Caribbean Island Like Phuket, Thailand?

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Mar 27th, 2006, 06:10 PM
  #1
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Caribbean Island Like Phuket, Thailand?

My fiance and I had the pleasure of staying in Phuket, Thailand before the tsunami, and now we are looking to replicate the trip for our honeymoon but this a lot closer to home. It was over 24 hours in either airplanes or airports getting back to our home in Nashville. We would be going to South Pacific if it weren't for the long travel time involved. We'd like to go somewhere that has a direct flight from Miami.

We loved Phuket, for several reasons:

1. The resort was incredible - Le Meridien on the beach and yet only $90 a night!!!
2. The resort was clean and safe, yet you had the feeling of adventure everytime you left the hotel.
3. Shopping - we hate to admit it but we LOVED the incredible designer ripoffs in Thailand - getting a pair of Diesel jeans tailored for you for less than twenty bucks!
4. Possibility of daily excursions - we took the day trip to Phi Phi Islands... The most beautiful place I have ever seen.
5. Prices - everything was really reasonably priced.
6. Restaurant choices - we had been halfway around the world for almost 10 days and started to get sick of "exotic" food and we were happy to have the choice of KFC and McDonald's. Sad, I know, but we are more adventurous in areas other than the culinary.
7. Lots to do. No shortage of actitivies, and if we wanted to go to the next beach then a tuk-tuk ride was just like $2.

So are we going to be sorely disappointed when we go to the Caribbean? Neither of us have been to the Caribbean before (except for a short trip to Puerto Rico for me). I want to go to an island with choices of activities and restaurants but we don't want it to be overly touristy or overrun with little kids (it is our honeymoon after all!). And although we don't want it to be like South Beach, we would love the shopping choices that it has, and would love to have just a few nightlife choices as well.

I hope I have provided a little challenge to the Carib experts out there. I was dead set on going to Iceland for our honeymoon but finally decided to save that for my birthday next year. So from one extreme to another!

Also if it helps - we are going in mid-July. We would prefer an island that's not unbearably hot.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Mar 27th, 2006, 06:47 PM
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I also meant to note that we'd rather not go somewhere with a stuffy dress code. We are both 25 and really casual. My fiancee doesn't own a pair of khakis - just not his style. We would like to be able to wear jeans or shorts and not feel out of place.

I've been looking at the resorts on Mustique - definitely our style but just seems so hard to get there. Also seems pretty dead at night and no shopping.
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Mar 27th, 2006, 07:11 PM
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Mustique does not have what you're looking for.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but the Caribbean does not have what you're looking for.
I have been to Phuket. It's exotic and cheap.
The Caribbean is a very expensive destination. And not really a shopping mecca per say. Caribbean is COMPLETELY different from Phuket. Food is extremely expensive, even on the islands that you find KFC.
the place that comes closest to your list, (and is nothing like Phuket) would be Mexico. Pyramids to see, lots of water activities, good cheap food, American chain restaurants, pretty resorts. (They do cost more than Phuket)
Having said all this, I love the Caribbean way more than Phuket.
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Mar 27th, 2006, 07:34 PM
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No, not too harsh, that is the information I am looking for.

Although, the expense is not an issue. This is our honeymoon and we are prepared to spend a good amount of money on it. I guess my main concern is that we will be bored. I know that the first two or three days, we'd just like to relax but after that we'd like to have a choice of excursions and activities... Just a trip to a neighboring island is good to have as a choice just in case.

We love the super modern resorts... And as silly as it sounds, a really nice bed is important too. I am looking at Carlisle Bay in Antigua right now. We are fine with seclusion as long as we can have a rental car and get out a few times if the resort food is either too expensive, too frou frou, or we just want to get away for a bit.

Thanks for your advice. Since I have never been to the Caribbean, I am still just gathering lots of information and I am not giving up on it yet as it is the closest place to home... and I hate long flights.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 04:30 AM
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I don't like saying this but it will be difficult for to find what you want in the Caribbean. Mustique was mentioned, this is probably the most upscale expensive island you could find. Beautiful island unfortunately doesn't fit tyour need. St. Barts maybe, but no KFC etc. St. Maartenn/St. Martin might be worth doing some research. Good luck.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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I agree with Blamona on everything said. I also have been to Phuket which is wonderful, but not like the Caribbean. Since you are looking for something like Phuket, I don't have any suggestions. Good luck and let us know what you decide. Owa
 
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:31 AM
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While nothing in the Caribbean can replicate your trip to Thailand, I think you might be able to find at least some of what you're looking for in Grenada. Here are some of the highlights:

- Except for the cost of the airplane flight to get there, Grenada can be very reasonably priced. You can find a place to stay for under $100/night, especially in July, but some of the higher end spots (LaLuna, Bel Air Plantation, Spice Island) will cost significantly more.

