Where do I go? Good Snorkeling & Hiking

Old Oct 20th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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Where do I go? Good Snorkeling & Hiking

Hello all! I'm looking for advice on where to go in the Caribbean for my honeymoon next May. My darling and I perfer diving to discos, hiking to casinos, and sleeping to shopping. Good snorkeling is key. My Grandparents lived on St. Johns in the USVI when I was a kid. I remember walking into the water from a beautifful beach and immedialty swimming over a reef - that's what I want now, nice wade-in snorkleing.

My fiance loves history, so ruins and an interesting past are huge pluses. A nice veriety of flora and fauna to observe on hikes would be great. We do want a bit of luxury, some fine dining and a place to get a massage. Golf is unnecessay, but horseback riding is a plus (especially rides for experienced riders in an english saddle). We do not want anyplace where the beaches are lined with high rise hotels (Aruba?).

I'm not worried about picking a hotel yet, just an island. No matter where we go we should be able to find a hotel that meets out standars and is within our budget.

We had decided on Nevis, but then I read that the beaches and snorkeling are not so good. Anguilla, Turks & Caicos, Grenada, and St. John are under consideration now. I am very eager for feedback on theses location, and welcome other suggestions.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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Hi Annie,

If you like diving, snorkeling and hiking and are not worried about shopping at all, have a look at Curacao.

It offers lots for divers, has interesting geography, and is a great blend of several diverse cultures. Most people on the island can speak at least 4 languages.

Even though you aren't asking about properties I will tell you that the Marriott is a lovely resort and would be very nice for your honeymoon. The buildings are Dutch influence, low rise and it's fairly quiet even though there's a small casino on property. This is not an island with row after row of resorts and restaurants.

With a car rental, you can visit any of the beaches for diving or snorkeling. It's a relatively undeveloped island so there is much natural area to explore and since it's small, very easy to navigate.

There are all kinds of restaurants on the island and the town of Willemstaad has a rich history and museums.

Check out some of the information here and on other travel websites to see what you think. We've been to St.Martin and Barbados and really liked Curacao as well.

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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Of the islands you are considering, St. John (there is no "s") meets most of your requirements - great off-beach snorkeling, plenty of National Park land for hiking, excellent flora & fauna, no high rise hotels, several upscale resorts as well as a couple of moderately priced accomodations, a choice of some very good restaurants and I belive there is horseback riding. The only thing on your wish list that is lacking are "ruins". You might also want to consider Virgin Gorda (in the BVI's) which has all of the characteistics of St. John except horseback riding but it does have a few small ruins.

Anguilla has great beaches and good snorkeling but is flat, arid and rather featureless island with very little natural vegetation and not much flaura & Fauna. There are no hiking trails or ruins. It does, however boast over 80 restaurants (some among the best in the Caribbean) several very pricy and upscale resorts (warning Anguilla can be a relatively expensive island so budget travelling while no impossible is a bit of a challenge).

The Turks & Caicos are similar in topography to Anguilla so skip them if you are looking for a lush island.

Neis is a very lush island but lacks the good snorkeling you are seeking. It does, however, have numerous hiking trails and literally scores of old ruins, caves and other hidden places to explore. It also offers horseback riding, several very good restaurants, a variety of upscale accomodations ranging from the Four Seasons Resort to small quite Plantation Inns.

It's been a while Since I've been to Grenada but I think you will probably be disappointed with the snorkeling, however, it does offer pretty much everything else on your list.

Given your requirements, your best bet is St. John or Virgin Gorda. Good luck in finding your island.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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traveller: My impression has always been that Anguilla does NOT have good snorkeling. Wrong?

Tobago might be a good choice for annie-- tho I think that St John is probably the best bet. (tho the diving may not be as good as the snorkeling) Or Bonaire...
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:37 AM
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Sounds like St. John has everything you want. Since two-thirds of the island is a national park, there are many beautiful, scenic trails for all levels of hikers. Guided hikes can be arranged, and maps are available for independent hikes.
Uncrowded white sand beaches are gorgeous and plentiful with terrific wade in snorkeling. ("St John Beach Guide" is a great book with colored pictures of many of the beaches, complete with directions and point of entry for optimum snorkeling.)
I used Low Key Water Sprts, Cruz Bay for diving. I enjoyed memorable diving experiences which included underwater swim-through caves and a wreck. There were tons of exotic brilliantly colored fish. Staff was considerate and helpful. Carolina Coral offers both English and Western riding with a choice of a beach or national park ride. I chose the later, and there were outstanding view. Since I have horses of my own and am an experienced rider,
I felt the ride and mount to be level appropriate.

Most of St John is so unspoiled and uncrowded, so it fulfils my need for my Fantasy Island.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Poss - Anguilla has a fairly good "off beach" snorkeling reef at Shoal Bay East and good snorkeling at Little Bay (however it's difficult to reach this beach unless you like climbing a rope ladder or you have a boat). The rest of the beaches around the island have average to below average snorkeling. There are a few nice spots nearby that can be snorkeled if you don't mind taking a boat trip. I agree that snorkeling is not Anguilla's main draw.

St. John appears to most closely match Annie's requirements (she didn't ask about diving). IMO the Caribbean island with the best "off-beach" snorkeling is Bonaire but that island lacks so many other things it is off most people's list of "must do islands".

