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Aug 28th, 2013, 08:48 PM
  #1
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Caribbean Newbie

Hello Everyone!

I am celebrating my 30th birthday (again) in January and would love to go somewhere in the Caribbean for the first time. I will probably have 4 days, possibly 5, total for my trip and I will be coming from NYC. Please let me know if you have any suggestions based on my preferences in order of importance, with the most important first.

-Somewhere that is not overly developed and touristy
-unique hotel rooms (or homes to rent possibly) that are woven into the landscape, i.e. a hut on stilts overlooking the water, or maybe something like a treehouse? is that too much to ask for? haha - well, something along those lines...or think vernacular architecture
-horseback riding along the beach or other natural area
-not arid
-someplace kind of mellow but still has some restaurant (with hopefully flavorful food) and bar/lounge (with live music) options
-hiking
-snorkeling

Please let me know your suggestions. Thank you!!
jaevee99 is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2013, 04:56 AM
  #2
 
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You might want to stck to Belize, although it takes a while to get there, so you should add a couple of days because of travel. Belize ticks all your boxes.

Having said that, overall Caribbean doesn't have villas on stilts or tree houses. Bermuda has still rooms over the water but freezing there in January.

Placencia are of Belize has stilt rooms. Rivera Maya coast of Mexico had kinda that, but it's touristy.

Villas built into nature are on the hilly islands such as St John Virgin Islands. Problem is most hilly islands meeting your criteria are a little farther away so you need a little more time for travel.

Keep in mind January can be rainy, especially if not choosing an arid island. Water is prone to Christmas swells. It's also peak season, meaning at it's most crowded and expensive.

Sounds like negatives, not really. Just you were very specific about your wants and wanted your expectations to be in check.

What you're really looking for is Fiji, Bora Bora, maybe even Bali, which are extremely different from Caribbean, and a lot longer to get to.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 07:12 AM
  #3
 
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How luxurious do you need? The Cinnamon Bay tents are a step up from camping but of course not like a villa or hotel room. Not hard to get to St. John -- direct flight from NYC to St. Thomas and then a short ferry to STJ.

http://www.cinnamonbay.com/home.html

More upscale would be plantation inns on Nevis and St. Kitts, for example:

http://www.montpeliernevis.com/

Jim
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Aug 29th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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for 4 days Nevis is way too far
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Aug 29th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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FYI, 9 Beaches in Bermuda still hasn't re-opened from it's "redevelopment" project. Website says they're aiming for late summer 2015.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 10:50 AM
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Agree with blamona - Nevis is too difficult to reach for a 4 day trip. Starting in late November the twice weekly non-stop flights from JFK (now Wed. & Sat.) on American into St. Kitts won't arrive until 9:40PM and you'll have to take a water taxi to Nevis or wait until the following morning to catch the ferry. The return flight (Thur. & Sun.) will leave around 9:30AM so you'll effectively lose a full day on-island.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 12:02 PM
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I think you need to prioritize your wish list, because much of it is in contradiction to itself.

"not overly developed and touristy" places normally wouldn't offer horseback riding on the beach, bars and lounges with live music, snorkeling, etc.
suze is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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Since you only have 4 or 5 days, the most difficult task you are going to have is to find a place you can get to fairly easily from NYC that will also not be "overly touristy and developed". You see, those types of destinations are often way off the beaten path and take multiple connecting flights and/or ferries to reach. Often you have to overnight some place while on route to the final destination. Also, since you are traveling in January you'll want to go "further south" to increase your chances of getting warm weather but that's going to add to your travel time..

The Grenadines (especially Bequia) might tick off most of your wish list but they are difficult to yeah in one day of travel.

You also said you don't want an arid island so that eliminates all of the Bahamas (probably too far north anyway), the Turks & Caicos, The Caymans, St. Barth's, Anguilla, Anegada, Barbuda, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

Skip Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Barbados, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic as they won't meet your definition of being "not being overly touristy".

Now, you've also indicated snorkeling is a high priority so that eliminates many of the more lush mountainous islands as generally speaking they are not noted for having good snorkeling.

So what's left for you? First, give a little on staying in a place on stilts, etc. and be satisfied with a typical resort. If you opt for one of the smaller boutique hotels/resorts you'll get the feeling of being secluded even though it's not. Look at St. Croix and especially St. John - a short ferry ride from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. They are easy to reach from NYC, have a good selection of hotels, resorts and rental condos & villas. Snorkeling is good to very good and if you choose St. john you'll have plenty of hiking as 2/3's of the island is a National Park. Skip St. thomas as it's very touristy and the most crowded of the USVI's.

The British Virgin Islands could be a contender but they are a little more difficult to reach, especially the less populated islands in the chain. With your limited time Tortola would be your best bet.

If you can get to Antigua in a reasonable amount of travel (sorry don't know if that's possible )with current air schedules) that island may work for you. Check out Galley Bay.

