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Where to go in Caribbean? Family with two daughters, ages 18 and 16

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My family plans on visiting the Caribbean next July for daughter's graduation gift. We have 18 year old and a 16 year old daughters. We have already been to Aruba and the Dominican Republic and want to go somewhere new. It has been very overwhelming trying to pick an island as each one is so different! Here is our family's criteria for both the island and resort:

1. We would like the island to be relatively safe such that we could walk from the resort and into town or go on excursions without having to worry about our safety

2. We'd like to have the turquoise blue water and nice beaches

3. Preferably an all inclusive resort with water sports, restaurant(s), excursions, and air conditioning!!

4. Not extremely touristy or an overly large resort like Sandals. We want to be able to relax and go into town without having crowds. Also, preferably not big in night life

If anyone could give recommendations on resorts or islands that fill these criteria that would be great! I know it might be hard to do.


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    You are probably going to have to make some concessions on your "wish list".

    The majority of the All inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are found in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico (i.e. Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen). Unfortunately, those destinations also are among the most "touristy" which you've said you don't want. Also, Sandals has resorts on several other islands but you've ruled them out as possible resorts. What this means is you've essentially eliminated 90% to 95% of the All Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean.

    If you'd be willing to go "non-All inclusive" you can find resorts that offer "meal plans" but you'll have to pay for drinks, excursions and some to all other activities.

    Most islands are "safe" as far as tourism is concerned. You are also planning your trip for next summer which is "Low Season" in the Caribbean so crowds shouldn't be an issue.

    If you give us some idea of your budget for airfare (tell us where you are flying from), accommodations, food and activities it will make it easier to make specific recommendations. Please give us a dollar range and not nebulous terms like "affordable", "not too expensive", "won't break the bank" as they are meaningless without a point of reference.

    In the mean time, since you don't want "extremely touristy" look at some of the boutique resorts on some of the smaller islands - they tend to be less "touristy", they are quite safe and won't be overly crowded. Providenciales (the main island in the Turks & Caicos), St. John (US Virgin Islands), Tortola and Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Island) St. Barth's and Grenada all will fill your requirements of having nice beaches, turquoise waters, smaller resorts, not extremely touristy and are relatively safe.

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    We are not worried about airfare as we will be using points/miles.

    If you ignore the all inclusive requirement, our budget is $5,000 for four people and a 7 night stay with all taxes and fees included.

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    $5,000 for 4 people for a week is not an overly generous budget but it is doable.

    Your travel dollar will go further if you stay in a "condo resort" rather a "hotel resort" or even a small 2BR villa. Most hotels rooms are set up for 2 people so you'll need 2 rooms thus "doubling" your accommodations expense. With a condo or villa you can rent a 2 BR unit and they usually offer some of the same amenities as a resort plus you'll be able to same on food costs by preparing some or all of your own meals. Many families eat in for breakfast and lunch and go out for dinners it's your choice.

    There are scores of rental condos and villas on most island. If you do a Google search using topics like "Rental Condos on NAME OF ISLAND" or "NAME OF ISLAND Villas for rent" you'll find hundreds of links.

    Knowing your budget I'd remove St. Barth's and St. John from the list of possibilities as those are the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean.

    Here are a few places to start your search.

    Check out Ocean Club, Ocean Club West or any of the other "condo resorts" on Providenciales - you should be able to find a 2 BR unit for around $450 to $550/night. That would leave you the rest for food and activities.

    St. Martin has lots of multi-bedroom condos and timeshares that are available for rent and will be well within your budget. Same with St. Thomas.

    Check out Fort Recovery Villas & Suites and Long Beach resort & Villas on Tortola - they should be in your price range.

    One last hint - if you are using "Airline Frequent Flyer Miles" to get an Award Ticket you should first check with your airline to see what islands you can get to during the period you want to travel for the number of miles you have - "Award Seats" to the Caribbean are limited and often difficult and/or costly (in terms of "miles") to get. On the other hand if you are using "travel points" such as those from Capital One then you have more options as they are in effect "buying" you the tickets.

    good luck finding "your island and resort".

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    I would suggest St John. There is a condo resort there called Gallows point. I was the chef there in the 90's but know people who have been there in recent years and they had a very good time. St John has amazing beaches which you can get to by taxi or with a rental car. Cruz Bay is the main town and it's a short walk from Gallows..There is another smaller town on the other side of the island. For a day of shopping you can take the ferry over to St Thomas, but be careful there and stay with the crowds. If going to St Thomas it's best to avoid it when the cruise boats are in, which is every day between 8am and 3pm. You will also be close to the BVI's and can take a ferry,mail,or water taxi to Tortola,Jost Van Dyke ect but you will need a passport. St John has scores of good restaurants and some nightlife in the bars. Gallows Point Resort has one bedroom suites with room for two more on the first floor..Kitchen included. There is a pool and a small rocky beach that has nice snorkeling right in your backyard..Have a blast...and good luck...

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