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Which island for first time visit - Aruba, St Thomas/St John, St Maarten?

Which island for first time visit - Aruba, St Thomas/St John, St Maarten?

Old Apr 14th, 2009, 04:06 PM
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Which island for first time visit - Aruba, St Thomas/St John, St Maarten?

We're planning a trip for my 40th birthday. We'll probably be using mileage for our flights, so our island choices are limited to Aruba, St Thomas/St John and St Maarten. We're considering going in mid-late Nov time frame.

This will be our first trip without our kids, so looking for some relaxation, nice beaches, nice restaurants. We're not really interested in a lively nightlife, but would be nice to be able to stroll through a small town with some shopping.

We're probably going to have ~7 days. What island would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for any advice/recommendations.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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If you're going in November, then it's Aruba. Outside the traditional hurricane zone, far enough south that the water and weather are still dependably warm/hot.

While they all seem to sound pretty good, Aruba has exactly what you're talking about on each point... you can comfortably and safely wander all over Oranjestadt, the beaches are great, and there's no shortage of restaurants. Most important though, I'd say, is the hurricane and weather thing.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Yes, I definitely agree. For a first-timer, Aruba is a good, safe choice, and that's what I'd recommend.

By the way, you do need a passport to visit either Aruba or St. Maarten, so if you don't have one, then you have only four choices: Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John, or St. Croix. Those are the only places you can go in the Caribbean without a passport.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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I think you would have a lovely time in the Virgin Islands. I find Aruba to be too busy/touristy. However, it may be a better alternative at that time of year. You can rent a car that will be rather cheap or use the bus system as that is very reliable. The ocean down there is beautiful...blue, blue and bluer. The sunsets are amazing, as well.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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Thanks so much for the responses. This is exactly what I was looking for! Now that we can narrow down to Aruba (we do have passports), I can start researching hotels, activities, etc. Thanks!
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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Rent a car for a couple of days and go explore the joint! It can be an adventure - away from the coast they're a bit casual with the signs, but the place is completely safe and it's actually fun to see how many times you end up back at the Oranjestadt post office when you're trying to get to where the Natural Bridge used to be.

You can then drive down to Baby Beach for an afternoon and maybe have dinner at the Flying Fishbone on the way back. Don't miss the California Lighthouse at sunset, either.
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Old Apr 16th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Totally agree with Aruba as a first time destination. Car rental are cheap and the roads are very good! There are also a myriad of great restaurants.

Peace, Greenie
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 06:58 AM
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At Baby Beach, do NOT go past the breakers. The current is VERY strong. Staying inside the breakers is like being in a nice, warm tub.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 08:04 AM
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I agree with the other posters. Aruba is the best choice, particularly at that time of year when weather can be iffy in some of the other islands you've mentioned. You'll find excellent restaurants, good beaches, and plenty of shopping ( lots of duty-free) in Oranjested. The only downside is that the island really caters to cruises and sometimes when the ships are in port, the whole area seems very zooey and touristy.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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if you want to hang out on the beach .. amke sure you are on the calmer side of the island. We were there in 1993 and again in 1997 and the island had REALLT changed ..w e preferred the 93 trip .. the island was less developed and didn't have Burger King or Bennihan's like it did in 97. I do know that the Marriott has a nice property there. I have been to St. John as well and family just cam e back from St. Marteen. I would choose either of those islands over Aruba, but Arubs is the safer bet for that time of year.

Where ever you go ... take a hat ..... the sun is HOT!
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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Also .. you may want to look into St Kitts and Nevis ... again you have to check the weather history.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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I agree on Aruba! Love it there, hope to be back Dec/Jan!

Look around see in which area you want to stay.. there are some great hotels...

On the baby beach remark, I always take a floating vest with me.. never go without it... it's the most gorgeous scene when you go out.. but the current can get strong at times, that's why we always take a vest or a floating cushion...

Have fun planning!
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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Yep, I agree with Aruba. I say no to St. Martin altogether. You won't be pleased at all. It's a good choice-and the Hyatt would be a great hotel for you.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 01:33 PM
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Anguillagirl - putting the boot into St Martin AGAIN !!

I dare say they would not like sleepy Anguilla either !

Don't forget that there are two - very different - sides of SXM and, though I personally agree with you regarding the Dutch side, the French side is VERY different.

Now I have probably succeeded in offending Barbara as well you !!
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 05:45 PM
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St Martin and Aruba are two of my favorite vacation places. I've never been to St John or St Thomas. If you go there you'll have to return and recommend them to me.

Aruba has a dry arid climate so you won't see as many trees and flowers there. St Martin has more lush green hills but it also has its down side. Some of the areas that we drove through going from the French side over to the Dutch side were very impoverished

Both of these islands have nice beaches. You will have many excellent restaurants to choose from on either island. Grand Case in St Martin has a large amount of excellent restaurants in a small area. You could walk down the street there with your eyes closed and randomly stop in front of a restaurant and get a fabulous meal. That might be a bit of an exageration but there is a ring of truth to it.

For the first time traveler, Aruba is much easier to navigate than St Martin. Cabs are very easy to find and are affordable. St Martin is a larger island so you really need a car to experience both the French and the Dutch side.

I love both of these islands and am hard pressed to pick a favorite. For relaxation, nice beaches and nice restaurants you could choose either. I hope you enjoy your fortieth birthday and keep the questions coming as you prepare for your trip so we can all live vicariously through you!
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Aruba (193 square miles) is most certainly NOT a smaller island than St Martin (37 square miles in toto, Dutch and French side combined) - as travelenthusiast states above.

Aruba is nearly SIX TIMES THE SIZE of SXM !

A rental car is, however, essential on EITHER island, if you are to make the most of your stay.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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David- Aruba is NOT 193 sq. mi. about 30x8km is about rounded up 19x5 miles..= 95 sq. m. but I guess SXM is still smaller.. who knew..

193 square meters.. yes.. not square miles...
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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CaribbeanChick

Apologies are due all round !

The size of Aruba is, officially, 193 Sq.Kms - not metres !

This equates to 74.5 Sq.Miles - in other words almost exactly TWICE the size of SXM, not 6 times the size as I stated earlier - having mistaken Sq.Kms for Sq.Miles.

Oh dear - back to skool for us both !
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Hi,

I would stick my neck out and say that you should go to St Thomas and/or Water Island. Water Island is a small island just outside (10 min boatride) from St Thomas and offers you great relaxation and beaches. If you get tired of relaxing you can always go to St Thomas for the day.

I've posted some pictures from Water Island at;
http://www.g8journey.com/experience/...en&sortdir=ASC

Cheers,

Nimrod
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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Former resident of US Virgin Islands here..I'd hate to see you miss St John,USVI..The jewell of the caribbean..two- thirds of the island is a national park..many accommodations in various price ranges..(hotel resorts,condos and villas to rent)..Unbelievable views and beaches along the north shore.
If you go in late Nov or early Dec,then a hurricane should not be a problem..The Virgin Islands,fortunately has not had to deal with a major hurricane in over ten years..

For local tips on the Virgin Islands..See this site:
http://www.travelaskthelocals.yolasite.com
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