First Caribbean trip need help!

Old Mar 5th, 2012, 06:32 PM
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First Caribbean trip need help!

I'm looking for the ''perfect'' all inclusive in the caribbean. Goes something like this: not ''touristy", something somewhat small (not a deal breaker), not a lot of folks, but not so small or desolate that it becomes boring. no big hotels that stick out like a sore thumb. would prefer to stay in a cottage or the like. when i walk from my room to the beach i want to be surrounded by beautiful tropical plant life including palms... white sand beach, clear blue water with good snorkeling, a couple beach bars( or at least one would do). would prefer the island to be rainforest (waterfalls would be a plus). want to be able to do a little hiking and zip lining. and a place to rent scooters to explore the town a bit would be awesome as well. Also I am going in June so that might make a lot of places less crowded and hopefully expand my options. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Here's the deal. To get what you want, you need to spend some money, and by money I mean a lot of money. However, it will certainly be cheaper during the off-season. (And I'm not sure it really exists since the purpose of the AI is to be big and touristy and all things to all people.)

I'd recommend Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada. But to be honest, it's pretty expensive, and I'm not sure there's a zip line on Grenada. It's small, luxurious, on a rainforest island, and has a beautiful beach. It's exactly what you want, but to get that you pay a lot.

Secondarily, I'd recommend St. Lucia, but the actual resort is difficult. The island is right, but the best AIs are large and touristy. So I'd like some second opinions there.

If you are looking for something cheap and simple, then look at Grand Pineapple in Negril, Jamaica.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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negril, jamaica might work for you. snorkeling is by boat & only soso. has zips, waterfalls. you can walk the beach or walk around town.

has jungle but no rainforest: http://www.akumalbeachresort.com/en/
you can walk 5 mins down the beach a fun beach bar/restaurant called lol-ha: http://www.akumal.tv/tripreportswebzone/images/n114.jpg
the town of akumal is another 3 mins from lol-ha with some shops, bars & restaurants.
good snorkeling right from the beach & at nearby yal-ku lagoon. ziplines nearby & atv jungle rides
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 02:16 AM
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AIs few will meet your needs for "cottages" on the beach they are big complexes mostly like cruise ships on land with lots of activities. almondresorts.com Morgan has a bit of what you want. Luxurylink.com Excellence puntacana.com small nice.

Briland.com runawayhill.com valentinesdive.com pinksandsresort.com the perfect little Bahamian out Island
is my fav for that perfect little island "cottage" vibe you seem to be looking for.

Happy Hunting,
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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Probablly, not going to find all of your criteria in one place. Decided on the most imporant features(s) and go from there. AI hotels in the Caribbean are few and far between. You'll find the most options in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Here's a few suggestions.

Cottages on the beach - Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen, MX. Offers AI breakfast and either lunch or dinner. No drinks. Walking distance to many restaurants.

Look at http://www.locogringo.com/ for additional accomendations that might fit what you are looking for.

The El Dorado Maroma Beach in the Rivieria Maya area of Mexico is a high end small AI hotel directly on a fab section of beach. No waterfalls in Mexico. There is jungles, great snorkeling, cenotes and zip lines. Tons of things to see and do off property.

I would not recommend renting scooters anywhere. Do a search and read the hazards. Some people do take the chance. You can rent golf carts on Isla Mujeres, MX, but AI there is not a good option. Really great cheap beach front restaurants. Very small Island. Not much to do but rest and relax.

Aura Cozumel Grand Resort in Cozumel, MS might be a small enough AI resort, but not cottage.

In Negril, Jamaica look at Sunset at the Palms. Small AI resort. Rooms are like little tree houses. The hotel is a short walk across the street from the beach.

The Jewell Dunn's River is a nice small AI couples only resort in Ocho Rios with fab pools and a great stretch of beach. It's an upper end AI resort, but not a big monstrosity like some AI complexes. It's not a cottage though.

Costa Rica would have the jungle, waterfalls, and zip lines, but no AI's or beach areas like what you stated. Look at the Waterfalls Garden Resort in Poas.

