Please suggest island(s) based on arrival locale

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Jul 8th, 2008, 03:15 PM
  #1
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Please suggest island(s) based on arrival locale

I have little experience with the Caribbean, having only been to the Bahamas, the Baths on BVI as a child and having visited the DR twice so I am hoping you can offer some suggestions based on what we're looking for.

We're a late 20s couple planning a romantic week in the Caribbean during the last week of *October*. Ive narrowed our choices down a bit based on the best (cost effective) airports for us to fly to.

Our jumping off points would be (the first 2 airport hubs offer the lowest fares):

St. Thomas
Aruba
St. Martin
Curacao
Turks & Caicos

We want:
- beautiful quiet beaches with good snorkeling
- beautiful island scenery
- sunsets
- great dining
- boutique hotel accommodations

While we like being away from crowded places/resorts, we do want to be able to take day trips, possibly to other islands. Were also very open to splitting our time between 2 islands that are connected via ferries.

We don't want:
- lots of children
- nightclubs
- shopping malls
- a resort where you have to pay for everything (chairs, umbrellas, water sports, etc)

So, based on the above, where would you go and why? St. John and the BVI seem to be recommended quite a bit, as does Anguilla (which is ferry distance from St. Martin so perhaps these can be combined?).

Many thanks!
Caribbean Novice

caughttravelbug is offline  
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Jul 8th, 2008, 08:25 PM
  #2
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Forgot to mention our budget is around $250 or so / night.

Thanks for your input We are at a loss in finding hotels to meet our loose requirements. So far we do like Bucuti on Aruba.
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Jul 8th, 2008, 09:15 PM
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only one i have been to is st martin. stay on the french side -- it is better.
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Jul 9th, 2008, 03:50 AM
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Sounds like you are describing St. John to me. It's exactly what you are looking for. We love it & will be there in August for the 14th time! I think both Gallows Point & Estate Lindholm meet your requirements. We've stayed at Gallows Point and really liked it. GP is in Cruz Bay and has a great restaurant, Zozo's, on site. There are many other great restaurants with in walking distance as well. We've toured Estate Lindholm and liked it a lot. I think the rooms are on the small size though.

Have you thought about renting a villa? We go this route now because of the privacy and the other options it provides for food, wash, etc.

You will not be disappointed with St. John. If you decide to go here I'll be posting my trip report in early September with detailed snorkel information.
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Jul 9th, 2008, 05:46 AM
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Thanks, Pulley! Your info was very helpful.

We've thought about renting a villa but so far I haven't been able to find one that meets our criteria. We'd really like to be super close to the beach and most villas seem to be in the hills. We also look for the "boutiquy hotel" feel.
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Jul 9th, 2008, 09:20 AM
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How does St. Bart compare for snorkeling and beaches to St. John? I found a few villa options there that I'm pursuing...
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Jul 9th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Travelbug, if you decide on St. John you will not be able to stay on the beach except at Caneel & it's very expensive. Another great thing about St. John is that there are so many beautiful beaches and snorkel spots that you'll drive to 2 or 3 per day. Exploring St. John by jeep is one of the highlights of the trip.

There are affordable villas out there. Here's an example of nice villa in your price range: http://www.caribbeanvilla.com/angelica/angelica.html

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Jul 9th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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St John has my vote. Their snorkling there (especially at Trunk Bay) is awesome.

Since you are going there during hurricane season may be you could rent a villa instead.
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Jul 12th, 2008, 03:51 AM
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The Lodge Kura Hulanda in Curacao. Fab snorkeling, boutique hotel, great beaches close by (the hotels beach is mainly a snorkeling beach).

Very quiet, peaceful with beautiful sunsets. You'd love it.

Peace, Greenie
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Jul 12th, 2008, 05:22 AM
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Since you picked October to go away, you don't have to worry about lots of children wherever you go. School is back in session.

I like the idea of splitting your trip between a busy and a not-so-busy island.

St. Thomas/St. John is good. We've only stayed in St. John (years ago) We loved it for its beaches, island beauty and quietness. It has all you want. I agree with Pulley's posts.

