I'm overwhelmed and need some help!

Old Feb 12th, 2008, 05:40 PM
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I'm overwhelmed and need some help!

I'm sorry my title is so vague, especially with all of the other "please help me choose" titles that I have seen on here as I've been doing some research. I apologize in advance. I just couldn't come up with something more appropriate.

My husband and I are looking for a shorter 5 night getaway in the late summer or fall (thinking mid-September). We usually travel to Europe several times a year but with the rising airfare price and the exchange rate, not to mention the lack of travel time we have available (we are going back to Europe in April), so we are trying to expand our options.

Okay, we are in our late 20's and are not sit-on-the-beach all day types. We love a beautiful coast and don't mind a few shorter swims but get bored after an hour or two on the beach. Besides a nice dinner and maybe a drink we are not into the club or bar hoppping scene. We would like to rent a car and travel around the island. Here is what we are looking for:

-Lower cost flights from Charlotte (or Raleigh, if needed), preferrably under $450 per person

-Decent flight itinerary. The cost can be great but I don't want a 1 am to 8 am layover in Miami. I can handle a layover but I don't want it to take 18 hours to get there

-Beautiful scenery with perhaps some great hiking trails or rainforests

-Cultural or historical sights

-Good food. We are not foodies or gourmet food eaters, but we like nice local cuisine with great flavor. We are both picky and don't eat seafood, but we have traveled fairly extensively and this has never been a problem. I always say that if we can survive Japan without eating seafood we can survive anywhere!

-A nice place to stay. We are NOT looking for an all-inclusive or mega resort. I want something exactly the opposite. Something beautiful with a Caribbean flavor, maybe a small inn or B&B

Right now we are considering Puerto Rico (good flights and prices, has the history and rain forests, but is it too crowded?), Jamaica (non-stop flights and what looks like pretty scenery, but I don't want a party atmosphere; will this be a problem?), DR (good price; had read conflicting things on here about DR so not sure if we are interested), Cayman Islands (good price; is there enough for us to do? Seems primarily like a scuba/snorkel island) and Turks and Caicos (enough to keep us entertained?).

We are also looking into the possibility of flying into Cancun and traveling inland on the Yucatan, towards Chichen Itsa and Merida. I would love to go to Costa Rica but the flight times aren't all that convenient from Charlotte and I don't know if 5 nights is enough time.

Can you help point us in the right direction? I'm getting so overwhelmed in my research! Every time I think I have it narrowed down I start second guessing myself or I'll read a post and think twice.

Thanks much!
Tracy
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:23 PM
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Tracy,
I have nothing to add to help you. I recently posted and was eagerly awaiting replies with little help like you. We are in the same boat. HAHAHAHA. We didn't want you to go without someone noticing your efforts. Good luck.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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I think PR would fit the bill. Have you looked at Hotel El Convento in SJ? Go to the TA website and post on the PR forums and I think you will get more specific advice but I think you could rent a car and do quite a bit of sightseeing in PR (rainforest, etc.) and be very happy with the choice since you are not so much going for the beaches or water activities. I am not sure other islands would have as much to offer you- maybe Mexico.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:40 PM
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Consider the island of St. John, which you would reach by flying to St. Thomas and then ferrying over. Lots of hiking, beautiful vistas, gorgeous beaches, good snorkeling, fun beach bars and funky town of Cruz Bay and village of Coral Bay to explore, plus ease of visiting other islands such as Jost Van Dyke. St. Thomas is relatively easy to get to in terms of travel time, and airfares are usually lower there than elsewhere.

I don't have particular places to recommend, but I recall reading that Estate Lindholm might be a place that could suite your needs for authentic Caribbean accommodation.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM
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On second thought, I agree that PR is also a good choice for what you're looking for. Old San Juan provides almost endless opportunities for dining, shopping, nightlife, and cultural exploration. You can also take a daytrip to the rainforest of El Yunque, the biobay in Fajardo, and the beaches of the greater San Juan area.

I've stayed at El Convento in Old San Juan, and I agree with the previous poster who suggested it as a great place to stay. If you'd rather stay on the beach itself, Guesthouse Numero Uno is a good choice--with a small neighborhood feel but on a nice stretch ofo beach and a pleasant restaurant on site.
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Old Feb 14th, 2008, 05:45 AM
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Thank you very much for your help! St. John's looks gorgeous and has appealed to me since I've read the numerous posts about it. I think it looks gorgeous and the fact that there are lots of hiking trails and lush forests is definitely appealing. Some of the flights I've found to St. Thomas were kind of high, but I tweaked my days a bit and was able to find a pretty good n/s flight. We are definitely considering it.

