I am planning a "BIG" birthday trip...

Oct 8th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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I am planning a "BIG" birthday trip...

...and I need some feedback on places that might work for me. The Caribbean is one location that I am considering

We don't normally stay in resorts, but I am willing to reconsider that this time as it is going to be a splurge.

If a resort, even if it is high-end, it needs to be low-key and non-snooty. We don't to be spritzed with Evian and be waited on hand and foot. We don't want to have to dress for dinner. That sort of thing.

St. John is the only destination that I've been to in the Caribbean. I loved it for the gorgeous beaches and the awesome from shore snorkeling. Where ever we end up, excellent from shore snorkeling is key.

We'll be going in mid June for 7 to 10 days.

Flying from the west coast.

Vegetating on a beach with a cool drink will be the order for most days.

Budget: No more than $10,000.00 including airfare, food and service.

Caneel Bay is the first place that came to mind. Meridian Club in Turks and Caicos is another place that looks promising.

What about it? Caneel is #1 at this point. Any other ideas? Thanks!

iamq is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 03:00 PM
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If you like Caneel Bay try Little Dix Resort on Virgin Gorda BVI. I loved it!
kdqe44 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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i think provo is a good option for a june vacation. in addition to meridian you might enjoy:
or http://parrotcay.como.bz/default.asp
all very lux but quite casual - no spritzing.
t&c club, grace bay club and point grace are all directly on 11 mile long grace bay beach - which is the main reason most people go to provo. blindingly white, powder soft sand next to brillantly bright tourquoise water and very good snorkeling.
the turks and caicos are not lush like st. johh. rather they are flat and scrubby - the beauty is all at the beach and under the water. this should be fine as you said you plan to snorkel & hang out on the beach most of the time anyway. also provo has some of best dining in carib. (a few places ask him to wear jacket & long pants, her a dress - island casual is fine)
note that parrot cay and meridian are on separate islands from provo. getting back and forth from either is not all that convenient. not in itself a bad thing except dining is limited to what's offered at your resort.

you mention that you don't usually stay in resorts. assume you stay in villas. this is a very nice small house in an excellent location directly on grace bay beach:
mr. moog owns the house and several others on provo. i have stayed in one of the others. his houses are very nice and well-maintained. lots of other villas available on provo, however not lots that are small. i am assuming this trip is for just two?
virginia is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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Love St.John but also Anguilla!!!!!! check out the anguillaguide.com for lots of info!!it's not lush & green likes st.john it's flat & scribby but the 30something Gorgeous beaches make up for it! many places to stay right on the beach with pleny of beach bar/rest. to enjoy & some top notch rest. also some snorkeling thruout the island! Good Luck & Happy B-Day!
JoenShell is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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The snorkeling in the T&C's is nowhere near as good as Caneel. Virgin Gorda has about 75% of it's snorkeling wiped out except for the Baths, Oil Nut Bay and a few spots that you really need to rent a motor boat ($800/day) to get to such as Norman and Cooper Island. Off the beach snorkeling is minimal.
We rented a 42ft. Pierson and a 50ft. CAT some years back from the Moorings. They are I understand the largest and most successful charter organization for travel in the Caribbean, Grenadines, and Belize. We had a captain and cook with all equipment i.e. automatic jib. But, we were lucky on both 6 night trips NO rain. It would have not been as pleasant if it rained a day. A;so, I would not recomment it for more than 5 or 6 full days. With the staff and provisions my friends recently paid about $1000.day for an amazing 3 hull CAT.
We have been to probably 16-17 resorts/islands in the Caribbean and none other than Caneel and one in Grand Cayman (but the resort was not very nice) offered off-the-beach snorkeling of high quality and a sense of quiet.

Cottage #7 rooms C, D, E, & F at Caneel are large with great views and a small almost private beach. Do not take rooms A or B. The Cottage #7 rooms are on request so I would have Haweks nest second floor, end uunit, as a back-up if you go. The cootage is special.
As for the Meridian Club we stopped going 4-5 years ago. It has motel style rooms that are not very nice, inconsistent food and limited off-the-beach snorkeling off Pine Cay though a beautiful beach,
StanKase is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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Thanks to all for the information! Keep the ideas coming. I am also considering going to Malaysia, French Polynesia or the Phillipines as well as extending a planned trip to Hawaii.

I was wondering how the snorkeling is at Pine Cay. Sounds like it isn't so hot?

Are there any places like I describe in the Caymans?
iamq is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Point Grace has been on my list for quite awhile. I've been trying to get to T&C for quite some time, but seem to be sidetracked due to hurricane seasons and obsessions with other cultural experiences. Smallish pool, but those windows and lanais.....used to see it on Luxurylink.com. Not sure if it is still listed there for auctions.

Then there is always Bermuda....tearing it up on scooters. Elboe beach....been awhile. Don't discount this island.
Oct 9th, 2007, 06:49 PM
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My two favorite places to snorkel -

Buck Island off St. Croix.
Closest resort - www.thebuccaneer.com - a "resort" resort, but not snooty

A very simple "resort" -
Very simple, but one of my favorite vacations ever (been there twice)

The best off-shore snorkeling I've ever experienced -

St. Lucia - The Jalousie (formerly the Hilton Jalousie) - beautiful beach between the Pitons, wade into the water and snorkel the base of one Piton. Take a water taxi around the Piton to the black sand beach of Anse Chastanet and spend the day there. My favorite tropical location EVER (even over my favs in Hawaii).

