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Turks and Caicos versus St. Croix/St. Thomas

Old Aug 15th, 2012, 07:24 PM
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Turks and Caicos versus St. Croix/St. Thomas

Hello Caribbean Travelers,
My husband and I are planning a trip for a week in January and we're having trouble deciding between Turks and Caicos and St Croix/St. Thomas. Here are our desires in order:

1. good diving
2. something to do other than diving (i.e. island hop from St. Croix to St. Thomas, a bit of local night life)
3. good food (doesn't have to be GREAT, but good)
4. generally beautiful
5. good value

We're looking at Carambola at St. Croix or Windsong at Turks and Caicos. Prices are almost identical.

Is there some other island we should be looking at? The only other suggestion we've gotten is Nevis/St. Kitt's but heard the water there isn't great but the island is beautiful. With diving being top of our list, we're looking for nice water.

Thanks!
amydial is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2012, 04:06 AM
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Turks has everything on your list except decent night life. The beach is gorgeous, the food is really good at many restaurants, and you can island hop between Provo and some of the other islands for the day. The only slight downside is that it may be somewhat cooler than St. Thomas for swimming etc during January.

BTW, I am not a fan of St. Thomas, which is swarming with tourists/cruises during the winter season. I think it's one of the least charming islands in the Caribbean.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 04:08 AM
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Just wanted to add that we stayed at The Four Seasons in Nevis. The island is very pretty, but I don't think that beach compares favorably to Grace Bay in Turks.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 04:19 AM
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Okay, gotta to tell you, you should narrow between St. John and Turks and Caicos.

St. Thomas is my least favorite Virgin, really only a means to get to the other virgins. St. croix, for me was nice, but not as nice as St. John, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke.

First off, while technically possible, it's really hard to travel from St. croix to the other Virgins. It requires hours by ferry or a flight.

St. thomas is much easier to hop around the Virgins.

Virgins have much more beautiful scenery, nice island hopping, fun beach bars and some nightlife, nice diving and snorkeling. Food is okay to good. Beaches are gorgeous, but smaller and more cove like. It does get cruise ships. Hotels and resorts are okay, even the nicer ones are a little more rustic.

TCI has long stretches of some of the best beaches in the world. Nice off the beach snorkeling. Some of the best restaurants in Caribbean. Hotels and resorts are newer and more luxurious, even at same price points. Little nightlife. You still can island hop and explore fun uninhabited cays. The islands themselves are flat dry and scrubby, really about the beach.

Your choice should be either TCI or St. John, (or even Virgin Gorda) not St. Thomas or St. croix.

Love them both, but they are completely different from each other.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 04:24 AM
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I've never been to T&C so I can't make a true comparison, but if diving is high on your list, you really can't beat Croix, especially the North Shore where the Carambola is. That particular beach (the Carambola is on Davis Bay) is the spot where the Cane Bay Wall is closest to shore - the easiest beach dive you can imagine. Walk off the beach into the water, and you will be dropping over the wall in less than 10 minutes. I don't know of anywhere else in the world but Croix that you can swim out to a wall dive. Carambola is also only a 5 minute drive from Cane Bay (another perfect beach where you can swim out to a wall dive), which has some good restaurants and beach bars. We've been going to Croix for over 15 years, and almost always stay at Carambola, so we are very familiar with the North Shore area. There are definitely enough good restaurants in the area to keep you happy (several good ones in the Cane Bay area, less than a 5 minute drive from Carambola) so you don't have to drive all the way to Christiansted in the evening. We took family to Croix last spring and they don't dive, and we found plenty to do to keep everyone happy.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 05:25 AM
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Going to agree with Weadles and Blamona. T & C is the better choice. I did not care for St. Thomas. It's good point is that you can get to St. John and the British Virgins Islands rather easily. You cannot, however, get to St. Croix easily from St. Thomas.

