Which island? mix of fun and beach and locals

Old Nov 13th, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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Which island? mix of fun and beach and locals

So, I am looking for a vacation spot in March. I have spent a decent amount of time in the Caribbean, mostly for scuba vacations, and this time it is my girlfriend and I (she is not a scuba diver - so that is not relevant).
What we are looking for. Not wanting the mega resort world (so no Dominican or Jamaica). Want something close to the beach (or on it of course!), something were we can hang with a mix of locals and tourists and "feel" the experience at a local beach bar, etc. Want some night life - but don't need huge big clubs, but a little late night drinking and dancing is a must.

Would like a little snorkeling and catamaran sailings along with beach lounging. I would like a place were I can explore a bit on our own (maybe rent a car) and if I am driving - I want a place where you drive on the right (would hate to spend my vacation in the hospital because I turned wrong on a roundabout!)

Don't need high end shopping, but perusing a few little beachy shops for a bit is fun. Want to be able to run to a grocery store to stock up on food for breakfast and snacks to save up for the nice meals out. No roach cheap motel, but not a 5 start - think Hampton Inn type.

Where I have been and what I liked (to give you a feel for me)

Bonaire - been there 5x - love it- but Scuba diving in only reason I was there - love the place, but not what I am looking for this time - no real night life.

Roatan - see Bonaire - I never left CocoView resort

Naussau - only there for a night as I left for a scuba liveaboard

Maui - Love it - exactly what I am looking for - with maybe more night life needed (but maybe I did not find it)

Barbados - again loved it - but didn't feel like I should be driving around - was a tad spread out - but my part (south of bridgetown) I had a blast

DR - stayed at Hard Rock - we loved it, had a great time, but want something maybe less mega resort (and where we can explore the local area more)

Curacau - had fun - was there for a wedding, explored the area a little more - hated the traffic, but didn't get out an about other than near our villa - but had potential - maybe something more "rain forest" tropical thou.

Have visited several places on cruises, so never really got to explore - been to:
Antigua (thought it was rough for us)
Torotola - seemed beautiful, but maybe a little too low key??
St Thomas, potential, but just went to beach
Cozumel - again - potential, mix of fun and sand - but maybe not much island exploring
Grand Cayman - again - beautiful, nice, and clean, - think I could like it - but maybe a little expensive??

So - places I am thinking
Key West - cool bars, but not much beach or exploring
Puerto Rico - thinking a couples days in Old San Juan then either Culebra or another area for the rest
Playa Del Carmen - my sis is going there next week, can tell me more
Cancun - maybe to much mega resort?
St Martin - pricey, but maybe not - not to familiar with it
Scotttyd is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2013, 04:19 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Check out Tortola at little more, it may be exactly what you are looking for - it offers everything on your list.

If you are willing to give a little on "late night dancing/drinking" look at Virgin Gorda or St. John (you'll find some entertainment on both of those islands but it may not go as "late" as you'd like.
RoamsAround is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2013, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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St John, my personal favorite....great for beaches, exploring, hiking, awesome snorekling, safe. Not a lot of nightlife, but there is some to be had.

Grand Cayman, another one of my favorites. A lot more commercial than St John, but 7 Mile Beach is amazing. Great snorkeling, diving, incredible restaurants, safe, but definitely pricey.

Riviera Maya, lots of adventures, great beaches, great snorkeling, and very affordable. Not a lot of nightlife unless you are near Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.

I think avoiding island that drive on the left is a mistake, and limits your options bigtime. It's easy, don't be afraid of it.

Your wish list is large, so no matter what, you will have to bend on a few things, as no one place has it all.
Bassguy66 is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2013, 05:36 AM
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While reading your post Puerto Rico came to mind. Also the Playa del Carmen area (you would fly into Cancun) would definitely fit all you are looking for. There are smaller boutique type hotels on or near the beach. Lots of restaurants and shops and all the Mayan ruins to explore.
schmerl is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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thanks all - my sis is going to Playa Del Carmen next week - and she looks for much of the same as me.

