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Planning my first Caribbean trip - lookinig for suggested destinations based on criteria listed in this post...

Planning my first Caribbean trip - lookinig for suggested destinations based on criteria listed in this post...

Apr 8th, 2002, 11:58 AM
  #1  
Owen O'Neill
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Planning my first Caribbean trip - lookinig for suggested destinations based on criteria listed in this post...

Thanks in advance... this may seem a bit general but with so many destinations possibilities and my having some specific interests... perhaps there's a place or two that's a good fit and I'm just unaware of it. A friend has recommended Bequia (have aready researched it) but I'm wide open to other possibilities, particularly if they're closer (i.e. cheaper airfare) to the NYC area.

What I want: low key atmosphere, friendly native population, enough English spoken so that I can get by without second language, good snorkeling from shore (reefs and lots of colorful sea life), options for moderately priced guesthouse type accomodations, mix of other travelers at location (i.e. I may be traveling solo and mingling with others, would like oppoertunity to meet people from other cultures, not just fellow Americans), moderately priced local cuisine options (I could live on rice 'n peas and curried goat - not looking for fine dining), varied terrain (must limit my exposure to sun so I can't snorkel every day - would like to take trek into forested or mountain areas if this option exists).

What I don't want (or rather don't need): an abundance of resort hotels, club or bar scene, fine dining, shopping, fishing, places to veg out on the beach....

Any suggestions? Ideallly this might be a place where it's less couples/family oriented as I may be traveling alone. I'm more niiterested in opportunities to be exposed to a different culture rather than have a resort type tropical experience.
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 01:11 PM
  #2  
curiousx
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I agree with your friend who recommended Bequia. Sounds as though you'd fit right in.

Tobago and Carriacou might also be worth considering but the airfare would be about the same.

P.S. Bequians prefer to be called 'locals' not 'natives'. It's just a nuance you might want to take into account.
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 01:44 PM
  #3  
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks for clarifying the semantics. I describe myself as a "native" of my hometown but hadn't considered the negative implications it might have when used in other cultures/locales. I had made a mental note of Tobago after reading a very positive post about it but was unaware of Carriacou. Will look into it - thanks again for the tip.
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 02:52 PM
  #4  
ryan
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Would second that Bequia is a good choice. I think most of the locations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not as touristy as other spots.

Most of the crowd in Bequia are people who are sailing from place to place. Frangiapani's by the harbor will probably be a good spot for socialising.
Can't remember the name, but a place nearby had really good pizza.
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 03:02 PM
  #5  
Patty
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This may not be what you were thinking when you said "caribbean", but how about Belize? It think it has all of the qualities you mentioned (although not every place in Belize has access to shore snorkeling) - it's low key, English is the official language, there are no large scale resorts to speak of, the local food is good and cheap, and the interior has jungles, mountains, nature preserves and mayan ruins.
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 03:20 PM
  #6  
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks for another good suggestion - I'll add it to my list. Although I mentioned "Caribbean" I'm really open to anything from the Bahamas to islands offshore from South America or central America (or even off coast of Mexico but the Caribbean forum seemd like the place most likely to have folks with good ideas for this type of query).
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 03:44 PM
  #7  
sj
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Have you thought about Grenada? Wonderful people, nice beaches, great local food, reasonable prices, no high rise resort hotels, beautiful rainforest for hiking and swimming in waterfalls, nutmeg and rum processing tours. Snorkeling is adequate but all else makes up for it!
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 06:24 PM
  #8  
xxxxx
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Antigua is a laid back island. Gorgeous beaches. Everyone speaks English. There are lots of smaller hotels & not too much night life.
Tortola or Vigin Gorda also meet your crteria
 
