Tropical vacation? too many options! help?

Old Apr 15th, 2012, 04:52 AM
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Tropical vacation? too many options! help?

I'm 18 and looking to go somewhere tropical (and not too expensive) with my friend this summer. There just seem to be so many options and they're all beautiful it's hard to choose!
I would like to be on a clear water, white sand beach, but also want adventure! I can't just sit on the beach all day- maybe somewhere with diving/ snorkling, hiking, volcanos, ruins or forests? i dont really know!
anyway, here is where i've been looking, but there are so many options! i would appreciate any help to narrow things down...
-St Lucia
-Punta Cana

emilykate913 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2012, 05:15 AM
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First off you said you are looking for some place "not too expensive" yet you didn't give us any idea of what "too expensive" means to you. It would help if you gave us an actual dollar amount that you have budgeted for airfare, accommodations and food. That way we can steer you in the right direction.

You are going to have to make some concessions. You see, in general the lush mountainous, volcanic based islands will have darker sand beaches vs. the arid and flatter coral/limestone based island which have the lighter white sand beaches.

Also, diving/snorkeling is generally better around the coral/limestone based islands but they will not have the lush rain forests and volcanos you crave. On the other hand hiking and old ruins are generally better around the mountainous, volcanic based islands.

Of the islands on your list Anguilla will have the whitest sand while Antigua, Barbados, Tulum Punta Cana, Negril and parts of Genada will have light golden sand. The remaining islands will have darker sand beaches - some like St. Lucia, Nevis and Dominica will have very dark (think brown, grey or even black sand) beaches.

Now, "cost wise" you'll probably find Dominica, Punta Cana, Tulum, Negril will give you the best bang for your buck while Nevis, Anguilla, St. Lucia, Barbados will be among the more expensive destinations. The other islands will be somewhere "in between".

Martinique and Guadalupe are "very French" and may not be the best choices for people in your age group if you are not fluent in that language so you might want to save those destination for a later time.
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Old Apr 15th, 2012, 09:34 AM
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i think you'll find what you're looking for on maya riviera. tulum is good but also look at akumal. tons to do from mayan ruins to ziplines & water parks. cancun is normally easy/cheap to get to.
all the info you could want at

you can use to research flights easily. jet blue is not on kayak so check them separately. you'll find flts to many destinations on your list are quite pricey unless you're starting from miami.

keep in mind you don't want to be to remote as you won't be able to rent a car anywhere & will need busses a/or taxis.

at tulum the beach & town are to far apart to walk. in akumal you can walk around town.
a condo might work for you.
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Old Apr 16th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Negril Jamaica fits much of what you describe. It would make a great first trip. No volcanos though

I agree with the suggestion above instead of a Caribbean island, head to the "Mayan Riviera". Which includes Tulum that is on your list. You fly into Cancun then head south along the coast. Generally speaking Mexico is much more reasonably priced, so you get more for your money there, than in the Caribbean islands.

Not Punta Cana (which is like Cancun in that it is a place made up only of resorts and specifically built for tourists, it's not a "real" place).
suze is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2012, 12:38 PM
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I think you could narrow your list down a lot by the cost factor, many of the Caribbean islands you list are not going to be cheap!!

My best suggestion is still for Mexico. Fly into Cancun, then go to Isla Mujeres (island nearby), Playa del Carmen (heading south along the coast), Akumal and Tulum. That would be a great trip with lots of activities and options available to you.
suze is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2012, 01:08 AM
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Martinique & Guadeloupe are islands that have it all, I don't agree you have to be fluent in French, after all people go to Paris all the time from the US and not being fluent in French does not put them off. Also being close to other English speaking islands, you will find younger people speak English or are from other islands that are English speaking.

Guadeloupe is really 2 islands so it has the lush tropical forests, a volcano, excellent snorkelling, inexpensive accommodation (French style Gites for example but it is in EUR), loads of activites in the national park (cycling, zip lining etc) and then the flat scrubby side with white sand beaches and clear water. Martinique has all of this plus the ruins at St Pierre. Neither of these islands are for the all-inclusive set. There are alot of young Europeans who visit.

Negril is alot of fun but not sure it fits the bill, Grenada & St Lucia (yes there are white sand beaches in the north) will also tick most boxes.
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Old Apr 21st, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Odin, I'm curious why exactly you think Negril doesn't fit??
suze is offline  
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