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Where to go???

Illinois
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19 posts
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Where to go???

I’m trying to decide where to vacation in early summer ’08. My family and I ( 2 adults, 15 yo boy, 13 yo girl) have been to Sanibel, FL the last several years and we absolutely love it but would like a change next year. Something a little more tropical/Caribbean with good snorkeling/scuba would be ideal. Surfing would be great but not essential. The peace and quiet of Sanibel with the lack of high-rises, amusement parks and casinos is what we crave. The convenience of some decent casual restaurants and small groceries would be a nice plus. We’ve really become spoiled with the large choices of condos right on the beach in Sanibel. St. John USVI looks like heaven to me but the lack of accommodations on the beach is disappointing.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Harrisburg
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527 posts
5 reviews
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1. Re: Where to go???

I understand your feelings on lack of beach front because my family feels the same way. Villas on the North Shore provide quick driving access to the beaches and relatively quick access to Cruz Bay for groceries and dining.

St. John will fit the bill for all other areas you mention (except surfing)

Are you interested in renting a house or staying in a condo (Westin, Gallows type of thing)? What time of year?

virginia
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326 posts
2 reviews
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2. Re: Where to go???

one thing you might consider is staying on St Thomas in a condo resort (we stayed at secret harbor)

we had a beach front 2 bedroom 2 bath condo for about 300/night. we literaly were right on the beach. It's a very quiet resort with a resturant and beach bar. It has a nice sandy beach and some very good snorkling. Our 2 lazy days we stayed on the beach there all day...the kids didn't want to go anywhere else just swim/snorkle and sand castle build.

We rented a car for the week and took the ferry over to St John 3x to explore and see different beaches etc... When we asked the kids on our last day if they wanted to see more of St Thomas they opted for another trip back to St John.

We had one day where we took a trip to the BVI's.

Staying on St Thomas saved us BIG money verses staying at Caneel or the Westin. (for each front Accom)

our next trip we are just going to stay on St john in a hillside condo/villa But for your first trip...staying beach front was fantastic!

Ontario
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236 posts
6 reviews
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3. Re: Where to go???

petdoc,

If you are looking for a more developed island (in terms of the abject proverty, etc)...why not give St. Lucia a try - absolutely fantastic diving and snorkelling, beautiful scenery and landscape and an amazing surfing / kitesurfing beach...and its not full of high rises, etc (except the capital city of Castries and even it will look small to you)

St. Lucia does a lot of self-catering units, particularly in Rodney Bay - one of the main tourist areas. Pluses for it - you can wander (during the day and evening) without concern for your safety (except in some areas of Castries), the local buses are super easy to figure out and there are grocery stores within walking distance of most of the self-catering units in Rodney Bay. There is a whole strip of amazing restos in the area as well - any kind of food you could want - absolutely AMAZING seafood. There is a Friday night fish fry in a little town called Anse La Ray and the Jump-Up is a street party on Friday nights in Gros islet (about 5 minutes from Rodney Bay).

A really great little villa hotel in RB is called the Tuxedo Villas www.tuxedovillas.com - they have studio, one and two bedroom units (only 22 units in total I think) - we stayed there on our last trip (Jan '06) to SL and had a wonderful time. Our room had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen (gas stove), dining area and living room with seating for at least 6 people. There is a small pool in the courtyard if you want a quiet afternoon (it never gets used and is immacuatley kept) and the staff there were fantastic. Another popular, non-all inclusive is the Bay Gardens - its further from the beach though....Ther are tons of vacation rentals in Gros Islet, primarliy in an area known as Cap Estates. Beautiful with everything from tiny condos to 9 bedroom luxury villas - lots are on the beach as well...

FYI: All beaches in St. Lucia are public - so whether you pay $4000 a week per person to stay at Sandals or you stay at a fleabag motel, everyone has access to the same Caribbean sea and views.

For diving - try www.divefairhelen.com - a smaller locally owned and operated diving outfit - two nice boats though and never the "cattle boat" feeling. Further, these guys will pick you up, wherever you are staying and return you back there - free of charge. Lunch is included on the boat and is always primarily local food and product. The owner of Dive Fair Helen is an marine ecologist and will give you essentially the equivalent of a a PADI underwater naturalist course in the course of a couple of days of diving with them.

