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What is the best island in the caribbean?

Jimster

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Currently I am planning a vacation for the Caribbean and I am calling on seasoned tuggers to have the air their opinions as to the best island and resorts in the Caribbean. Tenatively, I am thinking about St. Maarten. Any other nominees? If it is St. Maarten, what is the best resort and why?
 

Sandy VDH

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Timeshare exchange or just vacation in general? If you are planning timeshare exchange only that might eliminate some pretty choice locations where timesharing is NOT an option.

Do you dive? Do you Sail? Hang at the Beach? Budget minded or bring on the best? All these will elevate or eliminate option.

I am missing only a handful of countries in the Caribbean (I am missing Curacao, Bonaire, Haiti, Monserrat, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago). I have been to all others, including Cuba. Some numerous repeat trips, some for a full week, some just for a day or two trip.

I have not been to Martinique, Dominica or Guadaloupe, but will be stopping there in 2 weeks time on our delivery cruise from Antigua to Bequia departing Aug 14th.

What is best is subject to what you want to do and see and on what budget.

Sandy
 

akbmusic

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Need more info

I agree w/Sandy! All islands are not equal, and there are some great ones that do NOT have timeshares on them. Listing some interests would be helpful!
 

Jimster

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reply

I am looking for an island with a timeshare. As far as interests go, there will be a wide variety since we will be traveling with my daughters family. Certainly, site-seeing, swimming and fun in the sun are on the agenda. I personally wouldn't mind a casino to try my luck. What I don't like is being cramped into a little condo and herded around with thousands of others. I like a little elbow room.
 

akbmusic

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St. Maarten or Aruba

I would agree w/St. Maarten/St. Martin and would also suggest that you do some checking into Aruba as well. Both islands have a wide variety of activities and contain some nice timeshares and are espcially good starting points if you haven't been to the caribbean much before-not quite the culture shock of some other islands.
 

debraxh

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You don't mention which exchange company you'll be using, but with II the easiest trade would be St. Marteen or Aruba (also Cancun but it's not technically Caribbean)
 

caribbean

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we all like different things. I do have my personal favorites, but I have to say I have enjoyed my time on EVERY Caribbean island. Just some more than others. Not a one that I would not go back to, the island, not the actual resort, just some quicker than others. But I still have a long list of TODO Islands to check off, one more this fall and 2 more next year.
 

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As much as I love St. John, the poster's requirements seem contradictory to the tourist adventure on the island.

There are only two timeshares on St. John, the nearly impossible to grab Westin and Sunset Ridge with only 6 units.

When I think of sightseeing, I don't think of the sights underwater when snorkeling or beaches or a couple of ruins, beautiful vegetation and an abundance of wildlife, which is pretty much all that is available on St. John. I think more of historical sights and tourist oriented activities and programs. He said there would be several folks traveling together and a variety of interests. The diversity of sightseeing activities is limited.

He also mentioned that a casino would be welcome. There are none on St. John.

A decent compromise might be staying on St. Thomas, with all of its sightseeing possibilities, and taking one or two fifteen minute ferry rides to St. John during his stay. Unfortunately, the casino requirement wouldn't be met on St. Thomas either. There are, however, greater timeshare choices on St. Thomas.

Perhaps St. Maarten/St. Martin would be a good option, or Aruba or even the Dominican Republic. I'd say Puerto Rico as well, but there are very few timeshares there. I don't know about Jamaica.

Gerie
 

Conan

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For places with ample timeshares, the contest usually narrows to St. Martin v. Aruba.

St. Martin's plus is that it's more 'foreign' i.e. french-influenced which means world-class restaurant choices, beaches topless-friendly and even nude (the north, french side but easily reachable even if you're staying on the south, dutch side where most of the timeshares are). Minus is more petty crime and more poverty (not a reflection on its people, who are famously friendly to visitors) and the possiblity of hurricane. Plus again is you can reach Anguilla (for snorkeling) and St. Barts (bring $$$).

