St. Kitts/Nevis or Caymans?

Jan 5th, 2008, 03:56 PM
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St. Kitts/Nevis or Caymans?

Hello. We're debating between St. Kitts/Nevis and Grand Cayman - and would appreciate your perspective. A little background: we'll be staying on Marriott points (I travel the US all year and I'm gold and we get the upgrade, so we don't stray from Marriott! LOL!) We'll have our (well-traveled) five and eight year olds with us (who are growing rather fond of the Caribbean! Yay!). We've been to Kauai, Oahu, St. Thomas, St. John, Aruba, Bahamas and most recently Puerto Rico & Vieques. We like to hang by the pool for a day, but then get out and explore beaches and the island in general. We love historical sites (El Morro) and outdoors pursuits (St. John, Vieques, Aruba's caves). We loved St. John and beaches of Vieques and disliked STT and the Bahamas (too commercialized, too crowded).

I know the Grand Cayman Marriott has a poor beachfront due to hurricane activity. If we choose there, we'd hang by the pool, but then rent a jeep and get out to the other sights/beaches. Doable?

If we choose St. Kitts/Nevis, we'll split our time and ferry over to Nevis for a few days.

Snorkeling is a must for my budding marine biologist. A "kids program" isn't required - we never use them and the kids go with us.

Great food isn't a concern (we have kids - we're just to eating quickly!) nor is shopping. Culture, history and learning are. I always say "We're raising travelers, not tourists!"

Thank you in advance for any advice!
travelhappyfamily is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 06:35 PM
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You are certainly not a family that needs to be assigned a vacation nanny who will supervise, entertain, and care for YOUR children. I'm impressed!
This isn't a simple answer. If you've seen pictures of the Caymans, you know the beaches are wopnderful as is the snorkeling. But, the island is rather commercialized without a lot of history. As for St. Kitts/Nevis, you would have a fun-filled schedule with other adventures, lots of the history and outdoors types of things. No worry that kids would have to turn to computer and video games there. However, the snorkeling isn't the greatest.

Knowing is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 06:58 PM
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The Marriott on St. Kitts is very nice. The island is still relatively undeveloped and the Marriott is the only "chain" resort on the island. It is very large and some St. Kitts regulars and locals feel that it is inappropriate in size for the island. We had a large 1 BR suite and our 2 sons slept on the pull out sofa and a cot. They had a kitchen, dining area and a washer and dryer. We booked the rooms with points and paid extra to upgrade to the suite.

There are 3 pools, the main pool has the pool bar and activities. The other two pools are very quiet (one or two families or couples at the pool) with no food or drink service. I thought the beach was nice. It's on the Atlantic side and the waves can be rougher than some Caribbean islands but it was calm when we were there. There are vendors on the beach but they do not hassle you if you say "no thank you". We ate at the breakfast buffet every morning since 2 out of 4 were included with our room. Otherwise, we ate off premises for dinner. There are a number of places a short drive or cab ride away (since you have small ones it probably doesn't make sense to walk) which are inexpensive and good. The Caribbean side is a few minute drive or a 15 minute walk from the resort where there are a number of beach bar restaurants and supposedly a nice beach (we never went during the day). The Shiggdy Shack is probably most popular.
I liked the fact that the Marriott had vendors in the lower lobby showing their crafts everyday. It is nice since I'm not a big shopper but like to bring home something that reminds me of the island. You have to make an effort to see them -they don't hassle you in the main lobby.

The island itself is lovely. Most travelers hire a guide to drive them around the island. There are fields and fields of sugar can that look like corn fields. The beaches are nice and were practically empty when we visited in April. The snorkeling is OK, not as good as the Virgin Islands. There is a rain forest and you can take a guided tour. For your family, Greg's Safari might work. There is a volcano that many hike up in the rain forest but that might be a solo trip for you or your spouse - not a family trip. My husband and 14 year old son completed it. It is strenuous and you need a guide. Once again Greg Safaris serve as guides although my family used Royston Stevens, a very nice young man. There are beautful plantations around the island which are currently inns and restaurants. We only went into Bassterre (spelling? - main city) for dinner at Serendipity, wonderful but expensive and formal, and the Ocean Terrace Inn for their West Indian buffet with steel drums. We also took the catamaran to Nevis which involved some snorkeling, drinking and a barbeque on Nevis near the Four Seasons. I wish we explored Nevis more since the island gets wonderful reviews for its beauty and lack of development.

