Help on islands-I've read the posts!

Old Dec 28th, 2004, 08:09 PM
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Help on islands-I've read the posts!

I know, I know - read the posts. I have searched, but am still needing your expert advice on choosing an island. We're a family of 4 - one teenager and one 5 year old. We're looking for:
great beaches - gorgeous water
wildlife (whales, turtles...)
water activities - novice surfing, boogie boarding
villa on the beach if possible
not needed : nightlife, although beach bars are a plus
tourists galore
We loved Guana Cay in the Abaco islands. Hated Cancun.
We've narrowed it down a bit to St. John, Tortola, Belize, Turks and Caicos, Barbados.
Thanks so much!
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 10:15 PM
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Except for your request for surfing and boogie boarding, I would suggest Turks & Caicos. Beaches is a wonderful family resort (regardless of the ages). Beaches has bungalos on the beach, and they have swim-up bars at the pools. They don't have a beach bar, but one of the pool bars is close to the beach.

As for the's teaming with wildlife, lots of fish and turtles. At certain times of the year whales hang out in T&C (not sure when). The water there is beautiful, and the beach goes on forever. Within walking distance from Beaches there is a beautiful coral reef that starts right on the shoreline. Most of our time during the day is spent snorkeling.

What you won't find on T&C is shopping and tourist traps. There is a duty free shop at Beaches, and one day a week they allow local vendors to set up stands on premises to sell they wares (no pressure). This could come in handy if you really wanted to buy any souvenirs.

We really love all-inclusive resorts, and Beaches is a great one in our opinion. We also love T&C because of the beach, water, and lack of crowds.

We have always gone in May, and our 2005 trip to Beaches T&C is already booked. If you have other questions, just ask.
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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 04:27 AM
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If it's great beaches you seek, I would warn you off Belize. While I am a beach-o-phile myself, and had one of my best Caribbean trips ever in Belize, I went there knowing that the beaches are modest at best.

Belize is a premier eco-tourism destination, with amazing reefs teeming with wildlife, as well as a rich interior that ranges from Mayan ruins and jungles and caves. The sailing is an absolute revelation. While the main tourism islands (Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker) have beaches, they are narrow and have plenty of turtle grass. There are some nice, very small beaches on some of the barrier reef islands (Goff's Caye, Rendezvous Caye), but they can only be reached by boat and there are no tourist amenities there. Since you have been to Great Guana Cay, you have seen some of the best beaches on the planet; Belize's are sure to disappoint.

This is not to say that a vacation in Belize wouldn't delight your family. But if beaches are the key, this may not be the place for you. For more information on Belize, I have a couple of trip reports on my webpage (, and another great resource is
Callaloo is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2004, 05:22 AM
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Out of the islands you mentioned , probably Tortola .
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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 07:41 AM
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Instead of Tortolla I would recommend Virgin Gorda. We were on Tortolla a few years ago and visited VG on a day trip. The island is similar to Great Guana Cay. Beautiful beaches, pretty and very laid back. I was not impressed with the beaches on Tortolla. Also its a bit busier than VG and not as quaint (in my opinion). Getting there involves a ferry connection from Tortolla so it would be a hassle.
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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 08:12 AM
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Tortola's nice but I agree that Gorda has better beaches and fewer people; villas on the beach are definitely feasible there.

St. John is beautiful but a beachfront villa would be tough to find. Caneel Bay has a great location.

We loved the beach and the water in Provo (T&C) but the Beaches resort was by far the most crowded spot on the island. I would choose a different resort on Grace Bay (most are condos).

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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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I've been to the Abacos and Guana Cay and found the Coral Bay side of St. John comparable. While it would be difficult to find a villa on the beach, there are numerous great beaches a short drive away. Definitely not crowded. Good selection of casual places to eat such as Skinny Legs, Island Blues, and Shipwreck Landing.
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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Sounds like Tamarindo, Costa Rica is just for you.
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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I was actually thinking the same thing Traveler . Also consider Manuel Antonio area , where not only do you get some decent surf at the public beach just outside the park , but the really beautiful beaches inside the park . Wishing I was there as we speak ! Some of your criteria is there ( not all ) perhaps worth it just to take a look ! ( future trip )
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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Let me jump in and offer another perspective on Tortola...we took our kids there when they were 11 and 13, and rented a villa at Long Bay Beach Resort. The villa was great - mom and dad had a separate master suite upstairs, and the beach bar had character and maybe 5-10 other kids, enough to make it interesting. We had a jeep for the week too, and made it a daily excursion to look for a new snorkeling beach (the snorkeling was wonderful and so were the beaches!). I've not been to Virgin Gorda, but Tortola provided our family just the right mix of beauty, Caribbean adventure, dining, and even a little shopping. We took a day sail trip to the Baths and I do want to go back, but I'm thinking VG is more of a couples destination...have fun deciding!
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