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HELP needed to plan Feb '14 vacation with teens anywhere in Caribbean!

HELP needed to plan Feb '14 vacation with teens anywhere in Caribbean!

Old Feb 8th, 2013, 07:20 PM
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HELP needed to plan Feb '14 vacation with teens anywhere in Caribbean!

I am hoping someone can help me. I know I have an early head start but already I'm overwhelmed trying to narrow down our search.
We plan to go on vacation with our 2 teen daughters on their Feb break next year. They will be 15 and 18 by then. (there is a tiny chance we could go in April instead and we can certainly go around Christmas and NY/Jan but hear that is much more expensive and not any warmer!)
We live in the cold Northeast and want a place where we can be in shorts and swimsuits all week. Top priority is warmth and a beautiful, crystal clear beach with water warm enough to swim in every day.
Would prefer avoiding a place overrun with squealing young 'uns...been there done that, we are past that stage, but the girls don't want to be bored. Activities, adventures, snorkeling, some shopping, a great pool when they are tired of salty water, etc.
Wish there were family resorts for ages 13 and up or something. Happy medium. Would very much like an AI because my idea of a vacation is not having to think about where to eat and how much that 2nd glass of wine is costing. This is a huge celebration of multiple occasions we've saved up for this trip (high school graduation, daughter's 18th bday and my 50th fall on the same day, 20th wedding anniversary) I'd like to be just a wee bit spoiled and enjoy really good food that I didn't have to prepare or clean up after!! (husband and I have accepted that we are foodies, girls are happy with some fish, some fries and pizza) . Since we don't eat "land meat", good food variety is important (we are "pescatarians"). No hotdogs and hamburgers for us.
I love all the offerings at Beaches T&C (esp with the new swanky Key West village) but am really worried about air and water temps in February...
Aruba looks hot enough but no nice AI resorts and we are not fans of casinos or high rises. and the island itself looks quite boring.
Also don't want to be somewhere with mosquitoes. We are tortured by those all summer here! Looked at Palm Island but not sure...am reading about mosquitoes in many places like Negril, Palm Island, Punta Cana, St Lucia, among others.
If anyone can offer any help, I'd be so grateful! Jamaica looks warm enough but then someone said the water is chilly in Feb in Negril. And the Beaches there does not seem to measure up to the Beaches T&C...
If money were no object we'd do an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora!! That's on my bucket list...TOP of the list!! Alas, I can always dream...
For now..need to be realistic. We aren't poor, nor are we millionaires.
Please HELP!!
AnneMarie16 is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2013, 11:38 PM
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Considering that you want an AI is going to limit your choices a bit. Most AI's will be found in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. February through the end of April is considered high season, so you will end up paying more than say if you can wait until about the 2nd or 3rd week of May or the first of June after Memorial weekend. We also go somewhere the first week of December because the prices and crowds are at their lowest.

We have found the pools too cool in Mexico in December, but the ocean temps are fine. There is so many things to see in do in the Playa del Carmen/Rivera Maya. And, yes is safe. To us, it's more safe than Jamaica and the DR. Not sure how the water temps will be in February.

Jamaica in December we never had an issue with pool temps. There are some really nice family resorts there in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Not some much in Negril. Look at the Iberostars in Montego Bay. The Jewell recently took over an hotel and re-opened it as a family resort. We loved the adult's only resort there. I do recommend going with the resort's offered tours or hiring a private driver for excursions and activities just to keep the overly aggressive vendors and locals at bay.

Look for posts here by Blamona. She is the T & C expert and can advise you on temps there in February. However, if you are not wanting to be around screaming little kids I would think twice about any of the Beaches resorts.

I wouldn't give up on Aruba. There are tons of dining and bars options, shopping and entertainment. If you stay on Eagle beach you'll be away from the highrises and casinos. Look at the Divi complex. It's 3 resorts built together and offers all inclusive package located on Eagle Beach. Also, look at DePalm.com and see some of the various things that you can do on the Island.

I would rule out St. Lucia. Most everything is spread out and beaches is not it's main draw. It's more about the topogrpahy and siteseeing. It's probably more suited for a honeymoon or couples getaway than a family vacation. IMPO. Others might disagree.

We have never had any issues with mosquitos in the many Caribbean Islands or Mexico that we've been to except St. Thomas at dusk. We always bring mosquito repelant with DEET and had no problems. I definitely would not pass on a destination based on that reason alone.

Have you considered a cruise? Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are now offering an AI pre-pay alcohol, soda and drink package. RC has more things on board their ships to attract teens.

Here's a list of AI's in the Caribbean:


Here's a list of AI's in Mexico:

KVR is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2013, 03:44 AM
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Of the islands you've tagged, I've been to Jamaica, Aruba and St Lucia - I cannot comment on DR or Mexico as I haven't been.

Negril is a great place for everyone, lots of activities but no shopping or snorkelling to speak of. Gorgeous beach, no need for AI because the beach is one long line of hotels, restaurants and bars. We are not pool people at all, we love swimming in the sea which we don't see often enough. We found the sea a little cool and we went at the start of March. Couple of degrees more would have been better, the air temps were not super hot, very pleasant and sunny, still got sunburnt, but not hot hot although it has the bonus of little humidity. Choice of AI is limited in Negril, places like Sunset at the Palms would be ok for me but not sure for teens. Cannot comment on Ocho Rios or MBJ as I have not stayed there.