- The topography is very mountainous and lush, with waterfalls, rain forest, a crater lake, sulfur springs, etc. to explore. Lots of opportunities for hiking and exploration, and I understand that there is now even a river tubing excursion.

- The beaches are varied and beautiful. There is the classic miles-long white strand at Grand Anse. Yet one of my favorites is a grey-sand (volcanic) palm-fringed gem called La Sagesse which conjures up visions of the South Pacific. Plenty of others to choose from as well.

- A wide variety of interesting local cuisine. Unlike many of the Caribbean islands where most food is shipped in from North or South America (and is correspondingly mediocre and expensive), a good bit of the food on Grenada is grown locally. Some of it is familiar, and some isn't. Spices and fruit grow riot on the hillsides, though the nutmeg trees were decimated by Hurricane Ivan. You can have a flying fish sandwich on the beach, or a roti in town, for under $10; you can have a gorgeous lobster dinner on the beach for under $30; or you can splurge on gourmet dining as well. I think there is a KFC on the island, and I'm sure there is a Chinese place as well as pizza if you're looking for the familiar.

- While shopping is not the attraction in Grenada, the town of St. George's has one of the most interesting and vibrant markets in the Caribbean. You'll find mostly local products and work here -- spices, locally-made chocolate (from locally grown cocoa beans), local rum, cosmetics, local batiks. You'll be amazed at what can be made from nutmeg!

- Grenadians are among the nicest, friendliest people you'll ever meet. Greet them with a pleasant good morning and you'll be rewarded in kind.

- Because of it's proximity to the equator, Grenada's weather doesn't change appreciably with the season. The next few days' forecast (I'm checking because I leave for my 4th visit soon) calls for highs of 80-82 and lows of 78 with as steady easterly breeze of about 12-15 knots. Add a degree or two to the temperature, and deduct a few knots from the wind speed (while adding a slight southerly component) and you'll have your July forecast.

- Grenada is outside of the hurricane belt, something you should consider for a July honeymoon. Being out of the hurricane belt is, of course, no guarantee, as 2004's freak Hurricane Ivan reminded all of us, but it certainly improves your odds. I don't travel anywhere in the West Indies from June through November without having bought trip interruption insurance.

- Grenada is largely off the beaten tourist path, though it is not completely remote. You won't see high rise hotels or time share hawkers here; by the same token, you won't see much in the way of duty free shopping either. Cruise ships do call in Grenada, but they tend to be the smaller ships and don't seem to have as large an impact as they do elsewhere.

For more information about Grenada, visit www.grenadaexplorer.com.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, and good luck planning your honeymoon!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Nothing in Caribbean comes close to Phuket. Some of your requirements could be found in St. Martin. Big shopping districts in Marigot(French side) and in Philipsburg(Dutch side),a lot of night life,possible trips to near by islands, very nice beaches, gormet and casual dining,casinos and water sports. Not very lush or exotic, modernized. most of the resorts DO NOT come close to Ritz-Four Seasons level, most wouldn't even compete with Hayatt or Sheraton, mostly time shares with few small privetely owned hotels with no full services, but mostly nice.
Hope this helps.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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St.Martin is probably as close as you can get to your requirements...there's the option of a daytrip by ferry to Anguilla or split your stay between the 2 islands. Anguilla is renowned for it's beaches and St.Martin has the commercialised atmosphere, nightlife (including a casino) and food options you want
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Mar 28th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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St. Thomas fits your bill pretty nicely. You can still get some very reasonable rentals there as well as posh resorts like the Ritz-Carlton. Tons of shopping. KFC and Micky-D's, and other cheaper food options. You explore the island and other nearby islands (St. John, Tortola, etc.) fairly easily. St. Barts is a bit on the upscale side too.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 08:04 AM
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Hi
I think you'll be happiest in a developing country with great beaches. You'd love Roatan, Honduras, or someplace in Mexico, like fly into Mazatlan and stay in one of the beach towns: cheap nice accoms and lots of local flavor.
Mexico has a Caribbean coast, I'm not familiar with that coast, but maybe Tulum area.
Congratulations on your wedding.
Peterman
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:40 AM
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I know this suggestion is not the Caribbean but have you looked into Portugal. Plenty of culture and things to do. Plenty of delicious local cuisine. You'll probably find KFC or something like it. It's a beautiful country and the people are friendly. It's not expensive to shop / dine / stay there. Yet you could go upscale too. You could split your time between the Algarve and Lisbon. The climate in July should not be too hot if you're staying near the water. The reason I also suggest it is because it is easy to get to from the east coast. 5 hours from NY so it can't be too much further from Miami.
Anyway it is just my 2 cents. It sounds like more of what you are looking for. I also thought Mexico was a good suggestion. Puerto Vallarta is great but Portugal is closer to you.
Congratulations! Hope this helps.
Annika
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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There are actually quite a few places to list ..... then I remember the KFC , and shopping and it`s back to square one . Are they absolute musts ....
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Mar 28th, 2006, 09:30 PM
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Wow, thank you so much for all the responses. While we realize that no where will be quite like Phuket (obviously - it was halfway around the world - it won't have the same characteristics as the Caribbean), we just loved it despite not being your typical beach people. In fact, we'd like to be in a more upscale area for our honeymoon - in Thailand we were always worried about being scammed! But we are pretty street smart, so it's not a huge issue.

