I'm taking my girlfriend to the caribbean for a week this March 26-April 2 or June 21-28; it will be the first time for both of us. These are the only times we have free, since March is spring break and we graduate from college June 16. She doesn't even know it yet, I'm going to surprise her for her birthday with the plane tickets, then while we're there I'm going to propose to her on the beach watching the sunset.
The things that are important:
- Easy access to the beach (not necessarily right on the beach).
- Beautiful beaches: extremely important, we'll be spending a lot of time just chilling out on the beach. I'd like to do a couple days of exploring, but mostly we'll be on the beach. Calm water would be a plus, we're used to the Gulf in Florida and prefer that to heavy surf (like at the Jersey Shore).
- Low cost, high value. I'm a college student so the budget will be tight (especially after the ring!).
- We can go without air conditioning. I'd prefer a place that doesn't have a lot of bugs. Wild animals aren't a problem, but she's afraid of bugs and hates mosquitoes.
- No all included (we aren't big eaters).
- Beautiful clear water! (I think this is a given at most places, right?)
- Decent snorkeling, we've never done it but want to try it, so it doesn't have to be amazing or anything. I'd prefer to be able to do it right from the beach instead of booking tours. We'll probably bring our own gear, because I'm sure we'll love it and will want to use it again in the future.
- Cheap food! We aren't going to want to pay $50 for every meal, is this a reasonable expectation? We don't drink much alcohol, and rarely order appetizers or desserts, so that should help cut costs.
- Safety would be a plus, since we're inexperienced travelers and young.
I've found that June is significantly cheaper than March, so even though I'd prefer March, we'll likely go in June.
Please give me any recommendations you have! I've looked at St. John USVI (too expensive?), Antigua (too expensive?), Puerto Rico (not relaxing enough, lots of driving around?), Mexico (not 'exotic' enough?), and Aruba (my current pick). For example I have a tentative 6 night stay in Aruba, costing about $2600 winter/$2300 summer including airfare, food, and jeep rental for 2 days.
I'm open for any suggestions, just islands in general or specific resorts. Thanks in advance!