St. Martin/Anguilla. We've been to both. Not a huge fan of St. Maarten/St. Martin because it's busy and crowded and I thought the beaches were just okay compared to some of the beaches we've been to. However, we LOVED our boutique hotel "L'Esplanade" on the French side. It made you forget you were on such a busy island. The French side is known for great restaurants. Unfortunately, we only had one great dinner, the rest were just good. Also, assuming you're American, don't forget about our sucky dollar.

Anguilla: We really liked it. Great beaches, great restaurants. Did not find the island itself pretty. I can't think of a boutique place to recommend. FYI: A good part of the island is shut down in October (places to stay and restaurants) so this may not be something for you on this trip.

St. Barth: We took a day trip when we vacationed in St. Martin. It is such a pretty island. This trip was taken Easter week so it was busy (I was surprised by that). However, it should be quieter in October. It may actually be one of those islands that shut down in October. Also, don't forget about our sucky dollar.

T&C: Same as Anguilla. Really liked it. Great beaches, great restaurants. Did not find island pretty (we like hilly, lush type of places). We took this trip in October and there was barely anyone there. It was great. I hear there's a lot of contruction though.

Aruba: Fun island but way too commercialized/americanized and too busy/touristy for me. We went 10 years ago so way too long ago to give you valid info. However, I would rule out that island based on your don't want list.

Curacao: My least favorite trip. Didn't think it was a pretty island at all. The only thing we really liked was the Dutch architecture downtown. Food was okay, except for one great dining experience. The color of the water is beautiful but the beaches we went to were rocky and that was a big disappointment.

So my advice based on what you're looking for and the time of year you're traveling, I'd recommend St. John (and you can combine St. Thomas) or Turks & Caicos.

Good luck deciding.


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Jul 12th, 2008, 08:45 AM
  #11
iw
 
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While I am a huge fan of St. Bart, it is expensive. Even off-season I wouldn't think that you would find a hotel in that range. A rental car is a must and excursions are high. Sorry to not be positive on that one.

Aruba or Curacao are also good choices and might work. We stayed at the Marriott in Aruba, so not the feel that you are looking for. We did want a casino.

St. Martin was offering some good exchange rates. It has gotten crowded over the years. The food in Grand Case is awesome. A site that is helpful is traveltalkonline.com.
There is a whole section devoted to St. Martin, both dutch and french sides.

Good luck.
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Sep 24th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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We have just been through the villa versus resort process. I did find a 2 minute walk to the beach villa through Barbara Peirce with Wimco 800-932-3222 on St John...Terrahawk Villa. It was not large enough for us, but might be perfect for you. We chose St John for all the same attributes that you are looking for in a getaway. good luck.
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Sep 26th, 2008, 10:01 AM
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My thoughts.

Loved St. Bart's, but it is very, very expensive in every way--think France.

St. Thomas has a great condo place near Red Hook www.secretharbor.com It has outstanding sunsets and snorkelling. The restaurant is also great, but it's not a hotel.

Aruba and St. Martin, again great dining and nightlife, but not great snorkelling, and very busy.

Our personal favorites, Grace Bay, Provo. Wonderful sand, beautiful sunsets, outstanding restaurants, but really only 1 place to snorkel.
And, Anguilla--try www.sbvillas.ai
A little bit older, but the ability to fall right out on the sand is "priceless". Also "Ku" next door. Newer and fancier, but still right on the sand.

Of course, there are fancier botique hotels on both Anguilla and Grace Bay, but you might be out priced.

You could also try VRBO.com to rent a condo or villa by owner. Very efficient service.

As far as extra for beach lounges, all hotels are a challenge. Provo, Anguilla, and SecretHarbor St. Thomas were the only places we found that did not have a mad rush to the chairs at 7am with alot of tipping involved.

I hope I gave you some food for thought.
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Sep 26th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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I,m back. I didn't address your airport concerns.

Provo is very easy to get to. 3hrs. on US Air from Charlotte.

St. Thomas is easy to get to from several places.

Anguilla is a bit longer, fly to St. Martin and take the ferry over to Anguilla. Very easy, just a bit longer comute.

I'm also going to add, since you are considering Aruba. It's easy to get to, but we weren't at all happy with the snorkelling(or lack threrof). It's much better for shopping, nightlife, and casinos. And the beachchair situation was a joke. Not to say we didn't like it, we went there twice, but for different reasons than you seem to be looking for.
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