First-time Caribbeaners

Old Dec 6th, 2019, 01:15 PM
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First-time Caribbeaners

My wife and I are planning our first trip to the Caribbean for a one-week stay in mid-February. We really have no idea where to go. Our budget for a one-week stay, including airfare, is around $5,000 tops. Our interests are primarily limited to scenery, history, great sand, turquoise water and possibly mountains. Great food is not a priority. Which island would give us the biggest bang on this limited budget? Thanks!
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Old Dec 6th, 2019, 03:49 PM
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What is your home airport? We need to know that as far as how much a plane ticket might be and which islands you could get to (if any) on a nonstop flight.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 03:57 AM
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Cuba, Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico.

Hey, 5000 USD for 1 week is not low budget, in fact it's a very generous budget.

Last edited by BDKR; Dec 7th, 2019 at 04:01 AM.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 05:38 AM
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I would assume the OP is American, Cuba is not somewhere I would suggest. In any case, I did not like Varadero nor any beach in PR (been twice but only to San Juan area so there might be nice beaches elsewhere). DR is not somewhere I've been nor want to go, based on others experience. Riviera Maya would give best value for budget but even mid Feb might be pricey as it is peak time.

Without knowing the OP's home airport, can't make suggestions, there are inexpensive accommodations on the beach in Negril but mid Feb would be too cool for a dip in the ocean, Martinique & Guadeloupe also have inexpensive accommodations and many possibilities of self catering due to French supermarkets, these French islands have bucket loads of history, scenery, beaches and mountains but they are French speaking. You can rent an apartment in Barbados, there are some 3 star AI hotels which are not bad in Grenada and St Lucia but if you can't get there easily no point to suggest these.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 05:46 AM
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Again, not knowing where you live makes it difficult to make suggestions.
Puerto Rico offers beaches, history, rain forest, and relaxation.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 05:55 AM
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"I would assume the OP is American, Cuba is not somewhere I would suggest. In any case, I did not like Varadero"

Cuba is also an American country. I guess you mean the OP is from the USA. The only problem for US American travellers is that direct flights have been suspended by the Trump regime, but in case the OP lives near Canada they just have to travel a bit more or they can fly via Cancun.

I wouldn't suggest Varadero either for a traveller who is looking for history, scenery and mountains in addition to beaches, but Cuba is the largest Caribbean island and it has everything the OP is looking for, it's only a pity they have such a short holiday.

"DR is not somewhere I've been nor want to go, based on others experience."

What's the problem with DR?

It has history(oldest city in America), scenery, mountains, great beaches.

The Riviera Maya has great beaches, but no mountains, flat scenery, history in terms of archeological sites it has, but the nearest historical city is Merida and it's quite far from Cancun. It's also an overdepeveloped and overcrowded destination.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 06:13 AM
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Sorry! Our home airport is St. Louis Missouri
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 06:28 AM
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You can fly direct to Cancun from STL, the Riviera Maya is lovely, the beaches are very nice, Chichen Itza was an easy daytrip, Tulum was also. There is history and scenery for sure.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 06:59 AM
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You can fly direct to Punta Cana as well on Frontier and Southwest airlines, but I don't suggest staying at Punta Cana which is very touristy. Rent a car and explore the DR(just be prepared for some crazy roads and drivers), stop in Santo Domingo for the history and explore the Samana Peninsula which is the most scenic region of the DR and not as touristy as the big resorts.
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Old Dec 7th, 2019, 08:18 AM
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Most of the islands closest to the US do not have mountains. They are best if you just want to stay on the beach. Go farther south for the more interesting islands- and ones that are not regularly overrun by cruise ship passengers. There are some startling differences among the island. The Grand Caymens, for example, are relatively wealthy because of the banking industry, and it's very noticeable when you tour the island-- much less poverty, more attractive homes, etc. I would say that Martinique would probably be a good choice- mountains in the middle, beaches around the edge, interesting history and good food, whether you want that or not.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 08:34 AM
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It takes a larger island to have mountains... like Jamaica, Cuba, DR.

If you can get a nonstop into Cancun and go to the Mayan Riviera, that gets my vote in a heartbeat! Your dollar will stretch further in Mexico. It has everything you want excepting the mention of mountains.