You are asking for a "tall order" - adjusting your wish list will make the selection process easier.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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I've stayed at the "campground" at Cinnamon Bay on St John. It's very beautiful and ticks off at least a few of the boxes.
suze is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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If your budget allows consider Cayo Espanto (www.aprivateisland.com) in Belize - it ticks all of your boxes, including cottages on stilts over the water, except the horseback ridding. Waning, this place is NOT for the budget minded.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 06:42 PM
  #11
 
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RoamsAround, as usual, gives you very good information to consider. One thing with your time limit of 4-5 days is that "overdeveloped" places have bigger jets coming in. The harder a place is to get to, the less developed. And all that takes time. From NYC, St Thomas is one plane ride away. St John adds one ferry ride. You might pick something for your starter Caribbean trip that allows you to spend more time at your destination, reminding yourself that you will be back.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 09:12 PM
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RoamsAround,
Because Jamaica and Puerto Rico are among the largest Caribbean islands, might not there be a setting on those islands that meet the OP's wishes?
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Aug 30th, 2013, 05:30 AM
  #13
 
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islebethere - yes, there might be some places in Jamaica and Puerto Rico that come close to OP's desires but they probably will be in the more outlying sections of those islands which would add to the travel time. With only 4 days that could be a problem. That's why I suggested OP consider smaller boutique style resorts which will give the illusion of seclusion even though they will be staying in a "more touristy area".

The short trip, time of year and OP's initial list of "wants and not wants" has effectively eliminated almost all of the easy to get to destinations. Although not mentioned in the original post I suspect OP might have some type of budget restrictions which would also limit his/her choices.

Like many other first time visitors to the Caribbean OP is looking for the "perfect secluded place on the beach" that you see in the movies or in TV Commercials. While they exist, they come a a price both in money and travel time.

If OP is a little more realistic in his/her requirements there are lots of places in the Caribbean that will provide a very enjoyable 4 or 5 day stay.

The "experts" here are trying to help but the reality is OP's expectations make it very difficult to find the "perfect spot".
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Aug 30th, 2013, 08:28 AM
  #14
 
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Antigua is possible from NY, both from JFK and EWR, daily flights on AA and UA. Same with Barbados, on Jetblue and AA.
Jetblue fly to St Lucia, take a look at Ti Kaye. There is a weekly flight to Tobago which has very undeveloped mountainous areas.
I would not dismiss the "arid" islands of the Dutch Antilles, they have good air services from NY.
DL has a weekly service to Grenada.
You could find something gorgeous on the cliffs in Negril or St Martin. There are direct flights from NY to both. There are plenty of options if you have less restrictions.

For the OP's wishes I would have suggested the Martinique/Guadeloupe but this requires a connection in MIA which is not worth doing for only 4 days plus might be too outside of one's comfort zone for a first time visit.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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For January travel to the Caribbean I would head to the more southern islands for a better chance of warm/hot weather. I think St. Lucia is a good choice as is Grenada. Caribbean Airlines offers some non-stops from NYC to Grenada, especially during high season, which January is. Check Luxury Link for some good deals on resorts in Grenada.

There are also boutique-style properties on St. Lucia and I'm quite sure you can get a direct flight from NYC. With such a short amount of time for your holiday I wouldn't consider an island that's not a direct flight.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 09:14 AM
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What about Negril? While it is somewhat "touristy" I wouldn't call it "overdeveloped". No houses on stilts, but lot of garden cottages or small villas for rent. Plus that Montego Bay is easy from NYC then a 90 min. shuttle out to the beach/Negril. Not a perfect fit, but a doable 4-5 day trip.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 10:10 AM
  #17
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Thank you everyone for your detailed input! Now I have a great base of information to work from. I know nearly nothing about the Caribbean so I was listing preferences to trigger ideas and to see what I could get - these are by no means "hard" requirements. I was mostly trying to avoid a resort that masks all the uniqueness of a place and feels like a resort that could be anywhere. I can definitely adjust my preferences to select a destination with a direct flight from NYC that I can comfortably do in 4-5 days. Please let me know if any other destinations come to mind. Thanks again!
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Aug 30th, 2013, 11:12 AM
  #18
 
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If you are at all curious about Negril, go here, then to the map, and you can click on the various hotels (on the beach and on the cliffs) and get an idea of the atmosphere there
www.negrilonestop.com
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Sep 1st, 2013, 12:31 PM
  #19
 
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You may be interested in http://www.concordiaeco-resort.com/ on St. John USVI.
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Sep 1st, 2013, 01:20 PM
  #20
 
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Since you don't know much about Caribbean, a terrific source to get started is Fodor's (what else?) Caribbean guide. You can get it here or cheaper through Amazon.com. Has pictures too, so you can see. Also states the "getting" there.

Overall, 3 nights, your time is extremely limited. Places like Grenada you loose day going down, day coming back. That's only 2 full days anywhere. 5 obviously would be better.
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