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Caribbean Vacation - Which island?

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by OCgirl, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. OCgirl
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    by OCgirl » Mar 5, 2014
    I am taking one week off in May to go back to my beloved Caribbean island(s). So far I've been to the Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Turks & Caicos. My favorite so far is T&C. Other nice tropical places/islands I've been to are Cabo San Lucas, Honolulu and Bali. This vacation is limited to my timeshare trade. So far I'm seeing these options:

    -Motego Bay, Jamaica
    -Runaway Bay, Jamaica
    -Negril, Jamaica
    -Aruba
    -Dominican Republic
    -Venezuela

    I know these are technically not the Caribbean but I am also given the option to trade:

    -Cancun
    -Playa del Carmen

    I love snorkeling in clear & not-too-cold water. I also like white clean beaches. I prefer more under-developed destinations over highly commercialized ones. But I'm not against them. I just find the less developed ones more relaxing as there aren't as many tourists.

    Any thoughts? 8-)
     
    


    


  2. sonnyjane
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    by sonnyjane » Mar 6, 2014
    I was so, so, so, so, so disappointed in Jamaica when I was there :( I was in Ocho Rios but reading reviews, Negril and Montego Bay were the same way (locals selling pot on the beach, trying to sell you drugs on the streets, dirty beaches, lots of sand fleas).

    My friend went to Aruba for her honeymoon and loved that. Venezuela is NOT the place to visit right now. My friend is a reporter for Bloomberg there and.... yeah.... has been hiding in his apartment for days. Obviously vacation spots in Venezuela might be more far removed from the drama, but might not want to even deal with it at all.
     
  3. Sky56
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    by Sky56 » Mar 6, 2014
    Agreed about Jamaica. Don't go!! The opposite - Bermuda - Lovely, fantastic, clean and safe!
     
  4. Alex T
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    by Alex T » Mar 6, 2014
    I have been to the Dominican Republic & personally, I would never go back.

    My favorite to date is St. Lucia. We have been several times but now that we have young children, it will be a while longer before we can make a 10 hour flight from the UK to explore some more.
     
    


    


  5. zoebartlett
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    by zoebartlett » Mar 6, 2014
    I'd love to go to some of the places listed, but I've heard Jamaica is not a great place. Personally, I'd rather go to an island that I feel safe exploring and see what else is around besides my resort.

    Although it's not part of the Caribbean, I'd recommend Bermuda. The beaches and the water are amazing, there are places to shop and places to see if you like to explore the sights, and it's a safe island. It's not a place you'd rent a car. You can rent a scooter/moped though, and that's how a lot of people get around. It has a good mix of being a gorgeous place where you can laze around on the beach or at your hotel/resort, or you can head to other places on the island. I'd return to Bermuda soon if I could. Another plus is that it's a short flight from NC, so it's very easy to get to if you're on the east coast.

    There are a few threads on St. Lucia, I think. I'm pretty sure that's where former poster Jcrow went on her honeymoon. She loved it and the island looks beautiful.
     
  6. Asscherhalo_lover
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  7. Harpertoo
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    by Harpertoo » Mar 6, 2014
    I loved Venezuela, but for now I think you should strike that from your list.
     
  8. asscher_girl
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    by asscher_girl » Mar 6, 2014
    How about the Virgin Islands? For the USVI's I'd recommend St. John. For BVI's I'd recommend Virgin Gorda or Tortola. Plus you can do small chartered boat trips to many of the smaller islands while you're there.

    My favorite like you is T&C. We were there last July in Provo and loved it so much. That water is so perfect, no waves, clear and warm. We stayed on Grace Bay but next time we go we are going to rent a house on Taylor Bay. Did you check out Taylor Bay? Incredible.

    We just went to the VI's for Christmas, stayed on St. Thomas. I used to live on STT and have friends there so that was our home base. However, STT is so populated and has some crime, I don't know if I'd go back, it's changed so much since I lived there. However, we didn't stay on that island much, we'd take day trips to the neighboring islands like St. John, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Scrub island.

    I've done Jamaica, no thanks, won't be going back there. My good friend is from Venezuela and with everything going on there right now, I'd stay away. As for Bahamas, I've looked into Great Exuma but haven't gone there yet, it's next on our list. It's small, quiet, awesome beaches with plenty of smaller islands around to boat to for day trips.

    I'm a total Caribbean girl, it's holding a huge piece of my heart. Hubby and I plan to move back there for an early retirement :sun:

    Let us know what you decide!
     