The people on St. Kitts were friendly, particularly the taxi drivers, who are very knowledgeable and would like you to book them for an island tour (which is usually very reasonable in cost). There is a gentleman that gets wonderful reviews for his island tour but his name escapes me. We hired Royston, again, since my sons thought he was cool and hit it off with him. He is a little quiet but very proud of St. Kitts and is just a really nice person.

There are monkeys on the island and they are easily found at Turtle Beach, which has a restuarant. The monkeys come and steal food and drink. The beach here is OK and you can see Nevis from it. It was crowded the day we went because some big cruise ship was in port. They also have a large pig named Wilbur. The restaurant was sold since we were there so I'm not sure if it has reopened.

As far as history, there is Brimstone Fort, similar to El Morro with a beautiful view.

That's St. Kitts in a nutshell. There will be a lot of future development on this island so I felt we were lucky to visit it before it becomes more commercialized.
lovethecape is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 05:52 AM
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Many thanks for replies and all the information! Perfect! I was leaning towards St. Kitts/Nevis due to the commercial aspect of Grand Cayman. I want them to grab as much culture and history as they can now, when they're young. =)

Knowing - thanks for the perspective on St. Kitts' snorkeling. I'd heard that.

Lovethecape - thank you so much for your experience! I might look into the volcano 8 yr. old (who just flipped when I told him about it!) and I could do it one day while the little one rests with daddy.

Does anyone have experience with Ms. Whitman's marine lessons/tour on Nevis?

Many thanks again for the advice and suggestions!
travelhappyfamily is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 06:19 PM
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This site has a lot of information on St. Kitts/Nevis is you decide to go:
lovethecape is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 06:13 PM
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travelhappyfamily is offline  
Jan 8th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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So in reading these posts

a) the Marriott's beach suffers from hurricane damage
- Wrong... the last hurricane was over three years ago, the lack of beach is due to normal seasonal wave action on that part of the beach

b) Cayman is "without a lot of history"
- I really dispute that, we have much history and a deeply rooted sense of local heritage and culture.

Now, I wouldn't dispute that the main Seven Mile Beach strip (where the Marriott and most hotels are located) is over-developed, largely commercialised and with a large percentage of staff who are not from the island.... but you don't have to spend your whole stay there, rent a car and discover the island.
TomCayman is offline  
Jan 8th, 2008, 04:53 PM
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Um, okay - thanks. My guide books provided me with misinformation regarding the beachfront erosion. Thank you. We are, however, looking for beaches that aren't rocky and are kid-friendly.

And as I noted in my inital entry, we're not opposed to getting away from our resort. In fact, we rather desire it: "If we choose there, we'd hang by the pool, but then rent a jeep and get out to the other sights/beaches. Doable?"
travelhappyfamily is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:06 PM
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O.K. so I'm a month late in jumping in here... In the years we lived on Grand Cayman (7 Mile Beach) the beach would change shape and size all the time. Sometimes it was just ironstone and then it would come back on the south side before shifting to the north side. Sand is fluid. Tom is located on the East End of Grand Cayman. If you weren't using Marriott points I'd suggest looking into East End, Grand Cayman - it' is a different world - but 7 Mile is too commercial. Safe for a first time timid traveler but you have too much experience to need the baby blanket of familiarity. Georgetown and 7 Mile is a cruise ship dumping port. 5000+ visitors on busy days. G.C. has the best diving and snorkeling (Sting Ray City) of the two locations but there is snorkeling in St. Kitts too. If the history you want is akin to el Morro (Brimstone Hill), Bat caves (Nevis - Mt. Lilly), rainforests (Mt. Liamuiga), Historic cities (Basseterre and Charlestown, Nevis) and extant sugar plantation ruins, then St. Kitts is the island to visit. Commercialization is coming to St. Kitts - high priced commercialization. (see so no might be the time to enjoy the antiquity of the island
Nevisian is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 04:59 AM
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Travelhappy, when we were on Nevis, we booked Ms Whitman's snorkel class and met her. We are "intermediate" snorkelers and so we asked her if we could skip the hands on / classroom part she does in the beginning, and she said she would be happy to tailor it for us. I ended up getting sick so we had to cancel (peel those fruits!!), but based on her winning personality and obvious love for the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, I'd say she's a perfect match for your budding biologist!

To Nevisian, wow! That Christophe Harbour website is a real eye opener - so ambitious, and with names like Mandarin Oriental and Kiawah and Auberge from Napa, some real money must be behind it. (Unlike the pipe dream of polo fields and harbours on Eleuthera that never materialized). Have they broken ground? When is the completion date?
joan is offline  

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