Island Hopping in the Carribean

Old Apr 15th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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Island Hopping in the Carribean

Hi...I am trying to plan a great adventure for our summer vacation (children under 9) to one of the Carribean Islands. I would like to fly from Florida (don't care which airport) rent an upscale beach front house (or upscale resort) for 1 week. Then, take my family by boat to another Island and stay there for a week to break up our vacation and do something different. Touristy filled pools where you can not find a beach chair is not our idea of fun.

We have been to many of the Islands by cruise ships and are concerned about running into nude beaches and the poverty we saw while there. Safety is a concern. Can anyone tell me the best way to do this and which Islands are the safest with decent shopping, great kids beach (not to deep) and food?

Also, which Islands would be the easiest to hop from? I'm not sure how to charter a boat from point to point??? Help I need a travel planner!

Blondee1 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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If you want to go to St. Maarten, you don't need a charter boat. There are ample ferries to Anguilla, St. Barths, and even Saba.

You could also go to Antigua and Montserrat (there's ferry service between them).

But the Virgin Islands offer the best opportunities ... lots of villas and resorts, safety (especially on the British Virgin Islands) and ample ferry service between. Hop down to Tortola or St. Thomas and then go from there.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2010, 10:01 AM
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OK, in order to island hop by charter boat it helps if you pick a group of islands that are closely situated to each other. You see, boats don't travel particularily fast. Sailboats make about 5 knots/hr but because of wind direction can't always go in a straight line to their destnation while power boats travel around 10 to 12 knots/hour. Add to that the fact that once you get out into unprotected waters the seas can be quite rough and you'll see why you don't want to be travelling very far. One other thing you should know is a charter boat is not the most economical way to travel between islands. The fee will include the "deadhead" portion of the trip to get the boat & crew either from or back to it's home island. Thus, if it's say a 3 hour trip between the island you are leaving and your destination, you'll be paying for 6 hours of charter time. For planning purposes you can expect to pay somewhere around $400 to $600/day for a sailboat and double that for a power boat.

So where do you go? Well, the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands is a great chain which will give you access to more than a dozen different islands. Check out Beach houses on Virgin Gorda's (BVI's) Mahoe Bay (very upscale, great beach, terrific island) for your first part of the vacation. You can than go to either St. John, Tortola, St. Thomas for the second leg of your trip.

Anguilla, St. Martin & St. Barts is another island group that lends itself to island hopping. Consider renting a villa of staying at Cap Juluca on Anguilla then making your way over to St. Barts or St. Martin. The one caveate is St. Barts and St. Martin are French islands and by definition you may run into some "topless" bathers (you can easily avoid full nde beaches on those islands).

St. Kitts & Nevis are two islands in very close proximity but they are very similar islands so you might not get enough contrast.

ST. Vincent & the Grenadines is another chain that is well suited to island hopping. You could rent a beach villa on the very upscale island of Mustique than spend the second part or your vacation at Petit St. Vincent Resort, Palm Island Resort (both private island resorts), Raffels on Canouan or go all the way over to Grenada where you can have your choice of some very nice resorts.

Hope this helps to get you started.
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Old Apr 16th, 2010, 04:07 AM
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You will find ALL the beaches on the French side of St Martin are topless - some even encourage it - ( this is one of the added benefits of living on the island !) and Orient Bay has a hotel at one end where 'clothing is optional' - i.e. a 'naturist resort'.

The guests from there wander up and down the length of Orient Beach every morning (until around 9am) TOTALLY NAKED apart from baseball caps, sunglasses, sun tan lotion and silly smiles.

At least 90% of them (male and female) are well over 50 years of age, and should definitely keep their clothes ON. They even frighten my dog when I take her for her morning walk, so I suspect that the younger members of your party would be equally shocked !

Apart from that, St Martin has a lot to offer, and plenty of opportunity to keep the young ones ammused. As has already been pointed out, it is an excellent base for a certain amount of island hopping - without having to resort to the use of charter boats. Apart from the islands already mentioned, Saba is also readilly accessible by regular ferry and air service.

A private charter of a powerful speed boat, departing from Marina Royale in Marigot (the capital of the French side of the island) would take you to Prickly Pear island, and Tintamare Island (uninhabited) and around the pretty coast, with perhaps a stop at Pinel island where the only constructions are three beach bars serving fairly decent food, and the water is always flat calm - ideal for kids and non swimmers as it is very shallow. I was quoted $850 to do this last weeek, but we didn't go because one of our guests was ill.

Shopping is also a BIG attraction as the entire island is duty free. Front Street in Philipsburg (the Dutch side capital) is really the place to go, but there are also some excellent high end boutiques etc. in Marigot - take plenty of cash, or credit cards - but don't bother with American Express, as many shops and restaurants will not accept AMEX.

Enjoy !
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Chatting with someone over on TA and came up with a great idea...maybe you will agree. One week on Anguilla for the pristine beaches and then some time on Saba for the extraordinary uniqueness, hiking, rainforest and charm - maybe then settle in to St.Martin for some French flare, food and charm.

The safest island I have been on and have happily brought my children to is Grenada and from there you have access to many Grenadine or such islands - in fact there is a day tour to I think a total of 4 other small islands - Union Carriacou etc...?
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 03:11 AM
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Barbados and Grenada would make a good pair for you and the kids. Not sure about boats between them, but it is a short flight. Both islands have lovely people, good beaches, and particularly Barbados has a wealth of attractions and things to do.
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Old Apr 27th, 2010, 07:24 AM
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In February, I stayed on Simpson Beach - in a Condo called Unforgettable that I found through the condo was beautiful - the location perfect - right on the beach - and it had an infinity pool too. It was close to restaurants and shops. While there, I took day trips to Anguilla and Sabre, and Pinel Island via Ferry - We also did a catamaran to Prickley Pear. It was fantastic. If you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to help
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