  9. baby monster
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    by baby monster » Mar 6, 2014
    I highly recommend Aruba for beaches and relaxing. There's nothing else to do there. I've been there twice and would love to go back but it's expensive. Not sure why Jamaica is getting such bad reviews. I've been to MoBay, Negril and Ocho Rios and loved all of them. Whenever I see that Jamaica commercial on tv, I want to jump on the plane there. Been to Dominican twice, would never ever ever ever go back. Horrible. Lost count how many times I've been to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Hit or miss depenIHOPding on resort but pretty much default location for us because it's so easy to get there. The food and service are always amazing, tons of things to do. We just stayed a month ago at Secrets silver sands right outside Cancun and it was great.

    Would love to visit T&C next. Can give a little info about your trip?
     
  10. iluvshinythings
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    by iluvshinythings » Mar 6, 2014
    If you want to go somewhere you haven't been before, I'd check out Domican Republic. I stayed in Punta Cana and really enjoyed it. The beaches were nice and it wasn't crowded. (we were there in February though)

    I really enjoyed St. Maarten and St. Thomas and would love to go back.

    I agree with everyone about Jamaica. The island is beautiful but it's crowded, full of drugs and doesn't feel safe to me.

    A friend of mine just got back from St. Lucia and highly recommends it. I think that will be my next Carribean stop.
     
    


    


  11. amc80
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    by amc80 » Mar 6, 2014
    I second this. I've had a lot of clients go to Punta Cana and they've all loved it.
     
  12. tyty333
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    by tyty333 » Mar 6, 2014
    No to Jamaica!

    I love St John. Lots of snorkeling and just so beautiful. Not a lot of resorts there though.

    Aruba is nice but no good snorkeling/diving. Pretty beaches though.

    I also liked St. Marten and Grand Caymens.
     
  13. msop04
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    by msop04 » Mar 6, 2014
    I've been to Cancun (multiple locations on the Riviera Maya and once in the Hotel Zone), Jamaica, and Turks & Caicos. I didn't care for Jamaica AT ALL (stayed for 8 days in Negril). My favorite beaches were Cancun (Maroma Beach) and Turks & Caicos. My younger sister honeymooned in St. Lucia, and loved it -- her pics were amazing! I have heard bad things about Dominican from friends and my travel agent. I have heard Aruba is very nice, but only from my TA.
     
  14. msop04
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    by msop04 » Mar 6, 2014
    We've been to Secrets Silversands twice, and are in the process of booking another stay this fall -- LOVE IT! We were married at Secrets Maroma Beach, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! ...of course, it's a lot more expensive.

    OP, if you are looking for an all-inclusive (adults-only), I highly recommend Secrets Maroma/Silversands and Excellence Playa Mujeres -- both are wonderful! They have great food and a ton of things to do -- or just to relax. The beaches of Silversands and EPM were more "natural" and on a preserve (read: seaweed and rocky). If you're the type that likes to play in the ocean, Maroma is the place to go -- the beach is breathtaking!
     
  15. Ximena
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    by Ximena » Mar 6, 2014
    Since you are limited to your timeshare I'll pick from your list.
    1. Playa del Carmen.
    The coral reef stretches for miles so I would take the time to visit several 'cenotes' and caves in the area.
    My nephews loved swimming with turtles in their environment [Akumal bay] and the Eco Park.
    If you like Ziplining and rappelling, Chaak Tun might be for you. If you like horseback riding, Rancho Baaxal in Maroma Beach offers rides through the jungle and along the beach.
    2. Venezuela [Margarita Island!!] --- Not the right time.
    3. Port Antonio, Jamaica is a great place. I would check w/timeshare to see if it's possible, the rest has changed for the worst in recent years.
     
    


    


  16. baby monster
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    by baby monster » Mar 6, 2014
    We stayed at Secrets Maroma two years ago. It was excellent. I'd be hard pressed to say which is better. Have you been to Secrets Vine in Cancun itself?
     
  17. msop04
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    by msop04 » Mar 6, 2014
    DH says he likes SS better, but I think he just likes the price. LOL I liked the rooms better at SS, and the restaurants are exactly the same at both places. I liked the pools better at SMB, and of course the beach is much better there. We haven't stayed at The Vine, simply bc it's in the Hotel Zone. I can't stand that area -- too spring-break and wild for this one! :lol: The hotel itself looks very nice online, but the price was much too high for less space, privacy, and beach area, IMHO.

    Sorry for the threadjack, OP!! :bigsmile:
     
  18. OCgirl
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    by OCgirl » Mar 6, 2014
    Thank you for all the replies! I looked up St. Lucia and the pictures look AMAZING! Too bad I don't see it as a trade option. BUMMER!!!!!

