help me pick an island! (and somewhere to stay)

Nov 29th, 2000, 07:37 PM
  #1  
jane
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help me pick an island! (and somewhere to stay)

hi all - I'm trying to plan a trip for January and i keep going back and forth between different islands and places to stay....here's what i'm looking for, any suggestions would be great:
great beaches, good snorkeling/diving, laid back and casual (no 'dressing for dinner' or snobby attitude but not too earthy an experience), a good deal (which is what by the way?), youngish (but not crazy nightlife), safe, not jampacked, not too difficult to get to, good weather in January, towns/sites to explore, activities that are accessible but not in your face all the time......
thanks and sorry for the laundry list!
 
Nov 30th, 2000, 03:39 AM
  #2  
Eva
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Jane,

If you are hoping to go in January, you'd better make up your mind FAST!!! To meet all your criteria, I would recommend the BVI. (I would have also suggested some of the Bahamas Out Islands, but weather in January is not always warm).

Here's a suggestion -- a way to get a taste of what the BVI have to offer, all rolled into a convenient package, whether you are a sailor or not. Try a Moorings land & sail combo, which runs less than $1500/person (not including air -- which is available at a discount through their in-house travel agency -- but including meals at sea). You get 3 days on land, and 4 days on a chartered sailboat with captain and cook.

While on land, you stay at Moorings' fairly nice Treasure Isle Hotel. You can explore Tortola by rented jeep, visit the rum distillery at Cane Garden Bay, travel to Tortola's many beaches (Smuggler's Cove is a favorite, as is Beef Island's Long Bay), explore Road Town, hike Mt. Sage, sample the rum punch and Carib at various beach bars, or just hang out at the pool.

While at sea, your captain will guide you to the best beaches (some utterly empty), the most intriguing snorkeling spots, fun sailor bars. He can also arrange for rendezvous dives. All the while, the captain handles the boat (you can participate as much or as little as you like), and the cook wines and dines you with gourmet cuisine.

The only possible drawback: Moorings will fill the other two guest cabins on your boat with strangers (unless you bring your own friends). As a result, your fellow boatmates may not be the kind of people you would have chosen to travel with. However, having sailed on many occasions with friends of my own choosing, plus once on a Moorings charter with potluck strangers, I can tell you that your friends may turn out to be the strangers you want to toss overboard at the end of the week, and those strangers could end up being awfully nice traveling companions.

If you are not a sailor, this type of trip may convert you. My husband and I and our best friends did this very trip in 1993 when we were in our 20s (see my trip report at www.homestead.com/islandtime/MainPage1.html), to get a taste of chartering without committing to a full week, and we are truly among the converted, with 2 crewed and 3 bareboat charters under out belt, a charter next week, and 2 more bareboats planned (and we now own our second boat).

E-mail me directly if you would like further information. Or contact the Moorings at www.moorings.com.

Cheers,
Eva
 
Nov 30th, 2000, 11:03 AM
  #3  
Beth Tetrault
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If you don't mind spending a few extra bucks, Grand Cayman is a great vacation destination. My husband and I just went 11-3 thru 11-10. If you have money to spend, the Westin Hotel in Grand Cayman is right on Seven Mile Beach. To save money, we stayed at the Sunshine Suites which is near the Westin. (We have coupons for a room upgrade at Sunshine Suites. E-mail me if you want one) The island is very clean and has great snorkling or diving. I'd feel safe going anywhere on the island. Don't know how packed it'll be in January, we were in off-season when we went. There are some great casual restaurants.
 
Dec 3rd, 2000, 09:57 AM
  #4  
Diahann Wilcox
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My husband and I went on vacation to Grenada. It is a fabulous island!! It is a lush, hilly, tropical island. Diving is very good there. In fact the Titanic of the Caribbean is located off the port city of St. George's. The locals love Americans. The island is not over done. Great food at resort called La Source. We hiked, dived, sailed, snorkled and just relaxed.

Depending on where you live, it might be far though...
 
Dec 4th, 2000, 12:28 PM
  #5  
Jackie
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I'd recommend Barbados. It's a great island with stuff to do and really nice beaches. The beaches are calm on the leeward side of the island, and crazy on the windward side. There is great nightlife, which is comprised of clubs and restaurants (which I prefer) rather than resort-hopping. The people are great and realize that tourism is their business; I found that they uniformly made an extra effort to make sure tourists have a good time. The atmosphere reflects the island's British roots, but it was still very laid back and relaxing. I stayed at Sam Lord's Castle, about which I've been hearing bad things recently, so you probably don't want to stay there. The thing is that, unlike Jamaica, Barbados is safe (relatively), so if you stay at a place that is less expensive you don't have to worry that they skimped on the security because it's not as necessary. There is snorkeling, although I don't know whether there's diving. I would think there would be day trips. I would suggest taking a half day island tour that includes the tidal caves at the end of the island and a lunch at the Atlantis Hotel on the windward side of the island. You don't say whether you are single, but Barbados is great if you're single because the people are so friendly. You'll meet tons of Bajans if you're travelling alone or with a same sex friend. If you're a couple (opposite sex or otherwise), Barbados can be very fun too, with lots of places to go to eat and dance, and romantic beaches. Have a great time wherever you wind up going!
 
Dec 4th, 2000, 01:29 PM
  #6  
jbrooks
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Hi,
I second the BVI's! I just returned Sunday and had a wonderful time again. Stay on Cane Garden Bay...It is extremely casual with a few beach bars and usually a band plays every night of the week at one of them. Snorkeling trips are easy to get to and wonderful in the BVI waters! We stayed at Quitos Ole works inn in the junior suite (had two double beds and a living room and kitchen, for only $140 per night). Its a real good deal and a fun place to stay and is definitely not a resort...it is built into an old sugar mill so it has lots of character to it! Plus, food is expensive on the islands so it was nice to be able to make sandwiches for some of our dinners. I have not been to any other islands where the locals are so nice and engaging...its very easy to mix and mingle with the islanders, the yachties and the tourists. We made a lot of friends! If you can afford to, sailing is a lot of fun as Eva points out. Especially if you are going with someone special, it can be very romantic! Good luck!
 
Dec 5th, 2000, 04:03 PM
  #7  
d motl
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Consider Isla Mujeres--a small caribbean island about 10 mailes from cancun. meets all your requirements. We spend a month a year there and have our own home grown brouchure on the island that we can e-nmail if you request.
Also visit isla-mujeres.net
good hotels $55 to 150
dan and ginny
 
Dec 6th, 2000, 07:41 AM
  #8  
felix little
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i suggest a villa rental - i go through caribbeanway.com (www.caribbeanway.com) - their customer service is #1 and they have some great places - you should look into the villa experience - it often even comes out much cheaper.
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 03:15 PM
  #9  
Donna
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I agree about the BVI's. Went to Tortola last year and want to go again someday. Stayed at Frenchmans Cay-very nice. Nice beaches were found too!
 
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