The surfing / Kite-surfing beach is at Cas-en-Bas on the north Atlantic side of the island - its also a great place to spend a day just because.....Also, there is a new condo / estate development that was under construction when we were there. I understand it to be up and running - lots of beach / beach view units there as well....

I have never been to St. John so I can't comment on that, but I have done Cuba, Mexico the DR and St. Lucia (total of 14 weeks in St. Lucia so far), so if St. Lucia appeals to you, drop me a line for more info.

Cheers,

Dee

Raleigh, NC
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686 posts
4 reviews
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4. Re: Where to go???

I understand your feeling about beachfront property. We had usually vacationed at Myrtle Beach, oceanfront, until going to St. John in the mid 1980"s. Our children were 16 and 10 that year. We rented a villa and have never looked back. I do not think we have missed but a year or two in going to St. John at least once each year since our first visit. There are some waterfront properties and almost all have water views. Many beaches are easy to get to and breathtakingly beautiful once you arrive. Snorkeling is more popular than surfing. Much of St. John is National Park and hiking is also popular.

We now vacation each year with not just our children but our two grandchildren, my "snorkel buddies," ages 5 and 7. Casual restaurants are the norm. One of our family favorites is Shipwrecked Landing at Coral Bay. Several small groceries provide the opportunity to eat in your villa or cottage. We almost always pack our lunch to take to the beach with us and just spend the day.

Vacations are such an important part of family time; good luck with your decision.

Washington DC...
Destination Expert
for St. Thomas
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3,212 posts
180 reviews
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5. Re: Where to go???

Don't miss St. John. You won't find a prettier island in the Caribbean. And, if you can afford Caneel Bay, go for it. With seven gorgeous beaches, excellent snorkeling, and access to the national park hiking trails some folks never leave the resort. For those who do the north shore beaches are only a few minutes drive away and Cruz Bay is no more than 10 minutes.

One of the beauties of St. John is the lack of resorts on the beaches. Therefore, they are lovely coves of white sand that are rarely crowded (except when cruise passengers unload at Trunk Bay).

Reneeva had a good idea, too. Secret Harbour is just a short ferry ride away and is moderately priced and offers snorkeling at its own beach. It doesn't have the sheer natural beauty of St. John or of Caneel, but it's a way to get the best of both worlds at a more affordable price.

The BVI have some pretty spots, too, and some islands have beautiful villas on the beaches...look at Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

Boston
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6,558 posts
38 reviews
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6. Re: Where to go???

Petdoc,

You should definitely look into the British Virgin Islands. You can probably get a place on the beach - we usually stay at Mongoose Apartments in Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. There are places on Virgin Gorda as well. In my opinion, the BVI are as pretty as St John with more to do. You can do many day trips around the BVI without having to clear customs and teenagers will love these day trips (as will you)! You can go to the Baths, Marina Cay, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, or just go on a sailing trip. It is very very laid back. There are good restaurants and small grocery stores.

I would not recommend that you go to St Thomas if you want a laid back place. It does not sound like the place for you. You might also consider St Croix if you are interested in scuba and snorkeling. They have fabulous restaurants and it is really laid back as well It is not as pretty as either the BVI or ST John, but we really love it there. Check out the St Croix forum if you are interested. But, you cannot really do day trips off the island except to Buck Island which is not to be missed if you do go there. The other thing is St John is pretty expensive. The BVI are not cheap, but not quite as expensive as St John and St Croix is less expensive than both of them.

It really depends on what you want - they all have something for everyone - and at all budgets - its just a matter of finding the right place!

Good Luck!

Saffie

Massachusetts
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2,547 posts
24 reviews
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7. Re: Where to go???

It does sound like STJ offers a lot of what you're looking for. And while there aren't a lot of beachfront accomodations, there are some. Some are high end--Caneel, the Gibney cottages. There is the Westin. If you want to rough it, there's Cinnamon Bay. (Funny, no? Some of the most expensive and some of the least expensive accomodations are sited on beautiful beaches---nothing mid-range. Spend more for a night at Caneel than for a couple weeks baresite rental at Cinnamon----both gorgeous locations) There are also a few villas on Coral Bay that are beachfront---Calypso by the Sea is one---but they're mostly rock and coral beach.

As has been mentioned, one of the lovely features of STJ's beaches is they're not built up---and the price of keeping them that way is that people have to do without beachfront rentals.

There are more beachfront rentals available on Virgin Gorda, which also offers much of what you're looking for.

8. Re: Where to go???

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