Which Island for my 40th ?

Oct 23rd, 2007, 02:20 AM
  #1  
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Which Island for my 40th ?

I am 40 in September 2008 and need the holiday of a lifetime (again) to dampen the fear.

We had originally planned on going to NC/SC/Georgia but as we have been in previous years, now want somewhere new.

We have a two year old that loves to play on the beach 12 hours a day.

Bascially we would like sun (but not too hot), wildlife, sealife, snorkeling, boats, beautiful beaches, good (but not over the top food), a house on the beach (have around $2000 per week for that).
We hate world culture, tour based holidays, over-development and hotel complexes.

Now considering the Caribbean. Never been before and am looking a Abaco or BVI. BVI seems difficult to get to from the UK. Any thoughts suggestions about Abaco (or anywhere else) would be much appreciated.
markrosy is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Seems to me either destination would work for you with one very large caveat: September is the heart of hurricane season, and (unfortunately) the Abacos are pretty much the area in the Caribbean that has been hit the most. This doesn't mean you shouldn't go there; it just means that you should be informed and consider purchasing trip interruption/delay insurance should something happen.

Given hurricane season, lots of places shut down in September, so you'll have fewer choices for dining and shopping.

That much said, the BVI and Abacos are very similar in a lot of ways in that they offer a chain of islands easily explored by boat, beautiful beaches, and a laid back vibe. The BVI (with the exception of Anegada, which looks like it broke off from the Bahamas and floated southeast) are volcanic islands and can be (depending on rainfall) lush and green; the Bahamas are flat and scrubby, but have longer and whiter beaches and clear-er waters. The BVI have been somewhat "discovered" and will seem a bit busier than the Abacos; the Abacos still have people saying "Aba-what?"

Your travel needs and budget may decide your destination. I don't know much about getting there from the UK, but can assure that if you can get to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, you are only one puddle jump from Marsh Harbour. To get to the BVI, you can go via St. Thomas (quick ferry ride over) or San Juan-to-Beef-Island -- to get to those airports, you may need more stops.

In the Abacos, especially off season, you'll have no problem finding a small villa on the beach for $2K; beyond that, many people rent motorboats and/or golf carts to island hop or tool around the island they are staying on (I'd recommend Elbow Cay for a first-timer, but also like Great Guana and Green Turtle). I can't recommend any particular villas, since our last trips have been sailing, and before that, we stayed at the Abaco Inn and Sea Spray Resort some years ago. Similarly, I'm not as familiar with BVI pricing, since I've only sailed there, but I'm sure others will chime in.

I have a personal preference for the Abacos, but have loved the BVI as well (though I've given up, at least on high season, since it's gotten a bit busy for my tastes). You really can't go wrong with either.

Congrats on your Big 4-0!
Callaloo is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 04:44 AM
  #3  
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Callaloo

Thanks for all the detail - I will take up the issue of the Hurricane season with my parents - very inconsiderate of them to plan my birth in the middle of it!

We had talked about the problem of timing but think that the chances o a direct hit by a Cat 2 plus could be slim? I am concerned that businesses close due to the risk of hurricanes. It may be frustrating.

We also sail and having thought this morning about the options I trhiunk we would probably choose the BVI for a sailing holiday. However, 3 weeks on a Beneteau whilst watch William just seems to be too much like hard work. We have a boat on Lake Windermere in the UK and have to have eyes everywhere.

We are swaying towards Abaco - hows the sealife? - my son loves anything that moves - ashore and in the see - he loved Vancouver Island recently.
markrosy is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 05:12 AM
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While the Abacos are a favorite target of hurricanes, the risk of a strike at your particular location on the dates you will be there are relatively slim. Hence, the affordability of insurance. And, the Abaconians are remarkably quick in cleaning up after a storm, so unless a catastrophic storm like Floyd or Jeanne strikes, they'll have cleaned up the mess within a matter of weeks.

Hurricane season is a good time for businesses to take a break (and this applies to the BVI as well -- where I have had the misfortune of going on a sailing trip, only to be hit by Hurricane Georges in 1998). The hard-working business owners need a rest, and low season is a good time to take it. Not all of them do it, and more and more are staying open during September as travel demands increase. It won't be dead ... it just won't be like high season.

I agree that a yacht charter with a two-year old would be exhausting. But I think he would be enthralled by quick island-hops on a 20 foot motorboat. There are lots of snorkel spots in the Abacos (though I daresay the BVI are a bit better). One of my favorites isn't even a reef, but a vast sandbar called Tilloo Bank a few minutes south of Elbow Cay. Here, the water is crystal clear and you can see the giant starfish studding the bottom and the southern stingrays ghosting along with the current. We snorkel here, in the sea grass near the shore, and find a trove of sand dollars and sea biscuits. The water is shallow and buoyant.

The tiny settlements on the Abaco cays are great for kids. Hopetown doesn't allow cars (or even golf carts) in the settlement, so it's pedestrian friendly. The "streets" are no wider than a sidewalk, and are lined with candy-colored cottages, with a red-striped lighthouse watching over them.

I've got trip reports on my webpage here (www.homestead.com/islandtime/MainPage1.html) if you'd like more information (and photos). Also, there are two great forums for the Abacos: www.coconuttelegraph.net and www.abacoforum.com. They'll be able to point you to the right places to stay and the snorkeling spots.
Callaloo is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 05:37 AM
  #5  
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"It won't be dead ... it just won't be like high season."

sounds perfect !

I agree about the hurricane threats - before William we sailed in Pensacola FL. The back end of a weakess hurricanes caught us. This may sound like madness but it was actually good fun.

Day 1 of the system was blue sky and 85oC.
Day 2 all hell broke loose with 80 mile an hour winds but with little threat to life or property. It wasn't cold (like with the UK cyclonic systems)
Day 3 back to 80oC and blue skies

(Not naive enough to think a Cat 4/5 would be food fun though.

We would go back to that area as it fits most of our requirements but the sea wasn't clear enough for snorkeling.

I think you are confirming in our minds that Abaco is the place! Have spent a couple of hours looking for cottages this morning - some include the motorboat (car hire doesn't seem to make sense) and I agree by next year he will be 3 - zipping about from beach to beach does seem to be about perfect for a boy his age.

I am struggling to think of a place, in terms of geography and sealife, that is any better for our needs. We love the feel of the US barrier islands where you get the surf on the seaward side or calm water on the lagoon.

Abaco - is looking favourite.


markrosy is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 06:15 AM
  #6  
 
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Agree with everything said before. Getting to any of the cays would involve a quick ferry ride from Marsh Harbour. Agree with the hopetown suggestion as well. Tahiti beach was our favorite in Abacos....shallow and clear for 100s of yards. Finding a villa close to Tahiti or in town (where most of the restaurants are) may work well for you. You may want to consider renting a golf cart on Elbow Cay (should do so in advance since they seem to book up fast). A side trip to Great Guana cay is also highly recommended (very quaint) and the beach by Nipper on GGC is not to be missed. We took a snorkelled trip to Fowl cay and saw tons of sealife. Lastly your son will love the lighthouse on Elbow. Happy planning.
mnag is offline  
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