need help picking between several islands

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Jan 17th, 2007, 08:43 PM
  #1
wug
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need help picking between several islands

We had decided on Grenada but now the FF tickets don't work with our schedule. We plan to go for seven nights sometime the last two weeks of May. Here is where we can go.

Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Tortola, St Lucia, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, St. John.

My husband just cares about the storybook beach, crystal blue/teal water, white sand, snorkeling, etc.... I like to have some stuff to do. Maybe hiking, caving, kayaking, etc. We don't like all inclusive or big resorts. We would like to rent a cottage for under $100/night. Be close to where we can get to restaurants, etc. but not right in the middle of things. We normally travel to Europe so we like to feel like we've left the US and get a feel for the culture of the place we are visiting.

Any ideas for us? Any great little cottage/villa where you've stayed that you loved? We don't need major luxury but not wanting a dump either. Oh, and we feel AC is essential.

Thanks so much!
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Jan 18th, 2007, 02:50 AM
  #2
 
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Wow... you've picked some drastically DIFFERENT islands! I have not been to all of the islands mentioned, but have read much about them.

Have not been to: Bahamas, Aruba,Cuacao, Tortola or T&C.. but here's what I have heard:
Bahamas & Aruba are very beautiful - but VERY COMMERCIAL, OVERRUN with LOTS OF TOURISTS!!!! Aruba is very flat & arid so it is not lush! Both of them are very good for snorkeling. T&C is similar in terrain to Aruba - flat & very arid - and EXCELLENT for snorkeling - I don't think it is overrun with people YET. Have no info on Curacao...

I have not been to Tortola, but have been to all USVI as well as Virgin Gorda - Tortola is mountainous & lush - and sounds very nice...

Have been to St. Lucia - and it is a SPECTACULAR island - MOUNTAINOUS & VERY LUSH!!!! Beaches, while stunning, do not have white sand - they are known as having "black sand beaches" but they are not black - they are tannish grey - not my favorite - and their snorkeling is not great. Antigua is a gorgeous island - it is mountainous and has areas that are very lush - and some that are very arid... magnificent beaches and very good snorkeling.

Now I come to MY FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH WHERE THEY DO HAVE STORYBOOK BEACHES: St. John.

Approximately 3/4 of it is owned/operated by the US Forest Service. NO CRUISE ships dock there - there is no airport - (you must ferry over from St. Thomas - or another island)... IT is mountainous & lush in most areas - Beaches are straight out of National Geographic - and you can actually find a one with less than 5 people on it! There are lots of trails to hike and snorkeling is EXCELLENT!!!

All of these islands (except maybe the Bahamas - & I have no clue about Curacao) are expensive - St. John does have several eco-camping places that have several options (cabins, tents, etc and are known to be wonderful.)- but I just realized you need AC ! There are also little inns - but you'd have to research those.

Best of luck - and if you have any questions - please ASK!

Lisa
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Jan 18th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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What time of year are you going? Not sure you will find a cute little cottage for $100 per nite. I just got back from a 3-week trip that I spent time in St John and Barbados and Bahamas. We have been to Aruba three times and I much prefer it over Barbados. Aruba is not lush however I adore the uninhabited side of the island and go there at least twice on every trip - it's great fun to rent the four wheelers and do this side close up - my pictures look like post cards. I have been to both Nassau and Freeport. Nassau is not very clean (I'm sure there are some nice neighborhoods and I didn't care for Atlantis - but it is a nice hotel). This trip we went on a private catamaran to the Exuma's - not sure if you can find an expensive charter for your time of year but that may be what you are looking for. St John has great beach - Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. We went to five beaches on this past trip but also go to St John every year. I loved the beaches of the outer islands of Bahamas just as much or more than St John beaches - but not really any restaurant/bars to stop at. If you go to St John - it's an easy boat ride to Tortola - Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, etc. I would probably recommend that if it's in the budget.

T
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Jan 18th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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T&C satisfies your husband's requirements for the beach, turquoise waters, and white sand. But it does not meet yours of other things to do. It's pretty much all about the beach & water there. And I don't know of any place that you can get for $100 or less/night. It's a mighty expensive island. =(

Antigua would probably fit what you are looking for. They have some beautiful beaches and other things to do. Not sure if you'd be able to find a cottage for that amount though, maybe slightly over you might be able to find one. If you would consider like a condo type of place, look into Antigua Village via skyauction.

Good luck with your search.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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My husband and I went to Turks & Caicos
last year in March, it was the most beautiful beach (Grace Bay) I have EVER seen in my life. We stayed at Beaches which was really pretty nice we had never done a AL before and were pleasantly surprised at how nice it really was.
The water was they most BEAUTIFUL shades of blue I have EVER seen and the snorkeling was out of this world!!! That was one of the reasons we picked T&C because the snorkeling was suppose to be the BEST!! And it was. Not a whole lot to do there, and it was not a very lush place. There were places to eat right across the street. If you rent a car, only rent it for a day or two, just to look around, because you really won't need it. And the best part of ALL was that it was not crowded!! Which we loved!! We stayed on the beach and snorkeled ALL the time. We would diffently go back again. Hope this helps
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Jan 18th, 2007, 07:10 AM
  #6
wug
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Thanks so much everyone for the help! If anyone else has any ideas please chime in! You're definitely right LPOWMACBACK, the islands I have on the list are very different. It all goes by where we can get to with our FF miles.

