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Honeymoon St. Lucia, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica??? ahhhhhhh

Honeymoon St. Lucia, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica??? ahhhhhhh

Jul 5th, 2010, 08:14 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2
Honeymoon St. Lucia, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica??? ahhhhhhh

This is my first post to Fodors, though I have been religiously scouring the forums for about the past 2 months now, and I have finally decided to just ask for ya'lls opinion because I need some serious help. I'm getting married in October (yayyy) and cannot for the life of me pick somewhere to honeymoon, my fiancee has left it up to me. We are from Texas and neither of us have done any traveling in our lives, we are both in our mid 20's and neither have been outside the US and are not at all familiar with any islands, etc. so we would like to go somewhere exotic and new and be able to experience things we could never experience here, such as snorkeling, gorgeous beaches, rainforests, etc. Since researching on Fodors, it seems St. Lucia would be the easy answer, but my fiancee is a little turned off by the fact that the sand is not white and quite a few forums say the water is not that clear. I read that Cayman Islands is pretty wel know for their turtles. We would like to go somewhere with snorkeling, beautiful beaches, white sand, crystal clear water, hammocks, outside showers, turtles, monkeys, etc. Maybe ziplining or rafting. Somewhere that is peaceful and serene. I am an animal lover and would love to be able to go somewhere I could watch turtle eggs hatch or hold a spider monkey. Neither of us is too concerned about food or cuisine, we'll eat whatever, we just really want to EXPERIENCE new things. We are not big into culture or night life. We are kind of modern-age hippies and just thoroughly enjoy nature and wildlife. Sorry this was so long, but hopefully somebody out there will read this and be able to help me make a final decision. Thank ya'll soooo much
babygirl_1247 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 04:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,591
Since choosing the "perfect island" is really a matter of "trade-off" let me give you some general information that may help your decision process.

While every island is different and no one island has it all you should know there are two basic types of islands in the Caribbean.

First, there are the flat coral/limestone based islands such as Grand Cayman, the Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, Aruba, etc. that generally have long strands of sugar white sandy beaches lapped by calm waters. Because of the white sand and the relatively shallow waters surrounding the islands the water takes on a bright torquoise blue appearance. These islands are arid, often scrubby and lack lush natural vegetation. Because they are relatively flat you rarely find ziplineing, rain forests and waterfalls. Activities on these islands usually revolve around beaches and the water.

Second, there are the mountainous islands like St. Lucia, Grenada, Nevis, St. Vincent, etc.. These are usually very lush, have tall mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, active and/or extinct volcanoes and smaller cove-like darker sand beaches. The waters surrounding these islands tends to be deeper so that when combined with the dark sand it appears to have dark blue or steel blue tint. Many of the mountainous islands will have ziplining.

Now, turtles nest on just about every island but whether or not you will actually be around when the eggs hatch is anyones guess. I've been going to the caribbean for over 20 years and have only seen turtles hatch on two occasions.

Monkeys - well tourists seem to love these creature although the locas think they are pests (they ruin crops and gardens). Anyway, your chances of seeing monkeys in the wild are much better on the muntainous islands like St. Lucia. Your chances of actually holding a wild monkey are slim (they bite you know!) but you may encounter someone who has captured one and turned it into a pet of sorts - no guarantees on this front.

So what does all this mean to you? well, YOU have to decide which type of island YOU want to visit. Perhaps you should do what many of us have done, pick one type of island for this trip and go to the other on your next trip.

One last thing to consider, October is smack dab in the middle of hurricane season so bear that in mind when making your travel plans. Consider going to an island in the southern part of the Caribbean (like St. Lucia) where the threat of storms is less or at the very least purchase Travel Insurance with Hurricane/trip interruption coverage.

Good luck planning your trip.

So you first have to decide
RoamsAround is online now  
Jul 6th, 2010, 06:23 AM
  #3  
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
The Riviera Maya/Playa del Carmen area of Mexico seems to have most everything you are looking for. Nice white sandy beaches with clear water and great snorkeling. Off-site tours include zip lines, eco parks, caves, cenotes, and a Monkey Sanctuary. You can swim with the turtles in Akumal Bay. There is/was a turtle hatchery down the beach from the old El Dorado Resort and Spa, but don't know if its there anymore or if they do tours.