You could stay in the resort zone in Cancun, or head to an island like Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, or south down the coast to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumal.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 08:56 AM
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"It takes a larger island to have mountains... like Jamaica, Cuba, DR."

Well, tiny Saba is as mountainous as it gets, in fact it's one steep mountain towering above the sea. That said it's not your typical Caribbean island.

Actually, most Caribbean islands(except the Bahamas) are volcanic in origin and have at least one large volcano, giving you plenty of opportunity to hike on steep trails if you get tired of lying on the beach.

"Your dollar will stretch further in Mexico"

Cuba is cheaper than Mexico.

Before you choose Cuba however make sure to get the latest information on the transport situation, because a few months ago the ramped up US sanctions and troubles in Venezuela caused a severe fuel shortage, I heard Russia stepped in to sell oil to Cuba, but not sure how is the current situation.

Last edited by BDKR; Dec 8th, 2019 at 08:59 AM.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 10:15 AM
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"Cuba is cheaper than Mexico"
Even with a routing via Canada? Cuba is a fantastic country to visit for a tour, history, scenery etc but not for a beach. And it is not that cheap, since they have different pricing for foreigners.

"most Caribbean islands(except the Bahamas) are volcanic in origin" Bahamas are not in the Caribbean.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 10:49 AM
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"Even with a routing via Canada?"

I was talking about the local price level. The cost of getting there obviously varies depending on where you start from, how early can you book the flights, etc. Since we know that OP starts from St. Louis getting to Cuba would be indeed more expensive(and certainly more time consuming) than taking a direct flight to Mexico or the DR. On the other hand from a budget of $5,000 you can travel pretty much anywhere.

"Cuba is a fantastic country to visit for a tour, history, scenery etc but not for a beach."

Why not? It has amazing beaches.

https://www.thecrazytourist.com/15-best-beaches-cuba/

"And it is not that cheap, since they have different pricing for foreigners."

Despite the foreigner pricing it is certainly one of the cheapest(if not the cheapest) Caribbean islands. A luxury hotel is obviously not cheaper than anywhere else in the world, but staying in a locally owned B&B(called casa particular in Cuba) is very affordable. But again, budget is clearly not an issue for the OP.

https://www.viahero.com/travel-to-cu...a-trip-to-cuba

"Bahamas are not in the Caribbean."

The Bahamas is part of the Caribbean region(even if it is not on the Caribbean Sea.

"The Lucayan Archipelago (the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands), do not border the Caribbean Sea, but are still within the boundaries of the Caribbean region."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 11:36 AM
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BDKR -- you keep recommending Cuba. That is not all that helpful (totally unhelpful actually) to continually recommend Cuba for American travelers.
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 12:20 AM
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In fact I recommended the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as well.

Why is that not helpful?

US citizens are not forbidden to travel to Cuba and quite a few of them do so, despite axing the direct flights by the Trump regime. BTW, Canadians are Americans too and around a million Canadians travel each year to Cuba for holiday.

Why don't you recommend an other destination for the OP?
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 09:40 AM
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I don't recommend the Dominican Republic. Of all my vacations, it's the only one I wouldn't revisit.
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 10:31 AM
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Of course it doesn't take a big island to have mountains. Another one not mentioned so far is St. Lucia which has the UNESCO heritage "Pitons". Airfare is not especially expensive, you don't have to route through Canada ( I think American has a daily nonstop there may be others as well).

Your budget is adequate, you don't have to limit yourself to places like Jamaica or Punta Cana or Cancun.

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 9th, 2019 at 10:36 AM.
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 12:45 PM
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St Lucia has not been mentioned as there are no direct nonstop flights from St Louis. If the OP is open to taking connections, many more islands can be suggested. AA fly to St Lucia from Miami and to several other islands, eg Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Antigua etc (no real mountains but history and beautiful beaches) which may or may not be in budget. February is peak season and only 2 months away.

"You can fly direct to Punta Cana as well on Frontier and Southwest airlines" You can fly direct to Punta Cana on Frontier, but not on Southwest. Southwest involves a plane change.
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 12:59 PM
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The OP didn't actually ask for a nonstop flight from St Louis.
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