    We went to T&C two years ago for my birthday. Grace Bay was absolutely gorgeous. Compare to other places, T&C is still fairly under-developed. We went in October and there were barely any tourists. There are no huge shopping malls. We did two days worth of tours. One was a pretty private one on a speed boat with just the six of us. At one point we were just dropped off in the middle of the ocean to snorkel. It was seriously an amazing experience. Food there is also very good. A lot of very nice little bistros and restaurants there. Will definitely go back once I explore a few other islands.
     
  19. LetItShine
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    by LetItShine » Mar 6, 2014
    I love St. John! The beaches are beautiful and the snorkeling was quite good as well. I've been to Cozumel and while I had a great time, the snorkeling was disappointing. I always have a good time at the Atlantis but have never snorkeled in the Bahamas. I hear that the outer islands have good snorkeling. Maybe take a day trip on a charter? I also really enjoyed Aruba. It is HOT and HUMID!!! It isn't known for good snorkeling, but we experienced great snorkeling there!!! You need to research the places to go and rent a car. The variety of fish we saw was awesome but I will say that the plant life lacks.

    Just for fun:) These were taken in Aruba

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  20. OCgirl
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    by OCgirl » Mar 6, 2014
    OMG what waterproof camera do you have? These are amazing photos!
    How's the coral reef condition there? Looks like the corals are not pristine but wow these are exotic fishies!
     
  21. LetItShine
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    by LetItShine » Mar 6, 2014
    There is some coral, sponges, and fans but not a ton. It is pretty washed out. You can see from the pictures that the fish life was quite diverse but the plant life was kinda blah. Not like Maui. The water was clear and warm when we were there in November. I have the Canon G12. They make underwater casings for many of their cameras. They can be kind of expensive ($300, I think). It does take really good underwater photos and video though. Easy to use and I just love that I can get good underwater photos of the things I see. You can tell I like snorkeling too:)
    Eta: there are actually some places you can go that have better plant life than what you see in the photos
     
  22. LetItShine
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    by LetItShine » Mar 6, 2014
    Couple more. Then I'm done... Promise:)

    _15561.jpg

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  23. justginger
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    by justginger » Mar 6, 2014
    I feel like there's a good chance that the hordes of (primarily) North American tourists who descend en masse are responsible for varying opinions of different Caribbean destinations - they essentially ruin them, over time. If you're among the first portion of visitors, you enjoy a relaxed, safe, hospitable destination. Then the money attracts unsavoury characters, crime goes up, customer service goes down, litter/pollution is a problem. It's happened in Mexico, the Bahamas, then Jamaica, then the DR, and I bet it's happening right now in Costa Rica. Belize will undoubtedly be next.

    Maybe stick with less 'hot with the crowds' spots to try to ensure an experience as good as past visitors. But maybe not quite so 'cold' as Venezuela right now, lol.

    Edited: spelling. And edited: my definite choice from your list would be Aruba. Not so packed, and perhaps a greater chance of authentic interactions with the surrounding community. :))
     
  24. Kelinas
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    by Kelinas » Mar 6, 2014
    TORTOLA



    If I could move there, I would.
    Its definitely one of the more underdeveloped islands but the waters...
    When I think of my Carribean vacation, Tortola screams into my head first.
    Followed by St Maarteen and St Kitts.
     
  25. MissGotRocks
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    by MissGotRocks » Mar 8, 2014
    Love Negril, Jamaica! - Sandals resort. It was fabulous! We also loved the Excellence in Punta Cana but the food at Sandals was much better.
     
  26. Tekate
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    by Tekate » May 9, 2015
    I didn't like Jamaica at all.. poverty, begging and I got s i c k from something I ate.

    my choice would be Cancun.. it's beautiful there and the snorkeling is wonderful.
     
  27. momhappy
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    by momhappy » May 9, 2015
    As others have mentioned, there are lots of wonderful places to go, but since you are limited to your timeshare availability, I would just like to say I wouldn't choose Jamaica or Cancun (been to both and was not impressed). Depending on your timeshare situation, you would likely not escape an abundance of tourists in Cancun or Jamaica.
     
  28. CharmyPoo
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    by CharmyPoo » May 10, 2015
    I know it isn't exactly Caribbean but I love Costa Rica! I had a fab time every time I went.

    Dominican Republic gets a big thumbs down for me. Been there before and will never go back.

    I enjoyed Jamaica but I stayed at Sandals which is pretty good. I heard Secrets is the best resort in Montego Bay.
     
  29. smitcompton
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    by smitcompton » May 10, 2015
    Hi Guys,

    This post is over a yr old.

    Annette
     
  30. momhappy
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    by momhappy » May 10, 2015
    :errrr: Ugh, I hate it when I post in an old thread that's been resurrected….
    Thanks for letting us know!!! =)
     

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