Puerto Rico is still intriguing to me, but for some reason I'm just not as drawn to it despite the fact that it seems to have what I'm looking for. I guess maybe it's that if I'm going to the Caribbean I want more of a Caribbean flavor and in my initial research of PR it doesn't seem to have that. Maybe I'm way off-base though?

Thanks again...I always appreciate the advice of my fellow fodorites!

Tracy
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Old Feb 14th, 2008, 10:06 AM
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I enjoy PR far more than St. John personally. I like the culture, architecture, food and great nightlife as well as the wide range of things to do.

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Old Feb 14th, 2008, 10:23 AM
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You should keep in mind that mid-September is the absolute peak of hurricane season.

I also like the PR suggestion. How about Bermuda? No rainforests but close to you and some lovely scenery.

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Old Feb 14th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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We have looked into Bermuda and it does look lovely. Silly question I'm sure, but is there enough to do to keep one busy for 4-5 nights. I have the attention span of a two year old when it comes to the beach...a few hours and I'm bored and over it!

My one other concern about Bermuda, and same with PR, is that I really want a romantic, but not too expensive, place to stay. I'm not usually into the accommodations, as my normal vacations to Europe and such don't include much time in the hotel, but this will probably be our last vacation together before we start a family (and I could very well be pregnant while on the vacation) and I was really hoping to find a beautiful inn or b&b. Something with beautiful views and a beachy/caribbean vibe to it. I would love something similar to this http://www.bellavista-bnb.com/, but not in St. Thomas because I don't think that it's the place for us. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Tracy
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Old Feb 14th, 2008, 03:57 PM
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well Tracy, so far four out of five suggest PR. The 5th had nothing to suggest. Maybe you should consider Puerto Rico. One person mentioned hurricane season. Puerto Rico is the USA so IF you have the misfortune of being affected by a storm, you have better back-up than on a small independent island. Since your get-away time is short you can maximize your time on island. Old San Juan, the US's only tropical rain forest, great beaches, golfing, shopping (from the local Bodega to Macy's). I've come to learn that ejcrowe is a Caribbean maven and the two hotels he/she suggested - El Convento and Numero Uno - will fit your criteria. You might also look at the Hotel Normandie which is located on the beach between Condado and Old San Juan.
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Old Feb 15th, 2008, 05:27 AM
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It's a tough set of criteria you've got - esp. the limited amount of timme for the vacation. That rules out a lot of charming little places that are also a little harder to get to.

Besides PR, also check into St John (maybe Estate Lindholm, which is on another thread and people seem to like).

There are other charming places on Nevis, which may be OK to get to through San Juan, if the schedule works out.
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Old Feb 15th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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Thank you all again.

Last night we were searching for airfare again and I happened to put in Costa Rico (SJO) and found a very low (as in $240 r/t!) priced flight with only one layover. I thought it must be a glitch with kayak.com but when we went to the AA website we found it again so we jumped on it. So now we are going to Costa Rica instead of the Caribbean and I am very excited.

I do appreciate everyone's help. I received a ton of great advice and we do plan on visiting the Caribbean sometime in the near future so now I will be better prepared for when that time comes.

Tracy
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Old Feb 15th, 2008, 12:01 PM
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Hi Tracy, I don't know if you will check back in but I just wanted to wish you a wondeful trip!
Tiff
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Old Feb 15th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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Awww...thanks Tiff! I'm super excited, although I have to admit that your trip report has me pining for Rome once again. There is something magical about that city that draws me in when I'm there and makes me long for it when I'm not. I'm looking forward to trying latin American though. So many places, so little vacation time...

Tracy
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Old Feb 15th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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I recommend St. Croix, usvi as
we get there easily with good
flight times. The island is
diverse with lots of sight seeing
and snorkel spots. Love the
two separate towns of Christianstaad and Frederickstaad.
Eat at Sunset Grill for lunch
near Frederickstaad for beautiful
setting.

Tamarind Reef is nice and has a
great view of Green Cay and Buck
Island if you get one of the
units with the best views. Good
pool, beach and restaurants. Get a
car to see the sights. Go to
Rainforest near the Sunset Grill.
reefsnorkeler is offline  
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