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Hawaii vs. Virgin Islands

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Sep 12th, 2003, 05:53 AM
  #1
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Hawaii vs. Virgin Islands

Can someone who has visited both give me some comparisons of the two? We are a family of four from New York where vacation time is at a premium. We can get to St. Johns USVI in like four hours vs. 14 hours to Kauai or Maui. I know Hawaii has the volcanos and whales (we are planning summer anyway so no whales), but how about the beaches, snorkeling, and natural beauty? Not looking for nightlife or fine dining. Is it worth the extra 10 hours flying? Boys are 12 & 14 and very into outdooor activity.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 07:02 AM
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If you search for "caribbean" in the archives of the US forum here you'll find this question has been answered many times before.

Basically, the beaches on St. John are better than any of the beaches in Hawaii, and the water is much prettier and warmer in the USVI's. St. Thomas is not as charming as St. John and poverty is pretty evident in most areas of the USVI's. I haven't been to St. Croix and it's the least popular of the USVI's. St. John is the most popular (by far) with Caribbean aficianados. St. Thomas has a lot of shopping (in Charlotte Amalie) and is a big cruise ship port (not a good thing IMO).
In general food on STT and SJ is expensive but there are some good restaurants on both islands. Crime is a factor on STT, much less so on SJ. SJ is very quiet minimal night life, 2 major resorts and many villas are the main lodging options.

Hawaii can't be packaged in general terms for the most part since each of the islands are very different from the others. You can find beauty which far exceeds St. John on Kauai, you can find active volcanoes, you can see vast expanses of old lava fields which look moonlike, you can climb 11,000 foot mountains, beaches are many and varied (and virtually all public). There are much better lodging and restaurant options in Hawaii in general and in general it's safer and more cost effective. Would take much longer for you to get there which is one reason why easterners generally favor the Caribbean over Hawaii.
Many of Hawaii's beaches are very nice, but none are nearly as nice or picturesque (water color included in the equation) as the best on SJ.

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Sep 12th, 2003, 07:09 AM
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According to this link:http://www.worlds10best.com/pages/1/index.htm
Both SJ and some of Hawaii's beaches are in the top 10
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Sep 12th, 2003, 07:20 AM
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We love both, but we travel without children. In that aspect, I think Hawaii is more romantic. If you want snorkelling, VI will be better for your family. But other outdoor activities like biking, hiking a volcano or horseback riding can be a unique adventure in Hawaii. If you want a hotel right on a sandy beach, there are more choices in VI.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 07:23 AM
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Hi Dave,

You've chosen my 2 favorite destinations and Ted Turner has really given you a great overview of each.

If you select USVI, stay on St. John, rent a jeep and a private residence with a company like cateredto.com. It's a wonderful destination, with much to do in and around the water.

Hawaii wins, hands down with me. Much more versatility and really uparalled beauty. Many great exploration opportunities. Once you go and realize that you can't see & do everything in one trip, you'll be thinking about the next trip. Each island has wonderful features. I believe a condo is the way to go with a family... many possibilities in the islands.

Really, when you think about it, your travel to either place will eat up a full day... 4 hours sounds really appealing, but with transfers and ferries and all, I really wouldn't let that be the deciding factor. We've traveled to St. John from Chicago numerous times, and really, it's a full day by the time you set your luggage in the rental.

Tons for you to read on previous posts.
Whatever you choose, you won't be sorry.

Happy hunting...
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Sep 12th, 2003, 07:26 AM
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I've been to VI once and Hawaii four times with another trip next month. Can you guess which I prefer? While it may be true that the water in the Caribbean is prettier, I don't necessarily agree that the beaches are nicer. There is so much more to do and see in Hawaii than VI.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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To JohnD-- one of my pet peeves is those "best beach" lists (seen so often on the Travel Channel and such) because the method by which they rank the beaches uses factors which many tourists don't consider important.
For example, I really don't care if a beach is highly accessible (in fact the less accessible it is the less likely it is to be crowded) but on many lists accessibility is given equal importance as beauty when the scores are tabulated!

The site with the list you offered does not detail its methodology except to say that there are several things included in their ranking besides beauty.

Those lists can be very misleading. I recall one which rated Cannon Beach in Oregon higher than Trunk Bay on St. John (often referred to as SJ's best beach). I've been to both and there's just no comparison.
Those same list methodologies are the ones which have rated Rochester MN and Pittsburgh PA as THE best cities in the USA to live in. (I once lived in the former. And it's not).
But that's what you sometimes get if you simply crunch numbers.

To Richard1148-- what constitutes "nice" or "best" when it comes to beaches varies by person. I value soft sand, want it to be light color, want light blue multihued water, warm ater, and very little crowding.
That's why I say SJ's best beaches far surpass Hawaii's (in my own scoring system). Nowhere is Hawaii's water as pretty as SJ's, no Hawaiian beach has the soft sand of SJ's better beaches, and the water is not warm in HI.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 08:27 AM
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Hey TT, I believe the question posted is subjective and do not criticize your fine observations. My point is that both destinations are good choices for "beaches, snorkeling and natural beauty". BTW, the poster did not inquire about how soft the sand is, what color or temperature the water is, though this info. may be helpfull.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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John-- sorry if my post sounded accusatory or such. It reads that way, but was only intended as a point of information.
I read those lists too, and they are not without merit.
I get irritated with the Travel Channel mostly because I think a lot of people believe that the many lists presented there have been somehow researched and carefully compiled. My impression is that they're either purely for entertainment value or they accept advertising $$ wheile they're making their list and checking it twice. They're not like a Zagat survey or AAA list.
And of course all those lists involve generous amounts of subjective input and influence. After all, these types of things don't lend themselves to objective measures.
Have a great weekend.
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Sep 12th, 2003, 11:55 AM
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I think the water is prettier there (VI). Beaches and land prettier here. And I thought people looked poorer- like Mexico in the VI. Hawaii is more dramatic. I think the islands are much bigger too. (not sure)
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Sep 12th, 2003, 04:00 PM
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St. John - much nicer beaches and water (using my subjective criteria of white, powdery sand, and warm, blue water), more intimate, smaller island than Kauai or Maui, easy access to St. Thomas and many islands of the BVI