Aruba is deceptive; it may look boring and indeed, we rented a car and went to the top of the island and could see the end of the island and wondered what we would do all week. Turns out there is plenty to do and see; horseriding over to a natural swimming pool where you can swim, ostrich farms, casinos, butterfly farm etc plus there are casinos if you are into that sort of thing. There is snorkelling, scuba diving (wreck of the Antilla for instance), shopping, lots of places to eat & drink (we stayed at the Holiday Inn room only basis and we drank at the beach bar outside the hotel, name escapes me but I can recommend happy hour). Oranjestad the capital has some very nice architecture. But it doesn't have the typical landscape of a Caribbean island, its hot, dry, flat with cacti and iguanas and very good beaches.

I've taken my daughter when she was young to St Lucia, it's a family holiday destination as much as anywhere else is. We stayed at Sandals La Toc and Almond Morgan, there were kids of all ages in both places (there are better places to stay than those however & the beach at Almond Morgan leaves alot to be desired & I'm not fussy). We took her on the Jolly Roger trip down the coast of the island, snorkelling excursions etc. The north and south of the island are quite different, the south is where the Pitons are and the dark sand beaches and the landscape is lush and tropical, you can see the volcano, sulphur springs and botanical gardens. You get the activities here and snorkelling/diving. In the north of the island are the lighter sand beaches and the nightlife/restaurants around Rodney Bay. Best beach is Reduit but it can be busy. I can understand why people are not keen on St Lucia, it might be a little too authentic a Caribbean island and not as manicured as other destinations and getting from north to south is a hike, although not far in distance. But the reward is the beauty of the island.

Can you get to Barbados? West coast beaches are really beautiful and calm, it would fulfill all requirements except perhaps snorkelling, its not the greatest but there are fish and definitely turtles. South/ south west lies St Lawrence Gap where the nightlife it but beaches are a little rougher. There are lots of AIs in Barbados too, of course it cannot be as many or as large as those in Mexico being a tiny island, nor might you find 24 hour room service and other things. Depends what your priority is for vacation, is it the AI and it's facilities/value for money and how much food can you eat 24/7 or is it a Caribbean island experience that you want or somewhere that is half way in between.

Antigua has great beaches and has AIs, a co-worker of mine goes every year with her 2 teens to St James Club. It will fall short on the snorkelling and shopping front though. Be aware that on some islands there is an evening dress code, generally meaning for men long pants, closed shoes and a shirt or top with a collar and short sleeves, women get away with a bit more unless really upscale. On some (ex British) islands you dress up for dinner rather than the US way which is dress down. Not as bad as it might sound, since we all shower and change for dinner after a days activities (hopefully) and probably similar rules exist on a cruise?
Odin is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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palm island is delightful. wonderful service, good food, romantic. your girls would be Bored. go with your hubby sometime.
barbados could be a good choice. will be hot, water will be warm. lots of to do's & pretty drives. tons of good dining options.
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virginia is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Sunset at the Palms in Negril, Jamaica is considered a honeymooon hotel though they allow children. Why, is beyond me. It's on Bloody Bay and not 7 Mile Beach and it's located across the street from the beach. There is literally nothing in that area, but AI hotels. You'll have to take a taxi to the 7 Mile Beach area for additional dining or activites. Hotel sponsored tours is really a must in that area because it's away from everything. I would think Negril would be too boring and confined for teens. However, there are 2 RIU AI hotels in that location. We stayed at the RIU Tropical Bay and I would not recommend it to anyone. Of the 13 Caribbean hotels we've been to, I would rate that one the bottom and Sandals Grande St. Lucia right above it.

The 3 Sandals Resorts in St. Lucia are couples only resorts. They do not allow children or teens. I just think St. Lucia would be too boring for teens. Little kids probably not an issue. There is the Cocount Beach Resort that gets questionable reviews, but they have a very nice water park.

We have looked at going to Barbados for years and could not find a decent priced AI hotel there. The AI's there don't appear to be on the same level as the ones we've been to in Mexico and Jamaica, so we just couldn't pull the trigger to spend our hard earned money there. I feel it would be a better cruise stop. The Island is very British and formal. Seems there are some good things to see and do there and should be warm in February. I would go with Aruba though. They are refurbishing an old hotel there into a Couples Resort, which is a Jamaica based hotel chain. I would look into that for a future trip as it meets the AI expectations that we are accustomed to, but it's an adult's only resort.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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I agree with the suggestion of a cruise. I never thought of myself as a cruise person but just got back from a Caribbean cruise that was just delightful. There is something for everyone, active or relaxed, food choices galore, no packing/unpacking for a week. Loved our ports and the ship (though we were on the Celebrity Summit out of San Juan which definitely did not cater to teens). Check out the Cruises section of this forum for ideas of ships and destinations that would work well for multi-generational. We had perfect warm weather and no mosquitos. You could go out of Florida. Also, neighbors just told me of a family cruise they took on a catamaran with teens out of the British Virgin Islands, that they all loved...different experience than a big ship.

The value for your money is suprisingly good that time of year.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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Hi LeslieC. I was following your cruise posts regarding that Celebrity cruise out of San Juan. Glad you liked it as we are strongly looking at that cruise for November. Did you write a trip report or post pics? I would be greatly interested. Thanks.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 07:13 PM
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If you think a cruise might work for you, look at vacationstogo 90 day sticker and you will see what is available right now and prices to give you a better idea for next year. Our first (and my favorite) cruise was on the Caribbean Princess to the Caribbean. There was something different to do every day and lots to do on the ship. You could take tours of the islands, snorkle, scuba dive, horseback ride, etc. You can be pampered and the hot tubs and pools are great.

I had read about cruises for awhile before choosing that one. I didn't want a party ship, but one with young vibes. I wanted lots of opportunities for activities both on and off the ship. What a great intro to cruising! The only thing that might not be quite perfect for you, as a foodie, is the food was very, very good most of the time, but not amazing. There were, however, plenty of choices and you could always splurge at one of the specialy restaurants. Also, when you are off the ship, you could sample foods on the islands for lunch.
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