Which island should we visit?

Old Nov 12th, 2004, 01:09 PM
  #1  
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Which island should we visit?

My wife and I plan to travel to the Caribbean in May and are trying to decide on the following islands: Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Tobago, Barbados and Turks & Caicos. We are looking for somewhere that isn't overcrowded, has great beaches but big enough that there are things to do besides hanging out on the beach (tourist attractions, nightlife, shopping, etc.) As far as places to stay we enjoyed the casual elegance of Caneel & Little Dix Bay in the USVI & BVI but our budget is smaller this time around. Any ideas?? Thanks!
andre7000 is offline  
Old Nov 13th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Andre,
The best bang for the buck is Tobago, other diversions include the rainforest, waterfalls, scenic drives and some historic sites. There is not much in the way of shopping (except local stuff) and nightlife although for a good cultural experience there's a street party in Buccoo called "Sunday School" every Sunday evening with steel bands and food.

St. Kitts and St. Lucia would be next. St. Kitts has some interesting shopping, try the batik place and good historical sites to visit and some plantations that are great to stop in for lunch. St. Lucia is a nature wonderland, more so than Tobago. It has the dramatic Pitons, rainforest and volcano.

Antigua as far as price next, but my least favorite off all islands. Honestly, there's no good reason for it other than nothing really appeals to me about it, but others may feel differently. It has great beaches, there are some great historical sites and there's good shopping and moderate night life there. You might really enjoy it.

Barbados and Turks & Caicos last because of price. Both are relatively expensive Caribbean destinations. Of the two I prefer Turks & Caicos as its quieter than Barbados, which of all the places you list is the busiest.

Turks & Caicos (Provo) has not much in the way of things to do outside the beach, although Grace Bay and surrounding waters of T&C is about some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Barbados, the beaches are very nice. For other things to do its got some interesting caves to explore, unlike any other islands and about the best fresh water of any islands. The shopping on Barbardos is excellent.

Hopefully, Sunnyboy will post a much better comparison!
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Old Nov 13th, 2004, 06:18 PM
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Of course he will, and as you read. you will get a visual in your mind of each place. Very eloquent writer IMO.

I have been to St Lucia and don't think that it really meets much of your criteria. It is scenic, but not a lot in the way of dining, shopping or nightlife. Plenty of day excursions though to keep you busy. Not a heck of a lot to do off resort at night except maybe the north of the island( I'm sure some one will correct me on this as I did not stay that far north) Any advice will be well taken from my standpoint. We are leaving in two weeks for our second visit.
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Old Nov 13th, 2004, 06:39 PM
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Brenandg,
I've stayed far north, Cap Estate...not much happening there its all private villas and nothing till Castries except a smattering of dive shops, a restaurant here and there etc. Castries itself is a booming town in daylight hours, great on market day but other than that I don't see any nightlife outside your resort or in our case we had our own resort (rented villa Cap Pavillon).
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Old Nov 13th, 2004, 08:17 PM
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Sunnyboy
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Thanks, Traveler863 and brenandg for your nice comments. I've been thinking how I can contribute to this particular question. First, I've not been to Barbados or Tobago so I can comment on those islands. Let me start out by telling andre7000 that when you say the Turks & Caicos I am assuming you mean Grace Bay on Provo since North Caicos, Middle Caicos and South Caicos have very little on them. If that is the case you should know that while Grace Bay boasts almost 11 miles of pure white sand beach the island of Provo does not offer much in the way of tourist attractions, nightlife (unless you are planning to stay at Club Med) or shopping so it doesn't really fit what you are looking for in a destination.

As to St. Lucia both Traveler863 and brenandg have given you a fair picture of that island. I should add that since you are looking for "great beaches) I think you will be disappointed in St. Lucia as the beaches tend to be small and have darker sand which most people tend to feel are not as good as white sand beaches (only you know what you like). There's not a lot of nightlife on the island as most people don't venture off their individual resorts in the evenings. The roads are not the greatest (narrow, pourly paved in some areas, twisty and very hilly) so getting around is difficult unless you take a taxi or are very adventuresome. Shopping is not one of the big pastimes on St. Lucia.

