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JAMAICA VS. CABO, PUERTO RICO, AND HAWAII? HELP PLEASE!!

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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:27 AM
  #1
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JAMAICA VS. CABO, PUERTO RICO, AND HAWAII? HELP PLEASE!!

Hello All--

So here's the deal, my husband and I are from Los Angeles, CA and are looking to take a 6-7 night vacation in literally... WAIT FOR IT... A week. That's right, we are looking to go on vacation next week (May 2nd-9th). I know it's last minute but frankly I've been able to find some pretty decent deals and I just got word that I am starting back at work and this is the only time it looks like we'll be able to go.

With that said, here is what we're looking for...

My husband and I are 32 and 34. Super young at heart. No kids (but that is one of the major things we hope to accomplish during this trip... Baby-making.) So romance and fun are highly important.

We enjoy extremely social, hip places with young, fun, people, a place that may have a DJ by the pool playing current music, but still luxurious. (Luxury on a budget... A great room is high on our list of priorities.)

Put it like this, our favorite places to go when we vacation are South Beach, Palm Springs and Vegas. We LOVE South Beach and when we've gone we did a large suite at the Sagamore overlooking the ocean! We went last Memorial weekend and stayed at the Venetian and went to Rehab, and Tao Beach for the pool parties. And when we're in Palm Springs although we love the decor and landscaping of the Parker hotel we prefer people watching in a huge balcony suite at the Riviera overlooking the main pool where there's more action, despite the nicer rooms at the Parker. So hopefully that gives you a hint of what kind of people we are... Extremely social with champagne taste on a slightly higher than beer budget (FYI, our budget is between 2k - 3k for flight and accomodations).

With that said, the goal of this trip is not really to party but to relax in a cool, fun setting. Doesn't need to be a major party-spot, but at the same time we don't want the island to go dead at 8pm, leaving us with nothing to do. We want somewhere hot, on the beach, where we can lay out all day on a great lounge chair and umbrella, sipping margaritas, or in a cabana or bed on the beach or pool. A place that doesn't feel overly stuffy, but DEFINITELY a place with vibe, atmosphere and that still feels like we're out of the country. We haven't taken a big vacation since we did a cruise a few years back: Miami, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas and I hated it... (I loved Miami and the destinations but the boat was waaaay too confining and not nearly fabulous enough). We want to do activities like jet-skiing, parasailing, renting scooters, swimming with dolphins, but no backpacking or hiking. We're not big adventurers.

Of course we have to keep in mind weather because I know a lot of these places are in their rainy season but we don't mind a brief moment of showers so long as it's hot and the sun comes back out for the majority of the day, so we can get our lounge on. So I've been going back and forth with the following places...

Jamaica: I was almost completely convinced that Negril or Ocho Rios was the place for us, until my sister warned me, "DO NOT GO." She said she went to Ocho Rios and Kingston (duh, why did she go there?) She said she would never return without security on hand to protect her. She said she was told not to leave her resort, which she didn't obviously obey because she wanted to enjoy the local vibe and cuisine and she said it felt unsafe and the vendors and "drug dealers" were unbelievably aggressive. I don't want to be subjected to "having" to stay at the resort the whole time. I've also heard there are police with guns at the beaches. At this point I don't know what to think. I've seen some beautiful, beautiful places in both negril and montego bay and I can't seem to put this spot out of my mind. Hotels I've been coveting are: the couples resorts (unfortunately couples negril is booked), sandals whitehouse, Roundhill hotel and Villas. Where's the best place for luxury, price and nightlife? And is it really that unsafe?

Barbados: Have heard great things about it, but for the type of accomodations we like (ie. Sandy Lane, which is no where near our budget) I wonder if it's out of our price range. Been looking at "The Crane Resort and Residences" and Hilton Barbados, but not sure either are going to give us that youthful cool, luxurious, vibe we like.

Punta Cana: Found some AWESOME all inclusive deals, and gorgeous looking hotels, but I keep hearing that you can NOT leave your resort for safety reasons and I wonder if we'll start feeling bored and confined after a few days. Not sure it's the fun, cool vibe we like. (hear it's kind of boring at night) Also heard you have to wrestle people or wake up at the crack of dawn if you want a spot on a lounger. Hotels I've been looking at: Paradisus, Iberostar, The Reserve at Paradisus. (Is Punta Cana the best city to go in DR?)

