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oliviadawg Jan 24th, 2005 07:09 AM

St. Vincent v. St Kitts?
We've never been to the Caribbean before and are looking for a relatively secluded island with great beaches, snorkeling, and a lush interior that provides for a good day or two of hiking. We're in our late 20s and enjoy going out for drinks and meeting people, but we're not into the Cancun-type club scene.

We've narrowed it down to St. Vincent (probably Young Island) and St Kitts (probably Timothy Beach -- don't want to stay at the Marriott). It seems like there are pros and cons to both; St Kitts seems a little more lively and less expensive, but Young Island looks a lot more luxurious.

Any thoughts or suggestions on these two island would be greatly appreciated.

curiousx Jan 24th, 2005 09:28 AM

I can't offer you expertise on St. Kitts, but I do know St. Vincent.

Neither it nor Young Island meet your criterion of great beaches although they are secluded. St. Vincent meets your criteria of having a lush interior with great hiking (but you really will enjoy more with a guide).

As for snorkelling, Dive St. Vincent is just across from Young Island and will take you to some decent snorkelling sites. However, you would find the best in a day sail to the Tobago Cays. Be sure to take your own gear (fins, mask, snorkel).

Even though Young Island is in the tourist area of Villa, night life is laid back to comatose (which can have its advantages!).

I may get creamed for this but, rightly or wrongly, I have always had the impression that Young Island is for an older crowd who are there to get their batteries recharged or very starry-eyed newly-weds who have rarely left their home country. You don't seem to fit those categories.

However, one hour ferry ride from St. Vincent, you can get to the small island of Bequia.

In fact, this would be my recommendation for where you should consider staying for at least part of your time - especially given that this is your first trip to the West Indies. Why not try a taste of 'the real Caribbean'.

Look at the newly reopened Plantation House as an option - you can have the 'security' of a resort but ready access to a fascinating local culture, great beaches, hiking trails, sailing, snorkelling, and a lot of good choices in terms of places to go out for drinks and meet people.

If Plantation House is too expensive, consider Spring Plantation. This is a get away from it all place with great food and access to excellent hiking and snorkelling spots. There is also an interesting (and very social) community of expats and locals of all ages in the surrounding hills.

By staying on Bequia, you would not be foregoing the advantages of the main island because it is so easy to take daytrips there via ferry to enjoy its unique eco experiences (waterfalls, volcano, parrot trail, etc.).

BTW, I am assuming that you have more than a week for your holiday - travelling to SVG is not worth it if you don't because you willburn a day (or more) travelling each way.

All that said, I am sure whatever you choose will be wonderful.

Sunnyboy Jan 24th, 2005 12:10 PM

I have to agree with curiousx that St. Vincent does not meet your criteria for an island "with great beaches" as there are just not a lot of them on the island and what ones that are there are small, and all but one have darkish almost black sand. They are relatively plain and non-descript as Caribbean beaches go. The island itself, however, has a very lush interior. Young Island is a short distance off the coast of St. Vincent and does cater to the "newly weds or nearly deads". It is a small island with nothing on it but the resort. It is not a typical place for an active young couple.

St. Kitts is a very nice island with a lush rain forest, mountains, a volcano and plenty of sugar cane fields that give it some real natural beauty but because it is volcanic in origin it's beaches are not all that "great" and while they are far better than those of St. Vincent they are not among the tops in the Caribbean.

What first time visitors to the Caribbean sometimes fail to recognize is that the islands with the best beaches are usually flat coral based islands such as Anguilla, Aruba, Anegada, the Turks & Caicos, many of the Bahamas Out Islands and Barbuda. These island are generally arid and have little or no natural vegitation but the beaches will be miles long with incredibly white sand surounded by gin clear turquise blue waters. The volcanic islands like St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Eustatia, Guadalupe, Martinique, to name a few, usually have smaller dark sand beaches lined with palms and other tropical plants with steeper drop-offs at the water's edge. Because of the darker sand the waters surounding volcanic islands is usually steel blue in color. Some volcanic based islands like Dominica and Saba have no beaches at all. The interior of the volcanic islands are usually very lush with rain forests and waterfalls.

There are a few islands like St. Thomas, St. John, Antigua, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St. Barth's, St. Martin, some of the Grenadines, to name a few that will give you a good combination of mountains to hike and attractive
"light" or "golden" sand beaches.

owa Jan 24th, 2005 01:15 PM

You have received excellent advice. We stayed on St. Vincent at a resort across from Young Island. I didn't actually go and look at it, but my husband and I decided it didn't look like a place we would enjoy. After my husband's meetings, we went to Bequia for 4 nights where we really had a good time. We stayed at the Ginger Bread House, walked a lot and went out twice a day with the dive boats to snorkel. St. John is our all time favorite. Happy planning. Owa

oliviadawg Jan 24th, 2005 02:01 PM

Thanks for the great info everybody. I'll have to do some more research on Bequia or maybe change gears altogether and look at St. John?

I still welcome any advice you can offer. Thanks!

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