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Caribbean advice: winter 2011 from Boston, with parents, wife, baby

Caribbean advice: winter 2011 from Boston, with parents, wife, baby

Oct 21st, 2010, 12:14 PM
  #1  
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Caribbean advice: winter 2011 from Boston, with parents, wife, baby

Planning my first Caribbean vacation and hoping to get some advice about islands and places to stay. Traveling will be: me, my wife, my parents, and my 9 month old son. We are looking to go to somewhere warm and sunny for a week between mid-January and mid-February. We don't really have any particular islands in mind, and I have had a hard time trying to find the right fit, so I'm hoping the experts here can help! Here is what we are looking for:

-Beachfront accommodations, ideally within easy walking distance of food and preferably a vacation-rental type place with a kitchen rather than a hotel (although a 2-bedroom suite would be okay -- we want to have space for the adults to hang out after the baby goes to sleep). Preferably a smaller place, and a place that isn't too crowded and doesn't feel too resort-y. We don't need a lot of services, if there is a beach out front and food near by we'll be happy.

-Gorgeous, relaxing beaches that are great for swimming and not too crowded (the main point is to just hang out on the beach all day). Doesn't necessarily have to be the classic white sands, turquoise water beach of the Caribbean. Also not so concerned with super warm water, as long as the air temp is ~75 or so and sunny we'll swim in pretty much any water.

-Good snorkeling, preferably right off the beach.

-Direct flight (or easy connection) from Boston, and relatively straightforward transportation from the airport to our hotel. Car rental with newer cars that are easy to install car seats in and big enough for 4 adults in addition to a car seat is key (although if there is a place we can go and not have to rent a car, that would be great too).

-Good food with the possibility of vegetarian options (my wife is a vegetarian), especially if we are not staying in a vacation rental with a kitchen.

-One or two things to do in addition to swim and snorkel -- doesn't have to be anything spectacular, but we'd like the option of taking a break from the beach for one day.

Our budget is flexible -- we'll consider anything except the very high end luxury places.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Tim_Sackton is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 05:10 PM
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I'm going to suggest Turks & Caicos because it is a gorgeous beach lined with all kinds of condo resorts so you would have lots of choice of the accomodations you seek. Also, depending on where you stay, some food within walking distance -- you can actually walk the beach to some restaurants but that might be hard to do with a 9 month old. T & C is not as South as the Caribbean so some people think it is a bit cool in the winter, but since you are from Boston I'm betting you'll think it is nice and toasty (I lived there for years so know how bad the winters can be!) One of your requirements is actually quite hard to meet and that is the food within walking distance one. If you stayed in the St. Lawrence Gap area of Barbados you could get what you seek or Aruba is another island with a long beach lined with many resorts -- some of them condo resorts. Marriott Ocean and Surf Clubs, LaPlaya, Costa Linda, Amsterdam Manor and LaCabana are some of the resorts in Aruba that are condo resorts.
allisonjames is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 05:27 PM
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If we are staying at a place with a kitchen, food in walking distance is not nearly as important, so that is probably our best option. I am just thinking that with a 9 month old in tow, having to drive to restaurants every night might be tricky.

We all love to eat and to cook, but I'm not sure we'll want to cook every night, so it would be nice if we could get to a restaurant by foot, but it isn't critical, as long as we have a kitchen and there are some good, vegetarian friendly restaurants relatively accessible by car.
Tim_Sackton is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 08:04 PM
  #4  
KVR
 
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My first thought also was Turk and Caicos. However, if you want convenience to resturants than Aruba would be a better choice. There is a strip area on Palm Beach across the street from all the hotels with plenty of resturants, bars, shopping and entertainment. Grand Cayman also has condo type accomendations and is just a cab ride away from good resturants. The snorkeling there is excellant.
KVR is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2010, 05:45 AM
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Another vote for Turks and Caicos. I am from Boston and will be going there in February. Staying at West Bay Club - beautiful condos.
janiekins is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2010, 08:32 PM
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Aruba offers the most consistently good weather at that time of year, and there are tons of condos available on Palm Beach. It's not my favorite island, but it does offer a lot of conveniences. I think you might find Turks and Caicos too cold until late February-March.

We used to visit Grand Cayman almost every winter when our kids were babies. We stayed at VILLAS OF THE GALLEON, a mid-priced condo right on Seven Mile Beach. We loved the location, which was within easy walking distance ( even with strollers) of several restaurants/shops, plus a huge American-style supermarket. Not a bad thing when you're traveling with babies.

