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Hawaii or Caribbean?

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Apr 4th, 2016, 04:46 PM
  #1
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Hawaii or Caribbean?

Please, for the love of beaches, please share your knowledge with me.
I'm trying to decide if I want to go to Hawaii -AGAIN or try something new and fly to the Caribbean.
I've been to Hawaii probably a dozen times or more but never to the Big Island. I love Hawaii. I'm familiar with it. I had family there. It feels like home and a warm sensation comes over me when I think of going...But it's very comfortable and also in my comfort zone. I therefore thought I should give the Atlantic a try and head for an island in the Caribbean. I know NOTHING about the Caribbean. It's a bit overwhelming reading up on every island from St. Lucia to the Exhumas.
But, what I LOVE is:

-Gorgeous, warm, white sand beaches
-Friendly people. Are people generally friendly in this region? I know the differences in the islands is probably culturally vast but I'm hoping they have some Aloha spirit
- Scuba. It'd be great to have some nice places to dive and see some colorful underwater life. I've been to Tahiti and Moorea and the diving there was some of the most beautiful I've seen. So much sea life and color. Do any Caribbean islands have this?
-I am not really into the crazy, nightlife partying type of atmosphere but definitely enjoy a great bar, an ice cold beer with live music here and there.

So far, I've narrowed it down to Anguilla or Turks and Caicos, leaning strongly towards Anguilla because I can ferry to St. Maarten/St. Martin.

I'll probably default to the Big Island but am I missing out by continuously going to Hawaii and not giving the Caribbean a single thought?
I thought about doing a Caribbean cruise to be able to see several of the Caribbean islands in one week but I'm traveling solo so I don't think it'd be fun being alone on a cruise, extremely independent though I am.

Any thoughts, opinions, rants, anecdotes or musings are greatly appreciated!!!
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Apr 5th, 2016, 10:29 AM
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I've never really experienced "aloha" from the locals in the Caribbean. I've been only to St. Thomas, St. John, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. While people are tolerant of tourists I have never felt the warm welcome like I do in Mexico (or Hawaii).

One week solo? I suggest Negril Jamaica. Fly into Montego Bay. Take a 90 mins. shuttle out to Negril with Clive's or other. Stay on either the 7-mile beach or The Cliffs. Negril is a special and magical place. www.negrilonestop.com gives a good overview of the 'vibe'.

Considered this only my "musings"...
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Apr 5th, 2016, 10:41 AM
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My first trip to Anguilla in the late 1990's, the woman at immigration asked where we were staying. When I told her, she smiled and said her mom worked there and to tell her mother we had met her. When we got to the hotel, her mother met us at reception saying her daughter had called to say we were on the way.
I have never been to Hawaii, but I always get a warm welcome when I return to Anguilla
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Apr 5th, 2016, 12:14 PM
  #4
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Where are you departing from? That might help make your decision. Some islands take almost a day to get to from U.S. destinations.

Now about your questions... I think people are generally as friendly as you are with them. Of course during the winter/spring months ( peak of the tourist season) you may find people less friendly than usual.

You'll find gorgeous beaches in both Anguilla or Turks and Caicos, though I gave Turks and Caicos the nod for Grace Bay Beach, considered one of the best in the world.

Anguilla is less touristy than parts of Turks and Caicos ( Provo), but also harder to get to from most U.S. destinations.

Both Anguilla and Turks are pretty quiet. Maybe too quiet for a solo traveler? They both have some nightlife, but nothing like Negril, Jamaica, or Cancun, Mexico.

I'm not a fan at all of the Dutch side of St. Martin, so I'll let people who know and love the French side comment on that.

Lastly, there's some snorkeling/scuba on both islands, but St. John, Grand Cayman, Belize, are much better.
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Apr 5th, 2016, 07:49 PM
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suze: I've had a lot of recommendation for Jamaica. I haven't done much research about it but I think I will now. Ty.

beachykeen - I don't hear much about Anguilla. I do not think many go there. It seems to be a list bit more quiet. I love your story! That is what I am talking about..

And speaking about quiet, WWK, yes, I do like a peaceful atmosphere over All Inclusive and tourist-laden islands. This might be an impossible goal in the Caribbean but I'm glad you mentioned that T&C and Anguilla are in fact a bit less touristy. I've gone solo and single to Tahiti which was very quiet and Filled with honeymooners. I had a great time

Your information is most helpful. I think I am more attracted to T&C and Anguilla now more than ever. Nightlife like Cancun is exactly what I'm avoiding. I've been to Cancun a few times and was just in Playa Del Carmen so I'm saturated with Mexico at the moment. Belize is also on my bucket list for scuba but I'm hoping to save that for my friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco that might possibly be able to get away to somewhere close and therefore go with me.

