Introductory Island for a West Coast Girl?

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Sep 3rd, 2014, 11:18 PM
  #1
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Introductory Island for a West Coast Girl?

What representative Caribbean island would you recommend to a 51 year young "girl?"

Vacation dates: mid to late October 2014, 7 to 8 nights
Budget: moderate to lower end of splurge (I may try to use mileage to get from Alaska to Florida and then fly out of Miami in order to spend more on the lodging)
Number of travelers: Me, myself and I. So I'd like to feel safe and not be overly cautious about being out and about sightseeing.

I'd like to spend a couple of days on the beach or next to a pretty pool to get my fill of vitamin D. After that, I can't sit still, so I'm looking for easy walks/hikes, maybe a little shopping or 1 or 2 excursions, and good food and wine!
akcoolflip is offline  
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Sep 4th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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Moderate to low budget is not Grand Cayman.
Feeling safe is not something that PR gives you.
Aruba is ok but a long way from Alaska.

I'd recommend Hawaii, it's less expensive than the Caribbean and closer.
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Sep 4th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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To OP - for anyone to be of real help you have to define what you mean "moderate to lower end of splurge". Without a dollar point of reference we don't know what YOU consider moderate or a splurge. So give us a dollar figure of what you want to spend.

One thing you have going for you is October is OFF Season in the Caribbean so you'll find some of the lowest room rates of the year. That should help with your budget. The flip side is many resorts/hotels are closed in September & October so your resort choices could be a bit limited.

Now, you really haven't given us much to go on - all we know is you want to spend some time sitting on a beach, do a little hiking and shopping and have wine with your meals. You can do/find those things on just about every island.

Help us help you - give us more information about your likes and dislikes.

In the meantime look at St. Thomas, St. John or St. Kitts - they might interest you.
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Sep 4th, 2014, 11:46 PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions!

I'd like to experience island life on the east coast. I've been to Hawaii, Baja and even Costa Rica. It definitely would be a shorter haul from Alaska to go back to Hawaii but I would like to see the beauty of the Caribbean. I don't think I've experienced what forum posters have referred to as an 'arid/dry island' but I'd be open to it. I know nothing about the indigenous cultures and am open to learning about the customs and food. What the guidebooks tell you doesn't compare to the advice of locals or seasoned travelers of the area.

I'm thinking about $2500 to $3000 for just the lodging. I'm sure that would not be sufficient during the high/peak season for a splurge oceanfront room.

As to my likes and dislikes…I'm flexible, except I need a softer place to land my head other than a Thermarest camping pad, enough hot water for a shower and I'm not into moisturizing with DEET anymore. I'm 51 after all and need some creature comforts. I've done my fair share of spa days and 18 holes of golf at the crack of dawn so I can go without but I wouldn't turn either down if easily accessible. I could sports fish, if it was safe to do during the hurricane season. I would like to participate in an activity, eat a meal and see a sight that is uniquely Caribbean. If I did all of those 3 things, I would be very happy and consider my travel successful.

Aruba sounds intriguing as does the 3 Saint suggestions from RoamsAround!
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Sep 5th, 2014, 02:06 AM
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I would not call $2500 to $3000 a low to moderate budget. For me that's quite high for accommodation only. So Grand Cayman could be an option, as RoamsAround mentioned, October is off season, not peak. I don't think you'll learn much about indigenous cultures/customs and food on Grand Cayman as it is very American with a bit of British thrown in, same with Aruba (very American with a bit of Dutch). Having said that, you do get alot of amenities with a developed island.

If you want a bit of local flavour, consider Grenada which is blessed with almost everything you could wish for on a Caribbean island except great snorkelling. Or St Lucia with it's volcanic south and beige sand beaches in the north. Tobago is a beautiful island with lots of local flavour but high end lodgings are a bit of an issue IMO. Barbados is a great all round island, perfect for a first visit, with gorgeous beaches, high end accommodation plus a wild windswept east coast where you can see real island life. Plenty of interesting excursions and historical sights but snorkelling is not great.

Why not see where you can get to and narrow down the list from there.

BTW, you will always need DEET in the Caribbean, even on dry/arid islands.
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Sep 5th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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I'm not sure if some of your comments were tongue in cheek, but most of the Caribbean isn't third world so you won't be sleeping on a Thermarest camping pad or lack enough hot water for a shower. Your accommodations budget of $2,500 to $3,000 equates to somewhere between $350 and $430 per night for a typical 7 night stay - that's quite generous especially for October. You can easily stay at some of the best resorts/hotels on most islands.

Likewise, if you are a golfer, there's no reason to get up at the crack of dawn unless you want to. If the island you are visiting has golf (some islands don't have golf courses) you can easily play just about anytime during the day. Green fees are pricey, though.

There's no reason you can't go deep sea fishing in October. Like anywhere else the boat captains will keep track of the weather and sea conditions and will postpone the trip if the situation warrants. The odds of bad sea conditions are small so keep deep sea fishing on your list of planned activities. Keep in mind though that, depending on the island, it can cost anywhere from $500 to $800 to charter a fishing boat for 1/2 day trip so you might want to see if the Concierge or Activities Director at your hotel can [ar you up with others to help defray the cost of the charter.

As Odin pointed out there are mosquitoes in the Caribbean and while one cannot predict if you'll encounter just a few or droves it's wise to have a good insect repellant handy for those times when it is needed. FYI - mosquitoes and no-see-ums are more prevalent after periods of prolonged rains and in areas of dense vegetation (like rain forests), around salt ponds and standing water. They are more active at dusk especially along the beach where the vegetation meets the sand. If you avoid those areas & times mosquitoes, etc. shouldn't cause you any major problems. You can also lessen your chances of a "close encounter" by refraining from the use of perfumes, colognes, scented body sprays & washes, scented hair sprays and similar products as the sweet aromas act as an attractant.

So, here's the low down: You can find very nice accommodations, good food and sport fishing on every island and golf on some islands. Since you want to experience Caribbean Culture I'd avoid the more built up and/or Americanized islands such as St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman and even St. Martin. Also, if golf is a high priority for you skip any of the BVI's - no golf there!

Look at St. Kitts, Barbados, Antigua, Nevis & St. Lucia.

Remember, every island is different and has it's own unique feel so don't get caught up in "Will the palm trees and sand be better n the other island syndrome". Choose an island that interests you and don't worry about the others.
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Sep 5th, 2014, 07:03 AM
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One more thing to add:

Getting to Miami then flying from Miami doesn't usually save you money--Sometimes flights are more expensive when you break them up that way, or cost more from Miami than say, Alaska to Caribbean!
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Sep 6th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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I'm on west coast US and because of long flight times and higher costs I usually head to Mexico or Hawaii instead.

That said, Negril Jamaica is my favorite place in the Caribbean. Here's one of the places on "the cliffs" there www.tensingpen.com. But the whole Negril experience might be a little more rough and rustic than what you are seeking.

I agree about not necessarily going thru Miami. From Seattle heading to Jamaica best flights went thru Atlanta (or TX).
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Sep 8th, 2014, 01:43 AM
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Hey I would suggest checking out flight ticket prices and if you get a great deal then you can maybe save up and extend your trip. Check out the places which will cost you least and then plan your trip around that. Caribbean-airlines.com sometimes have some great deals to offer. Check out other portals too.
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