Christmas getaway

Old Apr 25th, 2005, 10:37 AM
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Christmas getaway

My husband and I are planning a December vacation with my sister and her family(she has 3 school age kids).We would like to visit an island where we could get alot of "bang for the buck" - nice beaches,some hiking,outdoor exploration,etc.(we aren`t interested in casinos).We thought we could rent a place large enough to sleep the seven of us...any suggestions on destinations and lodging? We were thinking of St.John but are open to suggestions! thanks
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Old Apr 25th, 2005, 11:08 AM
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A rental villa would probably be your best bet for 7 people. You'll get the best rental rates if you go early in December as that's still "low" or "shoulder" season. Anything after December 15 is considered "High" season and will have the most expensive rents. Most villas will have minimun stay requirements if you want to go between Christmas and New Years. As a rule of thumb, the closer you are to the beach or the better the view the more expensive the rent will be so if you are looking to reduce costs consider a hillside villa or one with limited views. There are literally thousands of rental villas throught the Caribbean in almost all price ranges. The trick to finding one that is right for you is to first choose your island, then find the villa. That said, St. John is a great island with lots of very fine beaches, loads of hiking trails (2/3's of the island is a National Park) and it has a lot of rental villas. if you do a google search for "Villa Rentals, St. John", "Villa Rentals, Virgin Islands" or Villa Rentals, Caribbean" you'll find hundreds of websites for Real Estate Brokers who specialize in Villa rentals. Try www. Wimco.com, www.stjohnproperties.com, www.GreatCaribbeanGetaways.com, www.caribbeanvilla.com or www.destinationstjohn.com for starters.
 
Old Apr 25th, 2005, 12:34 PM
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Thank you,Sunnyboy-you are a wealth of knowledge! We are trying to do this on a smaller budget but we`d like to stay a week or so...is St.John one of the more expensive places to stay(as compared to St.Thomas for example)?
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Old Apr 25th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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While it's hard to generalize villas on St. John will generally be more expensive than a similar ones on St. Thomas and St. Croix will be less expensive than both of those islands.

If you are trying to do your trip on a budget look into those islands that you can reach non-stop or direct from your departure city or the gateway city nearest your home as that will help you save on airfare. Depending on where you are coming from that could mean Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Martin, Antigua or Barbados. I'd avoid anything in the Bahamas as they can be a bit on the cool side in December.

Another thought, you might want to check out villas on Culebra or Vieques. Both are off the coast of Puerto Rico (you can either fly from San Juan or take a ferry at reasonable cost), they are relatively undiscovered so villa prices are much less than on the major islands, they have very nice beaches, they offer lots of hiking and eco-tours and even the restaurants are moderately priced.

Figure out how many bedrooms you need (i.e, do the children need seperate bedrooms) then check out some of the web-sites I previously mentioned. You should be able to get a real feel for the rental costs of a villa that suits your needs on the various islands. That will help you determine if the trip is doable for you group during the time you want to go.

Hope this helps.
 
Old Apr 25th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Thank you so much for the info! You`ve been a great help.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Vieques clearly isn't for everyone - no casinos, no nightlife, etc. - However, for the right kind of person it's an amazing place. We were there with our 4 kids (ages 14-5) over spring break. Our kids loved it. Exploring an amazing new beach every day, seeing the wild horses, swimming in the biolumenescent bay, walking around the funky towns(s), etc. were activities that kept everybody happy. Check out enchanted-isle.com for more info.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:04 PM
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Hi ccc- thanks for the reply! Where did your family stay on Vieques? Did you spend all your time there or did you travel to neighboring islands? Also, how did you get there? (from San Juan)? The place sounds intriguing! What are your top 3 suggestions as far as places to go/things to do? (My sister adds her kids are 7-12 and one isn`t much for hiking distances)
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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I`ve been reading a little bit about Vieques since ccc and Sunnyboy recommended it...how does it differ from Culebra? Has anyone been there recently? Opinions?
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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Haven't been to Culebra, but re Vieques -
First off, our kids are more or less the same range as your sister's. Ours are 14, 12, 11, and 5. The first time we went I was just with my wife and we stayed at Hix Island House. It was great, but it's not for kids. When we were back at spring break with our 4 kids we rented a house. Except for a trip to the Biolumenescent Bay, there literally isn't anything to do, which is why we liked it so much. Every single day, we would spend either the morning or the whole day at a different, gorgeous beach on the former navy property (now the largest nature preserve in the Caribbean) - think gorgeous white sand, crystal clear Caribbean water and having the whole thing to yourself. There are actually some really good restaurants on the island, so we did a combination of cooking at home and going out. Getting there via San Juan is a breeze. There are probably 15 puddle jumper flights a day on various airlines. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the ferry, which costs $2. Our kids have literally traveled all over the world (including many, many trips to St. Barts) and they loved it. HOWEVER, it is definitely not for everybody. It's especially not for people who don't feel comfortable unless they are at a Four Seasons. In the morning, regardless of where you are staying you are likely to be wakened by a rooster. To get to the navy beaches, you have to drive down rutted dirt roads. (Our kids thought this was a great adventure as you can turn down little roads and discover pristine beaches with nobody there). When you go to the grocery store, there may or may not be chips. It's a function of whether or not the chip truck came that day. It's definitely light years behind St. Barts as far as being "uptown" (we also love St. Barts) but for the right person who simply wants to read books and hang out - as opposed to playing golf and going to casinos - it's a great spot.
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