Grand Cayman has very good snorkeling, and some excellent off-the-beach activities
like The Turtle Farm, The Botanical Garden, and Sting Ray City.
Weadles is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2010, 07:23 PM
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Turks and Caicos and Grand Cayman are high on the list, but we're looking for something a little more out of the way than TCI or the Caymans, and also perhaps somewhere a bit less pricey, so we're now also considering Antigua, Curacao, and Bonaire (Aruba seems too built up and resorty for us -- don't want somewhere with lots of high rise resorts). Any thoughts on how the off-beach snorkeling compares in those places to Turks and Caicos or Grand Cayman? What about options for beachfront accommodations? Ideally we'd stay somewhere that is a short walk to good off-beach snorkeling, but I'm not sure where to be looking in Curacao or Antigua or Bonaire for that.

Anything else we should be considering? We rejected Jamaica for lack of snorkeling, also Barbados for similar reasons, and we rejected St. John or Virgin Gorda because travel times from Boston are longer and more complicated than we want to handle with a baby. The only other place that occurred to us was Vieques or Culebra, but I can't find much about how good the snorkeling is there.
Tim_Sackton is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2010, 07:37 PM
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Try Royal Sea Aquarium Resort Curacao.

www.royalseaquariumresort.com
Rosa23 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2010, 06:55 AM
  #9  
KVR
 
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Look at the Lions Dive in Curacao. They have beachfront hotel rooms and ocean view 2 bedroom apartments. They offer free shuttle service to a local grocery store. We got a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom apartment. The hotel also offers 3 resturants on site, which we enjoyed, and several more within walking distance. The Sea Aquarium is also within walking distance. Down the street from the hotel is a bus/van stop to take you into town. We are always hesitant of renting a car and driving in a foreign country, but I would recommend a car in Curacao to get around. The beach in front of the Lions Dive is nice, but most of the beaches are small coves over on the West Side and you'll need a car or take a tour to get to them. We found the snorkeling to be OK. Not as great an many reports have stated. The sand is made up of crushed coral and not fine powdery sand. You'll need water shoes. The best snorkeling we've ever found was in Grand Cayman and then Cozumel. Though we haven't been to Antigua, it's really not known for great snorkeling. Although Bonaire is supposed to be a great snorkeling destination, I don't believe it will have accomendations or resturants that you stated you are looking for. It can also be difficult to get to.

We paid basically the same price for Grand Cayman as we did for Curacao (air/hotel) We did AI in Grand Cayman. It's easier to get to Grand Cayman than Curacao from the states. We much preferred Aruba over Curacao. We've been to Grand Cayman twice and would go again just for the snorkeling.
KVR is offline  
Oct 24th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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Hi, it's me again. We have snorkeled on all the islands you mentioned except Bonaire and found Curacao to have the best snorkeling. We love Antigua but I don't think it is the right choice for you as it is predominantly fairly pricey AI's and the island is difficult to get around, it's definitely one of the islands we have been to where many folks just stay at the resort, and I don't think there are many beachfront condo resorts (although you might check out Antigua Village on Dickenson Bay). I still think Curacao is a good choice for you, I personally did not love Grand Cayman, frankly, it felt like Florida to me, very Americanized and very pricey. Loved the Euro-Caribbean vibe of Curacao and the city is very interesting, lots of history/architecture etc. You might look at Kura Hulanda Lodge, I think they have 2 bedroom units and it has the more "out of the way" less built up vibe you are seeking. From that location, you can easily drive around to all the beaches for snorkeling. Curacao is an interesting island, people either seem to really like it or really dislike it.
allisonjames is offline  
Oct 24th, 2010, 07:00 PM
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I haven't been yet, but you might want to check out Belize, which has a reputation for great snorkeling and affordable accommodations.

BTW, I agree with the comments about Cayman being too Americanized, but when we were younger w/babies, it sure was convenient, and an easy non-stop from NYC.

Also- if you could go later in the season, you might want to look into Andros Island in the Bahamas, which has, I think, the second largest reef in the world.
Weadles is offline  
Oct 25th, 2010, 06:18 AM
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One more thing, I have not been to Vieques or Culebra, although I have been to Puerto Rico 5 or 6 times. If you rejected St. John because of travel time, Vieques or Culebra might seem just as difficult to get to -- you have to either take the ferry or connect in San Juan and take a puddle-jumper, might be very difficult travel with a baby.
allisonjames is offline  
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