Kauai or Maui - much larger islands with more diversity, activity, and much more varied landscape

Although very different, I would rate them equally on natural beauty. My own personal opinion is that it's not worth the extra 10 hours of flying.
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Sep 15th, 2003, 11:14 AM
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Dave -

You've chosen our two favorite places to visit. We go annually to St. John in December and Kauai in February/March. There is no doubt that the beaches and waters of the USVI/BVI's far exceed those of the HI islands - and that is a difficult thing for me to say in that, hands down, Kauai is still our fav island. We do not care for STT or STX, but do love STJ. Conversely, we do not care for Maui or Oahu but love the Big Island and Kauai - just our personal preference. For this reason, St. John is our pick in the Virgins - quiet, reserved - only two hotels on the entire island which is something like 3/4 National Virgin Forest so there is little room for development. The views and vistas are phenomenal, however, so is the North Shore of Kauai and the Waimea Canyon and NaPali coast. We are also east coasters so to speak so much depends on how much time you have to spend. We never would consider venturing to HI unless we had a minimum two weeks to spend, while we have been going to STJ for a week and only the last two years have expanded our trip to 9 days. Not much night life on either of these two islands, but this is the way we like it and the reason for our choices. Snorkeling could not be better in the Virgins. Actually, we do not find the price of food in STJ to be much more than where we live - no taxes. We do find Kauai to be somewhat more expensive, but you are a New Yorker and would not be shocked by the prices of restaurants. Liquor is much cheaper in the Virgins. Lots of activity on both islands - hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, bike riding in HI - fantastic snorkeling even for the beginner in STJ as well as some very nice hiking and water sports. You have to choose but know that the islands in the Virgins are as different as the HI islands depending on which you choose.

Good luck and enjoy; these are both wonderful choices. Let the time you have to spend be a ruling factor.
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Sep 16th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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My vote goes for St John! Especially if you love snorkeling and hanging out at the beach. St Johns beaches have beautiful, calm blue waters. Most of the water on the beaches in Hawaii are cold and rough. Snorkeling in St John is excellent. Hawaii is known more for its scuba diving.
It really comes down to what your family enjoys doing. If you want a relaxing beach vacation (my personal favorite), then definately go to St John. If your looking to keep busy doing something different everyday than go to Hawaii.
Good Luck and have fun whatever you end up choosing!
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Sep 16th, 2003, 01:20 PM
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Puppydog, the water on the beaches in Hawaii is COLD????????? Exactly what is the ocean water temperature in the Virgin Islands that would make the ocean water in Hawaii cold by comparison ??
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Sep 16th, 2003, 02:51 PM
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Puppydog - have you ever been to Hawaii? From the mis-information in your post it doesn't seem like it.

DaveS - Contrary to Puppydog's post - Hawaii's water is beautiful and warm! Snorkeling is one of the largest publicized activities, available on all the islands in Hawaii. Some are more renowned for snorkeling - such as Hanama Bay, for example, but there are many, many beaches all over Hawaii to enjoy snorkeling, not just skuba diving.
Also, most beaches in Hawaii are lovely swimming beaches, there are some rougher areas, such as the north shore on Oahu, but most are great for swimming and are not usually "rough" unless there's a tropical storm out there in the Pacific.
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Sep 16th, 2003, 07:20 PM
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Water temperatures in the Virgin Islands average 4-7 degrees warmer than those around Hawaii. (Typically 75-78 HI, 80-85 VI's, varies by season).
Why?
The Hawaiian islands rise abruptly out of the deep Pacific Ocean.
The Virgins are situated in the much shallower waters of the Caribbean, allowing the sun to raise surface temps more easily.
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Sep 17th, 2003, 05:11 AM
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As I recall, with regard to snorkeling in Hawaii there are some fish that can only be found in Hawaiian waters-perhaps this is partially related to the differences in water temperature(or perhaps dissolved oxygen) between HI & VI. Are there also fish unique to VI waters?
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Sep 17th, 2003, 05:32 AM
  #18
OliveOyl
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We've been to both Maui and SJ, and I'll join the chorus of voices for SJ, for the quality and beauty of beaches (water and sand color) swimability, snorkeling ease and variety of coral and fish species reached easily from shore. SJ is beautiful, but Maui is SJ on steroids. Highter peaks, more dramatic tropical scenery, more dramatic cliffs and exotic flora. For beaches alone, HI isn't worth the extra flight time, but everyone should see it once, and it may be a looong time before your kids have a chance to get there on their own!
 
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Sep 17th, 2003, 06:44 AM
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"...SJ is beautiful, but Maui is SJ on steroids".

Great quote, OliveOyl.
I'm going to remember that one for future use
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Sep 17th, 2003, 06:55 AM
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DaveS - you didn't say how long this vacation is going to be. If it is only a week, even though I had cast my vote for Hawaii, I would say to go to VI. If it is a two week vacation, then the extra travel time shouldn't be the deciding factor.
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