Help me narrow down our destination pls!

Old Dec 29th, 2023, 10:19 PM
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Help me narrow down our destination pls!

Im hoping you all can help me narrow down the island that would be best for us this coming April for 7days, 6 nights. We've already crossed the following off our list due to having already visited these locations or other considerations Hawaii, Mexico, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, and Tortola.

We would prefer an AI so we dont have to think about anything other than excursions, shopping, and tipping. We are looking at spending $3000-5000 without airfare.

So, a few things about us:
It will be just the two of us we are in our 40s. My husband loves hiking. I like mild hiking, but I dont think I would make it up something like the pitons. We would like an island with some lush greenery and hills, but not necessarily enormous heights with ladders and where I'd have to cling to rocks. Lol That being said, I LOVE waterfalls. We like nature and national parks.

We like to explore on our own a lot especially stopping for a scenic view and things like that, so well-maintained roads are a plus. Driving on the right is preferred, but not a deal-breaker. From what I understand most islands are safe if you are aware of your surroundings and not walking around at night by yourself.

We like snorkeling - we do not have any diving experience. We like soft sand beaches, so we realize we may need to take an excursion to do snorkeling elsewhere.

We like going to shopping districts, but not like brand name shopping we can get in the US we like souvenir shops and artisans selling their own creations.

Regarding the resort:
We are looking for a clean AI resort with several restaurants to choose from. We are steak and potatoes / chicken and rice kind of people. We like Italian food, BBQ, and Mexican food, too. I don't eat any seafood and the only seafood my husband eats is grilled shrimp and tilapia. We will have cocktails while there, but we don't necessarily need top shelf - we aren't huge drinkers.
Good WiFi is a must. We will be leaving our kids at home, so we'll want to be able to text and call as needed/wanted.
A nice pool is a plus, but we are more interested in a nice beach.

Any ideas?
Thank you!!
mcatkramer is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2023, 11:48 PM
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I am totally biased but have you considered Cuba.? It is not expensive and $3000-5000 without airfarewould get you something very nice in the 5 star range.
A safe country although letting someone else do the driving for you while you are there is more practical. Taxis are relatively cheap. Resorts are aplenty.
Let me know if you are curious and want more details.
CubanWaters is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2023, 05:20 AM
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You have ruled out Mexico,, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic which are the places that have the most AI resorts.
I personally, don't know of any AI resorts in Puerto Rico, but other than that, all your other requirements can be found there.
You might also want to look into Costa Rica.
schmerl is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2023, 04:41 AM
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As schmerl already pointed out you've ruled out the three Caribbean destination with the greatest number of AI resorts. Also, although you've tagged your post with the Turks & Caicos, Anguillla, Barbuda, Aruba and Curacao you can effectively rule these out as they are all flat, arid and scrubby limestone/coral based islands that lack the "lush greenery and hills" you are seeking (also applies to Aruba's sister island of Bonaire.

You've limited your choices further by requiring an AI Resort. Many of the destinations not already eliminated do not have AI resorts or have very few to choose from. If, however, you are are willing to accept resorts that offer optional meal plans (as opposed to being fully AI) or go without a food plan you'll have lots of places that meet all your other requirements.

In addition to Puerto Rico as schmerl suggested you might want to look at Antigua. It has a couple of AI resorts and a few resorts that just offer optional meal plans. The island is hilly, has a fair amount of lush greenery and boasts 365 beaches (a bit of advertising puffery since some of these are tiny or have very limited, if any, means of public access). Still, there are quite a few very nice beaches. There is some snorkeling around the island and off-shore, however, there are no waterfalls .

I might also suggest Virgin Gorda in the BVI's. It offers everything on your wish list except full AI resorts (you may find a couple of places that offers full or modified meal plans) but you won't find waterfalls.

If you can forgo the AI requirement consider a trip to St. Kitts and/or Nevis. Both of these islands are mountainous, very lush with dense rainforests and a couple of small waterfalls (on each island). There are very nice darker sand beaches but only limited snorkeling (not a strong suit on either island). An added bonus is the island are only a couple of miles apart so you can easily make day trips from one to the other or split your stay between the two.

Dominica is a very lush mountainous island with 100+ miles of hiking trails, plenty of easily accessed waterfalls and a couple of resorts offering AI or optional meal plans. There is some limited snorkeling and OK beaches.

Finding an island in the Caribbean is often a bit of a compromise as there is rarely the "perfect island". You have to set priorities on your wish list and be willing to forgo one or two items. Here are some generalized comments:
You can find steak & potatoes and chicken & rice on just about every island and in just about every restaurant you visit. Shrimp can be found on the menus at most restaurants and beach bars but it will likely be frozen as ship is not found in local waters. Tilapia is not a staple on most Caribbean islands but you will find fresh caught Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Snapper and other warm water fish. True Mexican food is a little scarce as is Italian food, although many restaurants might have a pasta dish n their menu. Driving on the right is generally found in the USVI's, Puerto Rico and a few other islands. In general, Islands that are or were under British or European rule drive on the left. Every island will have souvenir shops and artisans selling their own creations. Most resorts today, have decent WiFi that can be used for email and texting. As for internet phone calling, that be spotty on smaller more remote islands due to either power outages or not enough ban width. Although internet service has greatly improved throughout the Caribbean in recent years it is best to check directly with the specific resort for the current status.
RoamsAround is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2024, 10:13 AM
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Thank you to each of you! I hadn't looked into Cuba, Cuban Waters - that's a good idea, thanks!
Schmerl, thank you for the suggestions! We did look at Costa Rica, but weren't sure if it was safe to self-explore there or not. I will have to look into that further.
Roams Around - thank you for all the information! That's very helpful! Yes, I do realize we will have to give up something, but I figured I might as well say everything I'm looking in hopes someone would do what you did and go through each topic - thank you for that! It's super helpful!

We are now looking at Antigua or Grenada. I'm not 100% sure we will go with AI, if most Caribbean islands have restaurants similar to what I mentioned. I will try Caribbean food, I just want to make sure there are other options, too. One of the main reasons I was looking into AI was b/c of not having to worry about our spending so we can focus our budget on excursions and such. The other reason was because most AIs have a steakhouse restaurant, an italian restaurant, a burger bar, etc. But if the islands have these available I don't know that we will need AI.

Thank you to each of you! That was very helpful!
mcatkramer is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2024, 11:49 AM
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I also am no help Because Mexico, Hawaii, and Jamaica are the places I've been most often that fit your request!

Maybe I missed it in your post... but what is your home/international airport? Where are you starting from?
suze is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2024, 08:32 PM
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We are starting from St. Louis, MO. I think we've narrowed it down to Grenada or Antigua so far!
mcatkramer is offline  
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