Caribbean for next week?

Old Jun 28th, 2010, 08:23 PM
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Caribbean for next week?

My husband and I have 10 days off right after 4th of July. We'd like to go somewhere for about 5 days. Would love your advice on whether next week would be ok to go weather-wise, and which island?

Just to give you some ideas, we're not the type to hang out by the pool at the resort, though we like to relax and read a bit, we like to sight-see, eat, shop, ride the scooter or bicycle if it's safe, want to try the zipline, take pictures (husband is a photobug), prefer beaches like in Cancun where it's not deep (I'm not a good swimmer), safe environment, friendly locals, and last of not least, beautiful scenery. I hope that's not too many requirements. :]

Thanks so much for your help!
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 09:01 PM
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Weather is a crap shoot this time of year.

My first thought was Provo in Turks and Caicos. You can have a beautiful spot by the pool, go out to one of the top beaches in the world, Grace Bay. Even if you aren't a good swimmer the shallow water of Grace Bay is good for those intimidated by waves as it is very calm water. You'll have lots of choices for dinners and a lot of photo opportunities at the beaches on Provo.

Being that Hurricane Alex is churning in the gulf, I would rule out Cancun, Playa del Carmen & Tulum.

A remote locale would be Vieques off of Puerto Rico. It is still undeveloped offering a lot of local flavor without a lot of tourists. There are no hotel chains (ok, one) but mostly small boutique spots and many vrbo homes, many with pools. Get around the island in a jeep avoiding the wild horses that are roaming the island while venturing out to the many deserted beaches Vieques has to offer. Many have good snorkeling just off of the beach area, too. And, for dinner you'll find several choices other than the typical beach burger bar, too.

Good luck!
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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In the Caribbean, you'll have to change your requirements a bit. Here are some general thoughts:

2 types of islands: hilly and scenic, vs flat dry and scrubby.

Hilly and scenic, such as Virgin Islands, tend to have water that gets deep sooner, are usually dangerous for bikes and scooters, don't have much shopping, and most don't have zip-lines. Virgin Islands has turquoise water, but most don't have the "Corona Commercial" type beaches. Most don't have a lot of sight seeing, as they are small islands.

Flat dry and scrubby has the gorgeous bright white, neon turquoise beaches that are better for swimming. Some examples are Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, Caymans. They don't have much shopping, definitely no zip-lines. Can't say I would bike or scooter them either. They're terrific for pictures, and the scenery is all about the beach, but gorgeous!

Most of Caribbean has friendly locals=you get what you give.

You didn't give a budget, that can make a huge difference. 5 days is good for a "beach" vacation, but really doesn't give much time for much else. Most areas are expensive--especially the flat dry islands.

There are zip-lines in Costa Rica--I personally would not scooter or bike there, and not much shopping. Not much sight seeing except for volcanos and scenery, but you need more than 5 days, as it's pretty spread apart. Belize has some of your requirements, but you need a water taxi back and forth from Ambergris Cay to do zip-lines, sight seeing, and doesn't have much shopping.

St. Martin has the best shopping, followed by St. Thomas. I would not bike or scooter there, and St. Thomas has no zip-lines. Scenery is decent. Locals are okay. (French side of St. Martin can be, well, French ;-) ) Not much sight seeing, St. Martin has a small fort. Beaches are in coves mostly, not like long stretches of Cancun. (Although Orient Bay may work for you) St. Martin has some of the best food in Caribbean. As for sight seeing, you can island hop to Anguilla and St. Barth, but that's about it.

Dominican Republic might fit some of your requirements. No real shopping. Great sightseeing in Santo Domingo (Colombus is buried there, for ex.) but large distances-for ex. Punta Cana is 4-5 hours away! Plus, no real shopping, and I personally would not bike or scooter there. It is hilly, but there are some long stretches of beaches. I don't remember zip-lines there. Food for me, is the worst in Caribbean.

Of course, these observations are in general. What I'm trying to say, is you won't find everything you're looking for and with only 5 days to do it--no one Caribbean island has all of your requirements, nor the time to do it all. Mexico has what you're looking for, but you've already been there-plus, just got hit by a Tropical Storm already, and drug cartels are having some some problems if you go off the beaten path.

