Totally new to the Carribean -- any suggestions?

Old Feb 12th, 2013, 03:32 AM
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Totally new to the Carribean -- any suggestions?

Hi all!

Definitely new to vacationing in the Carribean -- my two girlfriends and I are planning a trip in mid-April for my birthday and between researching package deals on Expedia to Cheapcarribean.com and reading lots of travel articles (written by who-knows-who) I've just gotten so confused and would like input from REAL people on where to go / stay / do / eat!

The following is a list (in order) of what we're looking for:

1. Safe, above-average hotel/resort, preferably an AI (for the convenience but we're definitely open to places where we can "taste the culture" but still affordable).

2. Ease of transport on the island (we would like to rent a car to go on day trips/go off the beaten path, and from reading horror stories about car rentals on SXM I'm a little terrified)

3. Beautiful beaches a given, yes, but it will be our first time on white sand and turquoise water and we want to be blown away~ we're open to places for snorkeling or day boating trips too

4. Nightlife!!! We're in our mid-twenties so we're past the Cabo-whoo-spring-break vibe, but would still like to keep the option of getting "ratchet" open if we'd like to Would love to go to a place where there are bars/clubs/lounges, maybe in the style of Vegas or Miami...?

5. Would like to keep away from super tourist-y places (staying away from places that sell made-in-china souvenirs), but still open to visiting museums, and other places that we could learn about the local culture

So far we've been leaning towards St. Martin--definitely drawn to the Dutch/French culture going on, pretty beaches but has the nightlife we are looking for (anyone been to Tantra? What should we expect? We laughed when we heard Drake was there haha).

Would that be a good fit for us? Any other islands that would meet our criteria? Thanks so much for hearing me out! Looking forward to all your suggestions
electricri is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Vegas or Miami style clubs in the Caribbean? Good luck. You may have to re-think some of your wants...as what you have described really doesn't exist.

Plenty of places that are safe, easy to travel, good food, with gorgeous beaches....but I'm not so sure your nightlife request is going to be reality.

You may also want to provide a budget per person so people can have a reasonable shot at making suggestions.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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Your list is very mixed up. I'm not sure there is any one place that will tick all those boxes.

I was coming to suggest Negril Jamaica for it's incredible "7-mile" beach. But it's way more rustic than you are seeking. The nightlife is more beach parties, live music, not fancy clubs.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 08:18 AM
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Agree with the comments. However I think you would all like St Marten for the beaches. Can't answer for the night life but driving around will be easy there.

Look at Puerto Rico. It will have night life in Old San Juan. Driving around the island is easy and there is a lot to explore. You could stay some of your time in Old San Juan and some of your time on one of the pretty beaches. Do research to find the right beach that will blow you away. You will not find beaches in Old San Juan.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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I was actually going to suggest Puerto Rico & Old San Juan, but they wanted those turquoise beaches, and not so sure you'll find what you are looking for in PR. Like I said before, take out the "miami-like clubs" from your wish-list, and your wants are easy....
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 09:24 AM
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Actually I think the Dutch side of St. Martin might work. There are a few clubs there, i.e., Tantra and Bliss. Stay in the Maho area for the nightlife and drive to the beaches during the day. I love Orient Beach on the French side. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a drive from Maho and there's often traffic. But there are also a couple of nice beaches on the Dutch side.

Another possibility is Aruba.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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What Sharona said ... I think you would really enjoy St.Maarten, Mullet Beach near Maho is gorgeous, lots to do on the island.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 01:24 PM
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Interesting ..but tell me r u comimg alone or with some body.You can visit lots of places here.Abaco Island,Barbados, Montago way etc.All of above there are lots of beaches to enjoy.But come with your full pocket.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 07:00 PM
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You are not going to find many AI resorts in St. Martin. I'm not that familar with St. Martin as it never hit our 'to-go' list.

I would look at Aruba. Tons of dining and bar options to fit your requirements. The Palm Beach area is lined with hotels, beach bars, dining options, shopping and entertainment. Easily walkable. There are casinos there also, so over all it kinda gives that Vegas vibe.I wouldn't suggest AI there.

Puerto Rico would also fit you nightlife requirements. No real AI's there. We are looking at PR for our Caribbean trip this year.

You might look at Barbados also. Seems there is some good nightlife in the St. Lawrence Gap area.
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Old Feb 13th, 2013, 12:48 AM
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There is good nightlife in St Lawrence Gap area. It's where Brits in their 20s go. There are pretty beaches and it's easy to get around & things to see & hotels to suit all budgets. If you are not staying in St Lawrence, AI is probably better since restaurants can be expensive and/or there is some distance between them.

Aruba is also a great fun island, great beaches & lots of things to do/restaurants/bars etc but the landscape is not as pretty as Barbados.

St Martin, again another good suggestion, definitely no need for AI.

Been to PR twice and it's the only island I would not return to but I can imagine there would be good nightlife there.

Antigua's nightlife is centered around Shirley Heights, Falmouth Harbour, especially during Antigua Race Week (18-23 April). Antigua also has pretty beaches, easy to get around, things to see (Nelsons Dockyard is impressive) & lots of AI options. But none of these options are anywhere near the standard of those in Vegas.
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Old Feb 13th, 2013, 12:48 AM
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Sorry if I sounded super picky on that "wishlist" -- I really appreciate all your tips and suggestions

We decided on Sonesta Maho Beach Resort on St. Martin-- AI, close to the casino / clubs and we plan to rent a car so we can visit the French side and we plan to visit the beaches some of you guys suggested.

Will let you guys know how it the trip turns out! Such an awesome community here
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Old Feb 13th, 2013, 03:26 AM
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Good choice. Check out Waikiki Beach and Coco Beach on St Martin. Nice water for swimming / playing in the waves. Beautiful cove with restaurant / beach service.
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Old Feb 13th, 2013, 06:05 AM
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I think you'll be happy with your decision. Here's some great info on SXM from BellaClaire that you might find helpful:

http://www.fodors.com/community/cari...tober-2012.cfm

Here's a list of the beaches on a map. You can click on a beach to see pictures and find out info on that particular beach:

http://sint-maarten.net/St-Maarten-B...n_Beaches.html

Have a wonderful time!
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Old Feb 13th, 2013, 08:32 AM
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Right on, good choice!

If you're there on the full moon, Friar's Beach close to Grand Case (french side) has a full moon party.

Calmos Cafe in Grand Case is right on the beach, toes in the sand kinda place sometimes there is music in the evenings, check them out.

http://lecalmoscafe.com/accueil_en.html

Do one of the catamaran trips to Prickly Pear close to Anguilla, all-day drinks, snacks on board, then snorkeling and lunch on prickly pear island. I prefer Scoobidoo cats but they leave from the French side. There are those on the dutch side as well.

Take a half day to go over to Anse Marcel beach, so gorgeous as is Mullet close to the Maho.
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