Grand Cayman vs. St. John

Old Dec 11th, 2000, 08:22 AM
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Grand Cayman vs. St. John

Can anyone help us decide? I am planning a trip in early May to either Grand Cayman or St. John. There are 6 adults, we're planning on renting a condo. I've heard Grand Cayman is terribly expensive for food, leisure etc. I'm not as concerned about lodging...any opinions are welcomed! Thanks!
Old Jan 2nd, 2001, 03:56 PM
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Went to St. John in March of last year. It was excellent! There are so many beautiful beaches to choose from. It is expensive but not as expensive as the Caymans. We stayed at the Westin and met another couple that rented a villa on the other side of the island.

They had a wonderful time. Bought their own food and saved quite a bit of money.

I will look up my info on St. John if you would like and will send you what I have. Just email me.

Old Jan 3rd, 2001, 04:55 AM
Papaya Pie
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The real expense of food in the Caribbean, IMHO, is that most of us are tempted to eat out every single meal & pick the most colorful or scenic places with catchy names & wonderful ocean views. Half the fun, right?

Cayman food expense is comparable to most major cities in the U.S. It will be your biggest expense. Since you're renting a condo, go to Foster's Food Fair or Hurleys for groceries. (I like Hurleys). Wonderful selection of familiar & unfamiliar brands & foods.

I always pack paper goods, even tho dishes are provided. I don't have to be pampered, but I'm not the camping type either & don't want to wash one dish or pot I don't have to.

If you drink, pack your own or purchase there. Rum is cheap by the bottle. There are some great waterfront restaurants tho, so do plan at least one meal out a day, either noon or sunset. At the very least, prepare breakfast, mid-day snacks & most drinks yourself.
Leisure activites are cheap tho. A 1/2 day sail to Stingray Sandbar is avg 30 USD. Hell is free (& goofy). The botanical gardens, turtle farm etc. have minimal entrance fees. I don't know the cost of renting watersports equip. There are reasonable day sails. The submarines are pricey, but that's to be expected.

There is very little nightlife in the way of clubs, dancing, etc. so you won't spend big $ doing those things.

If the 6 of you rent one condo (SMB) or a villa (check out Cayman Kai!) your expenses will be greatly reduced. If you all plan to be out & about together, check ahead to see what's available in car rental to accomodate you all. You don't want to get stuck with one or even 2 of those little Sardine cans --- we're talking fold up your legs. They are cheap tho, sometimes as little as 20/day but I'd never rent one. Would rather scrimp on something else. I can't recall who if anyone rents vans, but I bet one of the co.s does.

Happy planning, whichever you choose!
Old Jan 10th, 2001, 02:25 PM
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We just got back from 5 days on GC (Westin) and spent a week the last winter on St. John (rented a condo).

Although both trips were great, St. John wins hands down for the type of vacation I prefer: quiet, relaxing and lots of natural beauty.

If you do a few searches, you can find my trip report from the St. John trip.

I found the snorkeling on St John far better than GC and the beaches much less crowded. Granted our only trip to the beach at GC was out of the hotel onto the beach, while on St John we had a jeep and went to a different beach every day (but always seemed to end up at Salt Pond).

I think you will find less restaurant choices on St. John than GC, but plenty to keep you interested for a week (you can go to Lime Inn more than once!!).

Also, you are likely to find it takes a little longer to get to St John, as you fly into St Thomas, which is much further east than GC, and then need to take a cab to a ferry and rent your jeep. By that time you could be unpacked and by the pool in GC with a few frozen drinks under your belt. The additional few hours travel time seems to matter much less on a week long trip than on a long weekend trip.

Finally, as you will see as you do more research on this board, a large portion of St. John is national park, so it is undeveloped, and the Island has only two hotels.

We stayed at Cruz Views (I think you can find a picture on the web), which is runby Caribean You can find them online and see if they have a condo for 6, it was comfortable (with agreat view), nice but far from upscale. The agent that helped us was from At Your Service Travel (Theresa-800-854-1843). They arranged for the condo and the jeep. make sure to read my trip report about getting a hard-top jeep with windows.

In terms of costs, the caribbean is just expensive. I think we found some less expensive places and some more expensive places on both islands. Other than food and lodging, we did not have much in the way of costs on either island, just rental of snorkel gear.

Post back here if you have any specific questions I can answer
Old Jul 3rd, 2001, 01:30 PM
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I've been to St. John and am trying to decide whether to go to GC for my next vacation. We stayed at Caneel Bay in SJ which was absolutely wonderful. One of the best vacations I've taken, and I have been to several of the Carribean islands. The more I read, the more I am getting the idea that GC is more for those who like shopping, night life, and getting out and about... more of a commercial type atmosphere. Unfortunately that isn't what I'm looking for. I like calm, laid-back, and good food. My idea of an excellent vacation is to lay on the beach with a yummy drink and a good book. Get a tan, eat some excellent food, and chill.
Old Jul 4th, 2001, 08:39 PM
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GC does not have a lot in the way of shopping and night life, in my opinion. As for expense of food, it depends on where you eat and what you drink. There's not a lot to do there outside of the beach and beach activities.
Old Jul 9th, 2001, 08:50 AM
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If you like "lying like a lizard" on the beach with a good book, snorelling, diving and sailing then go to Grand Cayman. They are the best beaches and the most clearest waters, IMOP. The water at 7 mile beach is so calm is like a giant swimming pool. Cayman is British and therefore, there is not a lot of night life. For evenings expect a nice dinner out by the water and perhaps enjoy the Royal Palms in the evening for live music & dancing under the stars. Cayman has two golf courses and some shopping in Georgetown.... but shopping isn't the main attraction.