Driving on the left - I loved Barbados - but I think if it is a populated island like that - I will leave the driving up to the locals (taxi, bus, etc) - because the roundabouts would kill me - now something like torotla, a litle more remote and less hussle and bussle, ya, I could drive there.
Scotttyd is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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I know no place has it all - just figure I would start with "ideal" and go from there. Puerto Rico might be my best bet, other than a few days in San Juan - where is the place I should head to? Culebra? other place?
Scotttyd is offline  
Old Nov 15th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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I love Bermuda, but not for a March trip. Weather is too chilly and unpredictable for a beach trip.
cmcfong is offline  
Old Nov 15th, 2013, 06:56 PM
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Sounds like Puerto Rico to me
genio67 is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 11:00 AM
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Saint Lucia wins, hands down. For its sheer stunning and variety of beauty, it is a photographer's paradise. There are lots to do and the people make the place. While the racial mix in most of the smaller islands is more or less similar, St. Lucians have a special charm that derives from its mix of British and French cultures. Stay in the north near Rodney Bay and enjoy Reduit Beach.You can explore from there. There is a private apartment complex a few feet from the beach where there is also a little beach bar (I think it is called Marie's)which serves excellent fresh fish meals. If you wish you may take a look at my travel blog which has one on Saint Lucia. Go to www.mytb.org/whirl-traveller and scroll down a bit.
rogandgee is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Except there really isn't any good snorkeling in St. Lucia and it's not that easy to get around. We did NOT like negotiating the roads there at all and it's not all that easy to run out to pick up groceries as the OP said he wanted to do.
schmerl is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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I am sorry "schmerl" but I have no idea where in St. Lucia you would have stayed to make the comment about groceries. Rodney Bay (where I recommended) has several excellent supermarkets all within walking distance from many of the hotels in the area and certainly from the Reduit Beach apartment complex I suggested that he check out. Private mini buses traverse the whole island regularly and several international and local rental car companies are available. Excellent snorkelling is available in the Soufriere area and at Anse Cochon on the east coast. I agree that there is no good snorkelling in the north.
rogandgee is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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Vieques for great beaches in PR.
msteacher is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 03:52 PM
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Anse Cochon is on the west coast of St Lucia, there is good snorkelling also at Anse Chastanet in the marine reserve.
Odin is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2013, 06:06 PM
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My most sincere apology for the misprint referring to Soufriere being on the east coast instead of the west. Anyway, there is great snorkeling and scuba diving in that area. Thank you Odin.
rogandgee is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Nov 2013
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St John sounds like the perfect place for the things you mentioned. It's big enough, but also small enough, and it is
gorgeous. Don't worry about driving left side, within just a few minutes it was easy. We stayed at Gallows Point Resort, right on the water a very short walk from the main part of town. Great condos, management was very helpful and friendly, gorgeous water views, beautiful landscaping. We like Gallows better than the larger resorts - it's pretty close to ideal, in our opinion. Snorkeling is good right at the resort. There's no real beach right there, but there's a ladder into the water, and you swim just a short distance to the raft over the reef. We didn't miss having a beach right there, because so many beautiful beaches are so near-by. You can take a day trip snorkeling to the BVI's and stop in at Jost Van Dyke in the afternoon, more beautiful beaches, fun beach bars. Town of Cruz Bay on St. John has a lot of good places to eat, and fun places for music and drinks. So many options! Have fun!
RJHarris is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 07:14 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
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I second Riviera Maya area . We will be there in February for fifth time
Lots to do or not. History, beaches , ruins, great snorkeling at Puerto Morelos, etc etc
As of now our favorite island is St Maarten /St Martin and we have been to most that have been mentioned
Busy on Dutch side. Laid back on French
A different beach very day
Easy to get to Anguilla and St Bart's .....

Have fun!
maryellen12 is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4
We're looking into either Aruba or Riviera Maya. Fishing is a must for us. Let us know how Playa del Carmen was for your sister. We haven't decided yet and appreciate any insight!
GoinCabo is offline  
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