Woman, alone, islandhopping

Oct 1st, 2016, 03:54 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 8
Woman, alone, islandhopping

Hi there
Next year I am planning to go island hopping by myself to the small, tropical islands of the Caribbean for something between 15d and 2.5 months. Will be having a fully flexibel flight ticket so I can decide when to go home during my trip. On the wishlist: British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St Martin, St Barth, Antigua&Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, St Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada,... (Have already done Curaçao, Martinique and Barbados in 'normal' holidays). Budget is not an issue really but it does not need to be luxurious. I prefer friendly, comfortable and smaller hotels with private facilities to the bigger resorts.
Any tips and ideas are more than welcome!
Thank you
mkath is offline  
Oct 1st, 2016, 06:10 AM
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First, in order to make meaning full suggestions as to your itinerary you need to decided how long you really plan for this trip and how many days you want to stay on each island. I'm sure you realize there's a big difference between 15 days and 2.5 months (75 days). If you are going for only 15 days you won't have time to visit all the islands on your list but 75 days will give you time to visit quite a few of them. For instance, you could easily spend 3 or 4 weeks in the BVI's and not see "everything". It would also help if you gave us some idea of how long you'd like to stay on each island - 3 days, 7days, longer, shorter?????

Have you figured out how you will be "island hopping" between the islands you mentioned once you get to the Caribbean. If not, you may want to do a bit of pre-planning as it is not always easy nor inexpensive (I know you mentioned budget is not an issue) to travel between islands.

For example the BVI's are easy to get around as they are linked by a series of ferries (some may not run every day) but you'd then have to fly to your next grouping and then on to the next and so forth.

A suggested Itinerary would be to start out in the BVI's (there are 15 islands in that chain so I suggest you restrict yourself to the 4 main islands), then fly to St. Martin where you can go by ferry our plane to Anguilla and St. Barth's before returning to SXM. You can then fly to St. Kitts for a few days and take the ferry to Nevis. From there fly to Antigua for a few days visiting barbuda if you wish. From Antigua you could reach Dominica but you'd probably have to fly back to Antigua or to Barbados in order to reach St. Vincent or Grenada. Once in St. Vincent you can travel by plane or ferry to some of the Grenadines - there are 32 islands and cays in the Grenadines so you'd have to decided which ones you want to visit - and you'll pretty much have to go back to St. Vincent to find flights (not necessarily non-stop) to Grenada.

Be aware that inter island commuter airlines often have delays and cancelled flights so you'll need to be a bit flexible on your travel days. Look at LIAT, Winair, Air Sunshine, Cape Air and Seaborne for flights and routing between the islands on your list.

As for places to stay, you'll find a variety of small hotels and guest houses on all the islands on your list. Once you decide on your itinerary you can begin researching accommodations. You might start by looking up "hotels" and reading the reviews for each destination on TripAdvisor.

Good luck planning your trip.
RoamsAround is offline  
Oct 1st, 2016, 03:43 PM
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Not interested in the US Virgin Islands?
Tabernash2 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2016, 08:19 AM
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First I'd try to figure out at least approx. how long you really plan to stay, in order to figure out how many places you could fit into the timeframe. Planning a 15 day trip is very different form a 75 day one, for obvious reasons.

Next... Do you plan to move island to island on planes? Or try to find routes with ferries? Or somehow hook up with people who own private sailboats and yachts?
suze is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Oct 2016
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If I was you i'd look into a cruise. In my opinion its the safest way to travel alone. You have all your meals covered and where you're sleeping every night. Plus the days are pretty long at each destination. I believe they offer wide range of day you are traveling.

