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Which island for best beach / scenery / exploration combo?!

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5 posts
11 reviews
Which island for best beach / scenery / exploration combo?!

So I know there are a million posts about which Caribbean island is the "best" for this or for that, but I have read so many that my eyes are about to cross (and I somehow don't feel much closer to making a decision!)! The options are overwhelming, with so many places that are wonderful for such different reasons - maybe you guys can help us narrow it down.

Looking to travel to the Caribbean at the end of April with a group of 6, my husband & 2 other couples. We are looking for a combination of amazing beaches (white sand & turquoise waters are high on the list for at least some members of our group) but also with plenty of additional "non beach" activity options as well - my husband gets bored with laying on the beach, and after a few days of that I'm usually ready to do something else as well.

Some examples of additional "non beach" features that are appealing to us: Hiking; ability to explore the island safely with a rented car; interesting local culture (I know each island has its unique personality and culture, but seems some have a more pronounced local culture whereas others are more geared toward beach loving tourists, if that makes sense?); great food is of course always a plus; beautiful views beyond just the beach - I love the rainforest and lush green scenery / views but I know that sometimes comes at the cost of the white sandy beaches, so looking for a good compromise there :) Our ideal location doesn't necessarily have to have ALL of the above, but at least enough additional options beyond beach bumming to keep us occupied for 6 days (and to justify the pricetag of this trip, which is a very special trip for all of our group - more than just a "get away from it all and hit the beach" trip). I don't want to stay anywhere that's super "touristy" or overly Americanized, although I know that is vague (and might even come across as somewhat snobby - oops). Secluded beach sounds better than party beach to me but I know that most islands have a bit of both. It would certainly be nice to be able to have some places within walking distance and not have to pile everyone in the car every time anyone wants to do anything but we can figure that part out.

We are planning to stay in a villa, and have found villas we like / at our price point ($4500 or less for the week) in St. Martin, St. Barths, Barbados, Anguilla..my biggest concern is that there might not be much to do in some of these places beyond eating / drinking / hanging on the beach (all of which are wonderful, don't get me wrong!) - I am very much open to being convinced on any of them, or looking into some additional island options we haven't thought of yet!

I personally am attracted to islands like Grenada and Dominica due to their lushness, as well as St. Lucia, but I am thinking most of those are probably out because "white sand / turquoise waters" are number one for part of our group.

We are in our mid 30s and we like to party, but nightlife options isn't a dealbreaker, we are generally happy to just be in each others company. Travel ease (reasonable airfare - less than $1000 each - and flight times) are definitely considerations - doesn't have to be direct flight or anything, but not trying to spend 10+ hours traveling (we'll likely be flying our of Lexington or Louisville).

So yeah, we probably sound really hard to please but I am confident there are some amazing option that would be great fits for us - just having a hard time narrowing it down! Definitely want to hear thoughts on St Martin / Barbados / St Barths and any other spots we might not have thought of yet.

I've been to Playa del Carmen and Puerto Rico - LOVED the culture and general vibe of PR and enjoyed being able to experience the rich history & cultural spots in Mexico. Group tours generally aren't my ideal, we like being able to rent a car and go off on our own, but I am open minded about that.

Also - is sargassum still a problem right now in the Caribbean?

You guys are such a great community and so well traveled - I appreciate any suggestions or advice and hope I haven't come across as sounding WAY needy or hard to please, I promise we are a very fun and easygoing group :)

1. Re: Which island for best beach / scenery / exploration combo?!

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