Great snorkeling, on the beach hotel

Jan 7th, 2017, 06:23 AM
  #1  
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Great snorkeling, on the beach hotel

My husband and I are wanting to take a trip this December to the Caribbean. We love to snorkel and want a hotel right on the beach. This trip will be all about Rest and Relaxation. We don't mind if it's secluded. Our budget is $6,000 and we are leaving from MEM. I had my heart set on Dominica but after doing some research I read it's very rainy. Now I'm thinking Antigua or Barbuda or St.Kitts or Nevis or St.Lucia. My S.O. wants an all inclusive. I get it it's easier than pulling out your wallet everytime you want a drink. But I think the food is so bland and I hate all the crowds. We've had terrible experiances in the past. For our honeymoon 12 years ago we went to Secrets Cancun it was secluded, had a great beach and clear water but my S.O. got food poisoning the first night. He spent our honeymoon sober and drained and the Dr. told us he couldn't leave town if he wanted to because his immune system was shot. Two years ago my MIL took us and our 4 kids and other family to RIU Negril. I would have a 3 page report on how terrible that place was.. Unfortunately we have to go right at the busiest time Dec 20-30. It's the only time we have available with work,school,etc. Any advice about these islands or other suggestions? He mentioned B.V.I but I read the water is too choppy in December? Any island but Bonaire the flight time was 2 days and 2 hours from MEM!
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Jan 7th, 2017, 06:28 AM
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Oops... forgot to mention that we prefer an adults only hotel
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Jan 7th, 2017, 09:29 AM
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First, how important is snorkeling? If it's a high priority for you then you are looking at the wrong islands.

Just so you know neither St. Kitts nor Nevis is noted for snorkeling, especially if you want walk-in snorkeling near your hotel/resort. The best snorkeling on those two islands is the same place and it's accessible only by boat and you can see all there is to see wishing about 20 minutes time. Simply put NO ONE goes to St. Kitts or Nevis for the snorkeling.

The snorkeling around Antigua is a little better than on Nevis and St. Kitts but here again the best spots are accessible only by boat. St. Lucia has some limited "walk-in" and a few more boat access snorkeling sites but they are spread out around the island (which is quite large so you might have to travel fairly long distances if you want to snorkel in more than one limited area.

Dominica has some unique snorkeling due to volcanic vents that spew bubbles from the ocean floor but there's not a lot of colorful coral or exotic fish.

Bonaire has some of the best walk-in snorkeling in the Caribbean but you've already eliminated that island based on other considerations.

Quite honestly, if walk-in snorkeling is a high priority for you then you should be looking at the USVI's and BVI's. While certain beaches (usually those with a northern exposure) can be wavy in December you'll have no difficulty finding plenty of protected coves with some very goo to excellent walk-in snorkeling on most of the islands in the chains. In the USVI's look at Caneel Bay on St. John. In the BVI's look at Peter Island Resort on Peter Island, Little Dix Bay, Nail Bay or Mango Bay Resorts on Virgin Gorda or resorts on Jost Van Dyke. If you don't mind doing a little extra travel look hotels on Anegada.
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Jan 7th, 2017, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for your advice RoamsAround! Snorkeling is very important because we don't actually want to leave the hotel very often. Maybe one day we'll take an excursion but the rest of our vacation we want to spend on the beach. Which is why I had St.kitts/Nevis and Antigua/Barbuda on the list. I read they had great beaches. B.V.I looks like the best bet I will look into it more. Do you have any specific hotels you like? Is there such a place with great beaches and snorkeling? So far I've read that it's either or but not both.
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Jan 7th, 2017, 11:24 AM
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Maybe you didn't focus on all I wrote. As I said in my earlier reply you'll find some very good walk-in snorkeling at Caneel Bay on St.John (the resort has 7 different beaches where you can snorkel) and at Mango Bay on Virgin Gorda there is a "triple reef" that begins about 50' off shore that runs the entire length of the 3/4 mile long beach - you can snorkel there for hours and not see everything. Some good snorkeling also at Peter Island.

Little Dix Bay (Virgin Gorda) has OK walk-in snorkeling but they also offer complimentary boat trips (complete with picnic lunch) to other nearby beaches and cays with very good snorkeling. The resort is under going a complete renovation and scheduled to re-open in the Fall of 2027 - perfect timing for you. It is worth looking at to see if the new rates will fit your budget.

ALL OF THE ABOVE RESORTS HAVE VERY NICE GOLDEN SAND BEACHES.

Forget St. Kitts & Nevis - really there's not much snorkeling on those islands - and certainly not in front of any of the hotels/resorts. Despite what you've read the beaches on those two island, while nice, do not compare to the ones at the other resorts I mentioned. I know, I have a home on Nevis and go over to St. Kitts often.