I've travelled the Caribbean for over 20 years, been reading this forum for several years (posting for only a few months) and the one common trait I've seen among new or inexperienced Caribbean travelers is they are unaware there is a significant difference between coral based islands, hilly islands and volcanic islands when it comes to the physical things like color of sand, lushness, flaura & fauna, etc. They are searching for that "perfect" island that has it all - long secluded white sand beaches, lush rain forests, waterfalls, great snorkeling, small intimate full service resorts, casinos, nightlife, all types of watersports, gourmet restaurants and comfort style fast food - all without any crowds and at reasonable prices. The trouble with that is such a place doesn't exist and we fodorites try our best to steer them to the island that most closely matches what they have in their minds eye. Of course, as they become more seasoned island travelers attributes like "sparkeling white sand" and "off-beach" snorkeling become less important and the emphasis changes to discovering the Old World Caribbean lifestyle. Sorry, didn't mean to stray from the original topic of Annie's questions.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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Ack!!! I keep trying to find somepalce other than St. John, but keep coming back to it. I know it's perfect, but it has such fammily history and so many great childhood memories. I don't know that I want my honeymoon memories mingeling with those memories.

My Grandparents lived on gift hill for 20+ years. My Grandfather worked in pruchasing for caneel bay. They sold their last 2 acers in the early or mid '90s.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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P.S. Please forgive my horrific spelling and don't correct me. Ususllay I run everything through spell check, but I'm posting on the sly at work.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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Check out Belize. It has everything you are looking for: Mayan ruins, horseback riding, jungle hikes, caving, great diving/snorkeling (although a short boat trip is often required to get to the reef). Lots of lodging options in several locations. You could split your time between the jungle (Cayo district) and the beach (Placencia, Hopkins or Ambergris Caye). The Coppola resorts - Blancaneaux in Mtn Pine Ridge and Turtle Inn in Placencia might be the way to go.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 01:36 PM
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Remember that Belize doesn't have terrific beaches (or great wade-in snorkeling).

Have you looked into Tobago?
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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I think Tobago as well ....
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Blue Haven Hotel , Arnos Vale Hotel ....
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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I can understand Annie's reluctance to take her honeymoon trip to St. John given the fact that she spent time on that island. She is right to want to make special memories for her and her new husband.

While Virgin Gorda, or one of the other BVI's will offer a lot of what Annie desires their close proximity to St. John might be a bit of a deterrent. Perhaps she might want to consider visiting one of the Grenadines. Firefly and Cotton House on Mustique or Raffles on Canouan come to mind. While these two islands may not offer everything Annie wants she there are several other close by islands that can be easily visited for day hops so she probably wouldn't be disappointed.

As A_Traveller pointed out choosing an island is part compromise. Annie should list her requirements ion order of importance and that will help her select the best one for her.

I wish her all the best in her upcomming marriage.
 
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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faithie (or anyone): Do you happen to know anything about the Arnos Vale Hotel? I would LOVE to learn that it's back to what it once was. We honeymooned there 35 years ago, and we thought it was superb-- specifically the terrific grounds, the privacy, the spectacular snorkeling right off the beach (and all the other wonderful coves and beaches-- deserted then-- around every bend). When we went sailing in the Grenadines for our 25th anniversary, we stopped for a few days on Tobago-- and what a mess the former Arnos Vale was (which I'd heard).
In short, I'd be tickled to hear that the place has been resurrected. (The rooms 35 years ago were nothing-- but boy oh boy-- everything else!!!!)
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Thank you all for the great advice. It is looking like we will go th St. John and stay at Caneel Bay. As requested, here are my preferences in order of importance

- good wade-in snorking
- nice beaches
- not too crowded
- not too formal (my darling will not pack a jacket and tie for dinner)
- no stirp-o-highrises on the beach
- good veriety of outdoor activities
- good places to walk / hike
- not overrun with famillies (small numbers of well behaved childern can be charming, but not hords of screamers)
- lush setting
- some nightlife
- slow pace
- some fine dining
- horses
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 06:11 AM
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Not to beat a dead horse (no pun intended) but given Annie's preferences her only real options are St. John (everything on the list) or Virgin Gorda (everything but horses).
 
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 06:42 AM
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Or Tobago !!! lol ..
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 06:52 AM
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On a scale of 1 - 5, with 5 being the highest rating, this is how I would rate Caneel for the following:
good wade-in snorking 5
- nice beaches 5
- not too crowded 5
- not too formal (my darling will not pack a jacket and tie for dinner) 4 Nice casual suitable in May.
- no stirp-o-highrises on the beach 5
- good veriety of outdoor activities 5
- good places to walk / hike 5
- not overrun with famillies (small numbers of well behaved childern can be charming, but not hords of screamers) 4
- lush setting 5
- some nightlife 2(however, somw available in Cruz Bay)
- slow pace 5
- some fine dining 4
- horses (available on island at another location0

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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Annieinchicago:

I have been to several caribbean islands...and would have say St John is a "can't go wrong" pick. I love the snorkeling at waterlemon cay, and scott cay (off caneel) I'm not much into hiking but there are a good number of trails, and the scenery is beautiful. Not much nightlife.

I have also been to Nevis. We stayed at The Four Seasons which was great, but the island lacked the white sand beaches and snorkeling. We did see green monkies...kinda cool.

On St John, I always suggest renting a villa for the week. Many to choose from, all different price catagories. If you want suggestions please feel free to email me [email protected]



I am also convinced that renting a villa
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:38 AM
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Nothing compares to Caneel. Enjoy and create your own new memories.
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