Aruba for better or worse tends towards the opposite, i.e. less foreign for American tastes in food and beach culture. Also less crime, less poverty, and weather that is more reliably hot and dry (but windy).
 

piglet

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Hello, my vote is for Puerto Rico. Coz it has it all. Great beaches, casinos, stuff for kids, eco adventure, tourist attractions, entertainment (symphonies, baseball, etc.), the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, local & gourmet restaurants, easy to get to .... Guess I'm abit biased as we've owned timeshare in San Juan for over 28 years. :)
 

carolbol

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This may not be a factor but I thought I would mention it. AFTER you narrow your choice down, check out airfare costs from the airport you will be flying out of. We have a friend who doesn't use their timeshare because the airfare is to high.

That being said, my vote for you would be St. Martin.
 

mabelline7

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St. John's got my vote! It's the most beautiful place I have ever seen, the Westin is fantastic with beautiful timeshares, great pool,great food, excellent boating trips :) and lush beautiful gounds. Trunk Bay, Hawks nest and Cinnamon Bay are the most beautiful delux breath taking beaches I have seen. It is a quiet island and is very family oriented. the only downside is you need BIG BUCKS to buy into the Westin.
 

Carolinian

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Having been to the Caribbean many times, Sint Maarten is still my first choice, but for a first timer, that recomendation is even stronger because it is an island that lets you experience so many Caribbean cultures so easily.
It is an easy day trip to the English crown colony of Anguilla, with its beautiful beaches. Ferries run from Marigot in French St. Martin all day long and much of the evening to Blowing Point on Anguilla. Dutch Sint Maarten and French St. Martin and themselves quite distinctive, but you can get another take on the French Caribbean experience by taking one of the catamaran day trips to upscale St. Barths, or another Dutch Caribbean experience with a catamaran day trip to mountainous Saba with its quaint villages like Windwardside and The Bottom. You can get ''free'' catamaran tickets by taking timeshare presentations. If you can find one (the last couple of times I was there none were running) take a sailing cat over a motor cat. The sailing experience to St. Barths is awesome, and you just don't get the same ambiance on the motor cats.

Except for the occaisional sale fare, I always use air miles for Caribbean trips, because of the cost of airfare.
 
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Sandy VDH

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As soon as you say timeshare it has to be St Maarten or Aruba. If you are exchanging that is likely the best opportunity you will have to trade. Both of the island are better for land based activities.

Since I am a diver and hate any crowds at all, that takes St Maarten and Aruba off my list. It does however add a whole other group of islands. That is why I love Tradewinds Cruise Club so much. Change of scenery, change of islands, sail, dive and no crowds. Perfect vacation from my point of view.
 

silverfox82

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Much as I like Aruba my vote is for St. Maarten. Timeshares abound, particularly on the Dutch side, the food is wonderful on both sides and the beaches are some of the best anywhere. 2 sugestions, I would avoid staying in Philipsburg itself, it's mobbed when cruiseships are in (which is just about evey day) and it seems this is where most of the petty crime occurs. It's certainly worth a day trip for sightseeing, shopping etc but I personally would stay elsewhere. Secondly, stop at a market in Marigot for freshly baked baguettes, an incredible selection of pate's and cheeses and a nice selection of french table wines. My wife and I have had many memorable meals in the "little lattitudes" over the years but perhaps one of the best ever was the above meal, parially eaten in the car on the way back to the hotel and it cost less than $10. If you fly in by jet (as opposed to a puddle jumper from San Juan) keep in mind that the jets unload from both ends there so if we fly coach we book as far back as possible and are the 1st few in line for immigration although if you have checked luggage it probably doesn't matter, just a timesaver for us carryoners. Hope you have a great time.
 

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MellyZ said:
Aruba has been my LEAST favorite destination thus far.

MellyZ--
Why not Aruba? I've been to Jamaica, St. Kitts, Cancun (technically not Caribbean). I have Aruba on my must do list along with many others.....just wondering how your experience there ranks it at the bottom.
Thanks for your input!
 