Here's a few web-sites to check out:

http://www.playadelcarmentours.com/p...-sanctuary.htm

http://www.thejungleplace.com/

http://www.xplor.travel/

I would suggest the Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen. http://www.mahekalplaya.com/ These are stand alone and 2 story bungalows directly on the beach and a 15 minute walk to all the action in Playa del Carmen.

As mentioned, October is prime hurricane season, so if interested get the trip/hurricane insurance that you can cancel for any reason. If the possiblity of a hurricane bothers you look at Islands such as Aruba, Curacao, Barbados or St. Lucia, but those Islands will not have many of the things you are looking for.

We've also been to St. Lucia, and though we loved it for its lushness, it does not have great beaches or clear water and we did not see any wildlife like you mentioned.

Grand Cayman has wonderful beaches and great snorkeling. The highlight is to swim with the sting rays. There is a turtle farm there, but it's quite sad. Turtle meat is quite popular there and it's more like a breeding ground. There is no wildlife as you have described.

We are planning a trip to Costa Rica for next year and have been in touch with a TA who set us up an inteniary. CR is not the place to pick a hotel for the week and then do off site tours. Most hotels have specifications to only stay up to 4 days. They want you moving around and seeing the whole area. We chose a custom 10 day tour package with 4 hotels in 4 different areas with tours/transporation included as well as a few meals. None of the tours we chose include beach time, though we will be staying at the beach in Manuel Antonio for 2 days. There is a tour that offers a turtle hatchery and release but it's during specified months of the year. I'm not sure though as it wasn't something we are interested in. If interested in this type of honeymoon look at these websites.

http://www.crreferrals.com/

http://www.horizontes.com/eng/

http://www.caravan.com/
KVR is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 07:05 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
jamaica offers everything you're looking for except the monkeys.
i think you should look at http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/index.htm
costa rica is another option that does have monkeys but would have so-so snorkeling & beaches only on west coast.
or somewhere near playa del carman, mex. - has everything but rain forest, (does have jungle and near-by sian kaan biosphere), including a place to go hang with spider monkeys at http://www.xcaret.com/
if you can tell us your budget we can come up with specific resort ideas on the islands you like.
i never plan a trip destination based on hurricane potential but do get trip insurance when traveling in fall.
virginia is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 12:14 PM
  #5  
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2
Thank ya'll so much for the quick responses!

*RoamsAround - You're right about the trade-off. According to almost every post I have read, they all state that basically you have to decide between the water or the land, you can't get the best of both. I understand this, I guess I just don't like it lol and can't decide which would be the better trade-off.

*KVR - Wow I don't know if your reply helped me or made it harder because now I have more choices! lol I really like what you said about Playa del Carmen, especially the part about bungalows! It seems to fit the bill really well and Mexico is a lot closer to Texas so I'm assuming flights should be a little cheaper. My only hesitation though, and I do not mean this to offend anyone, but I have heard some quite negative comments about Mexico such as crime and the locals, etc. Also, has the oil spill affect any of that region? Have you actually stayed there or are just offering up ideas?

*virginia - thank you for posting the link to the spider monkeys!!! i think you and KVR have pretty much swayed me towards playa del carmen! have you stayed there before and can you tell me anything about safety and health? we had some friends of our friends mention they stayed there and really enjoyed but that everything they ate and drank did not sit well with them. We're not worried about world class cuisine, but we do not want to be hugging the toilet every night either. And as far as budget, we aren't setting one. We want to be reasonable, but this will not only be our first trip together as man and wife, but also both of our first trips out of the US and really want to go all out and make some wonderful memories! Just for a ballpark I would try to stay under $5000. We just want to get our money's worth and have a great time.