Based on what you stated you are looking for, I think Grand Cayman would be a better choice than any of the Virgin Islands.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 05:48 AM
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If you want to be able to island hop, I definitely agree that St. John would be the way to go, and I would never say a bad word about Gorda. But if you really want good diving, Croix is the place. The last time we were in the "upper" USVI and the BVI we asked the people who worked in the dive shops there where their favorite dives were, and they ALL said they go down to Croix every chance they get. There are some excellent dive spots in the BVI -- the Rhone, the Indians, etc. -- but they all involve fairly lengthy boat rides to get to. On the North Shore of Croix even a boat dive to some of the more spectacular parts of the wall that are not reachable from a shore dive are little more than a 5 minute trip. The other thing I really like about Croix is that it is a real island that is not dependent on tourism. Except for the rare cruise ship day (and the cruise ships come in on the other side of the island), you will usually find that the majority of the patrons at the bars and restaurants (especially on the North Shore) are locals. We usually go down a couple of times a year for at least a week at a time. Although we love to dive, we usually only do one dive each morning and then have the rest of the day free to explore and play - visit the rain forest, hit some golf balls, tour the rum factory, maybe do a sail out to Buck Island, explore Christiansted and Fredricksted, or just relax at the beach or at a favorite beach bar, catching up on local gossip.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 08:11 AM
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Regarding January weather in TCI--no issues --we have been at X-mas and into January and love it, warm enough--hot actually and swim everyday...
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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It's not really that easy or cheap to island hop between St. Thomas and St. Croix, so I don't think that's really what you should be looking at. But St. Croix does have great diving and quite a lot to offer, but the beaches are far superior on Providenciales. And there are things to do on both islands, but nightlife isn't really one of them. There is a casino on St. Croix, but it's far from Carambola.

Just a note: You absolutely must have a rental car in St. Croix, particularly if you stay at Carambola. You could get by without one in Provo if you stayed in a central location in Grace Bay, but it's certainly more convenient to have one. If that's a consideration, then consider it.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 05:36 PM
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I am sorry everyone is giving you such bad reviews of St Thomas! It is very easy to island hop from St Thomas to St John by ferry. St Thomas to St Croix requires a short plane ride- either by sea (lots o'fun!) or airport. Lots of diving around the Virgins and also lots of snorkeling.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Thanks for all the help! With diving being at the top of our list, St. Croix sounds like the best bet. We're not the type to sit on a beach for a day so it's not a deal killer that Provo has much nicer beaches than St. Croix. And I like that the cruise ship folks are on the other side of the island. We've never rented a car on any of our dive vacations so that by itself sounds like something to do. We've always stayed at resorts that you either don't have to leave or don't want to leave. I would consider cruising around the island an activity in and of itself.

Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. I think St. Croix sounds like the winner!
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 09:08 AM
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Just be aware that driving on St. Croix is on the left (as in England) not on the right (as in the U.S.), but you will get an American car with the steering wheel on the left Not sure if that will cloud your car-rental decision.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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I have been diving in both the Turks and Caicos and in St. Croix; both having been wonderful experiences. If you go to the TCI you must stay on Grace Bay, you will have the most beautiful crystal clear water and powdery white sand right in front of your hotel. I stayed at the Alexandra resort and would use their kayaks to go and explore the rest of the beach. There are plenty of hotels on the beach so you can walk and try out different restaurants and bars even though their house restaurant the Mango Reef is delicious!

If your looking for a different island i loved St.Croix also! I stayed at Sugar Beach resort and was able to go snorkeling right in front of my hotel room. There is a great aquatic life in the beach. Also there is great diving and snorkeling in Cane Bay which is close.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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On Turks & Caicos check out The Somerset www.thesomerset.com FANTASTIC resort!
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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If you are there during New Year's week, we might see you there! Doug is right that you definitely need a car, but driving on the left is pretty easy once you get the hang of it (although it helps to have your partner riding shotgun and reminding you to stay left when you are making a turn at an intersection). You don't really need to get a jeep unless you plan on doing some exploring on a couple of the wilder "scenic" roads, as most of the roads are in pretty good shape.
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