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Of these 5 islandswhich would you suggest for 1st timer?

Of these 5 islandswhich would you suggest for 1st timer?

Old Nov 13th, 2003, 10:54 AM
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Of these 5 islandswhich would you suggest for 1st timer?

My husband and I have never been to the caribbean....and from my reseach I have narrowed down the list to these five island

St. Lucia
Grand Caymans
Barbados
Anguilla
USVI (which one's the best?)

We have about 4 days to spend there. We are interested in beautiful beaches with the crystal clear water (being from Long Island - you can barely see you hand in front of your face at Jones Beach), snorkeling, and maybe some sightseeing. We are not looking to spend outrageously, but are willing to pay for quality. We do not want an all inclusive, we would rather find some local restaurants and experience the whole island.
Which of these islands would you suggest for a 1 time caribbean visitor....I welcome any suggestions!

Thanks!
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 11:24 AM
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St. Lucia - absolutely stunningly beautiful and very good diving but not the prettiest beaches
Grand Caymans - excellent diving and nice beaches, but very commercial and not particularly attractive, not much "island flavor"
Barbados - don't know much about it
Anguilla - some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, excellent restaurants, so so snorkeling
USVI (which one's the best?) - for what you are looking for? Probably St John. Gorgeous beaches, good snorkeling, decent restaurants

For a first timer to the Caribbean, of the islands you've mentioned, I'd suggest Anguilla. The beaches there are stunning, there are awesome restaurants to chose from, driving there is low stress and easy, the people are incredibly friendly, and you can experience local music and culture at several interesting places - Johnno's, the Pumphouse, Bankie Banx.

Not on your list, but also worth checking out is Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos.

If there's any way you can extend past 4 days, try to do so. It can be tough to get on "island time" in such a short period
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 12:08 PM
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Diana's comments are quite accurate but here's my $.02 worth. All of the islands you mentioned will deliver varying degrees of what you want.

Anguilla has some of the Caribbean's best beaches. It is uncrowded but dining can get expensive although to be fair there are a number of relatively reasonably priced restaurants. You just have to be aware of the price range before making your choice. Also, because Anguilla is "coral based" it is not a partcularly attractive island in terms of topography and it lacks the dense foliage of the volcanic islands. I've been to Anguilla 4 times and truly like the island but for the first time visitor it might no be all they imagine in their mind's eye.

St. John (USVI)is closer to what first comes to mind when one thinks of a Caribbean island. You won't be disappointed.
 
Old Nov 13th, 2003, 12:19 PM
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Have you considered Aruba? Great beaches, excellent dining at non break the bank prices, friendly people (#1 in a readers poll of Carib. Travel and Life mag), gambling, great shopping, clean and outside the hurrricane belt. Not tropical or lush like St. Lucia however.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 02:12 PM
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Whichever you choose make sure it is non-stop. If you have to change planes you will use up your 4 days very easily. Not sure which islands you have mentioned are non-stop. I would take this into consideration. I can only comment on Barbados. I like this Island very much. St. Lucia has a natural beauty of its own, but not so great beaches.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 03:09 PM
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my 2 cents are go for USVI. They're U.S. islands so no immigration to deal with and no foreign currency to worry about. Cost of living is similar to the cities in the U.S.. It may even a bit cheaper than NYC. Good food. Easy to get around the island. $5-8/person on a taxi can take you from one end on the island to the other. Taxi fares are fixed, no mater. Don't recommend renting a car since they drive on the left. You'll fly into St. Thomas. You can either stay in St. Thomas or take a ferry (30 - 40 minutes) to St. John. Taxis are ready at the airport & ferry piers and all beaches. Taxi drivers make sure all tourist get transportation before they drive away from the beaches. Expect to pay $150-200 a night on resorts in St. Thomas and a bit more in St. John. There are 5-7 cruise ships arrive at St. Thomas everyday so downtown is filled with thousand of cruise passangers. All of them will get back to their ship by 5 PM so downtown (except restaurants) is dead after 6.
St. John is much more quiet than St. Thomas. It's more beautiful & serene. There is a shopping center (island favor, not mega mall) near the ferry pier. Even they said it's duty free, didn't find any good deals. Same price as in the main land. Lots of people stay in St. Thomas and take a day trip to St. John. It's very easy to do. Snorkel is better in St. John than St. Thomas. Even they are part of U.S., you definatelly have the island feel but still have the amenity of using U.S. dollars.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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I second Aruba. Great beaches, great restaurants, very nice people, and a very safe island. Another plus for Aruba, you can fly non-stop from many major cities in the Northeast.

Good Luck!

