Carribean island for low-key family vacation

Nov 12th, 2002, 06:12 PM
  #1  
Carol
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Carribean island for low-key family vacation

I have only been to Bermuda (loved it) and am looking for a destination for my family (10 year olds) with beautiful, but not too commercial beaches. We'd like a place that is easy and safe to expore and also friendly. Any suggestions (besides going back to Bermuda?) We're on a budget and will probably go for less than a week.
Thanks.
 
Nov 13th, 2002, 03:19 AM
  #2  
Eva
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If your kids are the kind who can entertain themselves (i.e. don't need a kids program), consider the Out Islands of the Bahamas. In particular, I would suggest Elbow Cay in the Abacos. Here, you find long stretches of isolated ocean beach (and small coves on the Sea of Abaco), tons of great water sports, island-hopping by rented motorboat or ferry, and a small but picturesque town to explore. It's as safe as any place I've ever visited, and lots of families let their kids run free, where they meet island kids and make fast friends. The only traffic they are likely to encounter is golf carts (and even those are prohibited in town). Accomodations come in all price ranges and types, from small inns to villas. (One place to consider is the Sea Spray Resort -- basic but well-located, and the owner has two sons a little older than yours). And getting here from the U.S. east coast is fairly easy -- you can be there by lunchtime. The only caveat: the winter months are not guaranteed to be warm, as the islands are only 28 degrees north (approx. the same latitude as Ft. Lauderdale).
 
Nov 13th, 2002, 04:24 AM
  #3  
Caitlin
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What about Anguilla? Don't be put off by the majority of posts about the fancy hotels. It is possible to go there on a budget and have a great time.
Bob Green's website www.news.ai is a good place to start to look for general info. Anguilla is very small, very friendly.

Shoal Bay is a long, fabulous beach and your kids will probably find others to play with. There are two hotels there right on the beach, Shoal Bay Villas and Shoal Bay Resort. I think both have kitchens which is a help with kids.

La Sirena Hotel is not on the beach, a 2 minute walk thru the gardens. They are very family orientated too. These 3 places have pools and a restaurant, La Sirena has a kids menu.


If those are too pricey check out Ferryboat Inn at Blowing Point. Cute little apartments with a restaurant and a nice beach. Not as fancy as other places on Anguilla, but very nice.

Do a search on this site and you will find posts about where to eat that won't cost a fortune.
 
Nov 13th, 2002, 05:57 AM
  #4  
Mike
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How about St John, USVI. We rented a villa and all of us loved the experience. It's a beautifl island with over 30+ beaches, "azure" waters, hiking trails, snorkeling, a lot to do and explore.

You can take charters to the BVI's or go shopping on St Thomas. It was one of our best vacations and the kids loved it.

If you don't want a villa then the Westin would be a good choice. Although the Villa had all the amenities, including pool, beautiful inside and out and most of all gorgeous views and very private.

We rented on the northshore side because it was close to town and the northshore beaches.
It really is a beautiful island, clean and safe.
 
Nov 13th, 2002, 05:57 AM
  #5  
wondering2
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We're looking for the same thing: Clean, safe island with lush landscape and great beaches for a family vacation.
We've been to Bahamas and it's a bit too cool in February, and I understand that Anguilla is arid. Any other suggestions for me or the original poster? Thanks.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 05:59 AM
  #6  
Carol
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I appreciate the suggestions - I checked the places out and they all look wonderful. As a family we like to hang out and explore, and wouldn't necessarily use a kid's club - so I like the low key feel to the less commercial areas.

Do you have recommendations on when it would be more affordable to go? Since Abacos might be cold in Feb, I was thinking of April.

Mike, do you have a recommendation of where to rent a villa in St. John's?

Also, do you have any comments on how accessible these destinations are?
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 06:14 AM
  #7  
Eva
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After 4/15, you might find the Abacos to be a bit less expensive than February. I think it depends on the property. Check out www.seasprayresort.com or www.abacoinn.com to get a sense of their rates. Or go to the Abaco Community Message Board (www.abacoboard.com) and follow the Lodging link to all sorts of hotel and villa websites.

If you are coming from the East Coast, Abaco is pretty easy to reach. From BWI, I usually get an early flight to Miami on American, and catch the Eagle to Marsh Harbour (it lands about 12:30 p.m.). From there, I usually grab lunch in Marsh Harbour to ease into island time. Then, its a quick cab ride to the ferry dock, and 30-40 minute ferry ride to Hopetown. You'll barely notice the time passing, as you marvel at the blues and greens of the water. If you miss a scheduled ferry, you can charter a whole ferry for $80 or less (less if you end up sharing with others).

