Something like Tulum, MX in Caribbean? Info..

Dec 30th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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Something like Tulum, MX in Caribbean? Info..

Hello. We LOVED Tulum, Mx this past May. We stayed ON the beach [steps from surf] in a 2 story cabana. No A/C. Beach was incredible, food was good to great but not fantastic.

There were ruins to visit, cenotes to snorkel [underground rivers and caves], as well as just walking miles of beach. White sand, turquoise water. Only thing lacking was snorkeling [except the cenote snorkeling was soo cool].

It was AFFORDABLE. Big Plus.

I've been to Grand Cayman, Turks & Caicos, Aruba, St. Thomas [w/day Trip St John], Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Bahamas, Ixtapa/Zihua [Pacific side of Mexico].

The water was amazing in GC and TC, fantastic snorkeling. Food incredible, but no 'adventure'.

Aruba and St. Thomas were 'ok'. We loved our day trip to St John and put it in back of heads for someday.

We loved Ixtapa/Zihua, particularly Zihua, but not the beaches. We had some fun day trips [finding a local who put us in his beetle and took us surfing for the day a highlight].

I'm thinking a villa on St. John might be the next vacation idea, but fear I'd miss the beach.

Also considering Tensing Pen in Negril.

Grenada looks wonderful [LaLuna] but too hard to get to and $$$$.

We fly out of Indianapolis, Chicago or Cincinnati.

Thanks so much.

I am not as discriminating as many here and like more simple options. For example, although we really enjoyed Ritz at GC [the bed and view the best] it was not us. It was too big, too fancy, too many people for us. And, I prefer not to be waited on constantly crazily enough but like to have a bar handy. ;o)

TnTWalter is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Hi TnTWalter,
My husband and I are looking for a place for a good vacation (anniversary trip) in Tulum MX. Where did you stay? We were looking at the deals at ElDorado Royale or Dreams. Did you stay at either of those hotels? They're all inclusive which sounds good to us... we've never done a vacation like this before and are very excited!
What is "cenote" snorkeling?
I read a review about the El Dorado that the beach was bad and heard Dreams beach is big but rocky.
We are clueless, lol.
Meenie is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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How about Virgin Gorda? There are lots of accommodation options in varying price range.
caribtraveler is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 05:16 PM
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hi trish, i have 2 thoughts.
first i think you should consider staying in a villa. i almost always do this and we love having our own pool and tons of privacy. we cook about 1/2 the time. we usually drink at the villa - no driving! all come w/housekeeper so you don't have to clean up or make beds...

second imho there is no place in the islands like maya riviera. sooo much to do/see. great beaches and economical. also easy to get to. jamaica has tons going on, but not in close proximity like tulum area. (we stayed on tankah bay).
so my suggestion is to look at costa rica. i've not been yet but: good beaches on the west coast. arenal volcano area to explore. ziplines near volcano end a hot springs. lots of different animals/birds to see. you could do a bit of reading on the latin america board and see if this soundds appealing to you.

st. john and virgin gorda are great but lacking in "adventure" activities.
virginia is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 06:30 PM
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Definitely St. John. You won't miss being on the beach as your villa will probably have fantastic views.

We've visited Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Mx (Akumal), Turks & Caicos, St. John, Tortola, and Grand Cayman, and St. Johns wins hands down for beaches and beauty.

I think it's paradise on earth. While St. John is not affordable per se, it doesn't have to be super expensive if you stay at a villa and grill a lot. There are also plenty of reasonable restaurants where you can get a burger or something not too expensive.

In terms of beaches, it's just amazing the variety and seclusion of the St. John beaches. We loved Hawksnest the most, but Honeymoon, Maho Bay, and Trunk Bay are all major winners. We went in August of last year and stayed at Caneel Bay, but we would have been just as happy staying anywhere on the island.

I have the Honeymoon Cottage bookmarked for a future visit to St. John. Poster Iamq stayed here and liked it, and I think it's in a great area close to the North Shore beaches (Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, Francis Bay, etc).

If you want more of a hotel experience you can check out the Westin if you don't want to stay at Caneel. I've noticed that you can snag a timeshare deal for the Westin through
mah1980 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 05:11 AM
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El Dorado and Dreams are north of Tulum and not at all the same experience in my opinion. I would check tripadvisor for reviews, etc if interested to see which is better.

I'm not a big AI person although we did one with husband's company once and it was Secrets Capri, north of Playa. Very nice experience and not a huge complex. The beach was not near as nice as Tulum however and we felt we didn't experience much outside the resort. Plus when you went out on excursions, you had to spend money on food and drink that you've already paid for so that was hard to justify, thus we hung there mostly and really enjoyed the food and drink. But we could have been anywhere.

We stayed at Cabanas La Luna, very rustic on beach. 6-8 rooms total.

In Tulum, there are small cabana style hotels. Nothing higher than 2 story and minimal electricty or A/C. Very few places have pools because ocean is steps from your bed.

Ana y Jose or Mezzanine or even Suenos Tulum are the more 'luxurious' digs.

I would also recommend Nueva Vida.

If you're still interested, there's TONS of info here.

I have a detailed trip report. We spent split stay between Tulum and PDC which was great because PDC had all the modern amenities and was closer to airport.


TnTWalter is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 05:49 AM
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Thanks for info. Definitely looking into St. John. Honeymoon Cottage looks lovely but price is too high for my desires.

Any opinions on Garden by the Sea?

Also I have had these bookmarked since we last planned a trip. Any thoughts. I'm unsure as to what location I would want.

These have hot tubs which would be nice.

This has a pool and hot tub!! which I think would be nice.

