First Caribbean Trip - Suggestions?

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Jul 20th, 2006, 02:13 PM
  #1
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First Caribbean Trip - Suggestions?

I am trying to plan a fun, romantic getaway for my girlfriend and I later this year. Having never been to the Caribbean before, I have no idea where to start other than to seek the collective wisdom of Fodorites here.

We are traveling out of NYC, and have a budget of about $1000 ~ $1500 per person for the entire trip. We'd like to be able to spend 5 - 7 days on that budget somewhere.

Our travel tastes are a little different.

She's looking for:
- a hotel with a nice pool that's on or near the beach
- close to good shopping and dining
- not too isolated

I'm seeking:
- beautiful sights/vistas (I'm a shutterbug)
- some interesting explorations (I can't see myself sitting on a beach all day)
- the proverbial "get away from it all" place that allows me to really relax and take it easy

Our travel windows are the week of Sept 10 and the month of December.

We've looked at cruises, and while the all-inclusive rates are appealing, I just don't like the idea of constantly jumping from one island to the next. I want to be able to set my feet down in one place and explore it at leisure.

Thanks for any suggestions, and if I can provide more info that would help in recommendations, please let me know!
karmasalad is offline  
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Jul 20th, 2006, 05:25 PM
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For a wonderful introduction to the Caribbean, I'd suggest going to Barbados. It has some of everything any island can offer except for gambling and a volcano. Lovely people, lush green tropical setting, clean air, pure water, wide range of hotels, beaches, water sports, sightseeing such as caves, tropical gardens, animal preserves, plantation houses, nitelife. Outstanding restaurants, both in hotels and independent. All revolves around a British/Caribbean culture so you don't feel like you're just in tropical America. Barbados is a really special place with a strong economy, not dependent only on tourism, so a visitor experiences a sense of a place which is beyond just a resort on a beach. Generally avoid August-October (hurricane season). Otherwise weather is great all year-perpetual summer with water temps over 80 deg. even in winter. Lowest hotel rates are mid-April to mid-December, with a big jump in high season. Calmest water for swimming/snorkeling is on the calm west coast north of Bridgetown. See www.barbados.org
xkenx is offline  
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Jul 21st, 2006, 09:37 AM
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I would suggest St. Kitts/Nevis. Just returned from a trip there, it was great.

Check out this website, it has lots of comments on the islands and also trip reports and peoples photos of their trip.

http://www.myeyez.net/cgi-bin/stkitt...l#skitts_forum
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Jul 21st, 2006, 09:45 AM
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xkenx-

Your recommendations for Barbados are essentially copied and pasted from previous posts. It seems like all of your posts, regardless of the OP's criteria, recommend Barbados using identical verbage.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 10:34 AM
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mah1980--I don't appreciate being flamed for giving a newcomer to the Caribbean my honest opinion about an island which might make a good introduction to the area. Yes, I copied and pasted parts of my own writings to save typing time. But I DID tailor my response to the O.P.; for instance, I didn't mention Coral Reef Club because it is too pricey for the O.P. Why don't YOU try to offer something to the O.P. instead of criticising others?
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Jul 21st, 2006, 10:40 AM
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iw
 
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Strictly, my opinion, but.....I 2nd St. Kitts and Nevis. You can split your time between the 2, or take a day trip from one to the other. I would probably suggest St. Kitts Marriott, since it does have 3 pools, a nice beach and good restaurants inside. Also, there are very nice restaurants within walking distance...Rock Lobster, Ciao, Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack (Thurs. night bon fire and cheap, but really good, food.) Also, $5-10 cab rides to other good places. Most people rent cars and go to Turtle Beach, Brimstone Hill fortress(wow---nice photo op), Ottley Plantation, Carib Batik. The shopping is so-so. Better shopping in St. Martin. If you take a day sail to Nevis, you will end up at the famous Sunshines for a Killer Bee-rum, yum punch. The island is very lush and mountainous. DH climbed Mt. Nevis last month and had a ball. We split our time b/n the two islands, as they are different, yet related. Each island offers a rain forest hike which is a lot of fun.
You also might like Guadeloupe. Very beautiful....lots to see and do...excellent food! We did a rain forest/volcano/island tour and it was awesome!
We travel in June/July due to my job, so I don't know the prices. A consideration....most hotels have a fridge in each room and you can visit a local grocery store for breakfast/lunch stuff and save you $$ for dinner. Also, I am not a fan of all inclusives......done that and you are really tied down to the resort, which, by your admission, might be limiting. We are the same.....we beach it, sight see, beach it, get up.......never a dull moment.

Good luck.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 10:42 AM
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That's a tight budget considering how high flight prices are now. I would say stay on an island serviced by many airlines (will help keep costs down). St. Thomas or Puerto Rico or Jamaica maybe?

Club Med is also running some excellent deals right now, and they have many charter flights from NYC. The Columbus Isle property is very romantic and the beach is one of the best I have seen in the Caribbean.

HTH
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Jul 21st, 2006, 11:12 AM
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I am headed off to St.Kitts in January so obviously I am a big fan of this island - but my other recommendation would be and always is Grenada for all of your requirements...maybe especially the Grenada Grand Beach for pool - with waterfall actually and cold jacuzzi...walking to shopping and walk or bus to St. Georges...but the island is rich with history and exciting sites...the Lake (can't remember the name) in the mountains....the waterfalls...the people though - ooooeeee these are a sensational group of people, great food and great town....wait - I think all these things (except the lake) apply to St. Kitts...aren't I lucky too!

Have fun planning!
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:08 AM
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We live in Od san Juan and St. John Virgin islands.

Off season september and
With your budget and stay criteria:

fly Jet Blue to San Juan Puerto Rico.

stay at Courtyard by Marriott San Juan Isla Verde Beach Resort

Day trip into Old San Juan for awesome shopping and dining and nightlife

Interesting explorations to rainforest and other locations

St Thomas Virgin islands:
Fly American airlines net-saver
Check out Emerald Beach Resort on St. Thomas. This is where we stay off season
www.emeraldbeach.com
incredible shopping downtown and vistas in mountains

St John Virgin islands
Fly into St Thomas. Take taxi to Red Hook ferry and take boat to st john.
Stay at: gallows point resort lower units numbers 1 thru 8 or cruz bay unit number 10
www.gallowspointresort.com
call and ask for tom the GM and ask for weekly local rate of $130 a night and tell him "Dan" at Virgin Voice sent you

St. John is simply awesome for everything.

see more lifestyle and culture at
www.virginvoices.com
publisher is offline  
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:28 AM
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I have booked Gallow's Point for 1 week the end of November, already put a deposit down. What about this $130 per night weekly rate?? Can I ask for this discount? Can't blame a girl for trying!
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Hi!

$130 Usually reserved for "locals" ie USVI, BVI and Puerto Rico with driver's license...but simply call up and ask for a local's rate because you know a local person "dan at virgin voice"

might work...the GM is a great guy...
publisher is offline  
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Thanks Dan, can't hurt to give it a try. We are returning guests as well so that mey help (or not?). I'll give a call during business hours this week and see what happens. I will give an update. Heck, a few bucks off would be nice.
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