And if you don't want to do a cruise you could use the website to see what islands they travel to and what destinations. Plus be able to compare the rate of a cruise to how much you'd spend on your travels. Cruises are very affordable for the amount you do.
meghanpeters is offline  
Oct 24th, 2016, 02:50 PM
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Hi everyone, thank you so much already for your remarks! I have made some new decisions and it'll be a long trip of minimum 2 months, probably longer as I am planning to add a couple of weeks Australia, couple days San Francisco, maybe New York and some relaxing time in Fiji as well.
As I am a fibromyalgia patient, not severely but still sometimes annoying enough, ;-) , I will want to fly to most destinations, but if need be I'll take a ferry. Sometimes rent a car for day trips or transfer.
Don't want to book too many hotels in advance as I want to learn to be more adventurous again and not plan everything.
As for the islands of the beautiful Caribbean, I know there are so many so I'll most likely stick to a maximum of 8 or 10 over approx. 1,5 months, so average of 4 to 5 days per island. Could be shorter or longer depending on what I feel like doing whilst I am there. I'll be flexible. That won't be an issue. I might put in a couple of days of cruising but it's not really what I like. I prefer small scale hotels or apartments to big cruise ships.
In Australia I would like to travel by overnight train through the south eastern areas like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide...
Fiji will be resting time following Australia. SFO and NYC will be a city trip. Caribbean will be relaxing and discovering before flying back home to Europe.
mkath is offline  
Oct 24th, 2016, 02:53 PM
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You are going to San Francisco and New York for only a few days?

You plan to do 10 islands in 45 days?

That's a good thing you say budget is not an issue!!
suze is offline  
Oct 24th, 2016, 03:31 PM
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way too much, won't happen--

Most Caribbean islands are their own country, most require flying back to either San Juan or Miami, if using local airlines, might take days to get to one. All require already reserved hotels (places to stay) very few are walkable so you need transportation.

In 1 and a half months, you might be able to stick to 1 of the following groupings of islands:

Anguilla/St. Martin/St. Barth (ultra expensive)
British/American Virgin Islands
Antigua with barbuda
Grenadines with St. Lucia/Grenada

and you can't mix this up, or pick more than 1

It is highly unlikely to be relaxing at all!

You need at least 3 weeks for Australia/Fiji/San Fran, and at least 3-4 nights in NY

You'll also need a large amount of money, I would estimate the cheapest budget for all to be at least $20,000-$30,000 and that's really working hard at it!

You need to narrow down. If Fiji, why Caribbean? You will loose tons of days in travel. You need at least 10 days in Australia, distance is huge between places. Caribbean islands don't have ferries, most require flights and returns to other airports (some with over nights)

Forgive me for being negative, I've actually traveled the world alone. You have way too many, and hard destinations, to try and combine.

Also each island in Caribbean is unique and has something to offer, so to recommend one we need to know a lot more about you.

This is not like Europe (Which I've also traveled to frequently) where passing countries is easy.
blamona is offline  
Oct 24th, 2016, 03:40 PM
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The places you list would make a fine 1-year round-the-world trip.
suze is offline  
Oct 25th, 2016, 02:19 PM
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I plan to travel around Australia by train mostly, Ghan and/or Indian Pacific, with a couple of days in some locations to discover the city and surroundings. So about 2-3 weeks.
Fiji would purely be a resting point for me to give my body a break for about 5-7 days, from flying and traveling around.
SFO and NYC, each 3-4 days is sufficient for me. I am not a big city fan but they are on my wish list.
As for the combinations of the different Caribbean islands there are more flight connections possible. I've already checked some. And a stopover on another island is not an issue for me. 4-5 days max on each island is enough for me. Why wouldn't it be allowed to combine more islands?
Budget will be about right.
mkath is offline  
Oct 25th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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I haven't got a set time that I need to be back home. So if it turns out that I need/want to stick around longer somewhere then I will. Plane tickets will be fully flexible fare basis and I am aware of different tariffs and therefore possible additional costs when I make changes. That's also the reason why I do not want to book too many hotels in advance.
mkath is offline  
Oct 25th, 2016, 05:02 PM
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Caribbean at immigration you need to write down where you're staying before they let you in. So you will need to previos at each destination.

You can combine more than 1, I just think you don't understand logistics of islands. You loose a lot in travel. 4 days at each gives you 2 days somewhere. Really not much at all.

It sounds like you're aiming for as much of the world as possible. I've traveled the world. I've been to 80% of the islands.

It's tons of work in Caribbean. Transportation between is not usually reliable without backtracking. Local airlines, while you see flight schedules, rarely go smoothly.

What of the Caribbean do you want to see? What appeals to you? Those are better questions to answer.

Keep in mind overall Caribbean will probably also be the most expensive part. Many islands you'll need transportation. Depending on time of year you might have to worry about hurricanes.