I'm not familiar with all the AI resorts in St. Lucia, but look at Jade Mountain, The Body Holiday LeSport and Rendezvous. My choice would be Ladera, but it's not AI.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 11:50 AM
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Keep in mind that islands with rain forest will usually not have "white sand beaches" and the waters surrounding those islands will usually be darker blue rather than the bright turquoise waters you have in your minds eye. Also, few islands with rain forests have good snorkeling.

Usually white sand is found on the flatter and more arid limestone/coral based islands while the lusher mountainous volcanic based islands have dark sand. Those are some of the trade-offs you'll have to make.

There are a lot of "small" hotels/resorts (some even have cottages) throughout the Caribbean but the ones that are somewhat secluded will, as Doug_S pointed out be very pricey - as a rule of thumb the more secluded a place is the more expensive it will be. Also, the type of place you describe may not be near anything else so factor transportation costs into your budget.

As others have pointed out renting a scooter on many Caribbean Islands is asking for trouble. The roads on most islands are very narrow, twisty and often filled with potholes. Locals like to drive fast and will be constantly overtaking you. On the more lush mountainous islands you'll often encounter steep hills which when coupled with the pot holes and narrow roads with lots of twists and turns are a recipe for disaster. Do yourself a favor - forget about scooters and budget for a rental car - it will be much safer and won't cost that much more.

Lastly, you've received some good recommendations on resorts/hotels but if you give us some idea of what type of budget you actually have for accommodations, food and airfare it would make it easier for the contributors here to make meaningful recommendations. otherwise, you'll be steered toward the most expensive places as they tend to have most of the things on people's wish list. Give us an actual dollar amount (terms like "not too pricey", "won't break the bank", "affordable" are meaningless without a real point of reference. Finally, if your budget includes airfare tell us where you are flying from as that will make a big difference on where you'll get the most for your money.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 02:28 PM
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Wow you guys are awesome! Thank you for taking time out to help me. I appreciate all the suggestions and advice.
RoamsAround, you are correct, I should have mentioned what kind of "cash flow" I am working with here. I don't want to spend more than $1,200 per person(trip for 2) including flight. And in my twisted little head I was thinking that would get me pretty far in the Caribbean.... WRONG! After looking into some of the suggested locations and searching the internet a good deal I realize I am extremely limited in my choices with these kinds of funds. Since that is the case let me narrow down my criteria a bit!

My main thing is I don't want it to feel like a huge tourist resort with tons of kids running around and cruise ships daily. I need some place just to get away from the daily grind. I would still like to go on a "cool" canopy tour. White sand beaches and clear blue water with good snorkeling within swimming distance are a must. A place that is lush with vegetation and very tropical. I suppose it does not need to be rainforest.(Dang it) And it would be great if the adult beverages were unlimited and they didn't cut you off at 10pm. I hope that's not asking for too much. OH and I'll be flying out of the great state of Nebraska

Also could someone give more insight on St. Lucia? The pictures I've seen are AMAZING! But as Doug_S pointed out, not much in the way of beaches I describe. Once again thank you all for your time and help.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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That's great information. With that budget focus on Mexico and maybe a few places in Jamaica.

St. Lucia is very lush and tropical. The beaches are a coarse brown sand and the water a deep sapphire blue. Snorkeling is limited. There are a few black sand beaches also. The AI's that I mentioned are probably going to be out of your budget with air.

We've been to many Caribbean destinations and Mexico many times. AI resorts are one of my things. If your interested we have all our pictures posted at:

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 03:24 PM
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Well, you didn't say where you are flying from and that will have a bearing on how much you have left to spend for your accommodations/food. Your budget is small. Assuming you spend $500 per person for airfare that leaves you a total $1,400 or about $230 per night for a typical 7 day/6 night stay. Honestly, for the Caribbean that's not very much, especially since you want to do "All Inclusive". You could probably find some AI resorts in that price range on the Dominican Republic, Cancun, Playa del Carmen (just south of Cancun and maybe Cozumel or Jamaica.

You are going to have to make so concessions on your wish list.

You won't find the white sand beaches you crave on St. Lucia and you may find the airfare to get to St. Lucia will eat up a big portion of your budget and most likely the type of accommodations your are seeking will be out of your price range on that island.

