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Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Which St. John hotels are on sale?
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Richmond, Virginia
posts: 11
reviews: 37
Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Hello friendly travelers,

I look to your expertise for advice in planning an upcoming (January/ February 2013) trip to the Caribbean to fit the following preferences:

- beachfront accommodations, preferably a villa/ cottage rental rather than large hotel or resort

- decent beach snorkeling within walking distance of accommodations (at least one good spot nearby is preferable. We don't mind having to drive to explore others, we just don't want it to be a necessity to do everything.)

- a location with some options for drinks and dining out, preferably at least one or two within walking distance as well

- a beach environment that is not super crowded or over-developed

- within budget of $1500-$2800 for a week's accommodations

I have been looking into Providenciales, Anegada, Anguilla, St John, Virgin Gorda, Vieques or Culebra, and the Out Islands of the Bahamas, but am having trouble coming to a decision. Recommendations for other locales not included in the list are welcomed, and suggestions regarding those mentioned are appreciated!

Thanks in advance,


New Jersey
posts: 2,090
reviews: 7
1. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Hi Leah,

STJ can be pricey and your dates are High Season, but that does not mean it is not doable. How many are in your party? If you only need to accommodate two people it makes a big difference and what about level of accommodation STJ has everything from campgrounds to condos

Tell us more about what you and your travel mates like, for instance are you into hiking or is lounging more your thing, is this a romantic trip, family trip or fun and sun with friends? You'll get more pointed suggestions this way. happy planning

Edited: 8:58 pm, October 05, 2013
Mobile, Alabama
posts: 2,241
reviews: 16
2. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

imo you should discard the out islands for your time period. I love the out islands of the Bahamas and have been many times but it will be far too cool in January or February for what you want to do. I also love SJ, VG and Anegada but I think for the budget you have I would go for Culebra- have been there in February and the weather was great, good snorkeling, much more affordable accommodations, food, etc. than the USVI or BVI.

Check www.islacubebra.com for more info and ideas on accommodations- where we stayed was harbour front in town rather than beachfront but you can find what you are looking for with some research, I think.

Destination Expert
for Cruz Bay
posts: 4,795
reviews: 6
3. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

January & Feburany are high season. I doubt you can find anything but a resort on the beach in your budget. Take a look at St Croix. We got a good deal a couple of years ago in January at Palms at Pelican Beach. A small resort which we enjoyed and the food was good. Good snorkeling once you got past the ironshore. I don't know if there was anything else within walking distance for food. I'd look at St Thomas too, but still that will probably have to be a resort.

You can cross off St John, Vieques, Provo, Anguilla, and Virgin Gorda off your list with your budget.

Have you looked at Belize? Your budget might be doable there, but again it wouldn't be a private villa or cottage on the beach. You might find a small resort or condo.

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 11
reviews: 37
4. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Thanks for the responses! It it just two of us (husband and I) traveling. We are definitely interested in getting some beach time, but also enjoy hiking, kayaking, and exploring in general.

There may be some flexibility in the budget, and I am aware we will likely be on the higher end due to high season. Can't hurt to look for a bargain, though! :-)

We have been to Belize, and enjoyed great accommodations, but are not interested in returning for this trip. Proximity to a sandy beach with shore snorkeling is our number one priority this time around!

Bourbon, IN
posts: 315
reviews: 59
5. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Second vote for St. Croix! You can get a place on the water for a decent price and rental cars are cheap! Check VRBO if you want a house.

cherry hill
posts: 1,403
reviews: 213
6. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

With what you want St John is out for you. Please let us know what you found as I would be very interested in such a place that is on a sandy noncommercialized beach, walking distance to snorkeling and a couple of places to eat and drink, and that has hiking. And prime time as well.

posts: 4,024
reviews: 27
7. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Third vote for St Croix - or Virgin Gorda if you can find accommodation in your price range. Mahoe Bay in VG has a fantastic double reef system that you can snorkel from shore.

New Jersey
posts: 2,090
reviews: 7
8. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

Hi Leah,

You can get a 1 bedroom cottage or studio with ocean view in your price range , but let me explain St John so you have a better understanding of what you are looking at in rentals. St John is 2/3rds national park most of the 30 plus beautiful beaches are within the national park and therefor do not have hotels or villas on the beach . There are only two towns on the island , Cruz Bay being the larger and where you will come onto the island by ferry. Cruz has a larger selection of restaurants, shops and the only gas station on the island. This is your jumping off point most people arrive by ferry , get their prearranged jeep, stock up at one of the markets and head off to their accommodation. benefits of staying in Cruz Bay would be easy walking access to plenty of eateries and shops , you would then use your jeep to go off every day and explore the excellent beaches,, hiking trails and snorkeling spots, but at end of day return to town and have your option of great restaurants most of which are pricey. on the other end of the island is Coral Bay, a much smaller town with a couple of dining options and limited shops for groceries. Many swear by Coral Bay as being more like what the island was like 20 yrs ago , Coral Bay is in close proximity to the east and south ends which offer some fantastic hikes and snorkeling. The National park beaches "North Shore are located between these two towns and can be explored daily from either location . Go on VRBO St John USVI and search studios and 1 bedrooms for both Coral Bay And Cruz Bay, (I'd Personally would avoid all the other areas listed StJ rentals for your first trip because they are remote to anything on your wish list basically up in the mountains) . Pick up a copy of ST John Off The Beaten Track This will give you an excellent Idea of what St John has to offer.

complete with maps. Expect for the entire trip for two to not get under $5,000. Between airfare cottage food jeep , ferry , taxis etc...

posts: 1,022
reviews: 55
9. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

I have stayed on St John in high season. As per previous posts, hard to get beachfront anywhere r/t national park (on your budget), but we stay at Serendip Vacation condos...large one br fully furnished with huge balconies and wonderful views of Cruz bay. You can walk to town (uphill on the way home) or drive and park at the car barge parking lot and walk the level ground into Cruz Bay for great food and shopping. You can also hike from the visitor center to some very nice beaches. Half the fun is loading up your Jeep/car for the day and picking a beach/snorkel spot to go to. We keep returning here for the awesome shore snorkeling and hiking, don't need to get a boat and a nice break from diving. The furthest drive would prob be 40 min and you can get to plenty of beaches in 10-15 minutes. Also check out/order the trail bandit map if you decide to come. Shows all the beaches and hiking trails. Shopping and dining is also very good. I think their high season rates are like $2000 and they also have 2 studios for cheaper.

Provo is very commercialized with poor shore snorkeling. The food there is wonderful. Only been to St Thomas long enough to get the ferry to St. John. One hour there is enough for me.

Hope this helps. If you decide on St John, I can recommend some excellent snorkels.

Edited: 8:21 pm, October 06, 2013
St Thomas
Destination Expert
for St. Thomas
posts: 10,716
reviews: 16
10. Re: Which island(s) for upcoming trip?

"Only been to St Thomas long enough to get the ferry to St. John. One hour there is enough for me."

Too bad, klfbsn, that you (but not unlike many others) can't resist bashing STT when your sole experience of the island has been traveling the busy main route from the airport to the Red Hook ferry terminal ... The OP can actually find most of what she's looking for on STT and should take a look-see!

Happy planning, Leah!