Which island for first trip to Caribbean?

Jul 3rd, 2011, 04:24 PM
  #1  
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Which island for first trip to Caribbean?

We would like to rent a vacation home for a week in mid-December to accommodate 3 adults; ideally, the rental would have a private pool and be within walking distance to a beach. We'd like access to some nightlife, but not critical. We're looking to relax some, enjoy warm and sunny weather, partake in some water activities and perhaps enjoy a bit of nightlife (casino or casual place with music). Our budget for the rental is about $2500. We've been researching islands and we're completely overwhelmed. For daytime activities, we enjoy snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, some light hiking, casual shopping, sightseeing. We're traveling from Seattle.

Which island would you recommend?
sherry_toly is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2011, 09:14 PM
  #2  
 
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Which islands have you been considering? (It's easier for people to help here if you have some ideas in mind.) Would you consider the Caribbean side of Mexico (Mayan Riviera)? That's a bit easier to get to from Seattle. My favorite island is Jamaica but I don't know a thing about villa rentals there. Good luck!
suze is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2011, 09:39 PM
  #3  
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We were considering the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Exumas, St. Maarten, Aruba, but are open to suggestions.
sherry_toly is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2011, 10:37 PM
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Personally I would skip Bahamas, T&C for mid December. Neither are in the Caribbean and the weather would be cooler at that time of year than the more southern islands such as Aruba. We went to Jamaica this past March and it was not above 75F, the water was cold. Barbados is a great intro island to the Caribbean however snorkelling is not great and not sure about hiking or kayaking.
Odin is offline  
Jul 4th, 2011, 02:13 AM
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For newbies St. John or St Thomas usually best

vrbo.com many great options there

Spirit.com AA.com cheap direct flights down

magenspoint.com is fine used to own a condo in that area

close to great shopping and nightlife...do rent a car or moped

St John caneelbay.com maho.org more remote better beaches

Happy travels,
qwovadis is offline  
Jul 4th, 2011, 03:42 AM
  #6  
 
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Bahamas will not be warm enough. Go further south. Aruba will not give you a real Caribbean feel as it is a desert island and not lush like most others.
St. Thomas, St. John, Barbados, Antigua, St. Martin would all be good choices.
schmerl is offline  
Jul 4th, 2011, 04:57 AM
  #7  
 
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i think barbados would be a good choice. not to difficult to fly to from seatac. has some decent snorkeling, gorgeous beaches - most good for swimming, some shopping, plenty of nightlife (particularly near st. lawrence gap)

someplace like this could meet your needs: http://www.vrbo.com/84485
with some research i'm sure you can find lots of suitable options.
this site is useful: http://barbados.org/index.html
virginia is offline  
Jul 4th, 2011, 06:51 AM
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I think the point about being further south for warmer weather in the December timeframe is an excellent one! (so definitely not the Bahamas).
suze is offline  
Jul 4th, 2011, 10:26 PM
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I am a bit biased as I just returned from St Martin but this would be my choice. There are several beautiful beaches to choose from, great food, shopping and night life if you so desire it. The island is not known for it's snorkeling but we did find some decent snorkeling on Pineal island and Baie Rouge beach.
Bixa525 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2011, 02:59 PM
  #10  
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Thank you so much for your replies -- this was a huge help and now we'll focus on some more of the "southern" islands mentioned above.

This is why I love Fodors!
sherry_toly is offline  
Jul 6th, 2011, 12:06 PM
  #11  
 
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Hi Sherry,

If you check back in, I would tell you that St. John, USVI is your BEST possible location. It would be impossible for you to be disappointed with this choice...BUT, given your Seattle location, I would also recommend Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

That said, let me get back to St. John. If you are certain that you want to go to the Caribbean (the REAL Caribbean...not Mexico or the Bahamas), then you want St. John. St. John is the smallest of the Virgin Islands. It is also the most expensive, and unquestionably, the most beautiful. Approximately 70% of the island is natural park. It is safe, it has character (there are ZERO chains in STJ...not even a McDonald's...NOTHING), and I can say with a high-degree of certainty that you will skip your first return flight (if not more....you may not leave!). St. Thomas is NOT a less-expensive version of St. John...I would strongly advise against St. Thomas.

My only concern is that mid-December is high-season...you may find it difficult to find lodging you like that fits your $2,500 budget. Moreover, you will NOT find beach front property (in all likelihood). Don't despair, it's not that big of a deal there. Very few villas are beachfront, and quite honestly, the view you'll have will make you forget all about the lack of a beach within walking distance. What you will have access to are the most beautiful beaches in the world...and they're just a short taxi or Jeep rental ride away. I promise, you won't mind not having a beachfront property. If that's a deal-breaker, again, I would recommend Playa del Carmen.

I'll check back in to see if you have any questions/concerns, but I can't recommend St. John enough...and, once you've been there, you'll know that you're part of the small group of "cool kids" who know the Caribbean's best kept secret!
Baymvay is offline  
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