Never been to the Caribbean, where to go?

Jan 28th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Never been to the Caribbean, where to go?

Hello, I need some advice on travel planning. My parents have graciously offered to babysit our 2 year old son so my husband and I can go away for a week's vacation. Since our lives are so hectic and we live in a cold climate, we'd love to go someplace warm. Neither of us have been to the Caribbean, Central America or Mexico before. Unfortunately, the way my parents travel schedule and our work schedules are we are not able to get away until early June. And we are traveling from Vermont, so we have to make a connection not matter where we go.

We are both pretty athletic, so we'd definitely want someplace with water sports. I'd love a place that has yoga and some other fitness classes (but that's not vital). But honestly, we may end up just wanting to sit on a beach. Typically I'm not a big beach girl and love excursions, but I may be completely fried by June and just want to relax. So I guess we'd like to go to a place where there are things to do if we want, but not feel obligated to do them. We've never done any type of all-inclusive before, but I have to admit, there's a real appeal about not having to think about money for a few days. However, we are totally open to anything.

As for location, I guess we'd want to not have to travel more than say a 4-5 hour flight from Boston/NY. I've asked around and I've had Turks & Caicos, St. John, Club Med Cancun, and Costa Rica suggested to me so far. I'd love to hear from some Fodors people!

Where would you suggest for our first trip and why?
gardengrl is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 01:41 PM
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Hi, I can relate. My parents watch our two children for one week every year and believe me, my husband and I look forward to the break all year long! We have gone for seven years now. We've been to some very nice places but for a really good all-around destination I recommend Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen Mexico. You fly into Cancun and then it's about 40 minutes South. It is an upscale AI with gourmet food, the only buffet is at breakfast and that is fantastic with everything you could want, including things cooked to order. Four great restaurants on site. I don't consider myself an AI person but this is not your typical AI and it is great not to worry about running up a large tab. There is a golf course across the street, you can walk to a nice shopping plaza, a wonderful spa on site, water sports and if you get bored you an take excursions to the Mayan ruins. RH also gets my vote as our best value upscale vacation, the price is well worth it for what you get and airfare to Cancun is usually reasonable. I don't think I have ever seen one negative comment on the place. We also love T & C, an upscale resort called Point Grace. The beach is the nicest I have ever seen and I've seen many. However, there is not as much to do there it is just beach and water.
eileen is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 02:07 PM
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Negril, Jamaica.....
mgibson is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 04:38 PM
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I second the vote for St. John. It's a beautiful island with great beaches, perfect torquoise waters, great snorkling, water sports and just about everything else you'd want in a Caribbean vacation. Stay at Caneel Bay if you budget allows. If not check out the Westin Resort.

I'd skip Costa Rica for a first foray to the tropics unless you are into eco-trips and enjoy hiking thru rain forests. It is a very pretty country but lacking the true Caribbean experience.

Go to Cancun, Cozemel or Playa Del Carmen you like a party atmosphere, watersports of every kind and you are looking for active night life.

Go to the Turks & Caicos if you want to spend your day relaxing on a nice beach but be warned that aside from the beach umbrellas provided by the hotels there's very little natural shade. Also aside from a few day excursions there's not a lot to do there.

Lastly, whether or not you do all inclusive is a matter of personal taste. Most people going AI spend the better part of their vacation at the resort because everything is there for them. If, however, you like to get out and explore new places, meet interesting people, dine at a variety of restaurants and experience thje true caribbean, you'd be better off at regular resort since you won't feel tied to the resort. Either way the price comes out about the same.
Jan 29th, 2004, 02:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Try Puerto Rico. I believe it's the 3rd largest island in the caribbean. There is much to see and do. Since you like excursions, this may be the place for you.
EJC is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 03:56 AM
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I have had great experiences at St. Lucia, Cozumel, and Belize. I loved the island tours on St. Lucia and I hear the brand new Sandals there is great (and I am not a "Sandals person" so to speak). For water snorkeling and diving...Cozumel and Belize have to have some of the best reefs! My girlfriend also raved about Secrets in Punta Cana. Have fun and keep reading the posting boards...this one, as well as others, such as or
Delandry is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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PR - 4th largest island in the Caribbean... not third.
jray is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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Consider Swept Away Negril because of the sports complex. I took several classes while I was there - reggae workouts are great. They also had yoga and would imagine they still do. The resort is beautiful and beach is great for vegging out. There are plenty of trip reports out there on Couples sites and on
cartera45 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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Well my vote would be for St. Martin. Vermont to Newark or Philly or JFK - then wither American or US Air or Continental non-stop to St. Martin. Lots of choices for hotels and beaches ... try Friar's Bay beach for a day and Orient Bay beach the next. And eating out is a guaranteed fabulous event. Try Spiga, Le Pressoir, Bistro Caribes or Le Cottage in Grand Case, or Marios or Thai Garden in Sandy Ground. Excursions? How about a ferry ride to Anguilla where you can walk on a beach for an hour and not see anything but your own footprints and the waves. Or how about a boat trip to Saba for either kick-butt wall diving or a hike up the mountain (or mellow out watching lace making). And St. Barts is also a ferry (or wild airplane ride) away, fun shopping and you gotta have mussels and chips in the marina.

The weather in June is usually fine. You may get a few rain showers - but what the heck. You were born wet!
2kellyc is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 08:59 AM
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Thank you all so much! I'm going to do some more research based on all your recommendations.

2kellyc -- sounds HEAVENLY! Born wet! I don't mind a little water, as long as it's not snowing in June I'm a happy girl.
gardengrl is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 07:59 AM
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I agree with those who voted for St. John as your first Caribbean experience. It's fantastic, one of my faves.
brooklyn_girl is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:45 AM
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I'm not big on Mexico, for when I went, I got really sick upon my return home. You have to be extra careful what you eat and drink, it isn't worth it.

I liked St. Marteen, but I hear safety can be an issue now. Anguilla was absolutely wonderful, but tends to be a more laid back vacation. (you really need to be a beach lover) St. Barts is good, but very $$$$, very hilly and a nice place to walk around.

If it ends up whereby you only have about 5 days, consider Bermuda. It's a short trip from Boston and I've enjoyed it everytime.

meta is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 05:14 PM
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Try Aruba. Very safe. People are great. Rent a Jeep and cruise around. The snorkeling is fantastic. Stop at one of many public parking areas off the road and jump in (Baby Beach is very accessible). There's a special part of Palm Beach just for wind surfing. Night life and shopping in Oranjestad. For restaurants try The Bucaneer(our favorite) or Iguana Joe's.
scootrash is offline  
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