Puerto Rico vs. St. Thomas

Old Jan 5th, 2015, 03:22 PM
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Puerto Rico vs. St. Thomas

I would like to surprise my husband with a trip for his 40th this Feb. We do not have passports, so I am limited to PR or USVI for warmer beach weather. Any suggestions on which island is better for a three day get-a-way? We will be flying from the NE, either Philly or Newark. The flights are roughly the same. Vacation packages I have seen show St. Thomas a little more expensive. I want a nice beach with swimmable water. I don't think we will have much time for anything else, and laying on the beach, swimming and relaxing would be our #1 priority. I would like to go with PR, based on price, but I worry about San Juan. I have read the the waters are choppy and unswimmable. The nicer water in PR seems to be far from the airport. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I would like to book in the next day or so!
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:13 AM
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kellylew - the water in the Isla Verde area is not choppy and unswimmable. It is a very swimmable beach and also a good walking beach.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:25 AM
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What you are seeking you will find in Isla Verde in San Juan PR. There are several hotels along the beach there, which is very swimmable and it's close to the airport which makes it so convenient for a quick trip. We stayed at El San Juan last February for a long weekend getaway and it was perfect.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 01:43 PM
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IMHO, the beaches of the USVI far surpass those of PR. On the other hand, nothing beats a three day weekend in Old San Juan! The forts, the museums, the food and entertainment are great. Look into El Convento, a wonderful historic hotel in the middle of town.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 04:06 PM
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For me, puerto Rico is my way to getting to Culebra

St Thomas a way to get to St. John

As a first timer though, St. John wins
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:41 PM
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Are the isle Verde Beaches Crowded, and is the water blue/clear. And blamona, do you have any st. Thomas resorts you recommend?
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:42 PM
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For a 3 day weekend, my priority would be how to spend the most time at my destination with minimal travel. From that perspective, you really can't beat Isla Verde in San Juan. You can be on the beach 45 minutes after your plane lands on the runway. The Isle Verde hotels are a 10 minute ride (or actually less) from the airport. Given the frequency of flights between San Juan and the NE you can also spend a good part of your last day at the beach and get a late flight home.

I also like San Juan because I enjoy the ambiance and history of Old San Juan and the variety and quality of restaurants as well. I also like casinos and there are quite a few in San Juan but that might not matter to you.However, the beach is not the whitest sand nor the clearest water, but it is nice enough and it will be warm which is certainly better than being in the NE in February.

If all that really matters to you is the beach and trying to find the better one, then St. John is probably the best choice.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:50 PM
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A crowded beach can mean different things to different people but Isla Verde is a popular beach with locals and tourists, so it will not be a secluded type of beach. There will be plenty of people around.

My guess is the type of beach really is your priority and you have a clear idea of what you want it to be like so it might be worth it for you to check out St. John. The beaches in San Juan are nice but a trip to San Juan is really more than just the beach and if those things are not of interest to you, I think you might be disappointed.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 08:06 PM
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Thanks genio67, I think the beach is really a top priority. From the research I have done San Juan sounds awesome! But probably for a longer trip. Have you been to St.Thomas? Any hotel recommendations?
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 02:37 AM
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No, I don't but you might want to check out the trip advisor USVI forum. You should be able to get a lot of information there. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 06:03 AM
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genio is spot on about San Juan. The beach at Isla Verde has clear water and brown sand but it's on the Atlantic side so you will not get the white sand and crystal blue waters like some other destinations.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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If you want a full service hotel on St Thomas, the Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach might do. Also the Ritz, if you are so inclined. There are many condo-hotels also.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 01:21 PM
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If I were going to USVI, it would be St John, not St Thomas.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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suze: If you only had three days, wanted a direct flight and had a goal of sitting on a beach, St Thomas would fit the bill.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 02:13 PM
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Not to me it wouldn't.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 01:12 PM
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Well, I'm not pickin' you up at the airport, suze. ;-)
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 07:45 PM
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I have now decided to suck it up and get passports... Any other island suggestions? Was looking at Punta Cana, but just read there is a lot of seaweed in the water? Anyone know if this is true? Don't want to go to Mexico- feel the flight is too far to be away from my kids. Any Caribbean suggestions? Would LOVE all-inclusive.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 08:50 AM
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Since you are really looking for a certain type of beach, it sounds like Turks and Caicos is what you are seeking.
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 08:11 AM
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A 3 night vacation in the Caribbean really isn't all that much time to make the effort. Many of the Caribbean islands can be difficult and time consuming to get to. You may end up spending most of your first and last day getting to and from.

Not all Caribbean Islands have all inclusive resorts and some that do really shouldn't. The destinations best known for AI's are Mexico, Jamaica and the DR. We have been to a majority of AI's throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.

Out of all the destinations we've been to, we love Mexico. Have been several times to different areas. For AI you will get the most for your money in Mexico. Have been to Jamaica twice and don't have a need to return. If you don't want to go to Mexico, the Jamaica for AI would be the next choice over the DR. Have been to the DR once, a very long time ago and have never felt the desire to return. In Jamaica look at the Secret, Iberostar, Jewell and Couple resorts.

We are at an impasse also as after 15 years of traveling our passports are now expired and we have no desire to renew them at this point. We have been to St. Thomas and St. John, and I have never been quite about the fact that I do not care for the USVI and would not return. Therefore, we have chosen Puerto Rico for our trip this year. I have been to the PR many years ago, but DH hasn't. Since we don't care all that much about beach time and prefer pools, activities and night life it is definitely a better pick over USVI.

Though T & C is a perfect beach destination, it does not have AI's expect Beaches and Club Med, which I would not recommend. If you give up the AI part it is a great destination. Definitely worth more than a 3 night stay.
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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kellylew - where do you live that Riviera Maya in Mexico would be further than some Caribbean destinations? From what you are looking for, seems to me that the area south of Cancun would fit the bill. Lots of all inclusives and white sand beaches.
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