So why the Caribbean? Tons of islands with many different personalities. Much to narrow down for you without knowing
blamona is offline  
Oct 30th, 2016, 01:05 AM
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Based on your info, for which my absolute gratitude, I have been puzzling with a possible travel schedule and have currently come up with approximately: 5 weeks Australia, combi of the main cities, Ghan, Overland and Indian Pacific, so trains & flights for inland traveling. Then 12 days in French-Polynesia, some visiting but mostly resting my fibromyalgia body. Then to Los Angeles and after 3-4 full days spent in the city I'll take the Costal Starlight train to San Francisco. After 4-5 full days in SFO a flight to New York. After 3-4 full days in NYC a flight to St Maarten, where I'll have a base for about 18 days to rest and to also visit St Barth, St Croix, Anguilla and/or other islands on short trips. Obviously taking island time into account when it comes to local transportation. So not planned, rather see as I go and according to availability. Just to sniff up the athmosphere and culture. Then a 7-night cruise to Tobago, St Lucia, Martinique,Dominica, St Kitts... and a couple of days rest in Barbados before flying home. It comes to a little bit more than 3 months and I would be in Australia in their spring time, North America in fall and Caribbean in the dry season nov/dec. That's the reason also why I am traveling east instead of west. I want to keep the weather positive as much as possible, not too wet, not too cold. Why the Caribbean? Because each time I have been there, I felt good, relaxed, somehow at home, almost no fibro-pain. I also love the lush tropical nature a lot too and mostly tend to visit botanical parks/gardens and local markets.
mkath is offline  
Oct 30th, 2016, 06:32 AM
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St crook is hard to visit from SXM, only local unreliable airlines. There are ferries to Anguilla and St Bart's though making it possible

French Polynesia is kinda hard to combine with Fiji. From Australia it's Fiji easier, and maybe New Zealand (stunning and great weather for rubro)

French poly is hugely expensive, that will add $8,000 to trip on the cheap

Caribbean Nov/Dec is not dry season, actually quite opposite. It's end of hurricane season, and start of "Christmas winds" season, which can make ferries quite exciting (think seasick).

When I gave a budget of $20,000- $30,000 that was Caribbean only. Anguilla and St Bart's are hugely expensive (on par with French Poly).

And for the record, I have traveled alone to every single place you've mentioned (except for Bora Bora, was my honeymoon so I had company)
blamona is offline  
Oct 30th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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I've been reading with interest, and the disclaimer that I have never done a RTW trip myself... but to me it sounds absolutely exhausting and I am in very good health and fitness.

I personally would break this up into different trips. One year go to the Caribbean for 3 months. The next year go to Australia/New Zealand/French Polynesia for 3 months. The next year the USA for 1-2 months.

Your latest itinerary as proposed sounds absolutely grueling. Have you traveled like this before? Being on the road, to so many places, covering so much ground, without stopping, and in consideration of your health?
suze is offline  
Oct 30th, 2016, 11:41 PM
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Hi Suze and Blamona, I have calculated several moments of rest into this. Upon arrival in Sydney for example I know, although I will be flying out in business class, I'll need to rest for about 3 days before I can start to explore the city.
French-Polynesia (or Fiji indeed, Blamona, I still have to check the best flight possibilities for one of these) is mainly for resting during my entire stay, a beach holiday let's say. I might do something but not much. Same with the first part of the Carribean.
That's also the reason I will book train journeys in Australia and USA West-Coast, as they are far more relaxing than my usual way of traveling, by car. When I visit countries I usually tend to rent a car and drive around; Sometimes, by myself, more than 1500km a week. I have even driven 2800km once in a week. I just enjoys landscapes so much. It's peaceful.
With the train journeys in Australia there are excursions included, but if my body is too tired, I do not have to do this and can just visit locally or rest on the train.

There are no "have to's" when I'm traveling. I am not one for days out from morning till evening; I like to not fill my days running from one place to the other and generally visit in a more relaxing way; I do not have to have seen everything there is to see. That's not my aim when traveling; I tend to sniff up the culture and athmosphere more than having to visit loads of things because people expect you to. My traveling is more for the vibe and not the knowledge. Whatever knowledge I gain is welcome, but I'll be more looking forward to running into myself during my trip... It's a bit of a personal discovery journey.

