorkling and diving will be better at either of the other two islands. The wind can be a factor on Aruba and depending on the accomodations you are looking at there are really no wonderful luxury resorts like you will find on the other two if that's what you want. I am sure that Aruba would be less expensive with all those timeshares available as rentals.
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 06:19 PM
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I tell you the problem with Aruba. All the good things you can say are the people and the crime? Thats not a huge factor to most people.
Aruba is dry, not scenic, and does not offer a variety of excursions or beaches.
I would go to SXM. Its scenic, the people are nice, the resturants are good, you can go to st. barths or anguilla for a day or 2, the shopping is good, the weather is good, i can go on. Aruba is nice but it just did not capture my attention.
P.s- I heard about crime on st. martin from this board. I have gone 3 times the last 5 years, and i have not heard or seen it. So I cannot comment on that!
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 10:55 PM
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We have been to both Aruba and St. Maarten/St. Martin, each about 3 or 4 times. Both islands have their pros and cons. Aruba is indeed dry, scrubby, and can be quite windy at times. Also, we found the island a bit 'sterile', I mean standardized, Americanized, whatever. I am surprised about the comment on 'people lining up for beach huts', we have never experienced anything like that. As I recall, there are two main beaches: a beach with high-rise hotels called (I believe) Palm Beach, and a beach with low-rise hotels called Eagle Beach. We always stayed at the 'low-rise' beach (in Bucuti Beach Hotel) - as I recall it is huge, with plenty of space for everyone. We also stayed at the Sonesta Hotel, which is in town (Oranjestad), nice for shopping etc., and has a little boat which takes you to a private island.
As for St. Maarten/Martin, it is very different. The island looks a bit messier, less tidy, but more lush and green. The Dutch side has become very commercialized - even though we are Dutch we prefer the French side. Marigot is a really nice town, and the beaches everywhere on the island are great. We did find though, that Orient Beach had become very busy the last time we were there (horrible jetskis!). We have never seen or experienced any crime and have always felt perfectly safe, so I always a bit surprised at all the talk about crime on St. Maarten.
Well, I hope this helps. Have a nice time wherever you go!
Old Feb 12th, 2002, 11:01 AM
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Sally -- there have been a few high-profile crimes on St Martin that have contributed to the crime talk. A couple of murders, one at Maho Beach Resort, and the gang rape of an American tourist. Otherwise I think there's also a general impression of crime due to warnings about not walking on the beach at night etc.
Old Feb 12th, 2002, 11:38 AM
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The Maho one was not tourist involved, and the rape has not been proved.
I have also not been told not to waolk at night, and always have.
Old Feb 12th, 2002, 08:54 PM
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Just returned from our first trip to St. Martin. The island was nice, and definitely had great restaurants and nice beaches, but does not have crystal turquoise clear waters. There was a fair amount of wave action on all the beaches we went to, even "calm" ones, with resultant poor visibility, and snorkeling was horrible compared to other Caribbean islands where we have been.

Also, I would not call this a "newbie-friendly" place to dive. Although we stayed on the French side, we dove on the Dutch side, which is supposedly better diving. The diving still was not that good, and there was a fair amount of waves on both days of diving - not horrible, but not great either, esp. for new divers. However, there are operators on the island which will take you over on day trips to Saba for diving, which is supposed to be awesome.

The time of year, of course, may affect all of this. I haven't been to the other islands you mentioned. Good luck.
Old Feb 12th, 2002, 10:57 PM
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Amanda, I would not recommend St. Martin/St. Maarten. It has a high crime rate for such a small island. And, the crimes are usually directed towards tourists and women. Why would you want to spend your time and money on an island where you cannot feel safe? And, as for Jay the Moron's comment on the gang rape not being proven, he is absolutely wrong. The police just have not found the criminals.
Old Feb 13th, 2002, 06:26 AM
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The gang rape occurred late at night. An American tourist couple was driving a rental car back to their resort from a popular nightspot when they were stopped by men standing in the middle of the deserted road. The tourists were pulled from their car; the woman was raped by three men; the man was badly beaten. Not proven?? Tell that to the victims. Or maybe complain to the newswire that wrote the press release.
Old Feb 13th, 2002, 06:33 AM
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okay and what about the string or armed robberies of guests just sitting on their patios in Aruba or am sure we can find some pretty horrid events for St. Croix or any of the islands if we dig far enough. Millions of visitors visit most islands at any given time and most crime you don't even hear about. So St. Martin shouldn't be the focus nor should the crime.
Old Feb 13th, 2002, 06:47 AM
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Crystal-clear water is a priority for us also, and Aruba was disappointing in that regard. All along the western shore, where all the hotels are, the water was opaque due to suspended sand, starting at the shoreline and extending out a few hundred feet. We did find clear water at Baby Beach (with a terrific view of the oil refinery), DePalm Island (no beach, but a terrific view of the desalinization plant), and by going out on sail/snorkel trips, which were fun.

On the plus side, Eagle Beach (where we stayed) was gorgeous and the people were very friendly.

We haven't been to St. Martin.

St. Croix is a good location for scuba diving and snorkeling, but the beaches are nicer on St. Thomas and St. John. One big plus for St. Croix is Buck Island, a short sail away, with a beautiful protected reef (avoid it on cruise ship days).

I think it would be easy to arrange beginning scuba lessons on St. Croix and St. Thomas. You'll find the most pristine beaches on St. John, which is about two-thirds national park.

We visited St. Croix first, then Jamaica, then Aruba, then St. Thomas/St. John/Tortola. After seeing the water in the USVI and BVI, I know we won't be returning to Aruba.

Old Feb 13th, 2002, 10:56 AM
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Casey has the same problem the board has. All bad stuff, no facts. No links to a story, or anything. Morons. Get something better to do then bash an island.

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