American is not the only option to Abaco, as Continental/Gulfstream and USAirways fly there (either from MIA or FLL), as well as any number of reputable small airlines and charters. A lot of people fly cheap to FLL on Southwest the night before, and then get an early charter the next morning.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 06:36 AM
  #8  
x
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I've considered taking my family several to ST. John but it seems like such a pain to get to. Fly from here to Miami, Miami to St. Thomas, and then a ferry to St. John. Am I right that there is no airport on St. John? Doesn't seem so bad for myself, but it seems like that would be a long day for small kids.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 08:03 AM
  #9  
Mary
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St. John is easy because it is so Americanized with a big expat population and no foreign "feel". Typical menus just like you'd find on the US mainland. It's also relatively safe if you keep an eye on your possessions while at the beach. The ferry ride is not all that much trouble for children. I would avoid the villa scene however, since few are directly on the beach, so why bother? One of the unique things about St. John is its lack of good choices for beachfront accomodations. Caneel is the only place I would recommend on St. John. For islands with top rated beaches with tons of good beachfront accomodations try Anguilla, Provo, or Grand Cayman.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 12:01 PM
  #10  
joan
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You're right x, there's no airport on St. John. But depending on where "here" is (your starting point) you can sometimes get a nonstop to St. Thomas. That would make things easier.

Eva, that's a good suggestion about using Southwest. I also read that twinair flies cheaply to the bahamas, but I believe it's eleuthera or treasure cay only.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 05:08 PM
  #11  
nina
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Forget Anguilla. Even if you manage to find inexpensive lodging, the airfare X 4 is killer. You'd spend well over $2,000 before you even leave the airport. People who don't travel as a family tend not to think about things like that.

Least expensive islands in addition to Bahamas are Jamaica, Puerto Rico (Copamarina resort on the far coast is a great one, has everything your looking for, very noncommercial) and the DR.

Don't shrug off an all incluseive in Punta Cana. Some, like the Punta Cana Beach resort, are very low key, off the beaten path and isolated. Not at all like the cruise ship atmosphere found at some of the AI's. Check it out.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 05:11 PM
  #12  
nina
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Oh and Caneel Bay, while very nice, is definitely not for anyone on a budget! I can't imagine why anyone would recommend it for a cost conscious vacation. It's a fortune to stay there.

An affordable option on St. John is the Maho Bay camps. Yep, they're camps, but they're great, families love them. Very low key.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 06:53 PM
  #13  
Jen
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Hi Carol!

I might suggest Beaches Negril in Negril, Jamaica. Beach is fantastic and lots to do for kids. Opportunities to explore and very friendly.

There are a few higglers on beach - but most are characters and not a bother.

Weather is great in Jamaica and water is beautiful and warm.

Jamaica is easy to get to - fly to Montego Bay and one hour bus ride to Negril.

Good luck.
 
Nov 14th, 2002, 07:10 PM
  #14  
Alvin
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Aruba! It's safe, beautiful beaches, easy and not so expensive to get to. Great all inclusive resorts, with family prices. Bonaire is also a very good choice.
 
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:25 AM
  #15  
SJL
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There are fantastic villas on St. John. We preferred the northshore beacuse it's close to town and those maganificent beaches. One right after the other, Hawksnest, Caneel, Cinnamon, Maho, etc.

Some villa sites:
www.vacationvistas.com check out Argonauta Villa and Splendore villa on above site. Both private and beautiful

www.stjohndestinations.com

It truly is a wonderful, picturesque island with lots to do. The kids will love it as much as the adults. Very safe island.
 
Nov 15th, 2002, 07:21 AM
  #16  
Mike
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We rented from www.vacationvistas.com. Another site: www.stjohndestinations.com

The ferry from St. Thomas was so easy. St John is only 3 miles away. The Charlotte Amalie ferry takes 45 min. and the Red Hook ferry approx. 20 min.
Depending on what time your flight arrives on St. Thomas. We had absolutely no problems. No peddlers on St. John either.

Choose whatever island you want too but I would stay away from Jamaica and St. Lucia does not have the stunning beaches as St. John.
 
Nov 17th, 2002, 01:59 PM
  #17  
Carol
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Thank you for the terrific suggestions. Each place sounded wonderful. However we've changed our plans drastically for this year and are going to England in February instead! We are taking advantage of off season airfare and have a place to stay (on a farm!) (It will be a budget trip and very low key...two, out of three of my requirements).

I will save this post for when we do decide to go to the Carribean. I originally thought about an inexpensive package in a more commercial resort, but I'm inspired by the ideas I saw here and think maybe it's something we'd like to do off season. One thing that I learned, is that it can be as low key as we want...something I'm not so sure about in the larger resorts.

Anyway, if you want to hear about England, I'll be moving over to the Europe forum. Two years ago I went to France in Feb. and loved being there off season (again, great rates).

Thanks again and happy traveling!
 
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