A cottage would be ideal but, if anyone has any places where they've stayed that is an apartment or condo, I'm open for suggestions there too. We'd just prefer to stay somewhere that isn't huge and resort like. For example, we went to St. Martin a few years ago (or only trip to the Caribbean) We stayed on the French side in Grand Case. Quieter and less built up than the Dutch side. We stayed at Grand Case Beach Club which is at the end of Grand Case town. Kind of off on its own. It was a condo situation but very quiet. We loved it.

thanks again, we're still trying to decide. Antigua and Tortola are looking pretty good though.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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wug - In Antigua check Galleon Beach. I haven't stayed there but seems nice.
http://www.galleonbeach.com

Here's a discussion on another forum about this place and another one:
http://www.geographia.com/antiguanew...tml?1159392674
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Jan 18th, 2007, 09:21 AM
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I'd vote for Aruba based on what you said. It definitely has the storybook beaches -- white sand, crystal clear water, so calm you can nap on a raft in the ocean. (Tested and approved! )

Snrokeling in Aruba is great. As far as restaurants, it's a foodie island. The bus into downtown is convenient and cheap, but you're far enough away from the bustle that you can easily avoid it. We thought the grounds of the Radisson (believe it or not) and the Hyatt were both gorgeous. We stayed at the Radisson but would have been happy with either. The locals are really friendly.

Of the others you mentioned, I've only been to Bahamas. Nassau can be a little glum and seedy in places, though lots of fun. Paradise Island is more "vacation-y," but definitely overrun with tourists.

I've heard rave reviews about St. Lucia too.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Sorry that I can't help you with accommodation recs in your price range, with a/c, on those islands. Hard to find. Too bad Grenada is out of the picture now, as it really is less expensive than these other places you're considering. Don't suppose you can get FF tickets to Barbados and then take a local carrier to Grenada? You could also take FF flights to St. Lucia and then fly local carrier to Grenada. Then again, for only 7 nights, that might add on too much travel time!

I would recommend that you check out, pronto, the auctions for Long Bay Beach Resort, Tortola, on www.skyauction.com. I'd bet you could get them in the $75/night range. It wouldn't be a cottage, but it would have a/c and nice views and you'd have full resort ameneties like pool, restaurants, housekeeping, etc.

You're also within walking distance of Sebastian's, Coco Plums, Bomba Shack and the Sugar Mill restaurants/bars. Tortola has a lovely and prosperous West Indian culture and many beautiful beaches with good snorkeling. You can take a day trip by ferry or sailboat to many other islands in the British Virgins.

Do a search here for Cane Garden Bay, as there was a poster here named Carole looking for accommodations in the BVI with a similar budget. lots of folks gave her suggestions for the CGB area, some of which had a/c.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 02:12 PM
  #10
 
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If you don't mind being a couple of blocks from the beach...you could have a 2 bdrm townhouse for $800/week on Provo at Island Club. You also get WIFI, a washer, 2 bathrooms, pool and privacy. The walk to the beach isn't bad at all.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 06:04 PM
  #11
 
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St. John.

No other place matches it.

you want cozy quiet villa with AC?

www.gallowspointresort.com.

OR
check out a sleeper:

www.hillcreststjohn.com

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Jan 19th, 2007, 04:33 AM
  #12
 
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Marbelheadguy: one of the OP's criteria is under $100 a night!!!!
Not going to happen in St. John for under $300-$400 a night.

WUG: Good luck, but from your choices, you are not going to find AC and rooms for under $100. In general, Caribbean is expensive. T&C will cost you that just to eat.

You need to change your choices to either Belize or Roatan Honduras, maybe even Mexico-but keep in mind for those prices, it probably won't include AC.

Good luck.
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Jan 19th, 2007, 06:19 AM
  #13
 
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I think ejcrowe made a good recommendation regarding Long Bay Beach Resort in Tortola. It isn't luxury but the beach is beautiful and the rooms are clean. It's a short drive to Smuggler's Cove, another great beach. You can ferry over to Jost van Dyke ($20 round trip) , St. John, Virgin Gorda, Marina Cay (that ferry is free) for a change of scenery. Right now on Sky Auction, it would cost about $116 a night including the taxes and service charge they add (in the fine print). As a reference point, we just returned from Long Bay and our room was $250. If we had gone in November, we hada deal where the rooms were about $200 a night.

I like the cultural experience on Tortola better than St. John and there are many less expensive, but good dining options than you might find in St. John. The beaches on St. John are hard to top but we really didn't spend as much time exploring on Tortola since it was a quick get away. On either island I would receommend renting a car which would be about $60-$70 per day.
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Jan 19th, 2007, 06:39 AM
  #14
 
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I recommend St John (although I haven't been to the other islands except Tortola). Your husband will get his storybook beach and you will also have plenty to do.

We used
http://www.caribbeanvilla.com/
to book our villa. I'm not sure if they have any for $100/night, but they offer great accommodations. Another option (which we did not use, but saw and they looked fun if you are up for "camping") is Maho Bay or Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds--although I doubt they have AC.

Looks like you are getting great advice from everyone--good luck deciding and have a great time!
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Jan 19th, 2007, 06:41 AM
  #15
wug
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Thank you again for the posts and ideas. We're still trying to decide!! the holdup right now is waiting to find out if my sister and her husband will be joining us. IF they do, I think that will open up more possibilities for us. It seems that renting a two bedroom place will end up costing us less when we can split with another couple.

I'm leaning toward Antigua, St Lucia and Tortola right now. The Bahamas are in the mix as well, mainly because they seem to be cheaper overall and also because my sister will be purchasing their tickets and it seems to cost less to fly to the Bahamas than the other places.

Once again, thank you so much for the ideas! PLEASE keep them coming!
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