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St. John's or T&C for a family to go to the Carib for the 1st time?

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St. John's or T&C for a family to go to the Carib for the 1st time?

Old Sep 17th, 2007, 05:21 AM
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St. John's or T&C for a family to go to the Carib for the 1st time?

Hello!

We would LOVE to hear your suggestions/feedback about a family planning a trip to the Caribbean for the first time...

We have narrowed our choices down to few choices:

St. John
Virgin Gorda
Turks and Caicos

I've been reading here and it's awesome.

Which island would be great for a family with two young children--six years old and a 1 1/2 year old? We would like to rent a villa, relax, swim, and my husband would like to scuba dive, and to do hiking/walking and hang out together.

We always go to the Hawaiian Islands every two years and it remains our favorite, but we would like to try a new destination--the Caribbean. Any suggestions would help! Thank you so much!
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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st. john -loads of rental villas. not known for dining options. fabulous for quiet beach time and snorkeling. diving plentiful. some hiking.
t&c - grace bay beach known as one of top 10 most beautiful on earth. softest, whitest sand you'll find!! excellent dining options. lots of rental villas. outstanding snorkeling and diving (7000' wall). no hiking really as this island is coral based thus flat and kind of scrubby. t&c has good kids beaches as most have calm, shallow entrance.
vg. very small. very laid back. is bvi so access to diving is good. i don't really know much else about the island.
i would choose t&c with such young children. you should be able to find a beachfront villa which will make your days so much more convenient. on st. john virtually all the villas are hillside - meaning pack up all your stuff daily to drive to beaches. and you will still be able to hang on the beach when kids need to nap on provo.
i have done villas on provo 3 times and could suggest several for you if you choose this island. st. john is a fodor favorite so if you choose it you should be able to get tons of specific recommendations.
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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The only one I can speak for is Virgin Gorda which we absolutely loved! We stayed at Little Dix Bay, which was on an amazing stretch of beach. We had our 2 1/2 years old with us and didn't have to worry about her around the water at all. We felt completely safe everywhere we went. There is hiking but the landscape is very arid not lush. Great snorkeling as well as access to diving. I have been to Maui probably a half dozen times or so over the years and VG blew it away in my opinion for the water and its "5 shades of blue," the beaches and laid back lifestyle. There are some very good restaurants there as well. Lots of villa rentals, many on the beach or within walking distance (down a short trail) to the beach.

Good luck on your decision. I think any of the three would be amazing!
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Wow, both sounds so lovely!!You two were so descriptive. It makes me want to go there now! LOL.

Virginia--I'd love to have your information about villas on Provo, if you don't mind sharing!

Odie1, you've been to Maui endless time but VG blew your mind? Wow. I've seen photos of the Caribbean beaches and they are so blue. I want to see that (besides experincing lovely Kaiula and Lanikai in Hawaii which are gorgeous!) but it would be a nice change to go somewhere new. Little Dixie Bay looks gorgeous!!! I think it's out of our price range right now if we want to go in February...hmmm...we want to escape the long Minnesota winter!


Odie1,
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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TravelRocks,
Iíve been to St. John and Virgin Gorda, and out of the 2 would recommend Virgin Gorda if youíre looking for something more secluded and a villa right on the beach. You can see my pictures from St. John and Virgin Gorda at my trip report post below.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...5&tid=35065196

St. John has more beaches to choose from if you want to try a different beach everyday, has more shopping, and more restaurants to choose from. Virgin Gorda you can rent a villa (we rented caribbean wind on Mahoe Bay) right on the beach and never need to leave Ėthe beach is right there in front of you! Virgin Gorda is less built up. If you do go there, fly to St. Thomas and take the ferry to Virgin Gorda. There is hiking on both.

Another place to check out if you like Kauai, HI, would be Jalousie resort in St. Lucia. Itís nestled between the Pitons and has a great beach right there. You can rent a villa or stay in one of the hotel rooms. There is really great hiking there through rainforests (itís much more lush than St. John and VG, but the water is more like Hawaii-more of a deeper blue). That place would be great for kids too and is closer in feel to Kauai than St. John and VG.

Good luck!
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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You might want to consider that the TCI are pretty far north for really warm weather in February. In fact, I've made it a "rule" not to travel after early December to March/April there choosing the Caribbean for the warmer water and weather at that time of year.

