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Jun 7th, 2012, 01:08 PM
  #1
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Looking for recommendations

I am looking for recommendations for a romantic Caribbean vacation with my wife. We have been to St. Martin and Barbados, so we'd like to go to a different island this time. We like good restaurants, some hiking (nothing too extreme), and interesting things to explore. We're not looking for shopping and that sort of thing. We'd like a nice beach that is swimmable (when we went to St. Martin and Barbados we were on the windward side and the water was very rough). And we don't want to be isolated (again, both on St. Martin and Barbados we were in resorts there were off by themselves, and we had to drive to get to anything).

Thanks!
-larry
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:18 PM
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Hi Larry and welcome to Fodors!

We could use a little more information from you before we make good recommendations.

What's your budget - in dollars? Does it include airfare, meals, or is it just your room per night budget?

Where are you flying from, and how long are you going for? Are you looking for direct flights, or are you willing to take a whole day or more to get to and from your destination?

Big resort? Boutique property? AI? Villa?

The more specific info you can offer, the more helpful we can be!
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:43 PM
  #3
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Hi. Thanks for the reply. I'll try to answer your questions.

We were hoping to spend in the $200/night range (or less if possible) for the room. But that is not set in stone. That is without meals or airfare. Our budget is ample, but not unlimited.

We will be flying from Albuquerque, New Mexico. We want to go for from 5-7 days. I though we'd have to fly to Houston or somewhere in Florida, then from there I'd like to get a direct flight to the island we're staying at. I figured that would take the better part of a day, but I certainly wouldn't want it to take more then 1 day.

Definitely not AI. More likely we're prefer a boutique property or villa, as long as it had some amenities (e.g. restaurant, bar, etc.). But I wouldn't totally rule out a big resort. We haven't been on too many vacations, so we're not all that opinionated.

We're planning on going sometime in October. I know that can be rainy or hurricane prone, but that is when we can go.

Thanks.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 04:55 PM
  #4
 
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www.tensingpen.com

is a small boutique place in Negril Jamaica with individual cottages located on "the Cliffs". it has it's own restaurant that provides continental breakfast but is not AI.

It's a bit rustic/luxury, so may or may not be what you have in mind.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 06:31 PM
  #5
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Thanks for the reply. I should have mentioned that we don't want to go to Jamaica. Also on our list of islands we do not want to consider is Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Haiti/Dominican Republic.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 07:30 AM
  #6
 
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It's too bad you have dismissed Jamaica. I think Negril is exactly what you are looking for and you would have no trouble in keeping to your budget.

Since you want hiking then obviously you'll want a hilly island. Some places to consider in no particular order:

Rodney Bay area of St. Lucia. There are a couple of boutique-type accommodations (Coco Palm and Coco Kreole) that probably meet your budget and Reduit Beach is the nicest beach on the island. Lots of hiking and exploring activities (rainforest, volcano) on St. Lucia and Rodney Bay is an area with hotels, restuarants and bars within walking distance. (According to a recent post by kcapuani Jet Blue has some good flight/hotel deals to St. Lucia right now.)

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Cane Garden Bay is a beautiful beach with a few small hotels and restaurants. The snorkeling is decent here and you are also fairly close to the stunning Smuggler's Cove Beach. Driving in this area of Tortola is not for the faint-hearted, however. Lots of hair-pin turns going over the mountains. You can also day-trip to a couple of other islands from the West End of Tortola. Don't miss going to Jost Van Dyke. There's hiking available and also an opportunity to step in quicksand, which I just had to do. Other than the immediate area around Cane Garden Bay, however, you'll probably need to drive.

Dickinson Bay, Antigua. This beach has some resorts and restaurants and Antigua has some interesting historical sites.

St. John, USVI. St. John may work but there are only a couple of hotel accommodations directly on a beach and one of them, Caneel Bay, far exceeds your budget. You may find a good deal at the Westin, which is also on the water. There are a lot of villas for rent on the island. Cruz Bay is a nice town with lots of restaurants and it's close to the Westin (a short taxi ride if you don't want to rent a car). Lots of stunning beaches on this island but you definitely want a car to reach them. Good snorkeling, too, and hiking. The con is it will take you a little longer to reach St. John as there is no airport. You fly into St. Thomas and then take a ferry. I wouldn't consider St. John unless you go for 7 days as coming from New Mexico it will undoubtedly take you most of a day to reach.

A couple of islands we haven't been to but which may work for you:

Grenada, Grand Anse Beach. Grenada is on our short list. Lots of things to do on this island and I understand Grand Anse Beach is gorgeous.

St. Kitts. Some interesting sites and accommodations to fit your budget.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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oh well, i can't help then. all the places you don't want to go are the only ones I know about and have been to (lol)!
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Jun 8th, 2012, 10:35 AM
  #8
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@sharona - thanks so much for the very detailed info. We will check it out. I've heard a lot of bad stories about Jamaica (robberies and such). I don't want to be in a walled in tourist compound and be afraid to explore.

