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need help deciding what island: heres a wish list

need help deciding what island: heres a wish list

Old Jul 6th, 2012, 06:58 AM
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need help deciding what island: heres a wish list

My boyfriend and i are planning a 7 day vacation in december. Our budget is around 3k total, maybe a little more. We don't love the dominican republic, costa rica, puerto rico or mexico. Which makes my life difficult, because I cannot find an island that fits all our wish list items that is affordable. We went to ocho rios, Jamaica last july, and I was amazed. I thought, if the water is this blue up here, how blue is it if we go farther south?! I need to see! So here is our wish list, and please give me suggestions as to which island would be best:

-BEAUTIFUL turquoise or blue water. we live in NJ, so any water resembling the jersey shore will not due.
-some terrain, like rainforest or mountains to explore
-interesting animal life
-waterfalls
-CALM waters. Even though we are near the jersey shore, i hate hate hate choppy water with waves that take me down.
-Have AI resorts. We prefer to go on vacation and not worry about the bill or how much a drink costs.
-Wind is a concern. I hear Aruba is uncomfortably windy, but others say it would be way too hot without it.
-I am scared of horse flies, so if anyone knows of a climate or island with less of those, I would love to know of it!
-the hotter the better. I know going in december makes it more temperate, but we are stuck going at that time because of time availability.
-We are flying out of philadelphia. I don't care about distance or length of flight, but my boyfriend is very scared of flying. So the quicker the better. But i am not against stuffing him with a few anti anxieties and being his resident plane pillow just to deal with a long plane ride, haha.

I understand not all of those items can be obtained, but an island that fits most of them would be ideal. I know, I am being so difficult! I have been scouring the internet, trying to decide which island is best. But nothing beats personal experience and opinion.

Thank you in advance, and i really hope you guys can give me a suggestion or two!! : )
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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First, it would help to know if your $3,000 budget is just for accommodation & food or if it also includes airfare. If it's both accommodations and airfare your options are going to be somewhat limited as to destinations. Also, you don't say when in december you are planning your trip. If you go before December 15 room rates are usually lower. Any time after December 15 is consider High Season and you'll find the highest room rates of the year no matter here you go in the Caribbean.

Second - OK, it's time for a little "reality check" so here's a few generalities you should know when planning your trip:

1) No one island "has it all" so you are going to have to make some concessions.

2) Temperatures in the Caribbean don't vary all that much between summer and winter and (with the exclusion of the Bahamas which are actually not in the caribbean) between the northern islands and southern islands. In December it is not going to be "HOT" anywhere in the Caribbean during December. On average, in December you can expect daytime highs in the low to mid 80's F. - perhaps a few degrees warmer in the very southern islands. There's usually breezes at that time of year all through the islands but you are correct Aruba is breezier than many other places. Avoid the Bahamas in December as temperatures can be much cooler.

3) You'll find most of the AI's (especially those in your price range) in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. There are a couple of AI's on Antigua and that island has much of what you are seeking so check there.

4) Water Color has nothing to do with how far north or south the island is but rather it's the color of the sand and the relative depth of the near shore surrounding waters. After all, it's the SAME CARIBBEAN SEA in the north as it is in the south. Flatter coral/limestone based islands will generally have lighter sand and shallower waters giving you the bright turquoise you are seeking. Mountainous islands general have darker sand and deeper waters giving the water a more steel blue appearance. So if you want those mountains and rainforest you are going to have to compromise on the water color.

5) Naturally waterfalls are more prevalent on the more mountainous islands than on the flatter islands so that means a trade-off. Mountains mean darker sand which in turn means darker blue waters.

6) it's the tropics, no one can guarantee you won't encounter bugs but generally speaking horseflies are not a major problem on the more populated island (which is where you'll find lots of AI Resorts).