Right now I am looking at Le Guanahani in St Barth's. It just has the character & style we want, plus the ability to get out and explore. The only problem is getting there... I guess we'd fly into St. Maarten and then take the speed boat. Is St. Barth's really stuffy? I know that all the celebs like to stay there and they've got your Prada-like designer shops. Is high end shopping the only kind we'll find there?

Annikany- We had actually been considering Portugal and might consider it again if I can find that the flight is either the same or less. I just really feel like we should go to a beautiful island for our honeymoon since we generally would be the ones who would gravitate towards exploring a European city over an island anyday. But it just seems more relaxed and romantic for our honeymoon.

And now I feel bad for mentioned KFC... I see how it makes me look like a trashy touristy traveler, but sometimes you just don't feel like spending all your money on food, plus I am the world's pickiest eater so I like going where I know what to expect.

So... any tips on St. Barth's are welcome as well as any easy-to-reach islands. Is it one of those islands where you have to wear khakis and a polo to dinner? It's a difficult balance - we definitely want the "cool" factor that St. Barth's seems to have, but also the possibilities that some place like St. Maarten has to offer.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 04:20 AM
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No need to feel badly about mentioning KFC , just thought if it was not an absolute must .... more options would be available.Good Luck with St.B.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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mistybc:
don't feel bad about mentioning your tastes or what you want out of a vacation!!! Honesty will get you the best answer.
While the food is excellent on some islands, sometimes you just want a break from it.
I'm a very picky eater, I don't even eat seafood, yet spend all my time on islands!!!
If this makes you feel better, I'm a "has to have AC and TV on vacation". If I didn't say taht when I ask for advice, I may not be happy with the choices.
St. Martin may be closer to your style, and you can easily take day trips to St. Barts and Anguilla. (The beaches in Anguilla are stunning!)
Food for thought
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Mar 29th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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mistybc
I knew what you meant about the food. No worries. I hope you find what you're looking for in the Caribbean. I have the same concerns as you when I consider travel. I like options and variety. I just wanted to mention that I was surprised how tropical Portugal felt. I wasn't expecting that at all. My only wish is I had been there with a special someone because it felt like a romantic place. Anyway, good luck to you. Let us know what you decide.
Annika
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Mar 29th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Blamona- Yes, we want a TV & AC too. Even if we don't turn either on, we want the option.

I'm thinking you might be right with St. Martin. It seems like little day trips to the other islands would be a good idea. Plus St. Martin is much easier to get to - just two flights instead of two flights and then coordinating a boat ride to St. Barts. The pictures of Anguilla look amazing too. We do need to decide something soon but when there are so many different islands, it's a bit overwhelming to try to decide! Would you recommend the French side of St. Martin? That's what most people prefer, I think?

Annika- I love your name so much. It makes me think of Pippi Longstocking (one of her friends was Annika). I would not have thought of Portugal as tropical so I am glad you mentioned it. I'll give both options to my fiance and we'll see what he thinks. I would be happy either place I am sure!!

I'm still afraid nothing will ever top our day trip to the Phi Phi Islands though.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Mistybc,
Try not to set yourself up for disappointment by thinking nothing will ever match up to a previous experience. I have been to the Caribbean numerous times yet each return trip brings me something new. None will ever be the same as my first but then again nothing in life is ever ths same as the first. You don't want to replicate but have a "new first" after all, this time it will be the first trip with your new husband. How great is that? You will make new memories, then add them to the vault to be called upon anytime you want to remember just how good life is.

Go and may you and yours have a wonderful trip but most of all a wonderful life together.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 01:38 PM
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which side of St Martin to stay on- it depends what you want out of your vacation.If you want more active night life I would suggest staying on Dutch side as that where most of it is including casinos. It is better to drive during the day to French side to explore and be close by to your hotel on Dutch side at night, then have some drinks and then to try to navigate those roads in the dark.
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