The destinations I mentioned above are usually easy to reach (resulting in lower airfares) and have some of the least expensive resorts in the Caribbean so you might want to concentrate your search to those places. Keep in mind though your budget is on the low side so you won't be staying in any top of the line places.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 04:04 PM
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omaha to the airport in the south of st lucia would be only option. $850/pp. so save that for another time.
omaha to airport near negril is $600 but 16 hrs.
omaha to cancun $555 in 5 hrs down 8 going home.
costa rica is $760
i used dates in june but it gives an idea...
you can find all this info & any other airports on kayak.com

kvr has been to lots of ai's & knows tons about them. she has good advice. however mex does have waterfalls - only they are all inside the cenotes: http://worldonabike.com/files/2009/0..._Dzitnup_2.jpg
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 04:38 PM
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Wow KVR you guys get after it! Thanks for sharing the information and the pictures! I really like the scuba diving pic with the rays! Those things look HUGE!

I'm going to search high and low throughout Mexico as you suggested. I think that's where i'll get the most bang for my buck and also less travel time it seems, wich means more time spent on the beach. Jamaica is intriguing also, going to look into that.

I think also that I will heed your warning and stay away from the scooters

OH and if you ever feel compassion to send a poor, slave driven white boy from the midwest on the Caribbean vacation of his dreams i hope you will keep me in mind Just joshin' Thanks again KVR, you've been very helpful in my quest.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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RoamsAround I think you hit nail on the head. My cousin and his wife spent a total of $2,000 to a nice resort in Playa Del Carmen or Cozumel (can't recall exactly) all inclusive including airfair so I thought 2400 would get me a little closer to my dream destination. With the information you all have given me I'm thinking Mexico is in my future. Not mad at all, from what I've seen so far I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

And thank you virginia for looking up that information. You guys have been great, thank you all.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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With your budget and general requirements, I would look at the Mayan Riviera (around Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Akumal) it give way more bang for the buck generally speaking than Caribbean islands.

If you want to stick with an island, then (as suggested already) look at Negril Jamaica. It comes quite close to your requirements, not sure about prices though.

Anyplace that is an all-inclusive, by definition is going to be somewhat "touristy" because that's who'll be staying there.

To get a more off-the-beaten path atmosphere, I'd highly encourage you to consider not going AI.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 05:31 AM
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On that kind of budget, unfortunately you are limited to mid-range (not luxurious) AI resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, or the DR. There are really no other choices, though you could find a place in Antigua, though the flights would probably kill the deal. But I'm pretty much in agreement with everyone that Mexico is your best choice. I'd opt for Cozumel over the Riviera Maya, but I think you will have some decent choices. There are certainly good snorkeling spots from both. Don't go to Cancun, however, since that's exactly what you don't want.

1. Book a package. You aren't going to be able to afford the airfare any other way.
2. Realize that you are not going to get a luxury experience for this price.
3. The cheaper the AI, the larger, so be prepared for that. As well as lots of mediocre food. But on the plus side, the drinks will be unlimited.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Hey, Virginia, you are right about the waterfalls in Mexico. LOL We did see one at Ik-Kil, but nothing like what is in St. Lucia or Jamaica.

Rmm313, if you up your budget to $3,000 more options will be available.

If you decide not to go AI, check out this link. Several great beachfront bungalows type accomentations around Playa del Carmen, MX.


http://www.locogringo.com/dynamic/lo...Hotel%2FResort

We've been to many AI resorts throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. Many of them have been in your price range or under. Be aware, we do that for the breakfast and drinks only. The food quality at those places are mediocore at best and we eat off property also. You have to pay the big money for the luxary AI proeprties to get the better food. If you're just into AI for the drinks like we are, then we find it to be a good deal.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 10:20 AM
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for the pkgs doug mentioned - applevacations, tntvacations, resortvacationstogo, or gwvvacations
all will bundle air with resort.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 05:22 PM
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Thank you guys, I think we got her narrowed down. I looked in to all the places mentioned and while they do look attractive I'm going to try and save a bit more to open up my options. I'm shooting for Tahiti....ha ha yeah right! Thanks a bunch
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