Help us pick a Caribbean destination!

Oct 7th, 2007, 01:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 13
Help us pick a Caribbean destination!

My husband and I are 31, going on an anniverary trip w/o our 2 year old in November and looking for:
- gorgeous beaches
- good snorkeling off the beach
- good food/restaurants
- water sports (parasailing, jet ski, etc)
- beach bars
- decent nightlife - not clubs, just bars with possibly live music and others to talk to
- the less cruise ship traffic the better - or at least somewhere on the island we can escape it
- other activities to do during the day are a bonus (hiking, driving to other beaches, day trips to other islands, etc), would prefer to rent a car so we can explore - so it needs to be relatively safe
- we don't want to stay on the same beach everyday, we want to explore other beaches/towns/etc.
- We'd like to spend $2,000 max on air/hotel and hopefully car rental for a 6 day/5 night stay.

Where should we go?
wildcat22 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
i agree with doug your budget is small for the caribbean.
my first thought was turks & caicos but it does not have much much nightlife, and is a vey expensive island.
barbados has all you are looking for but as doug said the air will eat most of your budget.
i suggest you consider an all-inclusive in the playa del carmen area of the maya riviera. (fly to cancun and drive or get a van to resort) this way you know what you're spending before you leave. check out for excellent listing of available properties.
another option depending on where you live might be are gwv vacations or tnt vacations. both discount vacation packagers operating in new england area.
virginia is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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Airfare must be really expensive where you guys are! We're looking at airfare of $1,000 for the 2 of us and that leaves hotels/condos at $200/night and I've had no problem finding that whatsoever and are actually in the $150/night range. Car rental is about $120. So, maybe $1900 for air, hotel, car which is the budget I'm trying to hit ($2,000 or less for air/hotel/car). We are definitely not wanting to stay in 5star resorts as we are not wanting to spend much time there, maybe that's where everyone is confused?? I'm not saying $2,000 TOTAL trip, just for those 3 things.

Thanks for the suggestions. I looked into Barbados, but the flights there are about $500 more expensive (in total). We actually went to Playa del Carmen last year (which you are correct, was less than $2,000 TOTAL) and we like to experience new places each year. Also, we don't need hot spot night clubs, just some local bars to have a few drinks at late in the evening.

I don't mean to come across ungrateful for the suggestions, I just don't understand the "unrealistic" budget comments when my budget is perfectly within what I've been finding?
wildcat22 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
What happened to Doug's response?

My first thought also is your budget is too low for the Caribbean. I can't think of anywhere, but Mexico where you can get airfare that low. It might help if you tell us where you are coming from. Apparently, you do get better airfare deals than where I am located.

For your other criteria, I would look at Aruba, Curacao, St. John, USVI, Cancun or Cozumel, MX.

It may also be helpful if you tell us the destinations you've found in your airfare price range and then we might be able to recommend low budget hotels.
KVR is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
ok so where are you flying from? i fly from maine so yes fares are often right up there and a drive to boston w/overnight stay at park & fly hotel never really saves us that much.
you say you've found air to somewhere for $500/each - which island? there are places for every budget avail on every island.
if we knew which island(s)you are already looking at someone might come up with a more helpful suggestion.
the only thing on your list of wants that really limits your choices is the -good snorkeling off the beach > t&c, mex, grand cayman, usvi, bvi, bonnaire, st. vincent & grenadines and maybe tobago are best for this. belize is another option but best snorkel is on ambergris cay which has very little to do except dive/snorkel.
is an off beach location ok for your hotel?
virginia is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,712
KVR: Wildcat22 reposted!

Doug's answers are on Wildcat's St. Marteen post-at first I thought the same thing.

Wildcat22, I agree with everyone-$2000 in Caribbean won't get you much. while it's doable, you have to consider that if on a budget, the restaurants will add considerable amount, plus any extras (excursions, tips, drinks, etc) So consider once you make it on the island, it's expensive to stay!

It seems the islands with the best restaurants are the upscale expensive islands. Expect around $120-$150 for dinner for 2, without alcohol drinks. You could do an all-inclusive, but food at some while not bad, it's not usually great either.

Mexico seems to come closest to your requirements. You may also want to check out Belize and Costa Rica. And for your budget, you'll have to stay away Thanksgiving week.

Other ways to help your burget:

rent a villa with a full kitchen-cook breakfast or lunch. Eat dinner early at restaurants so you can order off lunch menu. Check out villas under from owner can save some money.