Another option - Ladera on the ridge overlooking Jalousie. The shuttle takes you to the Jalousie's beach. Amazing 3 sided rooms - the fourth "wall" is open to the view of the Pitons.

Both are wonderful - and both offer plunge pools and privacy.

starrsville is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 07:10 PM
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Bermuda, eh? I look into that.

Sunshine Lee and Stan, thanks for your suggestion about chartering a yacht. I trend toward sea sickness, but it is something that bears investigating.

virginia, Wow! What a great looking villa! Thanks so much for the tip.It would be perfect for the two of us. I love it. Is the location really as great as it sounds? What is the surrounding area like? I assume one would need a car to get around.

Anguilla has always been appealing because of the beautiful beaches, but the lack of snorkeling might or might not be a big issue.

I know the snorkeling is not that great, but St. Barths sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

Thanks to all for your ideas so far.
iamq is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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I agree that a crewed charter would be great. It is one of our favorite vacations, especially if you can get another couple to go. Every day is a new beach and/or snorkel spot. It is so relaxed. The BVI's are great as there are plenty of restaurants to try or you can always hire a cook for all your meals on board and they are amazing meals. You need nothing more than bathing suits and cover ups....maybe 1 or 2 outfits of you want to eat on shore. It is a great vacation.
beachbum2 is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 05:46 AM
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So...you would take a an upper, end unit at Hawksnest over a room at Scott's Beach?
iamq is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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hi iamq, that i know of 2 fodorites have stayed in corriander. jenneyiw is scheduled for an oct stay so hopefully will check in with a trip report in the shortly. also chasechow has stayed there and reported. i hope this link will get you to the report: http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...Text=chasechow
if not type T&C Trip Report into the search box or chasechow. plus i topped it for you. at the very end of the thread is a link that actually takes you to their photos so you can get a really good look at the house.
yes the location is imho the best on island. you are in walking distance of turtle cove marina which has a dive company, couple shops including expensive booze, scooter bobs, and 5 or 6 restaurants. you would definetly need a car to explore & get most places including grocery store. the house is in a residential neighborhood. very quiet/safe. and saving best for last - the best snorkeling on the island is 100' left from where you will walk on to the beach. called smith's reef. we've had excellent luck there. groups of spotted rays, a huge southern ray, cuda, turtles, and a plethora of flashy fish.
re st. croix. have not been but note buck island is a boat ride.
starrs are you saying best snorkel was st. lucia? i've never thought of it as having good snorkeling at all and have hesitated to go there as i just have to snorkel on vacation...
and i must dispute stan saying provo snorkeling is "no where as good as caneel". caneel has more options certainly but there is no bleaching in t&c yet so i think there is room for debate. however as i said very different island atmospheres.
boy do you have a lot of choices.
virginia is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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Yep - leaving in 10 days for the Coriander on T&C- so far the owners and their staff have been great - hopefully that won't change once I get there.

I will be sure to give a full detailed report after the 1st of Nov with pics.

Good luck in choosing!

jennreyiw is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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virginia, thanks for the extra information about the villa and T&C. It looks like a great place to unwind and kick back for a week. Glad to hear that the snorkeling is worthwhile as well.

jennreyiw, have a great trip. I look forward to reading all about it when you return.
iamq is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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Jenn - Have a GREAT TRIP!!! I can't wait to hear all about it. I really think you will continue to be pleased with the staff. They really were wonderful with us.

Iamq - hope my trip report helped. Thanks Virginia for bumping it. We loved T&C so much we're going back again this spring, even though we normally pick a different place every year.
chasechow is offline  
Oct 10th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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Yes chasechow, your report was great! I looked at your pictures and visited the website again today. I bookmarked it. Having the beach right at your fingertips must have been wonderful. Thanks again.
iamq is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 06:00 AM
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Any other ideas?
iamq is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 06:19 AM
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Bonaire and Belize are said to have some of the best diving and snorkling in the world - I think?! That would be a loooong journey to swim with the fishies!
Oct 14th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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Bill, I think you have some great leads here. With your requirements for excellent from-shore snorkeling, I suspect St. John is the island to choose. If really good snorkeling were acceptable, I'd suggest Virgin Gorda. The villas on Mahoe Bay are lovely, and as I recall you were already considering Open Deck villa for an specified vacation in the future. While I found the snorkeling there fun and interesting because of the pinnacle coral formations, there was quite a lot bleaching. However, the from-shore snorkeling at Spring Bay was second to none in my experience. (I've never snorkeled St. John, however). There are some very nice villas right there at Spring Bay.
ejcrowe is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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I know I'm not StanKase but I would choose Scott's to Hawksnest but agree that upstairs would be my choice at Hawksnest if you wanted to return to St. John.
Meridian Club is a bit more "rustic" but it was and will remain among the very best of my vacations but I go for seclusion, beach, and r&r. A couple we were there with found the snorkeling very good but they did go out on one or two of the resorts' boat trips daily and I'm not sure where they went. You certainly do not have to "dress" as things are very casual including the "barefoot" code. The Sand Dollar cottage sits off from the club rooms and is a bit more secluded and maybe a bit more "luxurious" - if I use that term loosely.
Maybe you are overlooking Guana Island in the BVI's. No spritizing there and it is lovely. I remember the snorkeling on a reef off the beach but not sure it would measure up to Stan's high standards!
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