Than you for your suggestions fellow travelers!
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Apr 5th, 2016, 08:06 PM
  #6
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Just wanted to ask what your budget is for this trip? We go to T&C every year, but it is one of the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean. We love it for the peace and quiet and ease of getting there from the East Coast. However, I think a solo traveler might find it a little boring? Lots of families, couples.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 04:22 AM
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I've been to all above (lucky me) and many solo.

What I want to point out is you need to go with the mindset that Caribbean and Hawaii are completely different from each other and don't have a compare in the back of your head.

It's like comparing New York to Paris. Both are cities.

So Caribbean and Hawaii have beaches, that is where it ends

Sounds like Hawaii is a comfort zone to you, leaving a comfort zone never compares (they will feel "nicer" in Hawaii because you're used to it) but opens your mind to new (and sometimes better or just different) experiences.

So nice really ultimately is a mindset based on how you approach people. Smile, ask how they're doing and you'd be amazed at how persons open up anywhere in the world
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Apr 6th, 2016, 06:03 AM
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I'm actually surprised you have narrowed things down to Anguilla & Turks as coming from Hawaii, you are choosing two islands that are nothing like any of the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii is green, lush, and mountainous. Both the islands you have picked are flat, dry and scrubby. Yes the beaches are absolutely stunning at both islands.

If you want something that is at least in the same ballpark as Hawaii, with killer beaches, friendly people, AND great snorkeling and diving opps, I'd seriously consider St John. It just seems to fit more of what you are looking for than Anguilla or T&C.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 07:24 AM
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So funny. I meant to post that T&C and Anguilla look NOTHING like Hawaii, but the poster above beat me to it.

Anyway, I agree that St. John sounds like a better fit, especially for a solo traveler. It has a thriving downtown, beautiful beaches, much better scuba and snorkeling. The only downside is that like Anguilla, it's a hassle to get there.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 07:27 AM
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If the landscape is something to consider, realize it's the larger island with mountains that have the lush, green, jungle feel to them (Jamaica being one of them) because the mountains catch the rain, and so forth.

Many islands are quite desert & dry in terrain. I found St. John to be quite scrubby in the trees and brush and not lush at all. The beach is nice there, but other than that I much prefer some others for a lush jungle feeling.

If you do choose Jamaica, definitely start with Negril!
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Apr 6th, 2016, 10:42 AM
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We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon (Maui, Kauai and the big island) and to Anguilla the year after. As blamona says, very different feel. Although we liked Hawaii we absolutely fell in love with Anguilla, primarily for its gorgeous beaches, wonderful people and quiet/slow feel. Keep going back to the Caribbean and have not yet returned to Hawaii. I think Anguilla is a great choice for white sand beaches and amazing restaurants. Limited snorkeling though. Its a dry coral island and as long as you are not looking for the lush feel of Hawaii you should be fine. For snorkeling as said before St John is a great choice.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 10:52 AM
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<<- Scuba. It'd be great to have some nice places to dive and see some colorful underwater life. I've been to Tahiti and Moorea and the diving there was some of the most beautiful I've seen. So much sea life and color. Do any Caribbean islands have this? >>

My brother, who is an avid scuba diver, has gone to Turks and Caicos several times to scuba dive.
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Apr 7th, 2016, 10:33 AM
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Consider the US Virgin Island of St Croix. It's a relatively easy plane trip, depending on where is your departure city?

Our family of 5 loved our week at The Buccaneer Resort.
http://www.thebuccaneer.com

It is a family-owned former-plantation, with a very welcoming vibe. The owner hosts a cocktail hour each week, and takes people on a walking tour of the property. Breakfast is included and it's a complete spread of hot/cold food (they will also prepare an omelet or pancakes if you want them), served in a lovely open-air dining room with a view.

Snorkeling off the beach, and scuba lessons and trips available on-site.

St Croix is not flat and scrubby. There is a rainforest you can visit, and you might enjoy the 'beer-drinking pigs' you can visit there.

We didn't need a car, except one day we rented one and toured the entire island. It's small and less developed than many places. Meaning, it has some fun home-grown places on the beach, to stop for food.

Ask for an oceanfront room. They are huge and have nice patios directly looking at the water.
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Apr 7th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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WWK:
I've heard that T&C is a bit pricey but this is the first time I've heard it's mostly kids/families and couples ... which turns me off. I want a peaceful vacation and not one surrounded by loud screaming babies or drunken hordes of spring vacation seekers I did, however, go to Tahiti on my own (no kids/families) but a lot of honey mooners. I made friends immediately and went scuba diving (for free once) atving, hiking etc the entire time I was there. My budget is obviously doable If I'm looking to travel to there. I'd imagine I would that would be the same for all who are seriously looking into a location...so not sure why that question? Do people generally looking into vacations that they cannot afford in your experience?

blamona:
You certainly are lucky if you've been to all of the islands in the Caribbean. What a dream.
Yes, you are right about not comparing. But I can see from everyone's perspectives that they (HI and Caribbean) are different places indeed. I've traveled Europe, Asia, South America and more alone so I know the Caribbean, whichever island, will be just fine. A smile does go a long way indeed.

