Where to go on first Caribbean vacation?

Old Oct 10th, 2006, 05:37 PM
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Where to go on first Caribbean vacation?

My husband and I have NEVER been to the Caribbean. We have done a lot of traveling, separately and together, but mostly in the US and Europe. We are both teachers and are thinking of traveling to an island during February vacation (the week following President's Day). I know that is high season, but our options are limited. Where should we go? I LOVE the beach and could lounge there all day, but my hubby is rather fair, so we would need an island that has other things to offer, like hiking, interesting towns, walks, history, etc. So, we need a place with great beaches and great non-beach activities. We also want to snorkle. We are in our early 30's and like great food and wine, but we don't really need a place with a lot of nightlife. We are sort of "off the beaten path" types who do not like overdeveloped places. Our idea of a night out is a good meal and a nice bottle of wine. Our budget is not unlimited, however. I imagine we could spend a lot in the winter, but we don't want to break the bank.

Any thoughts or advice would be most appreciated!
ilovelabs2005 is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2006, 08:54 PM
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with just one week you probably want to stay in the northern caribbean to avoid higher airfare and using 2 full days for travel. so usvi,bvi,puerto rico,jamaica,caymens,cozumel or dominican republic. i omit bahamas as too cold and t&c as too expensive.
caymens have great diving/ snorkeling not much for history and interesting towns. jamaica or puerto rico have hotels in every price range, history and loads to do but not known for snorkeling. dom rep is inexpensive but is mostly for staying at your all-inclusisve. usvi and bvi have great snorkeling, multi price ranges - more to do on st. thomas and st.croix (st.john is quiet with pricey resorts and a lot of villas) than most of bvi. tortola might be a good match for you in bvi. cozumel or playa del carmen area has good prices, great snorkel, ruins.
just an overview to perhaps get you headed in one direction or another. at this point i might get on expedia or ?? and see where there are flights available to at this date from your airport. i think you may find some limited availability already.
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Old Oct 10th, 2006, 08:57 PM
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suggestion for US 1st time travelers to the caribbean...USVI. great place to start a caribbean adventure. no hassle with language or money/english and dollars !! my 1st choice to you would be St. John , 2nd St. Thomas ! st. john offers the best beaches and snorkling. this is a wonderfull laid back island with some great restaurants/bars and for me plenty of shopping. if you're into BIG shopping , you just need to hop a ferry to st. thomas to do so. there is more "night life" on st. thomas but i find st. john evenings perfect, for me. nice dinner, drinks, some local live music...keeps me happy !! another plus is hiking st. john...great fun for the fit or the not so....you can make it a challenge or take your time / no stress! check out these sites for more info : www.usvi-on-line.com or www.vinow.com both have a wealth of info regarding the usvi's. also these islands are close to the BVI's to do a day jaunt...fun to go to virgin gorda and explore the Baths or Jost Van Dyke to bar hop and see and swim beautiful White Bay. go by ferry or plan a day charter. just a heads up.... Feb vacation is very busy so people have booked already or are doing so NOW !! don't hesitate !!!
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 03:06 AM
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Another vote for St. John here. The number/quality of shore access snorkeling sites is outstanding. If you stay near the Coral Bay area you'll get a 'off the beaten path' feel. There are numerous hikes covered in Gerald Singer's book 'St. John Off the Beaten Track' ( http://caribmart.stores.yahoo.net/stjohoffbeat.html ) mixed with some history. Very easy island to travel to.

That's a very popular travel week so I wouldn't linger making a decision.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 03:49 AM
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I agree with the above posters, St, John, snorkeling, hiking, beauty, (shade trees close to the beach for your hubby).
But you will be spoiled and reluuctant to try other islands after going to STJ!
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Any hotel rec's? I will start searching the internet . . . just thought if anyone can rec a place, it would be a place to start.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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For an off the beaten path experience I would like to recommend Virgin Gorda. The beaches are really nice and isolated. You can visit the baths. There are some old copper mine ruins to visit also (and make for amazing photos). You get a little of both, beaches and mountains (hiking) on VG. Its quaint and quiet. The main resorts are Little Dix, Biras Creek and Bitter End. Many villas to choose from if you'd prefer to do that. We stayed with a group at Villa Bellamare recently on VG.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 10:29 AM
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Sounds like you're open to lots of different islands.

Since you're not new to traveling outside the US, I would suggest perhaps trying something a bit more exotic than the US Virgin Islands. St. Lucia would fit that bill, and on a moderate budget for an off the beaten path experience, I would suggest you take a look at www.tikaye.com, which is a small resort on the west coast. Each room is an individual cottage with a porch & hammock, so there would be a place for your husband to lounge by day without fear of sunburn. It's built on a hillside overlooking a beach that has pretty good offshore snorkeling. The website offers a variety of vacation packages that include your choice of sunset sails, hiking, horseback riding, island tours, or a water taxi to town. The restaurant has a very good reputation on the island and a full breakfast is included in the rates.

I'd also suggest taking a look at Nevis. Also lush & mountainous, but not to the extent that St. Lucia is. It's a small island that offers everything you're looking for except for good snorkeling. Great food, interesting history, good hiking, a cute old-style Caribbean town for walking around, plantation inns with their air of graciousness. The island of St. Kitts is just a ferry ride away for additional exploration. I'd recommend taking a look at the Oualie Beach Hotel or the Mt. Nevis Hotel for a moderate place to stay at that time of year. Right now there are even packages being offered good for travel in February for the Mt. Nevis on www.skyauction.com. There might even be something on www.luxurylink.com.

Both Nevis & St. Lucia have darker sand beaches, so they're not the quintessential blinding white sand with dazzling turquoise waters. But they're full of lush, tropical beauty, lined with palms (for great natural shade!), and I think you'll find that you're drawn to their charm.

Please reassure your husband that fair-skinned folks can still have a great time down in the Caribbean. I was very wary about my first trip there and basically only went as a concession to my husband. Now I'm totally hooked. I just rely on the liberal use and re-application of sunscreen and try not to take direct sun between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.
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