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which island for first time caribbean travelers

3 posts
which island for first time caribbean travelers

We have grown children, and would like to visit the caribbean to celebrate a family milestone.

The interests we share are: beach bumming, hiking, exploring, golf, snorkeling, good local/ethnic food, upscale resort style environment with some nightlife and also some touring of the native culture.

We would be leaving from Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia airports, and would go February or March of next year.

We have never been to any of the islands and most of my research and/or advice suggests different islands.

How do I sort through the quantity and get to what would be the best "first time" caribbean experience?

St Lucia looks great, Aruba is so popular, others say go to Costa Rica etc......

Help, please!



Level Contributor
861 posts
1 review
1. Re: which island for first time caribbean travelers

Hi Suzy

You pose a difficult question to answer because many people love the islands for different reasons. St John is my favorite the reason is that it is so laid back has beautiful natural beachs great snorkeling good hiking and pretty good food. I mostly love it because it has no resorts on the beaches. Most people stay in rental villa's STJ only has 2 resorts. It has shopping that is good but not a lot and a few bars to grab a drink at in the evening. I think to love ST John you have to be a true beach or water bum. I am sure some may diagree.

An island like Aruba will offer you more options for family entertainment. It has nice beaches lots of beachfront resorts, shopping and night life.

St Thomas may be a good option for you- It has some nice beaches golf and shopping. It would allow for you to ferry to St john or you could take a day boat tour to the British virgin islands.

I think you need to just research a few islands of intrest and make a choice.

Hope this helps

Rhode Island
Destination Expert
for Virgin Gorda
Level Contributor
2,792 posts
7 reviews
2. Re: which island for first time caribbean travelers

I would like to put a vote in for Barbados. I think the island holds up well against all of your criteria. I really like St Lucia, but mostly for reasons other than what you named (though Gourmet once named the Castries market to be one of the best food markets in the world). I would also agree that St Lucia has better snorkeling than Barbados. However, the history of Barbados, the graciousness of its people, the many upscale resorts, very good golf courses, variety of good food, and general safety factors give the island the nod (in my opinion) over St Lucia. I also happen to think Jamaica fills the criteria well, but I have a feeling there are aspects of the island that might not appeal to you. I let you be the judge, however. Take a look at Round Hill. I also think Nevis could work for you (Four Seasons has an amazing golf course). Speaking of Four Seasons, if you go to Costa Rica don't go to the Caribbean side (it's not great). Go the Pacific side and stay at the Four Seasons Papagayo (another fantastic golf course).

Level Contributor
760 posts
37 reviews
3. Re: which island for first time caribbean travelers

Suzy- Maybe an idea that would work for you to narrow down the choices would be to start a spreadsheet with rows as islands and "features" as columns. The "features" could be things like "golf", "nightlife", "Upscale resorts", "direct flights"...etc. Then fill in the available features for each Island...the start down selecting.

From what I have learned, I would suggest you look at Aruba, Saint Maarten, Punta Cana, and Jamaica.

Many people really love (or hate) one or the other...but to each their own. I'd start with a popular and convenient destination first...

You can learn alot from browsing the different Island forums too...


3 posts
4. Re: which island for first time caribbean travelers

Thank you for those replys.

I understand there is no magic answer so I will take your considerations into account.

Narrow the search, narrow the interests, as well as, travel time and time of year.

Also, I hope it won't be my last time to the Caribbean!


5. Re: which island for first time caribbean travelers

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