7) You'll find calm waters on just about very island. just make sure you choose a resort on the Caribbean side of the island you choose. The caribbean (or leeward side) will have less wind and waves than the Atlantic side of the island. FYI - on most island you'll find the bulk of the resorts on the Caribbean side for just that reason.

You might want to reconsider your desire to go AI - it will give you more options. If you don't go AI look at resorts on St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Martin or Maybe St. Kitts. Some resorts on those islands will offer Meal Plans but they won't necessarily be "AI".

Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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$3,000 budget for air and a AI hotel are few and far between except in Mexico, Jamaica and the DR.

I've done many for that budget, but my expectations for accomendations and food quality were in check. Which means, low budget hotels with the lowest catagory rooms and food that was a little iffy. However, I tend to do the AI for drinks and breakfast and then budget in the over all trip for outside restaurants.

Waterfalls are on select Islands; St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Costa Rice, Pureto Rico. I don't think any of those would be in your price range.

For AI in that budget, look at Antigua, the Marriotts in Curacao and St. Thomas, the Wyndham in St. Thomas, Breezes in Curacao, Holiday Inn in Aruba. Though Aruba is flat and arid. No mountians, greenery or waterfalls.

Here is a list of AI's in the Caribbean. Do some research and check prices on on-line booking sites and see if you can find something you are interested in your price range.


http://www.caribbeanallinclusive.com...ve_resorts.cfm
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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I appreciate your "words of wisdom." Excuse me if I interpretted your tone incorrectly, but from the way you write you sound very condescending.
"3k total" means food, accomodations and airfare. I also said the budget could extend a little over 3k, and I have found numerous AI resorts thay we can afford with airfare on islands other than the DR, puertorico, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Mexico. I am having the trouble deciding on which one. I am aware there are bugs in the tropics. I focused on horseflies, BC someone said they were bad in Aruba. I also realize the Caribbean sea is the same body of water. I now understand the reason for different colors of water per island, so I do appreciate that. I said in my post that I know I will NOT get all my wishes for one island, as I know its not physically possible. I said if there is an island tht best fits, please sugfest it.we do not bugs
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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Gah i hate my phone. horrible to type on. anyway, thank u for ur suggestions. i will explore it more online.
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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as you're already a bit familiar with jamaica take a look at http://www.riu.com/en/Paises/jamaica...gril/index.jsp

i thinnk you would like antigua - check out jolly beach resort. friends were just there & liked it a lot. they found a fun beachbar just down the beach. this is the island's site: http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/
orbitz has a good deal right now http://www.orbitz.com/hotel/Antigua_...lusive.h80237/
you should do well on air if you bundle it with the resort through orbitz, expedia, etc.

applevacations, tnt vacations & gwv all bundle trips. also useful is http://www.resortvacationstogo.com/S...e_Resorts.html
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Well if you have ideas, if you posted those people could perhaps better help. You really have eliminated all the less costly destinations that offer a large selection of AI's (DR, Jamaica, Mexico).
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 01:14 PM
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Oops forgot what I came here to say, as Virginia mentioned, look at Negril, Jamaica.
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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Yes....why not list the resorts you have found that will fit in your budget and then perhaps we can guide you on the best choice.
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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If you are ever considering a "Caribbean Vacation", you should go to Grenada.

We just got back this week, and it's a trip unlike we've ever had before. Grenada isn't necessarily for the pampered or faint of heart, although they do have some of the most incredible, upscale "All Inclusive Resorts" in the Caribbean there. It is one of the few remaining, relatively unspoiled islands. Offers the "True Caribbean" experience. "An adventure". It's among the safest islands, has incredible beaches, lush vegetation, waterfalls, very friendly people and GREAT food. For divers, it's considered "The Wreck Capital of the Caribbean" with numerous wrecks within a 30 minute boat ride.