TnTWalter is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 05:59 AM
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TnT- Have you considered Puerto Rico? You can fly easily into San Juan and spend a day or two exploring Old Town and the forts before moving on. We flew from there on a small plane to Culebra but if I did it over again I would consider renting a car and driving to Fajardo (where you can fly or take a ferry to the island of Culebra) and exploring the rain forest area as well. Others can give you information about that since I do not know. I do know that Culebra fits some of your requirements- white sand, turquoise water, gorgeous beaches, good snorkeling and very, very affordable. Even though the island is fairly small, we rented a jeep and went somewhere different every day plus taking two boat trips for snorkeling- you can go over to the little island of Culebrita for exploring as well. There was interesting hiking to get to some of the more remote beaches (on Culebra) which was an adventure as well. The people are very friendly and the whole place has a very laid back and relaxing atmosphere.
ishkribbl is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 06:20 AM
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I too was going to suggest Puerto Rico. YOu will have beaches and adventure there.
You also may want to consider Costa Rica which is lush with nice beaches and adventure.
schmerl is offline  
Jan 1st, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Thanks TNTWalter!
What great info! It's difficult trying to choose a place from so many wonderful choices - then add to that the fact that we've never done a vacation like this before - It's exciting but a bit overwhelming!
I'll be delighted with the beach with a little shopping thrown in but my husband is more interested in touring ruins and such, so we're looking for an area where we can get both
The cenotes snorkeling sounds neat too!
Meenie is offline  
Jan 1st, 2009, 05:46 PM
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I think you need to first decide if you'd rather be in Coral Bay or Cruz Bay. The former is not as developed and more pristine. However, you are much further (25 min.) away from the North Shore beaches and Cruz Bay restaurants.

Of the ones you linked to, I would choose Gardens by the Sea in Cruz Bay or Sago Cottage (very popular and you can find threads on Tripadvisor about it) in Coral Bay.

Also take a look at these, which I researched prior to our trip last year (we ultimately stayed at Caneel Bay): (look at avail. link to get to the VRBO site--it's $1550/wk in low season)
mah1980 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2009, 08:14 PM
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I hadn't considered Puerto Rico. I always imagined it to be really crowded there and we tend to like sleepier places.

Also, from the midwest, travel time is a consideration. And we tend to only go 6 days. Babysitters [aka grandparents] can't handle much more! ;O)

Thanks for all the info.

St. John is still in the running as is returning to the Mayan Riviera, perhaps Akumal [spent a day looking for the elusive sea turtle] or Isla Mujeres this time.

TnTWalter is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 08:26 PM
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still searching.
TnTWalter is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 04:30 AM
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I don't think you could get much sleepier than Culebra, PR- I would think that you could get there faster than to St. John considering that PR is a fairly active air destination and from STT you still have to taxi and ferry to SJ. Hope you find what you are looking for.
ishkribbl is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:28 PM
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I'll rethink Culebra...what adventure type activities could we do there? waterfalls? or would we have to do that before catching the ferry? so 2 days mainland and 4 days culebra? where on mainland? thanks.

is there a place you recommend staying?

TnTWalter is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 03:55 AM
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We love to snorkel and found good snorkeling on Culebra- took a day trip out with Taz Hamrick and had wonderful snorkeling as well as a trip to Culebrita island. We also took a day trip out with Culebra Divers but I think I liked the first trip better. Hiking to Carlos Rosario (you cannot get there in a jeep) Beach for off the beach snorkeling was an adventure to us. We liked the snorkeling at Melones Beach and Soldado Beach. Although Flamenco is the most famous beach there for just beaching it, our favorite was Zoni. There is a place on the island where you can rent kayaks and peddle boats but we did not every get around to it. We also hiked down the "mountain" to Brava Beach where the waves are big and it is a surfing beach rather than swimming/snorkeling.
The challenge about Culebra is that there are not many places right on beaches to stay or rent. We stayed in a little place on the harbour that was convenient and had a nice waterfront view (Villa Boheme) but it was not on a beach. The condos at Bahia Marina are up on a high hillside with a beautiful view (reminded me very much of being hillside in St. John) but definitely not on a beach. If that is a important factor to you, you might research Vieques instead. We did not go there because I wanted to do both islands and could not make it work out transportation- wise so we spent the week on Culebra instead. I bookmarked this place on Vieques discussed on a TA forum recently and think it looks very good for a future trip: Take a look and do a search on TA for the person's report who was there recently if you like the idea. It is on the beach. There is also the bioluminescent bay that is supposed to be an adventure on Vieques.
The waterfall, rain forest, etc. you would do on the mainland and others on this forum can give you tips about- if you want to know more about Puerto Rico and things to do, you might want to start a new post so the people who have answers will read your post. Good luck in your search- I think the area around Tulum is beautiful but we were only there on a day trip from Playa and have not stayed there. Someone mentioned Isla Mujeres earlier and we loved that trip as well. The snorkeling in Culebra was far better than in Isla though.
PS I love SJ but PR was much, much more reasonable for food and lodging.
ishkribbl is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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When we were in Tulum awhile back, the view looking down to the sea from high up by the ruins reminded us of the East Coast in Barbados with the gorgeous water and waves.

Lois_Swanson is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:35 AM
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You could also consider Vieques and Puerto Rico. Vieques has great beaches, snorkeling, horse riding and a wonderful biobay. We just got back from our second trip there and we had a great time.
sassy_cat is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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I appreciate all the help. Especially from those of you who'vce been to Tulum and get the vibe + beauty + adventure I'm going for.

I want to visit all the places mentioned.


I'll keep researching the ideas.
TnTWalter is offline  
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