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St. Bart's, French St. Martin or Turks & Caicos for family?

St. Bart's, French St. Martin or Turks & Caicos for family?

Old Sep 5th, 2015, 04:52 AM
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St. Bart's, French St. Martin or Turks & Caicos for family?

Our kids are dying to go to the Caribbean - they want gorgeous water and beaches, snorkeling and hanging out. I've heard great things about all three of these island - we do not want a ton of Americans (sorry fellow US folks) or to be constantly hassled with a million things to do but are not opposed to a resort but has to be laid back. This will be a spring break trip and our original plan was Cuba but apparently it is still a bit difficult to travel there from the US. Love to get other ideas. Kids are boys and 13 and 14 - they also love great food so it's a must to be somewhere that offers at least 1 great place to eat.
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Old Sep 5th, 2015, 05:59 AM
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You're likely to find "tons of Americans" at any of these three over spring break.

We go every year to Turks and Caicos with our extended family, and love it. Grace Bay Beach is consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

There are several companies that can arrange snorkeling tours, but since I haven't been, I can't comment on that.

We stay at THE VENETIAN, a gorgeous condo/hotel resort with large 3 bedroom apartments,full kitchens, and screened in porch overlooking Grace Bay. It's perfect for a family.

The beach in front of the hotel is one of the quieter sections of Grace Bay.

No restaurant on site, but there is one two doors down at OCEAN CLUB.

About food on the island: Providenciales has several very good restaurants and some more casual places for Mexican, fish, or just drinks.

You will need a car to get around the island. Taxis are quite expensive ( about $10 per person each way).

Good luck!

Good luck!
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Old Sep 5th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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Spring Break is a very busy time in the Caribbean for families as well as singles and couples ho are teachers so if you go then you are going to encounter quite a few of your "fellow Americans". It's also still "High Season" in the Caribbean so there will plenty of Europeans and Canadians. in short, you won't be "alone" no matter where you go.

Between the three destinations on your list there are over a hundred resorts and hotels so it would help if you could give us an idea of your budget (both for accommodations and airfare - tell us too, where you are flying from) as it will make it easier to make recommendations. You should be aware that Providenciales (where 98% of the resorts in the Turks & Caicos are located) and St. Barth's are two of the more expensive destinations in the Caribbean. so be prepared for sticker shock.

When you say "1 great place to eat" do you mean at the resort or do you me nearby? Obviously, every island has multiple places to dine and I'd venture to say upwards of 90% of the resorts on all of those islands have some type of on-site doing facility. Quite frankly I wouldn't limit my choice of a resort based solely on their "on-site" restaurant especially if you choose St. Barth's or St. Martin which each have more than a hundred restaurants to choose from, some of which are among the best in the Caribbean.

For what it is worth, of the three destinations on your list Provo has the best snorkeling but unlike places such as Bonaire, the US & British Virgin Islands there's not a lot of "walk-in sites" so be prepared to go on organized boat tours if you want to visit a variety of the better sites. Very few resorts on any of the islands you mentioned have "walk-in snorkeling" from their respective beaches.

Here's a brief description of each island on your list:

Provo (in the T&C's) is very family oriented with lots of "condo resorts" most of which are located on Grace Bay, an 11 mile long strip of sparkling white sand. A reef, located about 1/2 to 3/4 mile off shore helps keep the water calm. The island is flat, scrubby and arid. It's fairly easy to reach from some east coast US cities.

St. Martin is a much large island, that's hilly and somewhat lusher than the other two on your list. It has a variety of smaller cove like beaches with light golden sand. There is both a French and Dutch side. Time Shares and condo resorts abound around the island and you'll find resorts/hotels in a variety of price ranges. There are over 150 restaurants around the island ranging from roadside stands to fine dining and everything in-between. You can reach the island non-stop from many US East Coast cities.

St. Barth's is know as the Paris of the Caribbean. This small hilly island is somewhat arid with plenty of small cove like beaches. Sophisticated French vibe, lots of water sports and plenty of restaurants offering great food. More difficult to reach than the other islands on your list - requires flight into St. Martin then either connecting flight or ferry to St. Barth's. Most expensive destination on your list.

Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 05:22 AM
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WWK and RoamsAroud, I appreciate the time both of you have spent on your insight. Luckily for us, our spring break doesn't fall in the typical timeframe around Easter but I get your drift about the fellow Americans.

When I say "great" restaurants, the best place for me is a low-key place on the beach that serves fresh seafood. We love to travel and just returned from Paris so I don't need to replicate that experience.