San Juan, Puerto Rico: A BIG contender so far. The prices seem right. I hear it's pretty safe. I've heard from several people it's extremely lively and social like we like. Just not sure it will offer the type of luxury and beach lounging we like. (Also, is San Juan the happening city for vacationers?) Hotels I'm considering: The Ritz Carlton, El San Juan Hotel and Casino, the 'W' retreat and spa (looks right up our alley with vibe and luxury, the only problem is I've read it's really far from all the action and that is not good!)

Cabo: Frankly, I'm kind of scared of Mexico right now and not really sure about the weather. But some of the accomodations look great! Also heard you can't really do beach lounging-- it's more about the pools, right? It's super close to Calfiornia which I like, but wonder if this will give us the vibe or weather we're looking for. Hotels I've considered: Cabo Azul, Me Melia, Riu Palace all inclusive, the ridge luxury villas at la playa

Aruba: Although I hear the weather is great year round, I keep hearing it's just like being in the US. I can't find a single luxury hotel and I hear it's hell trying to get a palapa or a lounger.

Bahamas: ??

Maui or Kauai: And finally.... Hawaii. I've been to Waikiki (Hilton Hawaaian village) when I was much younger and loved it. But don't want to go anywhere where I've been before. Plus everyone keeps telling me Honolulu and Waikiki are just like being in the states. Although Maui and Kauai look beautiful I've heard these are the most dead/boring places -- everything apparently shuts down early and all there is to do is daytime activities. With that said I know it offers that great beach and beauty. Plus I'm concerned about how expensive food and activities will be since I know hawaii is so expensive.

I know I've been long winded and I'm sorry, but I'm so desperate and confused I would SOOOOOO appreciate ANY and all feedback advice and suggestions you wonderful people out there in FODORS land could offer. Any additional hotel suggestions and even destination suggestions are more than welcome!! Wish me luck... Heaven knows, I'll need it!
mercysmommy is offline  
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Apr 25th, 2011, 12:23 PM
  #2
 
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I can speak to Negril Jamaica. I was there most recently for 10 days last July. I don't know why people are telling you so many horror stories about all these destinations but it is simply not true. Negril is gorgeous and has everything you are seeking. I can't help with the high-end places, as I am a budget traveler, but there are plenty to choose from. It is a poor country and you do need to keep your wits about you, but you do not need to feel confined to a resort. I was there solo female for 5 days before my friends joined me, no issues. No Jamaica is not "unsafe" if you use your head.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 12:25 PM
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As I mentioned on your other thread, I think Cabo San Lucas could also work. I don't know where you are getting so much misinformation but there are gorgeous beaches in Los Cabos. Medano Beach (where ME is located) is one of the few swimmable ones. People mention the pools because in many spots the ocean current is rough and too dangerous to swim. The weather on the Baja in May should be perfect. Again there is no reason to be "scared of Mexico" for a normal tourist doing normal tourist things on the beaten tourist path. Just a non-issue.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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you've obviously done a lot of research. i agree with suze. negril or cabo would be good for you.
negril has outstanding swimming beach, which you can wander at night hitting different restaurants & bar/nightspots. the vibe is distinctly jamaican & it is very romantic imho - with the palm trees...
you will be offered pot but no one will "hassle" you if you just say no thanks. (lol - no one thinks kingston is a good place to vacation - not surprised your sis didn't like it!) if you don't have to be beachfront you might look at some of the cliffside hotels like rock house, the caves, catch-a-falling star or tensing pen. i think
whitehouse is a long way from anything.
cabo has few swimmable beaches but a more active centralized town to party in. honestly this is not where i would go to "change my nonparent status". waaay to much tequila

aruba is too americanized.
san juan is lively & has the old city to tour. it is a Big city.
bahamas might still be a smidge cool. they are known for extremely low key vacations. as in next to no nightlife.
i don't know much about dom rep - most ppl go to ai's & i don't care for them (we normally do villas)
know nothing about hawaii.
good luck & i hope you'll let us know what you decide & of course if you make a status change 8-)
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Apr 25th, 2011, 03:39 PM
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The more I think about it, I'm changing my suggestion about Negril. While it is a lovely location and with great nightlife, it's more about funky beach parties, live music, that kind of thing. It's not really about "luxury" or traditional "nightlife" like you'd find in Cancun or Vegas.
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Apr 26th, 2011, 03:10 AM
  #6
 
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Couples Swept Away Negril.

bookit.com good packages couplesresorts.com

Romantic beautiful hip sort of a rasta hedonisitic vibe.