When it comes to the weather in nov/dec in the Caribbean, it might be wetter than dec/jan... but it will be the best time in my time frame to visit. I know of the strong showers than daily hit the islands, but in my experience they do not last very long and it is not every day the same. I could move my trip to a bit later, say arriving the Caribbean end of November, so I start with my cruise and then do the rest of the islands before coming home for Xmas.

I have to say I really do appreciate all of your advice! It is a first time traveling around the world, but I have traveled quite a bit professionally, so I do realise how heavy it can be.
mkath is offline  
Oct 31st, 2016, 03:40 AM
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my thing is Caribbean moves slow, so you waste a lot in travel/customs/immigration/tardiness/cancelled and delayed flights. Your other areas are a lot easier to do. I've combines 2 islands in 2 weeks, and been exhausted. I've combined 3 countries in Europe and been fine.

It's in the travel logistics, not the ambition. I would say majority of Reliable travel in Caribbean needs tons of travel time in between islands--most require back tracking to either San Juan or Miami with overnights. (I said reliable, I've known local airlines to take days going back and forth, true story! Being bumped for locals, weather trying to land and having to go back, lack of lights on runway, etc) So if going 5 days to an island, you'll waste 2 in travel maybe 3 with reliable airlines

Weather, FYI, this fall has been extremely overcast and rainy. Although hurricanes didn't hit, the waters have been "hungry" and many overcast days.

As for French Poly, Tahiti is just a means to Bora Bora or Moorea. Tahiti is downright ugly (sorry) so you must fly to Bora Bora or Moorea (stunning)

Fiji, you can stay on a main island and take excursions to little islands. But unless you like to snorkel or scuba, in my opinion Bora Bora is better.

Now if you have to cut your budget a little, and easier access from Australia, forget Fiji and French Poly, try the Cooks! More budget but stunning, and easier to combine
blamona is offline  
Oct 31st, 2016, 11:40 AM
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you've convinced me, Blamona, I think I'll stick in the Caribbean with a cruise to several islands and then a longer beach holiday, from where I might visit a couple of nearby islands if the weather and flight/ferry situation allows me to.
I'll enjoy a longer stay in the pacific zone first and then maybe some more days in N America.
Cooks looks very pure and beautiful. I'll have to read on it a bit more thank you so much for this tip, I would have never thought about this group of islands.
mkath is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2016, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Hi Maria
I saw you mentioned California. Specifically the coastal starlight. San Diego where I have travelled extensively and highly recommend I always noticed the coastal train. I was there for an event in 2008 and planned ahead to take the train on a Monday Morning. I took this early morning train from Del Mar-San Diego (actually Solana Beach station) all the way to LA noon with the worker bees and then on to San Fransisco arrived 10 pm same day. I had a blast and saw so much from the observation car. I took advice and got a seat close to observation car so I wasn't far from my things. I Met amazing folks. It was comfortable and the dining car was great. Cheap without a sleeper in 2008 ($80. Pre planned) I saw so much just sitting and enjoying. Even the where the moon flights take off (Richard Branson) hydroponic farming (high tech) and a very famous prison. Unbelievable wonderful amazing towns and big sur was a landscape painters dream. So much to behold it was one of the best days of my life. It was light in June all thru big sur. I recommend staying in San Francisco for a few days. I used a very light backpack left my luggage at the first hotel I stayed at in Emeryville (my last stop of train ride) and railed/hiked into the city the next day and stayed overnight 2 more nights. I took the rail into the city by the bay. I would Uber it so I could go over the golden gate if I were to do it again.
California is very beautiful and every part was amazing especially Big Sur. Since it is north of LA you could cut the trip down to 10 hours departing from LA
ebethathome is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 3
Maria.....I have been reading your communication with other members and travelling in and around the Caribbean is really not that bad.

What captured my attention is how you wish to spend your leisure time in the Caribbean and might I say that my location would provide most of what you could be looking for. So perhaps after your cruise to Tobago you can hop across here to Trinidad or forego the cruise and just come spend your time in this cozy, peaceful serene setting in nature for a few weeks.

Consider it and do read all that is posted in the profile of this listing.

Take care
Jaguarwoman is offline  

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