St. Kitts is an island to consider. I've made many favorable comments about it in earlier posts as have other contributors. Type in "St. Kitts" in the search feature above and you will find a wealth of information. You will find it a relatively uncrowded island (assuming you don't at the 300 room Marriott), It has an abundance of natural beauty with sugar cane fields, rainforests, a volcano and several very nice (but not spectacular) beaches that are virtually empty. There's some nightlife, fairly decent shopping (but nowhere near the amount you'd find in St, Thomas or St. Martin and several very interesting tourist attractions such as Brimstone Hill (a most impressive fortress that took almost 120 years to construct), a Batik factory, ruins, natural wonders, etc. You can also visit the Island of Nevis (a short 40 minute ferry ride) for a look at an island with loads of Old World Caribbean Charm. If you decide on St. Kitts stay in one of the Plantation Inns. It will be a far better experience than staying at the Marriott.

Antigua doesn't get a lot of mention on this forum. It's an odd sort of island (I don't mean that in a derrogatory sense) in that people either love or think it is just OK. I'd rate it as a C+ or B- island. For some reason it just doesn't stand out. The island boasts of having 365 beaches and while I've not actually counted them there are a lot. Trouble is many are very small, accessible only by boat or so difficult to get to that they might as well not be there. That said there are quite a few that are very nice indeed. The island is hilly but far from lush. The roads are not well marked and traffic in St. Johns where there is some decent shopping is pretty horrendous. There is a lot of obvious poverty on the island and on the major beaches you are likely to encounter vendors who sometimes can be quite pushy. The island has some active nightlife and some casinos (be warned there are some unscrupulus game operators that pressure unwary tourists into gambling away big sums of money - at all costs avoid something call the Rainbow game, it's a scam that you can't win. The island is very popular with honeymooners, young couples and those who like All Inclusive Resorts (of which there are several). The island does have two or three very upscale resorts.

If I were andre700o I'd eliminate the T&C's, Antigua and St. Lucia as they don't really have what he and his wife are looking for in a Caribbean destination. I'd look closely at St. Kitts and because I've not been to Barbados or Tobago yet I'd keep them in contention. Read up on all three then pick one. From what I know about St. Kitts and what I've read about Barbados and Tobago I don't think they would be disappointed with either of them and the can easily find accomodations on any of those islands that will fit their current budget.




 
Old Nov 14th, 2004, 03:20 PM
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I also like the VI's. Partly because they are easy to get to. I am one of those people who will whole-heartedly tell you that I liked Antigua. Endless blue sky, the pace and atmosphere is relaxing, the dining is good, beautiful sunsets. Beach reading is a must. Lots of culture and activities. Good places to stay.
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Old Nov 14th, 2004, 04:03 PM
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Just comment or two about St Lucia. It tends to get a number of negative remarks even from myself on some issues. This is just a very different island experience. I think most people will either love it or hate it. We tend to be early to rise, enjoy the day, dinner, drinks and off to bed, some nights later if we felt like it. You just have to find a resort that offers decent dining etc that you can rely on to keep yourselves entertained at night. St Lucia offers so much to explore during the day. There are rain forest hikes, jeep safaris, sailing trips to the Soufriere area where the Pitons are, ATV's, horseback riding, sunset cruises and the list goes on. The scenery is phenomenal. Checkout stlucia.org or sunlinktours.com. for some ideas. The south part of the island is known for the Piton's and accommadations nearby include Anse Chastenet, Jalousie Hilton and Ladera. We stayed in the north near Castries. The south part of the island has mostly black sand beaches. The north golden brown. (Manmade??)

As far as the driving goes, I don't recommend it unless you are very adventerous. My husband has a CDL and used to drive semi trucks years ago and said there is no way in heck he would choose to drive there. Castries is very congested and the roads outside of Castries are very winding. That said, we still managed to see the better part of the island. West coast shuttle helicopter from the airport then a drive up the north coast for our ATV adventure and down the beautiful east coast back to the airport.

We stayed at an AI. Egads!!! Know the majority on this forum despise AI, but it worked well in STL. Food, drink always available, maybe not the best value for the $$ though.

Taxi's or shuttles from your hotel seem to be readily available should you like to partake in any excursions.

Just trying to give a little objective advice. If it was horrible there, I wouldn't take the time to go back.

For next year though, I've narrowed my choices down. It will either be a Grenadines trip, partial land, partial sail or, St John with day sails to BVI or vice versa.

Any comments about Cruz Bay?? Seems like a good place if you want to be able to walk to town for dinner, get groceries, or get a taxi to other beaches. Any reasonable accomodations there?
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Old Nov 14th, 2004, 04:51 PM
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Brenandg

There is lots of information on St. John on this forum and the one below:

http://www.usvi-on-line.com/usviforum.html

Huge variety of villas if one takes the time to search. For transportation a rental 4WD is the preferred choice.
RobertoB is offline  
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