May does begin the rainy season.

Hapuna Prince Kona 4 hours from LAX less rain great vibe have

done fly drive stay packages on priceline.com under 1K pp.

Probably where I would go this time of year.

Secrets Maroma #3 for me also quite romantic

Happy deciding,
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Apr 26th, 2011, 11:46 AM
  #7
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Hi All--

I am sooooo thankful for everyone's feedback and advice. After so much back and forth and constant emailing and even consulting with some very experienced travelers (not to mention a professional travel agent) it looks like we're going to head to the ME Cancun. I know, I know... (MTV spring break central). But before I hear all the groans and scoffs, ultimately it boiled down to the following: time, money and atmosphere.

After speaking to several people I knew Aruba was not the right fit for my husband and I based on the lack of nightlife and luxury hotels... Jamaica, The Bahamas and most of the Carribbean locations were taken out of the running mostly due to the amount of travel time it would have taken to get there, severely cutting into our actual vacation time, so those were ruled out. Barbados and Hawaii felt way too expensive based on our budget and so ultimately it came down to Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. (Puerto Rico was a heavy contender but my husband seemed to take to the idea of Cancun a little more).

Cancun beat out our decision to Cabo due to everyone's constant raving over their white sand beaches vs. the rockier beaches of Cabo not to mention the hotel that I was interested in for both happened to be the same... the ME (Melia). The ME Cabo was $2700 for flight and accomodations but not all inclusive. We will be getting the ME Cancun all inclusive for $3000.00 and I will still get my full seven nights of vacation.

Based on all the feedback I'm getting I know we may be in for some major nightlife and noise from all the partying and beach-goers who flock to Cancun and the ME Cancun but I think we'll be okay. (After all we do love South Beach). I guess at this point there's nothing we can do but pull the trigger on something. Nothing like good old trial and error. We have to go see how it is and then maybe next time we'll have more time to properly plan in advance. Plus, if we are successful on the "baby-making" end I figure this may be one of the last times my husband and I will want to do a louder, busier resort such as this.

Being that Cancun seems to be the final decision if anyone has any last minute suggestions-- Hotels? Restaurants? Actitvities that can make this a great trip I would be so grateful to hear them. I am so thankful and appreciative to my new fodors family for all your help. Now, fingers crossed!
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Apr 26th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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I don't know why anyone would "groan and scoff" about your choice. It sounds exactly like what you are looking for. Your post was hard to answer because so many of the places you listed as choices simply do not have what you say you are looking for (nightlife, some luxury, etc.).

I do think Cabo would have been equally good for you. Medano Beach, where the ME sits in Cabo is very nice.
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Apr 26th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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I know people who stayed at Le Blanc and really liked it, I think it might have the vibe and luxury that you are seeking. There's also what seems to be a cool boutique hotel on the beach, Casa Turquesa.
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Apr 27th, 2011, 08:23 AM
  #10
KVR
 
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I actually like Cancun and have been twice. We celebrated my 40th birthday there in April 2008 and it was great.

We didn't find that many Spring Breakers when we went. Instead it was mostly families with lots of kids. We stayed at the Oasis, which was not adult's only, but the location was great for what we were looking for.

Cancun has better beaches than Cabo. They have completed a beach renovation process and brought in tons of new sand.

For activities, look at Aqua World. Snorkeling, jet skiing, para-sailing, aqua boats, and semi sub. We really liked the La Isla shopping mall, but I'm a shopper. We did the bar hopper tour and it was fun. You can set up tour to the Mayan Ruins and Eco Parks located outside of Playa del Carmen if you are interested.

The Margaritaville there is one of their better ones. The food is better tasting and more things going on. We also enjoyed Sr. Frogs. They have a taco stand set up outside of the entrance. Yum Yum!

If your interested we have our pictures posted from both our trips at: Have a great trip.

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrkvn
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Apr 27th, 2011, 08:25 AM
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I need an edit button. The link is actually:

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Apr 27th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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We got back from Cancun last week and had a great time. We split our stay between the two Marriotts (JW and Casa Magna).. it was 85F and sunny every day and the beach was great

We did two daytrips by car to Akumal for snorkeling and visited Xel-Ha.

Restaurants... We loved Fred's House and seafood market! Excellent fish and even better mojitos muddled with fresh mango! We back a second time just for dessert and a mojito or two.

We really like Destileria too.
http://www.ladestileria.com.mx/cancun/
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