Need island recommendation!!

Old Jan 17th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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Need island recommendation!!

Alright Fodorites, my wife and I need for you to bring your vast collective knowledge to bear on this question.

We're trying to plan a vacation for late fall/winter 2006. We've been to Grand Cayman, St. John (Westin), Anguilla (Cap Juluca), St. Lucia (Ladera), and Cozumel, and we'd like to try a new island, but I'm not sure if any one destination can fit the following bill:

Preferences:
We'd like a place with great beaches like St. John or Anguilla (to allow some days for veg'ing out on the beach and snorkeling), but with some rugged, lush terrain (to allow hiking/rafting/etc type of activities).

Culturally, we really enjoy the less "Americanized" locales with alot of local flavor. More like Anguilla (to an extent) or St. Lucia. We found St. John and Grand Cayman a bit too Americanized (although wonderful).

Resort wise, we like staying in hotels rather than villas, but not very large resorts. We prefer somewhat upscale type places with under 150 or so rooms.

Would love to throw a great restaurant scene in there as well, but not a requirement (so long as there's fresh seafood and beer, we're happy .

Does this place exist? Am I asking to have my cake and eat it too?

Help!

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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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The first place that comes to mind is Grenada. It has the great beach, lush rugged terrain and definitely a vibrant local culture. The snorkeling won't match St. John and the beaches aren't quite as crystal white as Anguilla but they are still wonderful. If you want to experience an upscale resort on a beautiful beach, you may want to consider the Spice Island Beach Resort (http://www.spiceislandbeachresort.com/) or LaLuna (http://www.laluna.com/index3.html). The Spice Island Beach Resort, located on Grand Anse Beach, was recently refurbished after it was leveled by Hurricane Ivan two years ago and it's supposed to be even nicer (and more upscale) than before. LaLuna is a more secluded, low-key resort but it's absolutely beautiful. There are many other resorts I could mention but these are two of the island's best.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Thanks Laby!

I agree that on an initial pass Grenada looked awesome. I haven't really seen anything about the beaches there, though. Are the pretty good? (Note: although we loved St. Lucia, we would like a place with better beaches) Where do Grenada's beaches fall on the spectrum between St. Lucia and Anguilla's?

Also, I know that Ivan is becoming a more distant memory each day, and I do want to support the islanders with my tourist dollars, but has the flora regrown substantially so that the island has regained it's lush, jungle character? Are most of the restaurants re-opened yet?
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Look at Little Dix Bay or Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda or Sandy Lane on Barbados.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Don't rule out Turks & Caicos. Grace Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we have visited...very peaceful, calm, and warm. Most of the resorts are small - as you like them. Just avoid the all-inclusives. Ocean Club West is our favorite, but the Grace Bay Club is great - as is Point Grace. They are all posted on this site. Can't wait to return ourselves.
 
Old Jan 17th, 2006, 02:00 PM
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Grace Bay (Turk's & Caicos) with it's "condo/resort row" similar to Grand Cayman may be too "Americanized" for NYCTiger's desires. The island, as are all in the T&C chain, is very flat and arid thus it lacks the ruggard lush terrain that NYCTiger is seeking.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Grenada hands down.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 09:58 PM
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Thanks for all the info guys!

Quick question: How do you think Barbados would fit into this? I know it's much more developed than Grenada, but what is the interior of the island like as far as development and opportunities for hiking, etc.?
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Old Jan 18th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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Huge Barbados fan here. Honeymooned there and have been desperately trying to justify a stay at The House again. If you can swing it, I highly recommend it - the service has since been unmatched. As for activity outside of veg'ing out on the beach we did your typical booze cruise, and sea-turtle snorkle. Nothing very adventurous. And still the restaraunt scene outside of The House and its various affiliates on the coast still ranks as #1 for us, specifically The Cliff. Met some others and 10 odf us went into neighboring streets for authentic Bajan food and a local drag show. Too much. Put it on your list for sure