You'll be disappointed too with walk-in snorkeling on Antigua - you need to go on boat excursions to find the better snorkeling sites.

Barbuda has fabulous beaches but it is a very "remote" island with very little to do. Some walk-in snorkeling but not necessarily near any of the resorts. There are only a couple of resorts and guest houses on the island and the better one is going to be at the upper end or possibly exceed your budget. Consider going to Barbuda only if you crave remoteness and you seriously want to "get away from it all". If you decide to go there look at Coco Point Lodge.

Finding a resort with very good walk-in snorkeling and great beaches is a bit of a challenge. As you are finding out - it is either on or the other.

Hope this helps in choosing your spot.
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Jan 7th, 2017, 11:26 AM
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OOPS!!! Little Dix Bay is scheduled to reopen in the Fall of 2017 not 2027!
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Jan 9th, 2017, 06:25 AM
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If walk in snorkeling is important, (and) you want great food, I would look into Grand Cayman. This is not a place for All Inclusive resorts. But for your budget, you should easily be able to find a great condo on the beach, with fantastic walk in snorkeling. You will find some of the best dining in the Caribbean here, but it is a bit pricey. Again, with the budget of $6000, you should easily be able to find something along 7 Mile Beach. Just do some homework on the best locations for being close to the better reefs along this amazing stretch of white sand beach.....
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Jan 9th, 2017, 07:54 AM
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Thanks for your reply Bassguy66. I visited the cayman's 13 years ago as a port stop on my cruise. We went to this sandbar that was overun with stingray's. I was terrified this was not snorkeling it was like a petting zoo. The ray's were all over me like white on rice and I couldn't wait to get out of there. I hope that at the resorts they aren't baiting the animals in? Because they were feeding the ray's there at the sandbar. Perhaps it's different on the actual island? I've read alot about snorkeling on different websites like Frommer's, Islands, and other travel websites and the cayman's does pop up quite frequently. I just don't want to stay somewhere with lots of cruise ships overrunning the area.
I'm currently researching St.John, B.V.I, Curacao,St.Lucia and Antigua.
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Jan 9th, 2017, 09:12 AM
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I have been to many islands in the Caribbean with shore snorkeling being a priority. Grand Cayman is one of the few that I went back to a second time. Yes, the cruise ships can be heavy, but easily avoided. Stingray sandbar is a very popular activity loved by many, but judging by your comments, not all...LOL.
I would steer you away from St Lucia, Curacao & Antigua as they just aren't snorkeling destinations.
I have been to St John, and consider it one of the best I've ever been to. There aren't a ton of choices for beachfront accomodations on St John, but exploring all the new (very uncrowded) beaches and incredible shore snorkeling make this a top choice for avid snorkelers. I rented a jeep for the 9 days we were there, and experienced some of the most pristine beaches with low crowds, and spectacular snorkeling. Oh and there are some great restaurants as well.
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Jan 9th, 2017, 11:47 AM
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Thank you that helps me narrow it down alot! Taking your advice and Roamsaround to heart I will hone in on U.S.V.I. and B.V.I. I hope I can convince my other half that AI may not be the best option.
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Jan 9th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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I'm glad I have almost a year to plan this trip. He ain't budging on the all inclusive. Sigh. So... maybe not great snorkeling just decent shoreline snorkeling? When we went to Cancun the water was clear there were lots of fish and other wildlife and nice sandy beach. It was decent would have been really good if it wasn't cold and windy. Guess I need to start another post. This is kind of irritating we have different ideas of vacationing...
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Jan 10th, 2017, 05:03 AM
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If your husband's desire to stay at an All Inclusive is based solely on budget and the perception that it will be less expensive than going non-AI you should have him do some research as that's not always the case.

Going AI tends to tie you down to the resort for all your meals and you often miss out experiencing much of the "local culture" and cost-wise going non-AI can be very budget friendly. Another thing to consider is a number of non-AI resorts offer optional full or partial Meal Plans which might be a good compromise but here again a Meal Plan, while convenient, may not actually the less costly option.

Of course, whether or not you you end up choosing AI is something you'll have to work out with your SO.
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Jan 11th, 2017, 05:31 AM
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Take a look at the (only) two AI resorts located on Akumal Bay which is located about an hour south of Cancun. There is awesome snorkeling right there off the beach, and you have a choice of two resorts. One is smaller and a lot less expensive (Akumal Bay Beach Resort) with ALL oceanfront rooms. You also have Secrets which will be a LOT more expensive next door. Check the reviews out anywhere you can find them. I have been to ABBR and thought it was awesome for the price and location.
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