Bassguy66:
I'm mainly more interested in the pristine beaches and the culture than I was of the lushness of the Hawaiian islands. But good to know that TC and Anguilla are scrubby! lol.

suze:
Not that interested in Jamaica as a friend came back from vacation and had many bad things to say about the island. Granted, that was in the 90's

mnag:
Thank you mnag for that optimistic suggestion. Yes, not really caring about the lushness, or crazy nightlife. But the scuba is important...so I may have to rethink Anguilla.

tom42:
Nice. thanks!

Tabernash2:
My departure city can be SFO or LAX. I just had a friend say she LOVED St. Croix. It looks like I may be googling/researching St. Croix/St. John now because Anguilla doesn't have the scuba I'm looking for. Thank you for the info.
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Apr 7th, 2016, 02:55 PM
  #15
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T&C doesn't draw much of a spring break crowd because it's too pricey. But it does attract families and honeymooners - lots of them - because Grace Bay Beach has tons of condo-type hotels/resorts. And because Grace Bay is one of the longest and most beautiful beaches in the world.

My experience here on the forum is that yes, people do often ask about destinations that are ultimately out of budget. That's why I asked.

About Jamaica: I used to go several times a year to Negril. I absolutely loved it in the 80s and 90s before it got so built up and congested. It was raw, primitive, kind of a traveler's paradise for us. You can still find that uniqueness in and around Negril - especially on the West End - but it's harder than it used to be, which is one reason why we moved on.

That being said, for friendliness ( sometimes too much!) warmth, good food, culture, music, and lushness, it's hard to beat Negril! Just stay away, far away from Montego Bay and Ocho, both of which I think offer Jamaica at its worst.

About St. John: We loved it, but found it a hassle to get to from the East Coast. That was a while ago, so maybe there are better options now? Just stay away from what used to be The Westin. It's on this weird bay that isn't pretty w/ man made beach. Also a taxi ride away from civilization, town, beaches.
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Apr 7th, 2016, 03:06 PM
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OK... i'm officially confused:

suze: I've had a lot of recommendation for Jamaica. I haven't done much research about it but I think I will now.

suze: Not that interested in Jamaica as a friend came back from vacation and had many bad things to say about the island. Granted, that was in the 90's.
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Apr 7th, 2016, 05:18 PM
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kpuber, you can find my decision process re: the Buccaneer & St Croix, by clicking on my name. Also lots of specific details I posted while on StC

At the Buccaneer, they have free snorkel gear for guests.
We got some, and took the boat to Buck Island, US National Park. The boat loads at the Buccaneer. It's a good tour.
Everyone but me went scuba diving. They bought scuba passes and took the hotel car service to Christensted.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 04:28 AM
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Not all in Caribbean, just all mentioned. (I'd say I've been to 75% of them)

I traveled the world solo before getting married, I'm so close to joining the century travel club-- and yes, most I went alone

My first trip to TCI was solo. Loved it so much when I married went back with husband and bought a villa. It's a great destination for everybody, not overrun at all.

For snorkel scuba:

Roatan Honduras
Belize (no real good beaches)
Virgin Islands
Caymans
Bonaire (no real beaches)
Mexico (Cozumel)

Other destinations scuba is afterthought. Different kind of fish in Caribbean than Pacific, many more turtles and sharks (okay I dove Australia, Fiji, Cooks, French Polynesia)
I've been comfortable almost every destination I went solo.

Best beaches:
Turks and Caicos
Anguilla (no decent scuba in my opinion)
Virgin Islands
Bahamas (exumas mind boggling)

Caribbean has 2 types of islands, hilly (but not necessarily lush as in Pacific) and flat dry scrubby. What the dry islands offer are mind boggling bright turquoise clear water. What hilly ones offer are scenery.

Friendliest, I find people in Anguilla to be the best. I've always managed to find nice people everywhere though. I find by starting myself with a "how are you?" Before asking a question goes far, and people are willing to help and include you.

Many destinations have people bugging you to buy stuff, drugs, etc. you will find my best beaches category islands to have very little of that.

As for "vibe" which I think you mean culture,
Anguilla
Jamaica(but lower on my list for everything else)
Bahamas

I do find Caribbean people to be more reserve and shy in general. They're just different.

Safety-- the best beach categories win this one too. Being more expensive islands in the first place might make a difference. (Just a guess)

Here's the thing: Caribbean has many personalities, and no 2 islands are a like, and there's never a 1 island fits all there.

Now if you really want a destination to fit all your needs, try Maldives!
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Apr 8th, 2016, 06:13 AM
  #20
 
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Following up on blamona's post regarding scuba - my brother loves Roatan Honduras for scuba diving. Word of caution though - you may want to consider taking precautions against malaria. My brother did not and ended up getting it. It was awful.
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