Island and Accommodation Help

Old Dec 11th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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Island and Accommodation Help

Hi All-

My wife and I have decided to take a last minute trip Jan 3 - 8. We have been to the Caribbean once before (Guadeloupe) and enjoyed it very much. We live near Washington DC and are hoping to find an island that is only one stop and 8 hours or less total travel time. Budget is not much of a constraint. Clearly, I would like a good deal but realize Jan is a very expensive time inn the Caribbean. Here are some things we like when traveling:

- Smaller property. We have stayed in very large Mexican resorts and were not fans. We avoid all inclusives.
- Outdoor activities. We like rainforest/volcano hiking, ziplines, boat rides, sea kayak, rafting, maybe a little golf but snorkel/scuba not necessary.
- Nice spa on property
- Great food on property and/or on island
- Like to explore. Drive to beaches, restaurants, shopping and activities. Mostly daytime outings. We are looking for place where we feel reasonably safe moving around.
- Nice beach on property

I think that sums our wants up. I currently have a reservation at Tortuga Bay in Punta Cana, DR. Have I found the right island/property? i have reserved flights so can cancel and switch if alternatives arise. Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old Dec 11th, 2012, 08:36 AM
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Tortuga Bay is a great property, but it's pretty expensive. It meets your travel time requirements and is even close to the airport on an extraordinary stretch of beach. It is attached to a giant (though not all-inclusive) resort, but it's fairly well isolated from the throngs.

Now for the bad. It's really difficult to drive in the DR. The roads are not good (though better than they used to be) and also not well marked, the cars and gas really expensive. It's safe enough to drive during the day, but I don't recommend it at night, but more important there's not really anywhere to go as Punta Cana is really isolated and is basically just a resort area like one of those in Mexico but without proximity to Maya sites. The range of activities and shopping in Punta Cana are, for me, extremely limited. You'll find boat rides, but few of your other preferred activities. PuntaCana resort (where Tortuga Bay is) has a marina, so you will probably be able to get boat rides near your hotel. If you stayed on the North Coast of the DR, there are many more activity options, including rafting and rain forest hikes, but the beaches aren't as nice, and everything is still 2 hours drive away.

I think you'd like Natura Cabanas; however, it doesn't have a/c, but it's a lovely secluded (and rustic) property. But you'd have to fly into Puerto Plata rather than Punta Cana, and there are fewer flight options there.

To be honest, I think St Lucia would suit you better. Driving there isn't a breeze, but it's easier than in the DR, and there are all the activities you prefer (literally every single one). And there are several smaller independent properties that are very nice.

St. Croix might also be a good alternative. It's a lesser-visited resort in the Virgin Islands with a lot of lovely small inns and B&Bs (Carringtons is probably the best one, though it's not on a beach).
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Old Dec 11th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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After reading your list of preferred activities, St. Lucia also comes to mind.
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Old Dec 11th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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Not sure of the budget, but there are a few nice hotels in St. Lucia on this website:

http://www.johansens.com/caribbean/st-lucia) and if you do like the idea of St. Lucia, and you find an area where you would like to stay but not quite at that price at least it could narrow the search ( google or otherwise) to hotels in the particular areas desired.

Off the top, properties with spas and nice beach that come to mind:

Coconut Bay Resort and Spa ( this is an all-inlcusive though but could provide some savings)

Bay Garden Resort and Spa

Cap Maison Resort and Spa

Hope this helps

Happy travels
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Old Dec 12th, 2012, 12:18 AM
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Thanks all. St Lucia appears to be the right island and appreciate all of the help. I was told that Jamaica may also be a good candidate, but am concerned anout safety. I will do some reading today.
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Old Dec 12th, 2012, 01:01 AM
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St Lucia is a great option, I would rent a small jeep because the roads tend to have a lot of potholes and some are unmade, eg the road down to Anse Chastanet hotel (which is absolutely beautiful BTW).

http://www.ansechastanet.com/

Ti Kaye is another option with spa and with a very good restaurant, on a lovely long beach, slightly isolated but if you have a car it's not a problem.

http://www.tikaye.com/

If budget is not an issue, there are many other properties in St Lucia that would fit the bill, however there might not be much availability.

If you liked Guadeloupe, you are bound to like Martinique as well. The north has a volcano, hiking and the very interesting town of St Pierre which was destroyed during an eruption. The south has fabulous white sand beaches eg Les Salines, needless to say the roads are the same standard as Guadeloupe, lots of day trips, outings and excursions and great food.
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Old Dec 13th, 2012, 05:04 PM
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If you look at St Lucia, http://fonddouxestate.com/ is a great property. It is not on a beach, but full of flowers, fruit and cocoa trees. Great place and wonderful owners.
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Old Dec 16th, 2012, 12:17 PM
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All

Thanks for your great responses. Was only able to find 1st class air tix to St Lucia and did not want to shell out for this and expensive lodging. We decided on Placencia, Belize. Looks like fun and we will try to post a trip report.

Thanks for all the help.
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