Nancy
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 04:47 PM
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Cordelia,
I highly recomend Cayman----the Westin for a 4 day trip. It has the most blue water, good food, safe and quick to get too. The most affluent island in the Caribean. Terrain is flat, but the water and snorkeling is very good. Good Luck.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 04:54 PM
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Anguilla is great. Went there quite a few years ago, and we loved it. The beaches are wonderful and not crowded at all.

But it is expensive, so be prepared.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 07:36 PM
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St. Lucia: lots of sightseeing to do..gorgeous island..to me St. Lucia is what a Caribbean island is/should be (in my mind). Lush, picturesque fishing villages, banana plantations etc.. unfortunately it does not have the crystal clear water you're looking for. We did an AI there so can't comment on restaurants.
St John (the only USVI island I've staye at): incredible beaches with the crystal clear water you want. unfortunately, not a lot of sightseeing to do (the sightseeing is really just going to all the beaches and snorkeling). great restaurants.
Can't comment on the other islands since I haven't been to those.
Good luck.
 
Old Nov 14th, 2003, 03:49 AM
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St. John would certainly qualify as a great first time island especially if snorkeling is important. I can't emphasize enough what others have already stated, 4 days is a very short time to appreciate any of these islands.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 09:41 AM
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Have been to all you mentioned except USVI. Barbados and Grand Cayman are very touristy with cruise ships. Have been to Anguilla and Turks and Caicos 14 times. Since you only have four days Providenciales (Provo) in the Turks and Caicos is easiest to get to. American has a flight out of JFK on Thurs Fri Sat And Sun. Leaves at 8:30 AM and arrives at 11:57 AM--returns at 1:20 and arrives JFk at 4:36--That would probably be my first choice. The second would be Anguilla--You can Fly non stop to St Marteen/Martin and take the ferry or a small puddle jumper to Anguilla. Ferry is cheaper but takes more time.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 11:44 AM
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I think you will find that with only four days, your trip is going to be pretty compact, so I would stick with a shorter flight. GC has the clear water and great food, but is very commercial and very expensive. The USVI has many great beaches and sightseeing. I would choose one of the two of those.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 12:07 PM
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You noted "We do not want an all inclusive, we would rather find some local restaurants and experience the whole island."

Grand Cayman is certainly a great fit for that....very safe destination, over 150 quality restaurants, and car rental that is the least expensive in the whole Caribbean.

I would also note that Cayman is not the least pricey in the Caribbean, but you can find excellent value (just to use an example, you can check the prices for Oceafront Suites at www.thereef.com.ky , we have excellent values).

Cayman can be commercial (and Americanised) but it all depends where you stay, not all of the island is like that by any means.

You also got good advice re easy access from the US if you are going for a 4 day trip...Aruba (for example) is a lot further from the US than Cayman, which is only one hour flight from Miami.

Which airport would you be flying out of so I can suggest an island with non stop scheduled air service ?
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Old Nov 15th, 2003, 06:57 AM
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We would be flying out of one of either LaGuardia or Kennedy in New York - I wasn't sure which island I could reach with non stop flights. Since we have only a very should time, that would be a must. Canyou reccomend which islands I can get to non-stop....

Thanks!
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Old Nov 15th, 2003, 09:46 AM
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Still think Provo in the turks and Caicos is your best bet. Direct flights from JFK as I said above. For good info on the Turks and Caicos check out www.wherewhenhow.com the on line magazine of the Turks and Caicos and www.adamsnames.com click on tc and links for links to all sorts of info
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Old Nov 16th, 2003, 01:13 PM
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I have been to all 5 destinations and like each one for different reasons. For a first timer, my vote would go to the USVI - it definitely meets all of your characteristics and the great thing about the USVI, you can island hop. It is so easy to to enjoy the nature of St. Johns, and then take the ferry over to St. Thomas to eat at fine restaurants. I have never been to Turks and Caicos but I have friends who have and they describe it as a place with great beaches and great snorkeling and diving, but if you are into nightlife and sightseeing - there is not much of that
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Old Nov 16th, 2003, 01:22 PM
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Continental offers a non stop from New York to St. Thomas that is a little less than 4 hours. I am not sure about Turks and Caicos - you could check Travelocity.

Anyway, the Virgin Islands would definitely get my vote. (although St. Lucia was the first Caribbean island I vacationed on and so lush and tropical, I fell in love with the entire region. It was a long flight there)
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Old Nov 16th, 2003, 07:17 PM
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Thanks for all your input...I am looking into T & C because of the direct flight. I think I have narrowed it down to Turks and the USVI (St. John). Now I am looking at places to stay on St. John, any suggestions....looking for moderately priced.

Thanks
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Old Nov 17th, 2003, 11:27 AM
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Non-stop service on Continental from Newark, or one stop service (quick connection) on AA via Miami to Cayman
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