I share this because it's a wonderful island and the people there could use your "tourist dollars". They still have recovered economically from the impact of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

You'd be rewarded with the experience of a life time.
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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Ghutch, youve just about sold me on Grenada! Im not really concerned at this point about resorts, thats step two in research, haha. I am trying to choose an island, ill figure out accomodations following that. in the reviews ive read about Antigua, people have commented on the rudeness of the staff at numerous resorts, so thats a concern, but not an eliminator. Thanks everyone for your input, very appreciated!!!
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Old Jul 6th, 2012, 05:11 PM
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If you find an AI resort on Grenada with air for 2 people for $3,000, let me know so I can look into it. Haven't found one to date.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 06:13 AM
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misslindsey: KVR brings up a good point that can be generally applied to most islands in December. Being in season, it's going to be tough to find something in that range on any island, particularly if you're not leaning towards places like Jamaica or the Dominican Republic (Which I've been to. Good value. Beautiful beaches. If you never want to experience the country, the beach resort areas are truly self-contained and pretty much isolated from seeing the rest of the island unless you really wanted to. AND, based upon your requirements and budget, it might be the best place to consider!)

BUT...

I think if "you've seen one island, you've seen one island". Depends on what you want. They're all unique in their own way. Few "have it all". You'd get pristine beaches and crystal clear water in the Bahamas out islands or Turks and Caicos, but they're flat, arid and not particularly pretty. You'd get the mountains and waterfalls in places like St. Lucia or Guadalupe, but the beaches and water might not be as nice.

Grenada was my 7th island in the Caribbean. It DOES have "it all" based upon your description. It's unspoiled and is not a typical tourist destination for most Americans. Brits...yes. It's a former colony and they all speak English. Can be a little difficult to get to. Can be surprisingly pricey if you don't know what you're doing and plan well (which you can do).

We started off with a similar budget. Didn't make it. Didn't end up caring really because we had a once in a life time trip. The country has become part of my soul now.

We stayed at the Blue Horizons in Grenada and had a blast. About a 5 minute walk to the beach. Another consideration would be the Flamboyant. They do have AI options. Pricier options would be LaLuna or LaSource. Uber pricier options would be Spice Island or Maca Bana. Hey, it's only money!

Some considerations overall:

1. Drop the "AI" requirement. It's great fun to get "off the ranch" and explore a country. If you're contained on the property and never leave, you've missed a big part of the experience meeting the people and learning the culture! Plus, it can generally cost more overall. Find a place that's self-catering and do some cooking on your own. Keeps the costs down.

2. Shorten the trip if you really have to manage to a budget and love a particular island. Yeah, we might want 7 days, but maybe 5 would do if we can reasonably get there.

3. Consider travel time. Nothing stinks worse than blowing 2 of your 7 days sitting in airports and worrying about connections. Trips should be stress free.

4. Check our Caribbean locations on places like eBay or sites like: http://www.cheapcaribbean.com/

5. Join Trip Advisor. I swear by that site for information. A couple of good links are:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travelers...argain-g147237

http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice

Anyway, good luck!
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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Grenada is a wonderful wonderful island.

My wife and I have vacationed on many Caribbean islands but have now settled on Grenada as our winter destination.

We will be returning to the Blue Horizons for our 5th time in February 2013. We love the location, the staff and the quiet leisure time around the pool.

I have posted trip reports on our visits. Click on my name and you will get to my profile page.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 08:06 AM
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As far as budget I think the question of WHEN in December is a reallly crucial one. If it's the week of Christmas into New Year's prices increase significantly. If it's early Dec you'll have a much easier time.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 09:49 AM
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I guess another point on AI resorts..

Big corporations and wealthy investors set up these big luxurious self-contained resorts to capture as much of the travel dollar as they can. Similar to what Disney tries to do in Orlando. Whereas tourist dollars were once spread all over the island creating jobs, they are now increasingly concentrated in these resorts. Working-class people fortunate enough to work on these resorts do really well, the rest of the island does very poorly.... poverty and crime shoots up.