If you list your "must have" requirements knowing the above, we can help fine tune. and give a budget-that will help narrow down too--
blamona is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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One thing that blamona didn't mention is that there is a fabulous zipline on the French side of St Martin. It is located at Lotterie Farm, which also has a restaurant set in a very scenic environment. Check their website to see whether the facility is fully open in July as it is 'out of season'.

For permanently calm and shallow water the island of Pinel (an 8 minute boat ride - cost $7 return - from French Cul de Sac) would be perfect for you, alternatively try Friar's Bay.

Another option would be he two beaches (one private to the hotel) adjacent to the Grand Case Beach Club (again see their website) where the water is also always calm. As a plus, the main Boulevard in Grand Case is full of excellent restaurants, and is considered to be the 'cullinary capital of the Caribbean'.

I am not sure quite what blamona means by the French side of the island being "well, French" if that means it is not over-built, full of high rises, casinos and time-share, and Americanized like the Dutch side - and many other parts of the Caribbean - then I agree !

Also, if you are on the island, Orient Bay is a 'must see', but the water is almost never calm, and there is a strong undertow in certain areas. Therefore, on most days, I would not advise taking a dip - tempting though it will be to do so - if you are a poor swimmer.

My final advice would be to keep a close eye on the hurricane charts for the Caribbean, and then book as late as possible. You usually get several days prior notice of any hurricane or tropical storm activity which is likely to affect St Martin - or other islands - and if it looks possible that there could be anything brewing, don't come ! By the way, Tropical storm Alex (possibly by now a hurricane) is miles away !
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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I believe her implications regarding the "French" as being somewhat less than accommodating to Americans to put it politely. And if that is what she is implying, she is pretty much correct, imho.
CaribbeanSoul is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice! I just love these forums. I use this forum and Frommers' to research every trip and find them invaluable.

Ok, we won't bike or ride scooters, though we did do that in Cancun and almost got hit by a car going around the corner because hubby was a little distracted. We don't need to do zipline, if it comes up, fine, if not, it's ok too.

We've decided to do the Caribbean properly! Instead of 4-5 days, we plan to take our first cruise sometime at the end of this year. I'd love to go around October since it's hubby's birthday then, but I think that's still in hurricane season. I've been checking out and a friend said to book through since they give you back a cash refund. I do have to more research but would love to get your advice on the following.

- Which part of the Caribbean is best for 1st timers, western, eastern, south? We'd like to see as many ports as possible.

- Is it realistic to plan for Oct, Nov, or Dec of this year weather-wise?

- Which cruise line is the best in terms of food, service, cabin (we'd like one with a balcony), closest when in port, stop in most ports, not too crowded and rowdy? I'm thinking Royal Caribbean...?

- Whom should we book with, based on your past experiences? We'll need air also since we'll fly into Florida or Puerto Rico.

Thank you so much!
paigeTN is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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i don't know a lot about cruising but
- a cruise that goes to a least a couple of the islands you might eventually go to. you can get an overview and hopefully decide if it's the kind of place you'd want to spend a week or 2.
- fall is fine. the worst that will happen is your ship will choose alternate islands if hurricane has affected the island or if it's storming when you're supposed to be there. shows most cruises and tells where they'll stop. click 'cruise regions' and enter your info using the fewest qualifications possible to view the most options. you'll get a list of cruises. view the ships route by clicking the # in the yellow column on the left. it has a map for each cruise. you'll notice that the ships repeat the same route for months, so if you can't get the great stateroom for one week you can just go the next week.
i have never used them to book.

cruisecritic is a very good site. you might also glance through the fodors cruise forum.
virginia is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2010, 05:00 PM
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I would say CURACAO. We just love the capital, Willemstad. I am sure your husband would enjoy taking pictures of the UNESCO world heritage colorful buildings. We have never riden a scooter before on the island but I am pretty sure you can. The traffic is pretty safe and organized.

They also currently have a promotion called CuracaoWow.

Anyway, we enjoy going there. Hope u have a fun trip wherever you go..
Joseph2010 is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:30 PM
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Thank you everyone for your info. If you don't mind, I'll post a new topic for cruising in the fall and see what people say. It will be our first one, I'm looking at either a Costco cruise or through AAA, and we'd like to visit a few islands.
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