Thank ya'll all soooooo much!!!!
babygirl_1247 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 02:15 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
i spent 3 weeks in the area. we rented a villa (villa translates to rental house in the carib & does not necessarily mean deluxe) on tankah bay beach, which is just north of the town of tulum. i went with my bff and her 80yr old mom. we rented a car - drove around a lot, although not much at night, but always felt safe & comfortable. the only thing we didn't like is that mex govt puts armed patrolmen on the highway. you know they're the good guys but still i'm not used to seeing men standing around anywhere i am with weapons - ok except hunting season...
on the other hand no place is totally safe. you still need to lock your car & doors, avoid dark alleys at night - ya know the stuff your mom taught you but which we tend to forget when we vacation. this would apply to anywhere in the caribbean. there is crime in mexico but much not in the riviera maya area (coastal from cancun to tulum) - more in border towns and on the west coast.
no oil in the area and should not be as the gulf current moves eastward.
flt to cancun should be very economical and your budget of $5K should get you a wonderful honeymoon.
re montezumas revenge. you do need to exercise some caution. if you are out of your resort you need to ask if the ice cubes in your cocktails are made with purified water. or just drink beer. i find that all the fruity/minty cocktails sound appealing in the heat & i know that's rough on the digestion. at our villa we were provided bottled water and reminded not to brush teeth with tap. all resort water should be purified -even the shower. i'd ask your friends for more details of their indigestion - i know odd topic but useful info. we ate in 1/2 dozen restaurants with no issues.
if you decide on maya riv you then need to choose resort style. ai, hotel, condo, villa (most all villas come with a housekeeper & grounds keeper so you won't be doing housework) some offer a chef for extra fee who will shop & cook as requested.
we love villas, kvr loves ai's. we like to be off on our own most of the time & choose to cook most meals 'at home'; kvr is more inclined to be busy, Not cooking & enjoys being around lots of ppl. you have to think about which is more your style.
if you decide to do mex look at locogringo.com for links to & trip reports about ziplining, maya ruins, snorkleing, shopping, resorts/condos/villas, the towns and generally everything.

kvr - mahekal playa looks pretty cool. have you been there yet? and i love your bluntness re turtle farm - i thought it was totally depressing & feel only those who can not snorkel should even consider going. we did not eat any turtle on gc.
virginia is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 04:09 PM
  #7  
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
We've been to the Yucatan Peninsula several times; Canucn x2, Playa del Carmen x2, Cozumel x4 and Isla Mujeres x1. The tourist areas are very safe. Never had a problem and I must be blind or it's just a non-issue, but I've never seen Mexican guards with guns on my trips. We have in the past preferred AI hotels. We love guided tours, so don't rent cars. There are issues with the Mexican police harrassing tourists in rental cars. Just easy to avoid.

We have the Mahekal Beach Hotel on our list for December. However, we are probably going to try Costa Rica in May, so if we do, we're not going back to Mexico this year just because CR is so expensive and we need to save the money.

The resorts have filtration systems for their water, but it's better to just drink bottled water. The AI resorts provide bottled water in your room. To be cautionary, we usually take a tablespoon of Pepto Bismal before meals and drink plenty of bottled water to keep hydrated. 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen is several blocks a pedestrian walkway with resturants, bars, shopping and entertainment. Food and drinks are good and inexpensive compared to other destinations. We live in Texas also, so it's very econominal, easy and convenient to travel to that area. It's about 2 hours from Dallas or Houston.

We are headed to Key West next week for our 10th wedding anniversary and the oil hasn't hit there yet. Very doubtful it will make it to Mexico anytime soon.

Virginia- never ate turtle meat either. Yuck!
KVR is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 03:09 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 320
I love the idea of the Mahekal Beach Resort.....I love Playa del Carmen. Have been to the Riviera maya 3 times and am planning another...I've been to about 10 Caribbean islands and this is the easiest to get to, most affordable, most diverse in things to do.

What about spending at least a few nights in Tulum....it's about an hour south of PDC by ADO bus.

the hippie in you would love it...little eco-friendly huts on the most beautiful beach. Romantic.

Turtle hatching season is May-October so you may get lucky seeing tracks or nests.

It's easy to hop on an ADO bus and head to another town or place and cheap.

You can go to Akumal for a day to snorkel out and swim with sea turtles in the wild.

jungle place to visit with monkeys; the proceeds go to protect them.

snorkel in cenotes like dos ojos [amazing]

visit ruins like Ek Balam or even the Tulum Ruins
TnTWalter is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 12:17 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 169
I think Costa Rica offers everything you want although the snorkeling isn't great there. The wildlife is amazing. You will see 3 types of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, beautiful birds etc. There are also lots of choices for ziplines, rafting, etc. In addition there are active and non-active volcanoes. Check out the Arenal area for volcanoes, hot springs and waterfalls and maybe Manuel Antonio for beautiful jungly beaches.

Another idea is Belize which has awesome snorkeling and the ability to visit amazing Mayan ruins. You can also tube through caves and take a tour deep inside a cave with lots of Mayan ruins and artifacts. Check out the ATM cave which is something you would never see in the US.

If interested, read some trip report on the Costa Rica and Belize forums.

I haven't been to the other places you mention, but they all sound amazing.
Good luck!
wanatrvl is offline  
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