Both St. John and Virgin Gorda have a multitude of villas to choose from and since they are pretty close to one another offer the same diving and similiar snorkeling experiences. But there are more villas on beaches on Virgin Gorda so that one would not have to travel/commute to the beach with all the beach stuff - chairs, etc etc. There are many choices on both islands for casual to very good options for dining but St. John offers better selection of grocery shopping or you can provision on St. Thomas if you decided to go there. There are many trails to explore in the Nat'l Park.
But, I would opt for Virgin Gorda. There are great villas right on Mahoe Bay that I've stayed in but there are many other choices. The water there is very calm, shallow and there is a reef for snorkeling. You can arrange for diving thru several companies. Provisioning can be done thru Bobby's on Tortola. They will deliver your order and it will be ready when you arrive which is a nice option. There are a couple of little groceries but not much other shopping on VG while St. John does offer Cruz Bay with a lot of little shoppees.
There are several routes you can choose to get to Virgin Gorda but I find the easiest is to fly into SJU and then fly directly to VG on Air Sunshine.
If you decide on VG, be sure to stop at the "bakery" early in the morn - there is no sign and its a turn off the main road in SpanishTown across from the auto parts store. He has the absolute best chicken and breakfast stuff ... but sells out early and then closes!
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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provo is a fairly small island. the main drag (airport to east end) is under an hour. another 40mins of slow driving on dirt road to the west end.

i'll list villas by location & at the bottom a link to the various rental agencies where you will find all the houses i list.
grace bay beach is where all the resorts, restaurants and 2 mini malls are located.
see map: http://www.aquamarinebeachhouses.com/map.htm
taylor bay beach is on the south side of the island & about 20 mins drive to grace bay. taylor has extremely shallow water for a football field or so out, so fun for kids. look at bahia mar, coco lobo & alizee.
sopadilla bay beach is next to taylor. gets deeper here closer to shore for nice swimming and small yachts moor out here making for pretty view. on sopadilla you might look at oceana, moongladeII or crystal sands*.
on grace bay beach itself you could look at bella sur mer or http://www.atlanticbeachfrontvillas.com/
not directly beachfront but 3 mins walk are limbo, gumbo & blue waters. all above in the turtle bay area.
or tyler house or tyler guest house, or http://www.aquamarinebeachhouses.com/ which is a cluster of 3 houses w/common pool.
these are all more towards the center of grace bay beach.
i stayed in atl.bfvilla and it worked well for us. has a fenced yard. you can rent just the downstairs in this house. bella sur mer is next door. newer, no fence, has pool. a couple fodorites have stayed in aqua marine houses & loved it there.
the link to the rental agencies is: http://www.turksandcaicos.tc/villas/index.htm

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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 10:39 AM
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Hi! Wow, it looks like VG and SJ are quite popular here with the Fodorites After conferring with another family and doing some research, it looks like SJ gets our vote.

We love green lush hills and its greenery...as Kellybeaches pointed out, I'm a Hawaiiaolic (Kauai-hands down! We have a timeshare in Lawai and Kauai is truly amazing...I could go on and on here, grin)but SJ or St Lucia would remind of Kauai.

Beachplum--thanks for the tips!!! Sounds great to me. I like these kind of tips--we tend to live like "locals" and do off beaten paths besides visting sights!!! So, these info are helpful!

Odie1 and Virginia-while the beaches are phenemonal, what did you do for activities? I've heard TC are dry and flat...I'm just curious here...

SO, if we choose SJ, which part of SJ did you rent a villa? That would be so helpful! And which month did you like vacationing there the best?

Thanks, you all! You are great!
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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While its true VG is dry with lots of cactus, I think its kind of neat to see that not all islands look alike. But also, all the resorts and villas are lushly planted. As far as flat goes,

VG is certainly not flat at all. There are hiking trails, one especially that is a very steep uphill climb that takes you to an amazing lookout. There are the Baths, which was absolutely spectacular. One of the coolest things I have done. We took a drive around the island to see the other side and have lunch at one of the other resorts. We took a ferry one day to Anegada and had a terrific lobster lunch right on another picture perfect beach. And then we lazed on the beach for the rest of the time, which unfortunately wasn't long enough



Another interesting forum website with lots of good information on BVI, as well as other islands, is

www.traveltalkonline.com

You don't have to be registered to view but you must register to ask questions. There is a wealth of info on that website as well with loads of pics too!

