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Where to travel to in the Caribbean?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We're trying to plan a family trip: Me, DH, DD (2 1/2), my mom and my sis. Going sometime April - June for about a week.

Some places we're considering:

Puerto Rico
St. Lucia
Dominican Republic

We obviously want someplace beach-y, but would also like to find a place with other interesting activities like hiking, botanical gardens. So maybe not so interested in a flat, scrubby island, but instead one with mountainous/lush interior.

DD, DH, and I will be traveling from the west coast (and I'm pregnant) so someplace somewhat easy-ish to get to is a plus!

We're not really interested in those all-inclusive resort-type places (not totally writing then off) but since there are so many of us it seems to make more sense to find a vacation rental house/villa type of place to stay (we'll need 3 bedrooms.) Definitely want a kitchen.

Also, anyone know about safety of different destinations in regards to mosquito-borne diseases, etc?
post #2 of 16
I really loved Saint Maarten! I did not love the Dominican Republic.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
What did you not like about the DR, if I may ask? I know nothing about it!
post #4 of 16
I stopped in St. Maarten on a cruise and it was really nice. The beaches are beautiful. The restaurant we ate at was yummy and French. The mountains are gorgeous...

I didn't like Puerto Rico much. We also stopped in St. Thomas and the Bahamas.

I know a couple of friends that stayed in St. Lucia and they loved it.
post #5 of 16
DR was OK, but very much "stay on the resort."

We LOVE Aruba. Went last year while I was 4 months PG and DD was 23 months. LOVED it. The second day there we started talking about "next time" as if it was just a given this was *our* vacation spot now. Lots of hotels, only a couple AI, but you don't need all inclusive. The island is only 19 miles long and 4 miles wide, and pretty much everything in off one main road. Lots of great restaurants in Oranjestad. Lots of rentable condos. Easily accessible American style grocery store that was well stocked. Water is amazing, drinkable right out of the tap. because of it's southern location (just off the coast of Venezuela, on a clear day, from some points in Aruba, you can see Venezuela) there's no hurricane danger. Waves are mild and beaches are gorgeous.

I'd also recommend the Iberostar chain in Riviera Maya, Mexico. I think we stayed at the Paradiso Maya, but it's 5 resorts on one property. Amazing pools, great beach, lazy river and a wave pool.
post #6 of 16
We love St. Kitts & Nevis -- went back in '01 and it was still pretty undeveloped. Beautiful island, cool main town (Bassetere) -- enough hotels and resorts to have choices, but not overrun by all inclusives. Hiking was good, snorkeling and beaches were fun. We did 7 nights on St. Kitts and 3 nights on Nevis.

My sister was in the peace corps in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island is much less touristy (although also poorer) than a lot of others, but has some great hiking and the Grenadines (small islands) are gorgeous (although best seen by being on a boat for several days). The largest of the grenadines is (I think) Bequia which is close to St.V and union island (the furthest south) is fun too. We splurged pre-kids and chartered a boat with my sister for 3 days to see all the grenadines...quite possibly some of the most beautiful deserted beaches I have ever seen (in pictures or in real life).

Both of these are fine to get to...you fly in to PR or St. Lucia and get a connecting flight.
post #7 of 16
I've been to grenada, but didn't enjoy it. We liked BVI, though.
post #8 of 16
I didn't really like the DR either. One of our friends lived there at the time so we stayed at his house in Cabrerra near Puerto Plata. It was beautiful, but very dirty and there was lots of garbage everywhere which was sad. And there were a lot of people living in poverty which also made me feel bad. I found the people weren't very friendly and were aggressive sales people and I didn't feel safe. We also stayed at a resort for a few days, which was nice, but I got stung by a jellyfish as soon as we got there!

Cuba is my favourite place to travel! It is very beautiful and safe, and the people are so friendly we went to their homes for dinner and they toured us around their village away from the resort which was amazing. We really got a cultural experience there and made friends.
post #9 of 16
I've only been to the Bahamas and Jamaica. I liked Jamaica a lot, but it has the highest crime of all the countries.

We would LOVE to go to Cuba, Trinidad/Tobago, St. Kitts, and the Caymens.
post #10 of 16
I second Aruba. The weather was gorgeous! The trade winds were constant and it never rained (or if it did, it lasted only a few minutes). We did the jeep tour of the island and the party pirate cruise. The snorkeling was great. And they have a beach called "Baby Beach" which has really shallow, gentle water. Enjoy yourself, wherever you end up! It's been a long winter! :
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the ideas!
post #12 of 16
Hi, I'm currently living in St. Lucia (from Seattle, WA). Based on your description I'd say St. Lucia would be a good fit. The only thing is that it's not the easiest place to get to from the West Coast (which I know coming from Seattle), but that would be true for any of your choices. You usually have to take 3 planes on American Airlines - through Dallas, then San Juan. Obviously if you went to PR you'd have one less flight.

I don't know what your price range is, but Windjammer Landing would be an ideal spot, but it is on the higher end. They have villas with kitchens and a great kids program. Best kiddie pool from most of the hotels in the area and a nice secluded beach. My father & family started going to Windjammer about 15 years ago and it's always been a great place to stay. I'm sure there are plenty of condos or guest houses if you want a more 'authentic' experience here.

There are a lot of adventures & activities here too. I could go on & on so let me know if you have more specific questions or need more info about anything in particular. As far as the mosquitos, there is no malaria, I have seen info about denge (sp?) and yellow fever, but have not heard of anyone getting them. I'm sure they exist here, but it's not wide-spread.

post #13 of 16
My all time favorite Caribbean island is Anguilla. (pronounced Ann-Gwill-Uh) It is 5 miles across the water from St. Martin/St. Maarten. You can fly from the states to St. Martin and take a ferry over or it's a 7 minute flight. You can also fly directly to Anguilla from San Juan. It is an amazing island! The beaches are the most spectacular that I have seen anywhere!!!

It is not mountainous. But the perfect, unspoiled beaches are so amazing. We have been there two times.

We also have been to St. Martin two times. It is lovely too, and has mountains. It is more crowded and has nude beaches though, so not sure how you feel about that.
post #14 of 16
sorry, my son was playing with my laptop and make a post in this thread!
post #15 of 16
ST. LUCIA!!!! I have been there before I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!!!! :
post #16 of 16

I'm heading to Jamaica next month and looking forward to the good food, beautiful atmosphere, fun music and great people. 

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