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St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

Stamford...
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St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

BF and I are looking to book a trip to the Caribbean and cash in on our Marriott points and use Miles. Normally we're more fans of "Off the beaten path," vs the big resorts, but we're also fans of free hotel nights so Marriott properties it is this time! :)

Knowing we can't get everything, we're looking for the island with the best combination of:

- Good Scuba Diving (won't dive every day, but definitely a focus of the trip)

- Great beaches

- Good food, know Caribbean will be expensive, but more affordable would be good..

- Other fun activities or things to see/do..

- Something that doesn't feel completely touristy/overrun with tourists.. obviously we are tourists ourselves, but we're not fans of the mob scene

- Looking to go end of Feb/Early March

So, given this, and airline availability, we have narrowed it down to St. Croix, Bonaire, and Curacao. BF has already been to Bonaire, although I haven't.

So which of the islands would you pick and why? If TA will let me, I'm going to post this in all 3 island forums, as I find people tend to be partial to the island of their forum :)

Thanks all!

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South Bend, Indiana
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1. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

You are so right about being partial to the forum ... we have not been to Bonaire and only saw Curacao as a cruise ship stop and the only part we saw was the walk from the ship to town and back HOWEVER we have been to St. Croix 2 times and are already booked for another 2 weeks in March. We fell in love with the island and its charm. It has Fredericksted on the west which is more tropical ... has some very nice beach bars and it is where the cruise ships come in. The drive up the coast and along the shore back to Christiansted is beautiful. Christiansted on the west end is charming and has 3 restaurants on the harborside and many other great restaurants on the side streets ... some are expensive $$$$ and some are mid-point $$; There is Buck Island and even though the reef is dead the snorkeling around it is pretty awesome. We aren't divers but I know some on this forum will tell you where the best spots are.... Night life in St. Croix is more low key ... not the resort or all inclusive type. The Buccaneer is a great place to stay if you are looking for more of a resort vib ... The Palms is also charming and right on the beach ... there are many places and you would probably benefit from listing some that interest you and wait for responss.

Happy planning

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Austin, Texas
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2. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

St Croix, would be my pick and the price sure seems right too. Lynne pretty much hit the nail on the head.

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boston
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3. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

Oh Cabogirl....we are definitely partial to St. Croix on this board but will do our best to help :)

I have never been to Bonaire or Curacao so can't compare (though would like to go sometime!). I hope those with scuba experience will jump in here but I do think St. Croix is known to be a great scuba diving location. And the location of the Renaissance is quite good as it is very close to "The Wall" at Cane Bay and you can also get to F'sted pretty quickly and folks always say a night dive at the pier in F'sted is a great experience. The dive shop at the Renaissance has been praised highly by quite a few people so I would check that out as well.

St. Croix is definitely not 'touristy' and you won't find an incredible nightlife. But there are some fun bars in the Cane Bay area (EAT @ Cane Bay, Rowdy Joe's etc.) so you could have some fun. You will want to rent a car given that there is nothing walkable from the Renaissance.

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Clarks Summit,Pa
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4. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

Well... I've never been to Curacao or Bonaire either, but we have been to a whole bunch of other islands. St Croix is our favorite by far and the reasons we like it so much sound like the same sort of things you're looking for. As you said,you can't find or get everything that you want in one spot and STX fits that commentary. It does not have the best beaches that we've seen or the glitziest resorts and so on but as an overall pick I do not think you can beat it. If I had never been to any of your 3 choices ,I'd pick STX primarily because I believe it to be the most tropical and greener of the 3. From what I've read about the other 2 they are pretty much dry and desert like. I know from friends that have been to Aruba that it is also very dry in most parts ,and it being part of the ABC islands (Aruba,Bonaire & Curacao) that they all will have to be pretty much the same feel climate and terrain wise. I guess that if you have the Marriott points to use that you'll stay at the Carambola. They place is really lush and has some of the best looking beaches on the island. We always stay at The Buccaneer but if the Buc were not there on STX ,I wouldn't hesitate to stay at the Carambola.Go to STX and I know you'll love it....

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Stamford...
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5. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

Thanks all! Bonaire is out as I didn't realize there aren't any marriotts there.. but now Grand Cayman is in the mix.. I suppose there are worse decisions to have to make! :)

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Christiansted, St...
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6. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

I have been to all the islands in question -- for the purpose of diving. Of the five, St Croix is the least touristy. Grand Cayman is probably the most touristy (we actually saw six cruise ships in the harbor on the day we arrived). Curacao is the next most touristy, with Bonaire right behind -- although most of Bonaire's tourism is dive-related.

If you're tied to Marriott, St Croix is the place to go. The Renaissance Carambola is pretty far away from everything, but it has most of what you want right at your doorstep. Davis Bay (on which the resort is located) has lovely a lovely, sandy beach, and the resort has a co-located dive shop -- Sweet Bottom Dive Shop (http://sweetbottomdive.com/). The diving at Davis Bay is shore diving, but it's a relatively short swim out to the fabulous STX wall. A short drive into Fredricksted will get you to N2 the Blue (http://www.n2theblue.com/), who can take you to the reefs and wrecks of St Croix's west end. Also on the west end, don't miss the Fredricksted Pier -- by day and by night. For additional wall diving, you can go to Cane Bay (another nice sandy beach) for more shore diving on the wall (http://www.canebayscuba.com/). For even more adventure, check out SCUBA (http://www.stcroixscuba.com/) and Dive Experience (http://www.divexp.com/) for diving on the northshore wall.

If this is to be a purely dive trip -- not worried about lots of tourism development -- I'd say to to Grand Cayman. When we went, we stayed at Sunset House -- a dive resort. There was no beach, but the diving was super. After four days at Sunset House, we joined the Cayman Aggessor IV and saw just a whole lot more of GCM and Little Cayman (better diving than GCM). Farther up the coast from Sunset House are the beach resorts; the beaches looked very nice.

Diving at Bonaire is quite good, but is largely shore diving, and most of the dive locations are not at sandy beaches -- there are coral ledges to navigate to in/out of the water (maybe only a couple of steps, but a pain in the legs when one is 65, loaded w/ scuba gear and carrying a camera).

We didn't much care for the diving at Curacao -- maybe it was the wrong time of the year or something.

All that said. We chose to live on STX.

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7. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

If diving and beaches are high on your list go to Grand Cayman. The diving on the quiet east coast is excellent and beaches are nice, Seven Mile on the busy west coast and Rum Point on the leisurely north side to mention a few. Sting Ray City is a must do!!

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8. Re: St. Croix, Bonaire, or Curacao?

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