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Need help deciding: Akumal, Belize, Puna Cana, Grand Cayman or St. Lucia?

Need help deciding: Akumal, Belize, Puna Cana, Grand Cayman or St. Lucia?

Old Jul 30th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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Need help deciding: Akumal, Belize, Puna Cana, Grand Cayman or St. Lucia?

I would greatly appreciate some help in choosing my “caribbean” destination. I’m not too concerned with price as of yet as that is really the only objective piece of information that is easily obtained and I can compare that against the more subjective info I can hopefully get from anybody kind enough to answer my questions.

On the list as of right now: Akumal,Mexico. Ambergris Caye, Belize, Punta Cana, Domincan, Grand Cayman, and St. Lucia.

I am trying to plan a trip for 3-4 couples for 5 nights ranging in ages from 26-33. 2 of us are hardcore divers/snorkelers, the rest are up for watersports, but would get bored pretty quickly. We at least need a place with some nightlife. I’m not looking for Spring break, but some fun bars would be nice. I really want to visit a place with decent snorkeling off the beach(within 150yards). That way us snorkeling freaks can still keep ourselves entertained while the sit-on-a-beach freaks can do their thing too. Here https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B0...l4QnZaOE0/edit is an album of the beach snorkeling from my trip to Jamaica. As long as it’s as good or better than that. I’m cool. Everyone in the group is pretty adventurous and is up for every other activity too. I’m trying to stay away from crazy touristy or uber luxury.

From what I’ve read these are some of my observations. Please feel free to confirm or correct me.
Mexico: Cheapest, Akumal has off beach snorkeling, not so great diving or snorkeling off shoe due to hurricanes, lots of other things to do.

Belize: ugly beaches, no beach snorkeling, best off shore snorkling/diving, very laid
back, no nightlife, nothing else to do if staying on the cayes, very “off the beaten trail” type of vacation

Punta Cana: pretty beaches.. that’s about all I’ve been able to find. What about nightlife, snorkeling/diving, and “other things to do”

Grand Cayman: received mixed information about beach snorkeling, pretty beaches, pretty water. Haven’t seen anything else to do besides water sports, nightlife?

St Lucia: mixed information about beach snorkeling, not sure about “pretty beaches/water”, don't’ know much about off shore snorkeling/diving, good nightlife
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Old Jul 30th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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I would cross off the DR and St. Lucia from your list. No good snorkeling or nightlife at either.

Grand Cayman would probably give you the best of your citeria. If you thought the snorkeling was great in Jamaica, I did not, you will be blown away by Grand Cayman. Rent a car and get the off shore snorker's map and spend the day going to each site.

The boat snorkeling will be better though. Do the sting ray excursion with the 3 snorkle stops. Wish I new how to download the video we got. Amazing. Also, snorkle the Wreck of Cali.

The nightlife will be OK. Definatly, nothing crazy. There is Margaritaville and a restuarant sorta like it across the way called Breezes. Also, little restuarants and bars. Just stay away from town when the cruise ships are in.

Akumal has good snorkeling, but it's very seclued. Nothing much around. The infamous 5th Avenue in Playa is about 45 away by car. We took as tour the Sain Ka'an Biosphere about 1 1/2 putside of Tulum. The best snorkeling we ever done in Mexico hands down and have been going over the past 10 years. Grand Cayman is still number one in snorkeling for us.

I don't know anything about Belize. haven't been there, but on our list of "someday".

If your interested, check out our picture site. I have tons of underwater snorkel pictures from various destinations.

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Old Jul 30th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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Not Punta Cana!! It is one of those "built environment" where there was nothing until they put up a bunch of mega resorts for tourists. Most people who visit there can't/don't/won't leave their resort property!

I vote for Akumal, but then I love Mexico. Or the Grand Caymans if you want to stick with the Caribbean.
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Old Jul 30th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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Grand Cayman will get you covered for your needs, more so than you other options. Just be advised that the best snorkeling is NOT off the popular & Mile Beach. You'll need to rent a car and visit the different shore snorkeling areas, it ranks up there with the very best in the Caribbean

Other places to consider is West Bay Beach in Roatan, Honduras or St. John in the USVI.
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Old Jul 30th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Problem with St Lucia is the nightlife is in the north of the island around Rodney Bay village but the good snorkelling is in the south, around the Anse Chastanet reef and Anse Cochon. The scuba diving is quite good around the Pitons and there are other activities.
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Old Jul 31st, 2012, 05:21 AM
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I'd argue that Ambergris Caye has ugly beaches. They aren't world class, but, the sand is soft and white and the water is clear and Caribbean blue. There is sea grass, and the water is shallow, but, not ugly.

In high season at least, there is live music somewhere every night. Most nights several options for music. Also a couple of late night clubs, though, I've never been.

Lots of lodging and restaurant choices. Day trips to the mainland for cavings and Mayan ruins are available.

In all honesty, though, with just five days, I'd go to the place with the best flight times.
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Old Jul 31st, 2012, 08:02 AM
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I agree about flight times. With such a very short trip, that would be my first consideration actually.
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Old Jul 31st, 2012, 08:47 AM
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From your list, Grand Cayman is going to be your best choice. Rent a car so you can do your own private thing as it sounds like you want a sense of personal, close-up discovery on your vacation. A car that will get you around will make your trip so much more rewarding than an ordinary stay at a hotel. Try to go to Stingray city at a time when there are not a lot of cruise ships in port.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 04:54 AM
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Thanks everybody for your responses!! They have been extremely helpful!
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