Its tough - we have a travel voucher for a cancellled trip to Mexico last year for work because we would naturally not be looking at resorts. For these work trips, we have stayed at resorts frequented by the Spanish and those overrun by Americans and we both prefer being surrounded by foreign languages. Who knows, we might become hooked . Appreciate your suggestions so much and if there are others that we are not considering but should, please don't hesitate sharing!
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 11:35 AM
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If you're adventurous and unfussy travelers, you might consider Negril, Jamaica. It's a bit rustic, so very few upscale American-style hotels, but has a gorgeous seven mile white sand beach. AHHH...

Most of the hotels are small family-run boutique style establishments, right on the beach.

Food is very simple - sometimes fresh cooked lobster just off the grill, or jerk chicken (!), but reasonably priced and soo tasty.

This is not the kind of place I'd recommend to travelers who need a lot of amenities, but it's clean, cheap, and much more culturally interesting than Turks and Caicos!

On our visits, (30 in all!) there have been lots of Americans depending on the time of year, but also Brits and Italians.

The reason I didn't mention it before is because it's not nearly as fancy as the three you'd asked about - St. Martin, St. Barts, T&C.

One word of warning: Snorkeling on the reef off Negril used to be great many years ago, but the reef has suffered serious damage. Just thought I'd mention it since that's on your wish list.
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 05:54 PM
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Warning, between Canadians and Americans, between colleges, high schools, private schools, Spring Breaks can run for the whole month of March and April, sometimes into May.

February has a Presidents Day weekend, so very popular with school breaks

may--colleges and some high schools start letting out

The best month in Caribbean to avoid Americans is August, when Europeans travel

I must say though, funny you ask to avoid Americans on an American forum

Kind an oxymoron you think?

(and what do you have against Americans?)
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Old Sep 7th, 2015, 04:27 AM
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blamona - I'm American myself so even more of an oxymoron .
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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 07:58 AM
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Don't rule out Anguilla as a great destination for your family. So many beautiful beaches to choose from, and several of them have great options for casual to fancy beachside dining. You can also arrange for a half-day or full-day trip to do some snorkeling for a pretty reasonable rate.

While there are beautiful beaches in Provo, certainly, we just weren't as taken with it because elsewhere on the island it seemed very generic and recent. In Anguilla, and even in St. Bart's and St. Martin, you see a lot more of the traditional Caribbean style houses. I'm sure you would find that in the rest of Turks and Caicos, but Provo felt more modern and suburban (to us, anyway).

Our kids loved Anguilla and St. John. We did St. Martin as a day-trip from Anguilla, to do a little sight-seeing and shopping on the French side, but they were happy to get back to the quiet island. St. Barts we keep as an adults-only vacation because frankly, we prefer the clothing optional beaches there, and accommodations with the whole family there would be above our budget.

Happy planning!!
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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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We loved Anguilla and St. John, too, but unless flights have changed, both still involve at least one change of plane or boat ride when traveling from the East Coast.
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 06:36 AM
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I love Anguilla, and I have heard all different languages spoken there. The food is excellent, the beaches superb. The locals are friendly, and if your boys are into sports they can get into some games at the local playground. I have not been to Grenada yet, but research showed the visitors are mostly European, but tat the food and beaches on Anguilla are nicer. Grenada is mountainous, and has more hiking.
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 05:51 PM
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If you do not want to be surrounded by Americans go to Martinique or Guadeloupe, both of which are more French in character than even St Barth and not as expensive.

While St Barth is still wildly expensive during Spring Break, its still a big draw for Americans and the yacht set. It's quieter and more laid back after Easter. But St Martin and Provo are both full of Americans. If you are looking for a different kind of place, go to Grand Turk or one of the out islands of the Bahamas.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 12:20 PM
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You will likely be in the minority as an American if you stay on the French side of St. Martin, especially if you stay at one of the properties around Orient Village. It's very French and there weren't many American staying there the last time we stayed in that area. Also, that section of the beach tends to be more non-Americans. The taxis from the cruise ships typically let their passengers out nearer the Club Orient end of Orient Beach so that's where the cruise shippers spend the day.

We've been to Anguilla many times and while we love it I think the majority of visitors are American. It does have great restaurants and stunning beaches, however.

St. Bart's is very French.
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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We have been to Cuba Guadeloupe and St Martin.
We loved Cuba and St Martin.
We are set on going back to St Martin next year.
Food is great people are great beaches are great.
Less expensive than guadeloupe itself less exp than St Bart.

French side speaks French and English Dutch side speaks only English. We tried Dutch and we're not understood.

Mvg
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