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voyager61 Mar 12th, 2012 04:24 PM

Rental spot near off-beach snorkeling, St. John, Grand Caymans or ?
We're an empty-nest couple looking for a rental location, cottage or condo, near off-beach snorkeling for about $250 to $300 a night, 1 bedroom. We haven't been to either island, so we need help picking areas on VRBO and HomeAway, plus would love recommendations of a specific place to stay. We like good dining nearby, but prefer lower-key areas to something overbuilt. This would be for January/February 2013. Thank you for your help!!

voyager61 Mar 12th, 2012 06:46 PM

Hoping someone has something specific to recommend...we are very experienced with Hawaii, but not the Caribbean, so any guidance would be great.

voyager61 Mar 13th, 2012 07:31 AM

I'll try one more time...

TPAYT Mar 13th, 2012 08:11 AM

Since nobody else has answered, I'll try & help.

We've been going to the Caribbean for 22 years. We started out going at the end of Feb. but had too many years of cooler weather in the Northern islands so now we always go from mid to end of March. We have used VRBO & Homeaway many times around the world.

If it was me and I had to go in Jan.-Feb. I'd go farther south. We love St. John and Grand Cayman, but I just wouldn't chance the weather.

That said, Anguilla might be a good choice. Here's a place we loved. It's a bit older but we had a balcony right on the beach, there was walk-in snorkeling a bit down the beach and several beach bars & restaurants.

Barbados might be another good choice but may be above your budget.

Aruba has some rentals up near Arashi that are away from the crowded beach and right across the street from snorkeling.

If you have your heart set on St. John, it is the best for snorkeling. I'd choose a place near Chocolate Hole and Cruz Bay instead of Coral Bay which is really remote. Having a jeep and driving around to all of the fabululous snorkeling spots is really great. Maybe you'll get lucky with the weather. Some years it's perfect.

On Grand Cayman, I'd choose a place on Seven Mile Beach but as far away from town as possible. The beach is rocky around the town and then gets to be gorgeous white sand as you go away from town.

As far as walk-in snorkeling here is one of the best spots. I don't remember what we paid though and again it's in the northern Caribbean. It's on St. Thomas near the Red Hook ferry to St. John so easy to hop over for the day.

As to Hawaii---we went to Maui a few years ago and it was gray and raining for 10 days straight and also much too commercial for us.

Our favorite island now is Providiencialis, Turks & Caicos. We are heading out next week for our 4th trip to Grace Bay.

Just one persons opinion, we all travel differently.
Good Luck!

voyager61 Mar 13th, 2012 12:48 PM

Thank you for all that information! Exactly what I was looking for...sounds like you had a bad year on Maui; where did you stay? Wailea/Kihei is the sunniest area, definitely...we were just there for 2 week in February, but only had a couple days of rain, perfect the rest of the trip.
We are from Seattle, though, so our idea of warm and sunny is not everyone's idea of warm and sunny.

We have been to Anguilla, but it was 27 years fact, our last trip to the Caribbean was about 26 years ago. It's a long way from Seattle, but we have more time to devote to travel now.

I will check out your links. I had looked at Turks and Caicos and wondered about it...

Thanks again and I may have more questions after I look at the links. I really appreciate it.

TPAYT Mar 13th, 2012 01:45 PM

We stayed 5 days in Wailea and 5 days in Kapalua. I can understand why you go there though as it is closer to you than the Caribbean.

To us, you can't beat the clarity, warmth, and calmness of the water in the Caribbean. As I said, we'll be gone for awhile, but I'll ty to answer any questions that I can when I return.

voyager61 Mar 13th, 2012 04:54 PM

Coincidentally, Shoal Bay Villas was the place we stayed on was new at the time. We have often thought about returning.

Where do you stay on Grace Bay? The place on St. Thomas also looks interesting because the photo clearly shows a very accessible reef.

I agree that the Caribbean is more calm and the water is beautiful. I think I am a more intrepid snorkeler now because of dealing with all the surf and visibility issues in Hawaii. We've been to Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, and over the years developed a love of Hawaiian culture.

Have a great vacation!

TPAYT Mar 14th, 2012 06:12 AM

Ocean Club West (better location than Ocean Club)

We rent through VRBO for a better price.

No snorkeling there though, pristine white sand.

virginia Mar 15th, 2012 07:03 AM

tpayt means no snorkeling in front of ocw. t&c has some good off beach snorkeling & very good by boat.

secret harbour is a wonderful resort with excellent snorkeling. i don't really like st. t that much - too busy for me - but i'd head back to shbr is a heartbeat.

sharona Mar 15th, 2012 03:04 PM

You mentioned snorkeling and good dining but is there anything else you're interested in? Grace Bay is a stunning beach with some of the most beautiful water you'll ever see. But it's mostly a beach and relaxation destination with not a lot else to do.

Aside from the snorkeling at Secret Harbour there are lots of snorkel trips available in the Virgin Islands and St. John is a short ferry ride away for a change of scenery. Plus St. Thomas will offer things to do when you need a break from snorkeling.

Having said that I'll also agree with TPAYT about the weather in January/February. It could very well be cool and the water will most certainly be coolish in a more northern island. We were in Jamaica last March and some days it was too cool to get in the water. Both the air temperature and the water temperature were too cool.

voyager61 Mar 17th, 2012 06:20 PM

Thanks for the additional responses. I looked at Secret Harbour and it seems like a possibility, although there are some less than great reviews on TripAdvisor, mostly regarding condition of some of the units and general upkeep...everyone agrees that the snorkeling is great.

Generally, snorkeling, walking and dining are our top priorities. We like local excursions to nature sites or cultural attractions too. The thing that worries me about St. Thomas is that it might seem too urban or busy. We vacation on Maui, but we prefer the quieter areas (Wailea).

The water in Hawaii is cool by Caribbean standards and we are fine with it, so I think we would be OK, but I'll keep that in mind.

I would be interested in what good off beach snorkeling spots there are on Turks and Caicos if virginia has specific locations to recommend staying.

noshdome Mar 18th, 2012 05:08 PM

We've been to St John a few times and stayed at Coral Bay most recently, which was nice and quiet. I guess I've seen Cruz Bay change so much over the past 25 years and now it seems to bustle, which is not what I want on vacation. Anyway, St John is small, so you can easily drive to a variety of beaches and almost all have off-beach snorkeling.

I'm not a fan of Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, but we LOVED Rum Point. There are rentals nearby and the snorkeling was pretty good too. There are hammocks and lounge chairs available as well as a restaurant...all very low-key and laid back.

Hope this helps.

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