Good luck to you
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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I was just noticing a post by kellybeaches that had some amazing photos of both st John and Virgin Gorda if you want to have a better picture of both

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=5

If that link doesn't work just click on her topic which is St John Just Bacj with photos. She has links to two separate set of photod. One for SJ and the other for VG.
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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provo is indeed flat and scrubby. it's main activities are bonefishing (why tourist went their originally) diving & snorkeling. if you don't want to spend loads of time in these pursuits or just plain beachtime this is not the island for you. it has it's own special beauty i think but some may not agree.
the shopping is quite limited. the excursions are mainly to small cays for shelling, private beach picnic, or snorkeling.
provo does have the only conch farm in the carib - interesting 30 mins but really not much to see.
the beauty here is mainly about the color of the water. the ocean off grace bay beach is tourquoise! there is a place called chalk sound that is an even more vibrant color of tourquoise. and water clarity. and coral reef that is not bleached and dying.
water temp in feb might be around 75. fine for kids to play in (especially if they are used to minn. lake water) but is too cool to stay in for hours snorkeling as i like to do.
vg and st. john are beautiful islands as well though. i am hoping to rent on virgin gorda in the next couple years.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Thank you! I've been doing a lot of research and why is that the villa rentals in St John so expensive? Especially when they charge by number of people...as opposed to rentals in Hawaii! Since we have another family who would like to travel with us, and there will be 4 kids altogether--2 6 years old boy and girl and 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 year old girls...and many places are hillside...is it a hassle to load the kids into the Jeep and drive to the beaches?

On the other note, I've checked into Virgin Gorda. Looks really lovely. Again, I am not sure of the villas there. We originally thought of going in February but looks like maybe later in the spring? I have to compare the costs vs to Kauai's Kiahuana Plantion and so forth. But it would be so lovely to experience the Caribbean!!

Thanks!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 05:30 PM
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Hi, We have been to both St. John and Virgin Gorda a couple of times and loved both. The scenery is beautiful. and the water is wonderful as are the beaches. We stayed at Caneel Bay in St. J (which is right on several great beaches),and Mango Bay resort in VG which is on Mahoe Bay. Mango Bay had 1 and 2 bedroom units which were quite nice and not nearly as expensive as the villas next door. We also stayed at Bitter End for a few days and that was nice, but Mahoe Bay had a nicer beach, and the beach next to it is wonderful. (Cant remeber the name). The island is very laid back and beautiful. Good restaurants in Spanish town and of course one must visit the Baths. We loved VG. St. J also has beautiful beaches, but the villas are on the hillside. We are going to the T&C this winter and hope we will like it as well. All 3 are good choices.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 05:45 PM
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I've been to St John 3 times and we absolutely love it. There are multitudes of villas to choose from. The beaches are beautiful and usually uncrowded.

There are a few villas/condos withen walking distance of Cruz Bay, Gallows Point comes to mind.

Here is a link to a very friendly St John message board. Everyone there is eager to help.

http://www.virgin-islands-on-line.co...wforum.php?f=1
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 05:57 PM
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I've been to STJ and T&C. Like other posters mentioned, T&C may be a little cool in February.

I would choose STJ in a second. Although we really liked Turks & Caicos, St. John to us was something really, really special. The combination of the beaches, many of which we were alone at for a good amount of time, friendly people, and multitude of villa options would seem to point in the direction of St. John for you.

A lot of posters have stayed at villas in St. John so you may want to list a budget range to solicit feedback.
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Thank you so MUCH!!!! You guys are sooo helpful!

I am curious--did you have a hard time finding a villa rental on St. John due to the age limit of children? Many villas either states that children under 8 or 12 are not allowed due to pool safety. Which makes sense, but I wonder what many families do--do they go to Caneel Bay or find a house without a pool? Any tips?
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 05:56 PM
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My husband is a diver and did not consider the diving on SJ as top rate. GC and T and C have significantly better diving. VG offers more diving options than SJ.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 09:25 AM
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Another vote for Virgin Gorda. Its very scenic (baths, views, coppermine ruins etc) and laid back. Very quiet. The beaches are great also. Our favorite ones were Spring bay, Mahoe and Savannah Bay. We visited once on a day trip from Tortola...and were impressed. The next year we rented Bellamare on Mahoe bay with friends and loved it. The walk to the beach is under two minutes so was convinient with the kids. The only negative in my opinion is the travel time to get to VG. Otherwise its one of the best caribbean destinations if you are looking for peace/quiet/nice beaches. Guavaberry villas on Spring bay are another alternative. We have been to turks as well and think it would be a great destination with kids (grace bay, sapodilla bay and taylor bay are all fabulous) but if you plan on travelling in Feb its not a good alternative. Have not been to St John but did a little research and picked VG instead because the villas are generally closer to the beaches, a tab bit cheaper and you don't have to get in the car to drive to the beach...especially painful with little ones.
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