St. Martin, St. John, Aruba or Vieques

Old Jan 15th, 2007, 12:38 PM
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St. Martin, St. John, Aruba or Vieques

Please help us decide. We have a 6 month old son that we'll be traveling w/ for the 1st time. We love to travel, normally preferring europe... but this being his 1st flight, we would prefer to go somewhere closer and so we're researching the caribbean. We narrowed down the search w/ Starwood properties. We love good food, cafes, outdoor music/bars, strolling, beautiful beaches, etc... please provide any recommendations.
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Old Jan 15th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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You are considering 4 very different island. Perhaps the following will be of assistance:

Aruba - flat, arid, not much natural vegetation. Lots of high-rise hotels and resorts along the island's main white sand beach (think hotel row). Plenty of recognizable chain restaurants. Lots of nightlife (not sure how much that appeals to someone with a 6-mo old in tow) and several casinos. This island is perfect for those seeking the comfort of an island that "feels like back home America".

St. Martin - hilly well established island with two distinct feels - one French the other Dutch. Lots of Duty Free shopping on both sides, excellent assortment of restaurants (especially on the French side). Many very nice golden sand beaches, lots of time share and condo type resort accomodations. Plenty of watersports available. Can be crowded at times make driving somewhat laborious. Plenty of beach bars, a couple of casinos and an active nightlife. This is a party goers island.

St. John - hilly relatively lush island with many rental villas and only two major resorts. 2/3's of the island is a National Park offering ample opportunity for nature hikes. Numerous small cove-like light golden sand beaches lined with attractive palm tres and othe vegetaton. Very good to excellent off-beach snorkeling. Some interesting but limited shopping in Cruz Bay, a variety of good restaurants and a few beach bars. Not much nightlife. St. John ranks right up there as many people's favorite island.

Vieques - very quiet island with attractive beaches. This is a relatively undiscovered island which is only recently gaining reconition. Some smaller local restaurants and a few bars but nothing elaborate at this time. Only a few hotels on the island and no mega-resorts. This island is perfect for those wishing to get away from the maddening crowds and wantiing to experience what the Caribbean was like on the major island 35+ years ago.

Hope this helps in narrowing your choice.
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Old Jan 15th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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I've been to all but Vieques. A Traveller did a great job of being impartial and laying out the options. I'll give a little more opinion

I've been twice to Aruba (using Marriott points) and felt it was more Americanized. A great place to sit on the beach and some good restaurants but I personally didn't feel like there was a lot that was unique there. You can drive to each end of the island to see Baby Beach and the lighthouse or do an ATV trip (not my thing personally). Avoid downtown on cruise ship days.

St. John is, as A Traveller mentioned, is more focused on the beaches and water. Good restaurants but only a few to choose from. Probably the prettiest island of the three but will also be the most quiet (again, can't speak to Vieques). You can easily take day trips to St Thomas, Tortola, Virgin Gorda (the Baths) etc.

I personally think St. Martin may be your best fit. It has some European flair to it, being half Dutch/half French , which you may like with your interest in European travel. Very, very good restaurants are in Grand Case. The beach bars are great fun along Orient Beach and have some good people watching too! You can also take a day trip to St. Barts, Saba or some of Anguilla's out-islands.
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Old Jan 19th, 2007, 04:47 PM
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Westin St John...a starwood...would be best...with a 6 month old.

The local Myra keating has a remarkable doctor on 24/7 call.

St Thomas --a 5 minute helicopter from Myra-- has a neo-natal clinic that can handle anything with Dr. Randall.

Stay in the protected US territory.
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Old Jan 19th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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To the OP....Not much help here, but....A_Traveller has done a great job, as usual.

Aruba./////our least favorite island, as we prefer less populated places. Aruba was easy to get around, the Marriott Stellaris was great and the food was very "Americanized">

St. Martin....We have been to Orient Beach/French Side 3 times in 13 years and last year, well, was my last visit. Lots of traffic, worried about safety(lots of crime in the area during that week, which I have never experienced). The food and the people are great and it is a beautiful island, but too overgrown for me (IMHO).

Have not been to St. John, although the reviews are very good....Again...Know nothing about Vieques, so this is a great board to ask.

A_Traveller...Do you live in the
Caribbean, or just travel bunches. Your knowledge of so many islands is very impressive!!!
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Old Jan 20th, 2007, 04:11 AM
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I kindly disagree with one of the statements. St John has a lot of restaurant options that are very good. Too many to try in a one week stay.
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Old Jan 20th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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There is nowhere in the Carribean that has the restaurant choices that St. maarten offers, if that is one of your priorities.
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 02:49 PM
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Vieques is a lovely island, but requires either a small plane transfer or a ferry ride. (St. John might, too.) I'm not sure you'd want to extend the travel that way with a baby. As far as medical care on the island, I've been warned away from the Vieques hospital. Vieques nightlife varies based on season and the island population at the time; when are you going?
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Aruba was my least favorite island in the Caribbean just because it was so Americanized. One of the things I loved about Aruba was the desert like geography.
 
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 04:40 PM
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If these...I have been to Aruba and St John.

I highly recommend STJ, it is lush and has some beautiful,calm water beaches which would be great for your baby.

I did not care for Aruba.The water is definitely more rough than STJ.The snorkeling cannot compare to STJ...if that is something of interest.

Aruba is way more Americanized than STJ...(if that bothers you).

IMO...Aruba did have better restaurants than STJ but that is no reason to choose Aruba as STJ also has some good ones too.

I think that with the baby...STJ would be a good choice as STT has an excellent hospital in case of an emergency.

Good luck and have fun!

Christie

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