cayman or st.martin?????

Feb 11th, 2004, 05:30 AM
  #1  
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cayman or st.martin?????

Hello ,
We are sooo confused about our family trip in June(over memorial day) there are 8 of us ages 20-52.Very active,love fun fine dining ,can not decide between cayman and st. martin Any response re villa for our large group or why one island might be better ??? We are flying from dtw ,hoping rates drop soon!
THanks for your attention
Cheri in cold G.R
cherilou is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 06:40 AM
  #2  
 
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Grand Cayman Island is very British -- conservative, safe & clean.

St. Martin/Maarten is, basically, just the opposite -- Dutch & French, hence very open about nudity, not safe & not clean. Unfortunately, crime is an issue in St Martin, both property and violent.

Both islands offer fine dining, although on balance the restaurants are probably more diverse and "better" in St. M. Both offer an equal amount of activities, although the snorkeling and scuba diving are definitely better in Cayman, and Stingray City is absolutely amazing and worth the trip alone.

Because you have a 20 year old who will want to get out, I'd suggest Cayman due to the safety issue.

Good luck with your decision!
Gekko is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 07:15 AM
  #3  
 
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I have to, once again, take issue with the safety and crime problem in St. Martin. Otherwise, Gekko's comments are reasonable regarding both spots.

Having been to both places, I preferred St. Martin. I feel that St. Martin is prettier, has better food, and lacks the overall conservative air of most British islands. It's also cheaper because of the exchange rate in GC.

The snorkeling in GC is, however, awesome.

You really can't go wrong with either place. It is really going to depend on personal preferences. Just don't let the "crime" influence you against SXM.
Lizzie518 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Not sure what you mean by the exchange rate issue. The U.S. dollar is weak globally but that doesn't matter in Cayman where the US dollar is fixed to the CI$ at a rate of .8:1. In other words, the exchange rate is the same today as it was 5 years ago. If the rate is *not* in St. M., it actually might be "more expensive" given the US dollar's weakness.

And I stress the crime issue for 2 reasons -- over Christmas a friend of mine was robbed (his rental car) and "cherilou" mentioned a young person (20 years old) who will want to be out late at night -- a time when most of us don't have to worry 'cause we're safe in our hotel rooms.
Gekko is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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I will echo Gekko's comments.
GC and SM have very different atmospheres, and I much prefer the former. GC lacks terrain and lush vegetation, so it's not the tropical paradise some seek in terms of appearance. But its strong suits are great beaches, safety, good food, lots of good lodging options with a major emphasis on condos.
St. Martin/Maarten really turned me off. Socially and from a safety standpoint much of it reminds me of Nassau or St. Thomas. The French side does have good restaurants and there's definitely a nice cultural flair which is not too evident on GC. But much of the island is junky and run down. No way I would ever return given that there are so many other islands which don't have any major turn-offs about them.
travleis is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 07:57 AM
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Whoops, missed a word. Meant to say if the rate in St. M is not FIXED, then St. M might actualy be more expensive than Cayman right now. I don't recall the currency situation in St M, sorry.
Gekko is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Most places on French SXM currently offer $1 to 1E exchange rate. I just hope it stays that way.
Statia is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 09:48 AM
  #8  
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Having just been to St Martin in December, I have a couple of comments about "safety". Unless one plans to be out a lot late at night (in particular walking on deserted beaches) I really would not factor this into a decision. We followed the common sense advice given to us by people who travel to St Martin frequently and did not have a single problem or even a moment of nervousness.
1. DO NOT LEAVE valuables in a rental car - theft from cars is one of the most common problems. We did not even bother to lock our car and had NO problems at all.
2. Do not walk on deserted beaches at night. We felt very comfortable walking into and around the town we were staying near at night (Grand Case).
I do agree snorkeling on St Martin is not the best. Dining however is the best I have encountered in the Caribbean.
JMM is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 10:28 AM
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Yes, the Cayman currency has remained fixed; however, it is not favorable to the US dollar. So basically everything costs about 20% more.....on an island that is already rather expensive. The exchange rate, and prices in general are more favorable in SXM.

Also, GC is very commercialized. A previous poster mentioned a major emphasis on condos....that's a drawback to me. I'd rather have the terrain, lush vegetation, and culture. To each his own.
Lizzie518 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 11:09 AM
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Visitors to St. M are advised not to walk on the beach at night. That right there is a deal-killer in my opinion. Nothing's better than a moon-lit walk on the beach, and it's not a worry in Cayman, Aruba, Barbados etc.

Yes, to each his own.
Gekko is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 12:19 PM
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Where we stay, the beach is semi-private (i.e. it shared between the hotel, the marina, and a small cluster of nearby timeshares). They have 24 hour manned stations that let the cars in and out of the complex.....you don't get in without a room key. That being said, we have walked on the beach at night and not had a problem. (We stay at Le Meridien, which is right in Anse Marcel.)

GC has gorgeous sunsets.
Lizzie518 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 03:29 AM
  #12  
 
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My husband and I have been to St Martin numerous times, we have stayed in Esmeralda at Orient beach and L Esplenada in Grand Case, on all trips we never felt nervous or un safe, we were out to 1am to 2am in the morning, we strolled Grand Case and Orient beach many time at night, not once did we feel uncomfortable any where, maybe because we are from NJ and spend alot of time in Manhattan we have a different attitude, but common sense should be used any where at all times. We love St Martin, St Barts, Anguilla and even Curacao and have been traveling the islands for 25 years and have never in all the years had a issue at any of them, I think many people give St Martin a bad rap, they all have stories but I have yet to hear from or meet the actual people who have had a problem, I am not sayingit doesn't exist but I think it is a little blown out of proportion, don't look like a target or easy mark and you will probably not have a problem!
stbarts is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 06:09 AM
  #13  
 
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There's plenty of truth in your comments, stbarts.
The same goes for Paris, Rome and Los Angeles. Stay out of questionable areas, maintain your 'street sense' wherever you are, and unfortunate events will be uncommon.

I think the root of most people's displeasure with this issue as it applies on St. Martin (or in Nassau, STT or wherever) is that most people seem to want to go to the Caribbean to seek relaxation and to have a mindless, carefree, low stress experience. The extra 'effort' required on St. Martin (even if it's subconscious and second nature for big city dwellers) to maintain the 'street smarts' takes away, even if minimally, from the relaxing experience. I really value the fact that I don't have to focus on those things on Anguilla or GC. But that's just me.
travleis is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 06:15 AM
  #14  
 
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Hi,
My family of 6 stay yearly on Grand cayman in a house on the north side. It doesnt have swimmable beaches due to a rocky shore but the snorkeling is great. I walk every morning on the beach without safety worries. The people are friendly and I do not worry about my childrens safety which makes for a great vacation for me.
Susan
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