@suze - thanks anyway.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 10:35 AM
  #9
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Turks and Caicos or Grand Cayman. Beautiful beaches, great snorkeling, close to most things. I would rent a car in T & C just so you can get to some of the other beaches besides Grace Bay and the restaurants. No hiking per se, but you can explore both easily and walk the beaches.

We were in Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago for a road trip. Didn't make it to Alburqueque. Very nice area.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #10
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KVR - thanks. We live in Santa Fe. Love it here.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 01:04 PM
  #11
 
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Everyone's different & I'm not trying to talk you into Jamaica, but to set the record straight it is not all what you describe. I spent 10 days on the cliffs in Negril, 5 days solo (female) and 5 days joining a group of friends. I was definitely not in a "walled in a tourist compound" (I stayed in a cute locally owned hotel) or "afraid to explore" (I went all around, mostly alone, walking and in taxis).
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Jun 8th, 2012, 03:45 PM
  #12
 
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I'm seconding suze - I read this thread because we're looking for a last minute getaway for our 30th wedding anniversary and my birthday. Next weekend

I'm trying to find the perfect place but Negril is calling me back for the 3rd time, that wonderful relaxing 7 mile beach with multiple restaurants and bars is shouting my name. In the past we've thought that we would explore a little but that beach is just too tempting.

Perhaps I should just forget about another island and book Coco La Palm again. Love their pools.

Idle Awhile would possibly suit you - I did a trip report on our stay there. On that trip we also stayed at Jamaica Inn. I bet you'd love that resort especially if your budget would cover it.

Negril is one of the safest places I've been to but then again I don't carry a purse on vacation so I'm not a target. If you want to know about being robbed on Manhattan? I have a whole different story for you

I can also recommend Nisbet Plantation on Nevis - my favourite place on earth but it comes at a cost. Car hire is easy, you can drive around the island and have lunch at the varoius plantation inns, also you can take the ferry to St Kitts, If you hire a car for your stay? Most car hire companies will allow you to drop the car at their office and collect one on St Kitts for no extra charge. We stayed at Nisbet for the second time for our 25th wedding anniversay. There is another trip report here somewhere.

Bucuti Beach Aruba might also suit you - it gets very good recommendations and we've stayed there twice. It tends to attract adults rather than families and has a wonderful beach. Public transport is so good that you don't even need to hire a car.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 03:57 PM
  #13
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alya, thanks for the reply. I am from NYC originally, and I've spend more time in Manhattan then anywhere else, and I've never had a problem. Very sorry you had something bad happen to you there. Re Jamaica, I'm just going on what I've heard from people I know who went there. I'm sure plenty of people go and have a wonderful, safe time. I just know my wife would not feel comfortable there.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 04:32 PM
  #14
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Besides my other recommendations, I agree with Aruba. Also look at the Manchebo Beach Resort on Eagle Beach.

I have to agree that Jamaica is not for the faint at heart. Been twice and enjoyed it, but I prefer Mexico. Actually, I've been to NYC and Manhattan 4 times and I would never return there on a dare.

If your interested, check out my picture page. We've been to many Caribbean Islands and Mexico many times, you might see something that your looking for.

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Jun 8th, 2012, 04:51 PM
  #15
 
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http://www.fodors.com/community/cari...-and-aruba.cfm

Larry here is my Nevis, Arubs TR - enjoy

BTW - We live in MA so NYC is our short getaway choice, They only managed to steal my cardigan - I'm too aware of risks anywhere but didn't feel unsafe in Negril.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 08:23 PM
  #16
 
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I totally agree that Turks & Caicos and the Caymans have stunning beaches. Some of the best anywhere. But those islands don't really have what you say you are looking for: hiking and interesting things to explore. Both are mostly beach/diving/skorkeling destinations with not much else going on. Don't get me wrong. I love both destinations but if you're looking for other things to do then I'm not sure they are what you're looking for. And the same holds true for Aruba. If you're simply looking for islands with nice beaches then that opens up a whole lot more options.

I thought about recommending Nevis to you but I'm not sure there are any accommodations that fit your budget. Unfortunately, Nisbet starts at about double your budget and the beaches on Nevis aren't known for being the better beaches in the Caribbean. It's a beautiful island though.

I think Negril probably fits your criteria better than just about anyplace else but if your wife won't feel comfortable on Jamaica then you shouldn't go.
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Jun 9th, 2012, 07:14 AM
  #17
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Thanks everyone. After doing some more research I think we've changed our mind and are now thinking of Hawaii. We have been there many times, so that's why we were looking for a new place. But we have only been to The Big Island and Maui - we're looking at Kauai now.
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Jun 9th, 2012, 09:30 AM
  #18
 
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That's a PERFECT solution!
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Jun 10th, 2012, 11:54 AM
  #19
 
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I'll make the magnanimous offer to carry your bags
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Jun 10th, 2012, 05:24 PM
  #20
 
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hi, have you tried the Dominican Republic, me and my wife had a great time got with Isaactours.com from a friend and stayed in
Rio San Juan (villa)...just an idea

good luck
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