Sign up for airfare alerts on American, Usairways, Delta and Continental-they send emails to let you know of sales.

check out all the weekly specials, air, hotel, or packages.

Keep in mind for your budget you may have to give something from your list, but with alot of work it could possibly be done.

The "cheaper" places tend to be Dominican Republic, Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica. Mexico and belize have good snorkeling, not good at DR, or Costa Rica.

good luck-keep us posted with your finds.

blamona is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,659
Does it have to be an English speaking island? Martinique and Guadeloupe must have amongst the most inexpensive accommodation in the Caribbean, mainly bungalows and gites, although the exchange rate might not be in your favour (and not sure of air connections to French Antilles from US).

We had an inexpensive stay at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Aruba and food did not cost the earth, esp if you can eat where locals eat.

Check out tripadvisor under speciality lodging/inns for suggestions on B&B/guesthouse accommodation as there is something for every budget.

Alternatively, there are some reasonably priced AI hotels e.g Rex Grenadian in Grenada (ticks most boxes except nightlife although Aquarium is walking distance along the beach), St Lucia-Almond Morgan but beach is not great-on Reduit perhaps one of the Rex properties, Antigua-Jolly Beach (bit rough around the edges but on a gorgeous beach).

Car rental in Grenada was USD50 per day not including local taxes and CDW.
Odin is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
Thanks blamona, I found it.

If you liked Playa del Carmen, look at Puerto Vallarta. It will have most of your criteria. We've found a deal for 4 nights in December for around $1,500. That's air and AI hotel for two.

KVR is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 446
At first thought as far as fitting your requirements, I'd say St John fits very well. The tough part will be budget as others have pointed out. Incredible beaches, great hiking, great snorkeling from shore, quiet (but fun) in town nightlife. The only watersport you won't get is the jet-skis. Everything else is there.

Airfare to St Thomas might be around $1,000....but this obviously depends on where you are flying from.

$200 bucks a night won't get you waterfront, but you (might) find a decent condo or small villa for that range. I believe Estate Lindholm has garden view units for $200 a night.

The only number that seemed out of reach was getting a rental car for a week at $120. This will be closer to $350 or so.
ScottB is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 02:06 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 414
I don't know about the airfare, that's something persistent research on your part will help you with. You can get a room at the Courtyard Marriott in Grand Cayman for less than $200 per night. It gets consistently good reviews and is located just across the street from 7 Mile Beach. Also the Comfort Suites in GC is around $200 per night and is on the beach (7MB). GC gets plenty of cruise ships but you can easily avoid the crowds. I've read Sibonne in Turks & Caicos is a good budget hotel priced at less than $200 per night and while not right on the beach is supposedly very close. There will be no cruise ship crowds to worry about there. Both are known to have the gorgeous beaches, good snorkeling, water sports,good food and safe atmoshpere you are looking for. However they are not known for their nightlife. I hope you find the kind of place you are looking for!
travelerfromtx is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
"I've read Sibonne in Turks & Caicos is a good budget hotel priced at less than $200 per night and while not right on the beach is supposedly very close."

I stayed at the Sibonne in T & C in May '06. The hotel is directly on Grace Bay, and close walking distance to Salt Mills and Ports of Call. We stayed 7 nights and with airfare it cost more than $2,000 and we didn't rent a car. Might look at the Comfort Suites. It is off the beach, but lower in price. Your not going to find much nightlife there.

We also stayed at the Court Yard by Marriot in GC for 6 nights. Again, with air it was way more than $2,000, and didn't include a rental car. Food and drinks prices are very high compared to other destinations.
KVR is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 414
KVR, thanks for the correction. It was actually Comfort Suites that I was thinking of. Although your post got my curiosity up so I looked up Sibonne's prices on their website. Value room - $110 per night, Courtyard view - $145 per night, Ocean view - $165 per night and Premier Ocean Front - $205 per night. These prices are good until Dec. 20, 2007. And wildcat is only staying 5 nights and said she can get airfare for $1000 (not sure where she's flying from) and wanted a hotel room for around $200 per night or less. I think Sibonne will fit for that. Plus, it always gets better reviews than Comfort Suites.

I agree it will be tough to fit car rental into her budget, but maybe a sub-compact for a couple of days.
travelerfromtx is offline  
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