There is a lot to do on Cayman, especially in the water.... Drive around and tour the island - it only takes about 45 to 55 minutes. It's a very laid-back type island that is clean and safe with friendly people.

You won't be dissapointed.
Old Aug 18th, 2001, 08:54 AM
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The great thing about Grand Cayman is that it has two sides. The West side with seven mile beach, shopping, restaurants, clubs, all the major tourist stuff. And then there is the East side....peace, tranquility, no cruise ships, no shopping malls/strips, clubs. So if you want all the action and tourist bit stay on west side. If you want peace, quiet, beautiful sunsets on quiet beaches sitting in a hammock, with bathtub warm water for diving and snorkeling...stay on the East side. My husband went to Grand Cayman for our honeymoon. There were kids on the east side too, but a very different atmosphere. Grand Cayman is so safe. No people approaching you for money or trying to sell you something. You can explore the island or night and feel completely safe and relaxed. Excellent food, people, beaches, water, scuba diving, snorkeling. It is truly a heavenly vacation experience.
Old Aug 18th, 2001, 11:08 AM
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Sounds to me like the people giving you advice have NOT been to both islands. JMHO.
Old Aug 18th, 2001, 11:18 AM
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I am very partial to St. John. I suspect each can offer a great experience but never having been to the Caymans, I can't compare.
There are loads of villas island wide on St. John each with fantastic views, a few beachfront and the island is 2/3rd's Nat'l Park so it remains pristine and undeveloped. You can check for some of the villas but there are tons of sites with villas. Altho more expensive than many stateside areas, I don't find it much more than the NYC area except for some particular food stuffs. There are several groceries and speciality stores or St. Thomas (where they say the prices are a little bit less) is only a 15 minute ferry ride away! On St. John you will want to rent vehicles especially if you are in one of the villas to beach hop, to visit the one small town, Cruz Bay, or the village Coral Bay. St. John is particularly awesome because of the pristine beaches and the coves and bays around each bend over each hill but staying in a villa, you will have to commute to them! Only Caneel Bay offers the luxury of 7 wonderful beaches on property and the only other hotel option is the Westin. Snorkling can be done from the beach so no need to rent a boat but if you do, there are wonderful unaccessable-by-land beaches and snorkling spots. You can also daytrip to the BVI's for the beaches, snorkling and exploring there by public ferry. And the sailing is fantastic! Great diving too but not sure how that compares to the Caymans since I haven't done it in the Caymans and everyone raves about it there! Know it is wonderful off St. John in the BVI's. I know that there are quiet undeveloped areas in the Caymans but the pristine tropical beauty and tranquility of St. John is pretty hard to beat.
Old Aug 19th, 2001, 07:40 AM
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No I haven't been to both islands - only Grand Cayman. That is why I gave advice and my two cents on that island only.

Afterall, the original poster asked for people opinions on either island and had concerns on Grand Cayman itself.

Old Aug 19th, 2001, 08:23 AM
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Grand Cayman and St.John are 2 completely different types of vacations. st. John does NOT have a burger king, grand cayman does. i would go back to st. john and rent a villa any day over grand cayman. it depends on how much you want to get away. st. john offers great snorkling, day trips and ambience. grand cayman is for tourists.
Old Aug 19th, 2001, 12:34 PM
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Been to bothe. St. John Hands down. Prettier, Calmer, better snorkelling, Emptier beaches. Rent a villa, it's the best value. Its cheaper than most hotels and you can get one with your own swimming pool and gas grill deck and more room than you know what to do with. Check and search villa rental st. john virgin islands. You'lll have more choices than you can imagine. I wouldn''t go back to Grand Cayman again. That's just me. It's nice, but when I have a choice like St. John why bother with GC.
Old Aug 25th, 2001, 06:38 PM
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St. John is just a smaller version of St. Thomas: Full of poverty, and it really is NOT that beautiful at all!!!
Old Aug 26th, 2001, 10:47 AM
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Yup, so full of poverty that the average price for housing goes for around $650,000.
Old Aug 26th, 2001, 02:17 PM
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I've stayed in a number of villas on St. John and visited Grand Cayman only on cruise trips. Which island you would like depends on what you are looking for on a vacation. St. John is a laid back island where the pace of life is very slow. 2/3s of St. John is a national park, so you would expect there to be less traffic and less people. GC seems to always people and cars everywhere, but it is well maintained. St. John has some elevation to it which I believe makes it a more beautiful setting. I would say the night life would be much better on GC, although St. John does have some. Also, the shopping would be more abundant on GC. It should be noted that St. Thomas is only a 20 minute ferry ride and a 20 minute cab ride away from St. John where you could find all the night life and shopping one could ever want. The water is beautiful at both islands, but your choice of beaches is much greater on St. John. You could stay on St. John for 10 days and go to a different beautiful beach each day. You would have more of a slection of places to stay on GC as far as motel and hotels are concerned. Like I said, all depends on what you want.

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