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Old Jan 18th, 2006, 04:07 PM
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The interior of Barbados is hilly and lush--good for hiking and sightseeing.
Wonderful island! Formerly British, so you get a Caribbean-British culture. Wide variety of beaches, great restaurants, both in hotels and independent, lots of sightseeing. The class act on the island is Coral Reef Club. Upscale casual--plantation style low-rise buildings and cottages. Family-owned for some 50 years, and it shows!
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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I would second the Virgin Gorda recommendation. We loved Anguilla also. VG is more quaint than Anguilla in my opinion and the beaches are good but not great like Anguilla. Its a quiet island and many times we were the only ones on the entire beach. You can do day trips to Anegada (whose beaches compare to Anguilla).
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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The island of ur dreams would be dominica,we have beautiful black sand beaches,cascading waterfalls,lush rain forest,fresh water lakes,365 rivers and lots more.you would enjoy a 3 1/2 hour hike to the boiling lake which is the biggest boiling lake of its kind in the world,thats the island for hiking,you could do some exciting snorkeling at the champaign reef where it have a beautifull under water world and some warm bubbles would touch you all over your body.its a wonderfull enperince.you won t ever regret.you re looking to have the vacation of your life in dominica.
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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Barbados beaches are fabulous. Excellent restaurants in Holetown, plenty of nightlife on The Gap, lots of opportunity for hiking, biking, exploring. Lots of history. Flowers everywhere. The island flavor isn't pastuerized for us Americans. It's got a definite heartbeat all it's own.

Driving's easy, roads are mostly excellent. Fun shopping. Snorkeling was disappointing, even in calm May. Day trip to the Grenadines for snorkeling is very easy to arrange but I'd do it well in advance of arrival.
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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Crane beach in Barbados is beautiful. I loved it.
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 06:21 AM
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Regarding LaLuna and Grenada, has anyone been there recently? Although there are generally great reviews, I have seen a couple of very negative ones, which makes me pause. Are the mosquitos really bad? Is the beach private or are there vendors that bother you? Do the rooms lean toward "rustic" rather than luxury?
Thanks!
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Grenada's beaches are definitely better than St. Lucia's, but probably no match for Anguilla. Grenada has a wonderful variety of beaches, from the miles-long golden-white strand at Grand Anse, to the slightly grey-ish volcanic South-Pacific-looking La Sagesse with its rows of beautiful palms, to the isolated black beach at Pearl's. There is something for everyone's taste on Grenada.

Of course, what Grenada has that the truly superb beach islands lack is that lush, green, jungly, rugged interior. By most accounts, the island has greened back up after Ivan, though I understand that the nutmeg trees are years away from bearing fruit again.

What Grenada does have is some of the finest indigenous cuisine in the Caribbean. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, locally-caught seafood, and a strong West Indian tradition (that hasn't been Americanized or commercialized very much) contribute to that.

I'll be returning to Grenada myself this spring -- it will be my 4th trip, but my first post-Ivan. I've always felt a special welcome here, and am excited to return, not only to help re-build the economy, but because it's a beautiful destinatino.
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 03:13 PM
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Recently totally sold on Tobago. I'm a diver so that drives part of it, but the beaches are nice, it's relatively inexpensive, english spoken (ok I need it), the interior of the island is unbelievable nature, good culture, and it's big enough to give you some space to move around. My wife doesn't dive and she's the one who said we WERE going to go back....who am I to argue. We were there in September for a week (rented a small villa off the beach a ways) and we're going back for two weeks in April staying a very small beachside place on north coast. Just my two cents
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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 06:19 PM
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Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies, is not "Americanized" at all. Its National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has plenty of rugged, lush terrain. Kayaking through mangrove forests is a popular activity. The town of Le Gosier has many nice beach hotels. Guadeloupe has every kind of beach, from white sand to black sand. The food in Guadeloupe is French/Creole, absolutely delicious. For snorkeling and diving, the Cousteau underwater reserve on the west side of Guadeloupe is world famous.
You might want to brush up on your French if you decide to stay here.
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Forget the Caribbean and go to the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Has everything you have mentioned wanting in a trip. Look at the website for Sugar Beach Hotel in Playa Pan de Azucar. We have stayed there twice, very small and intimate, great food and lots of options of things to do: kayak, outriggers, tours to horseback ride on the beach, canopy zip lines tours, and just plain relaxing by the infinity pool or out on the beach. You watch the sun go down looking out over the Catalina Islands with the pelicans swooping into the ocean like a show. Lots of howler monkeys, iguanas, beautiful new rooms on one side (make sure you request a room on the new side). I know that I sound like I work there or have an interest in the property but that is not the case. We love Costa Rica and that is a lovely but very small resort.
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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Try the Dominican Republic. There is not only about the beach and the resorts, it is about everything, including Hiking. A couple of years ago we went there and rented a car, we drove from Santo Domingo through the mountains until we got to the northern coast. We then drove all of the northenr coast heading east to Samana. After that we kept boardering the coast until we got to the southeaster part of the country in the areas of Casa de Campo and la Romana. It was gorgeus. Plus it is the only not expenssive place on the caribbean during the high season which is Christmas. Five star hotels for $100, luxurious restaurants for $20/ person. We had a really good time.
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