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So many islands... so much indecision

Davis, California
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So many islands... so much indecision

Hello, thanks for the benefit of your experience. I've been reading the Virgin Gorda forum here, lots of great advice in other posts.

I (55) and DH (65) are retiring and looking for a Caribbean island destination for a month, mid-December to mid-January. Our lodging budget is $3,000 for the month. We like using VRBO and have found suitable 1- or 2-bedroom cottages on Virgin Gorda and elsewhere in the Caribbean, such as Eleuthera and Green Turtle Cay. We don't want a hotel or package. We like to make our own plans, explore, not follow a script.

Our wish list: Great snorkeling from the beach, no boat needed... no/few biting bugs... good fishing from shore... spectacular natural beauty, both beaches and hills/mountains/cliff/rocky shores, for my landscape photography hobby... birds and other wildlife a plus... hiking and bicycling also good... good local fare and seafood restaurants. And did I mention great snorkeling?

We could do two weeks in one place and two in another.

So, destination experts, where do you recommend? And when should we go? We could wait, if the weather's iffy in Dec-Jan, or the water's too cold, or the bugs are bad, or restaurants and stores are closed then... Though I really want to jump on a plane, tomorrow! Thanks again.

Rhode Island
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for Virgin Gorda
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1. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I am not sure Virgin Gorda is the right place for you.

- no/few biting bugs: there are "bugs" there and they do bite. The higher up you get and the greater the breeze the less you will notice them.

- The fishing from shore is bad

- the "local fare and seafood restaurants" is not great either. There are some good places to eat but very little local cuisine.

I would take a look at Vieques. Lodging is more reasonable. The snorkeling is not as good, but it is solid. great wildlife (largest wildlife preserve in the Caribbean) including wild horses, excellent local food and seafood, and good fishing. Easy to get to as well.



Pasadena, Maryland
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2. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I would suggest taking a look at Bequia. The island is beautiful, the people are friendly, and there are many affordable places to stay. Lots of great local food. You can buy fresh fish, lobster, and conch from the local fishermen down at the harbour. Also booths that sell every kind of locally grown veggies and fruits. Nice laid back place!

New Jersey
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3. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I have been to Green Turtle Cay and while quiet and peaceful it is tiny and snorkeling not great from shore.

I had two thoughts reading your post - split your time between St. John and Virgin Gorda - beautiful islands with the availability of a different beach to snorkel every day right from shore, the ability to visit many other islands with the ferry system, natural beauty, more hiking on St. John and more restaurant options.

My other thought was Bonaire - great snorkeling from shore - the reef system circles the island just offshore. The wildlife, especially birdlife is more colorful , the national park offers the dramatic landscapes and there are good restaurant options. All islands deliver the bugs but you can deal with that.

As someone mentioned Bequia above- the Grenadines also offer the availability to visit other islands with the ferry system- St. Vincent offers the lush volcanic area as well.

I agree what a dilemma - so many islands how to decide - I envy your decision making. Enjoy.

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4. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I would also look at St Croix - it has everything you are looking for. Also, you could do two weeks in Vieques and two weeks in St Croix as it would be pretty easy to get between them.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I would not pick St Croix. It seems too "run down" for my taste. My choice would be St John for the SNORKELING and beauty. But it is buggy and doesn't have great fishing from shore...although you can fish from a boat. Great hiking not really a biking place because it is SO HILLY. Good restaurants for sure and oh did i say GREAT SNORKELING from about 30 different beaches. I love Virgin Gorda but I'm not sure I'd do month there.... a week though.....not much hiking. VG is small and quiet. Vieques is ok but for me it's a long weekend not two weeks. Although I could easily spend a month on Puerto Rico and include Vieques and Culebra for a few nights.

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6. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

If you have four weeks then maybe do some island hopping. It is fairly easy to get to the Leewards from the Virgin Islands. Visit St Maarten, St Barths and St Kitts. It'll take a bit of planning but it will certainly be an experience!

North Carolina
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7. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

I second the Grenadines suggestion although have not been to Vieques. IMO, water will be too cool in Bahamas chain to really enjoy in January.

8. Re: So many islands... so much indecision

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