Apr 8th, 2002, 08:09 PM
  #9  
Virginia
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Saba has fabulous snokeling, small guest houses, English spoken, great hiking, no crowds. Is not accessible for Cruise Ships. Dominica also has great hiking, snokeling,rainbows daily and iguanas. There are no swimming beaches on either island. Both have nice people and much beauty.
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 08:41 AM
  #10  
Peggy
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Owen, try researching the BelizeForum. I had travelled all over the Caribbean and thought Belize should be my next destination. I was so pleased with this country. Rented a cabana on a stretch of beautiful beach. Very laid back. I stayed in Placencia. Lots to do in Belize, rainforests, caving, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, fishing, ruins. Beautiful country and people and cheap. Flights from NYC to Houston or Miami and on to Belize. You'll love it!
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 10:35 AM
  #11  
Susan
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Owen: Food for thought would be Cat Island in the Bahamas. There are a couple of very low-key resorts (Hawks Nest Resort & Marina and Fernandez Bay), unbelievable snorkeling/scuba diving, hiking (highest point in the Bahamas is on Cat Island), beaches vary from ocean to smooth-as-glass bays, a couple of restaurants and very friendly locals. We were there last year and happened to drive by as some locals were pulling in their catch. Stopped to see what they got and chatted up a storm with them, and got some great photos. Also, there is a tidal river on the Hawks Nest property which lends itself to kayaking. Good luck with your search. Susan
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 12:45 PM
  #12  
tivertonhouse
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OWEN: You "sound like" Treasure Beach on the South Coast of Jamaica or Los Roques off the coast of Venezuela (not exactly a quickie from ny). See the Treasure Beach community Web site at treasurebeach.net Ital Rest, Jake's -- lots of choices,great explorations,low-key,non-touristic;a 'scene' of sorts sometimes at Jake's -- otherwise sleepy.
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 01:51 PM
  #13  
Owen O'Neill
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Wow! Thanks to all for so many great suggestions...

Peggy - which Belize Forum are you referring to?

Tivertonhouse and others - distance from NYC in terms of flying time is not the primary issue - cost of airfare is more important. If I can get the $$ worked out to go in late May it appears that I can fly to Belize round-trip for $380 on a major airline. Prices to other destinations or for flying later (e.g. in mid July) ar much higher - typically 2x that or more. It appears that on some islands, the "rainy season" is in June and July. Should I be concerned about this if I'm going in mid to late July?

 
Apr 9th, 2002, 06:12 PM
  #14  
sailor
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Owen,

While my favorite place in the world is Virgin Gorda, I think you should look into Costa Rica. My business partner has been there 3-4 times and raves about it. OK airfare from NY. Many ex-pats and international types. Pacific Coast is incredible. Rain forest. Diverse plants and critters. Stable gov......Good Luck!
 
Apr 10th, 2002, 01:11 AM
  #15  
tivertonhouse
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Owenate June is traditional rainy season in JA, tho Treasure Beach lies outside the major rainy areas like Port Antonio and therefore is drier, sunnier. Lots of Jamaicans return to island in June. Orbitz, sidestep,cvoa,cheaptickets -- the usual suspects will have online good rates from nyc. If you're interested in the South Coast and Treasure Beach, the community web site is straightforward,non-hypey and extensive
on insight.
 
Apr 10th, 2002, 02:27 PM
  #16  
Patty
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Owen,

I'm not sure which Belize forum Peggy is referring to, but there is a good message board on Belize at http://www.belizeforum.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi

Hope this helps.
 
Apr 10th, 2002, 06:57 PM
  #17  
Owen O'Neill
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Many thanks to all... I have now settled on Belize. Planning on 2-3 days based in Belize City to explore inland, see the ruins and maybe do river tubing and then take the water taxi to Caulker Caye for another 3 - 4 days. Will get busy on research and get back here if questions remain unresolved. Have found the forum at www.belizeforum.com - it's quite helpful.
 
Apr 11th, 2002, 06:43 AM
  #18  
Natalie
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I trhink that is great advice!
 
Apr 11th, 2002, 01:55 PM
  #19  
Patty
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Owen,

May I make a suggestion that you base your 2-3 days of inland exploration in one of the interior lodges rather than Belize city? I think you would be spending a lot of your day just traveling to/from Belize City to see the ruins and other inland sites. Plus staying at lodge gives you the full jungle experience. BTW I think you'll like Caye Caulker - it's really laid back.
 
Apr 11th, 2002, 07:30 PM
  #20  
Owen O'Neill
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Patty - Thanks for the tip. I have been researching and now also gotten some helpful advice from the Belize Forum. I'll either stay in San Ignacio for the first 2-3 nights or in one of the lodges. Any suggestions on a lodge? I'd like to keep cost at $20-40 per night - do not need AC, TV or phone and am okay with shared bath if price is right. Hopefully a place where I might rent a mountain bike for one afternoon. Would also hope to find a place with other solo travelers as I may want to get a small group together to go to Tikal or may go river tubing.
 

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