Not that they're all bad, it's just great to get "off the ranch" to experience the different restaurants, see the sights, meet the people and learn about the country. A little "roughing it" helps create your memorable adventure!
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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If before December 15 you have a chance for your budget, after December 15 everything is 3 times what before the 15th is, and stays that way through April.

I don't understand why you considered roamsaround post condescending. Been around for a long time and always found those posts to be quite helpful. Especially in separating what's more important to you out of what you're looking for, because no island has it all.

You highlighted BEAUTIFUL turquoise beach. You won't get the Corona commercials beaches on hilly island, including Grenada. The hilly islands islands Tend to have smaller beaches in coves, and tend to have darker blue water. The flat dry islands have the bright white sand neon turquoise water. But the hilly islands are scenic, the flat islands are desert looking.

As for budget, if $3000 is inclusive of air, hotel and food, then you might have to limit to an all inclusive. Not many islands are know as AI types so that again narrows your choices.

KVR is in my opinion, an expert when it comes to AI, and should trust her judgement of what you can get for your money where.

I think the closest to check all of your "wants" is Mexico. Long turquoise beaches, cheap AI that include everything, and still able to go on excursions, waterfalls, ruins, etc.

It would also help if you answer when in December and what properties you found to better help you.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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blamona: Have to disagree with you there a little. There are about 45 Grenada Beaches to choose from. Some are black sand, others are white. I would put the Morne Rouge Beach (BBC Beach)up there with anything I've ever seen in the Caribbean. Magazine Beach, which is where the popular Aquarium restaurant is, is equally spectacular.

I'd have had some Coronas on either if they weren't so expensive. So I had to settle for knocking back a few of their great Carib beers instead!

Just sharing one perspective from a wonderful island as the OP makes her decision!
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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I SINCERELY appreciate everyones suggestions and opinions. It helps so much to not go in blind.

As ive said before, I know I cant have all my wants. Im just trying to find the best option.

As far as budget, its only july. I have time to keep saving money to increase our budget, which is why that isnt a giant concern at the moment. Sorry I didnt post the travel dates, im hoping to go Dec 10-17. Restricted on scheduling due to school.

And as we only have style of writing to convey our inflections and tone of voice online, the one response came off as condescending, but I do appreciate his input.

Im very hesitant to not do AI Because ill feel so much stress about budget. Ive only been on a true vacation once, and the freedom of walking up to a bar ordering a drink, and walking away giving only a sincere thank yoy is very alluring. But, I will look into non AI accomodations as well.

Thanks again all!
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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I can understand your wanting to do AI. I love AI resorts and have been to 14. Planning #15 for the first week of December.

The thing with AI resorts is location and not paying too much for them. Some are better than others with regards to food quality and amenities. Typically, the higher the cost the more/better you get, but sometimes that is not always true. I felt the Sandals resorts we stayed at were way overpriced for what we got.

Some locations, AI is just not the way to go cost wise. Ie;, Aruba or Barbados. There are just way to many great restuarants and bars. Plus the charge almost double to triple for AI then what you can get in Mexico or Jamaica.

When choosing between AI and non AI I look at the cost factor. If I can get an AI hotel for $800 or lower difference than a non-AI hotel, then I will go AI. (Except for Mexico and Jamaica, which I will always go AI there.) It usually costs on average around $1,000 for drinks and meals at a non-AI. But, we are specifically watching what we are eating and drinking, which I don't like either.

When we go AI in Mexico, we also budget for off site restaurants and bars, so I tend to pick the lower budget AI hotels there so we don't feel like we spent too much for the AI and still get the best of both worlds.

We did stop going to the Caribbean side of Mexico in December because the pools are not heated and it's just too cold for us to enjoy them. The ocean temps are fine though. We are going to Cabo this December as their pools are heated.

The only Island we ever had issues with any kind of bug was St. Thomas a dusk. I have never seen flies anywhere.

If you are interested, check out our picture page. We've been to several Caribbean Islands as well as Mexico numerous times. You might see a destination that you like.

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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