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Sammy

Palm Beach was much too crowded and noisy for my liking. It was hard to get a palapa unless you got up at the crack of dawn every day (which I ended up doing), and the jet skiis, etc. drove me nuts. That's probably why I so much prefer St. John, the BVI's and certain areas of the Mayan Riviera (but NOT Cancun). I am also a diver and snorkeler, and the diving on Aruba was marginal at best, and the snorkeling, except for the Antilla wreck, was very unremarkable.

I also didn't care for the landscape - a desert with a beach. I prefer mountainous, lush landscapes. We did rent a jeep and went to the Natural Pool, and around the entire island, which was fun, but after one day of touring, there wasn't much to do, and I'm a very active person. I felt stuck on the island, unlike the Virgin Islands, where you can day venture away. If it wasn't for the windsurfing, I would have been ready to go home in 3-4 days.

The good points - The Marriott Ocean Club was great (although we got a crappy locale as exchangers), and all the meals we had were great.

We went beacuse I happened upon a Marriott week just sitting there on Interval, and since I don't like the Miami Beach atmosphere I found there, I won't be back. I'll pay to stay on St. John, in Tulum or Akumal next time I go to the Carib.
 

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Don't forget the CONSTANT WINDS at Aruba. Given its location the winds blow at a constant rate from the horse latitudes to the tropics at a speed up to 20 knots always from the same direction. Although this makes for good wind surfing conditions, you get a constant sand blasting on the beach. This is also why all the trees on the island (what few there are on a desert) permanently lean over in the same direction. :(
 

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Thanks for the feekback MellyZ and Kal. Friends of ours tell us we HAVE to get to Aruba and I've not been able to get a trade as of yet (we always travel in peak season). I have always felt I should add other islands to my list.

MellyZ - you also mention Cancun. How did you feel about that? I happen to love Cancun -- I fell in love with the gorgeous ocean, the enormous array of activities, and the wonderful people (Royals and Marriotts) and we have been there in low crowds (May and July 4th was also, to my surprise, not crowded at all) so reservations or beach palapas or tours were never a problem.

Sam
 

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I go to Aruba at least 2 weeks every March, and this March '06, I'll be there 3 weeks. I disagree about Palm Beach.....I love Palm Beach. It is relaxing and fun at the same time. I agree there are jet skis out in the water, but I don't "hear" them, I only see them. There are tons of fine restaurants, all within walking distance, and tons of water activities right there on the beach.
 

alanmj

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Guadeloupe, then St. Lucia

Kal said:
Without a shadow of doubt, St. Maarten. Go Here to see why.

For me of the timeshare islands that I've been to Guadeloupe gets my vote, for all of the reasons given by Kal for St. Martin and much, much more so. East half (Grande Terre) is beaches, sun, sand, casinos, good to very good restaurants-a-plenty. West half (Basse Terre) is rain forest, scuba, scenery etc. Not too crowded cf. St. Martin, and not the poverty you see elsewhere. And it is cheap compared to the rest of the Caribbean, as it's a French prefecture and is heavily subsidized by the French government. Prices for food at the supermarkets are the same as in France, or even cheaper. Lots of variety, esp. excellent bread, cheese and wine. What more could you ask for? Oh, and being French/European the beaches are topless optional, which might upset some people...

I've not been to Martinique, but it is the same I imagine without the Basse Terre scenery.

Second for me is St. Lucia. Again, great beaches and rain forest/scenery. (I do like to do more than sun/sea/sand.)

FAR down the list, as in never go to again, are the USVI. There's no Caribbean flavour to them at all. Might as well go to Florida.

But the best holiday I've had so far has been sailing in the Grenadines. Not everyones cup of tea on a yacht, and trades of 2 cabins for the same week are impossible with TradeWinds Cruise Club (very strict 1 in 4 rule), but an absolutely fantastic experience.

AlanMJ
 
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