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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Which Caribbean island?

    Hoping to travel this early November for 5-6 nights from NJ/NYC region. Oldest will be 10.5 and youngest will be almost 8.

    We want to avoid large busy resorts like Beaches this time but still a hotel/resort that has plenty of water & land activities, great local food, and not too difficult to get there. Ie requiring several transfers.

    Thought about Aruba, Antigua or St martens but love to hear from BTDT as reviews is always mixed. Super helpful if you could also recommend specific resort to check out too.


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  2. #2
    dogmom is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Given that it’s the tail end of hurricane season I would say Aruba. Their healthcare system is pretty solid, which is also important. I think it all depends where you stay. I got a good deal on flight and airfare on Jet Blue, but it’s to a couples place. A lot depends on where you stay. There are timeshare condominiums to full inclusive resorts. I think it’s easier to find a smaller place there than some of the other islands. There isn’t a ton to do, but enough for a week.

  3. #3
    Kindra178 is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    We went to Aruba for a week in August 2019. The strip of hotels/timeshares feels very much like Daytona or something. Other than the water, it's just a beach. Plan on doing ATV tours if you are so inclined. There really isn't that much to do. No mountains, no greenery, no waves, no hiking, no ruins. We did tubing from the Marriott (we stayed next door at the Ritz). The guy driving the boat was helping out a friend and was unlicensed. It seemed super dangerous.

    Cabs were expensive. I went to the grocery store to save some money on food. If you put grocery bags in the trunk of the cab, it costs more than if you don't.

    RE: healthcare, I got crazy sick in Aruba. Locating healthcare was a challenge. The hotel folks were not particularly helpful. I finally found a clinic via Google. I waited two hours to see an excellent doctor who trained in the Netherlands. She believed I had pneumonia. She was unable to prescribe everything she wished for because the pharmacy didn't have it. The doctor helped me so much.

    The Ritz was average at best, with pretty poor cs.

    Airport customs (in Aruba) took every bit of 2.5 hours. Part of it was outside, I was very, very sick, standing, dealing with my luggage and my elderly mom. Global entry folks had a slightly shorter experience, but not too much.

    I would never go back to Aruba. While I am not all that well traveled in the Caribbean, I have been to a few different islands. To me, Aruba would be more fun as adult only trip and not a week long. There just isn't much to do other than the beach.

  4. #4
    PunkyBoo is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    I don't know if you're interested in Jamaica, but your post made me think of a resort we stayed at in Montego bay 20 years ago, the Hilton Rose Hall resort. It still gets great reviews as a family resort. When we were there it was Wyndham, but it looks like it's Hilton now. We didn't have kids when we went but we loved it. Lots to do and see in Jamaica, and that resort has a water park on site.

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  5. #5
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    Not a Caribbean island per se, but if you are up for a bit of local flare and something different, I'm tossing around Ambergris Caye, Belize for a winter trip. DH and I were there in 2016. It's a great mix of beach vacation with the possibility of adventure. The island is fun and safe to tool around on a golf cart, it has good restaurants and offers diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and sunning. Plus you can arrange for day trips inland to visit Mayan ruins and zipline or go cave tubing. I'm looking at the Grande Caribe for the space and a more family atmosphere but there are Marriott, Hilton and Wyndham properties as well. We aren't all-inclusive people since we like to explore the local areas so I can't speak to anything along those lines.
    Mom to Two Wild and Crazy Boys and One Sweet Baby Girl

  6. #6
    mom2binsd is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    My parents took us to Grand Cayman when we were in high school, we stayed at a condo with a kitchen etc. It was perfect, we even brought things like mac and cheese in our suitcase for cheap lunches. Coming from Canada the currency exchange and prices were high (this was in the late 80s), not sure how expensive it is now. Very safe and clean, no language barriers, and pristine beaches.

    What about Ixtapa Mexico? I know essense I believe went there a few years ago with her kids.

  7. #7
    MSWR0319 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kindra178 View Post
    We went to Aruba for a week in August 2019. The strip of hotels/timeshares feels very much like Daytona or something. Other than the water, it's just a beach. Plan on doing ATV tours if you are so inclined. There really isn't that much to do. No mountains, no greenery, no waves, no hiking, no ruins. We did tubing from the Marriott (we stayed next door at the Ritz). The guy driving the boat was helping out a friend and was unlicensed. It seemed super dangerous.

    Cabs were expensive. I went to the grocery store to save some money on food. If you put grocery bags in the trunk of the cab, it costs more than if you don't.

    RE: healthcare, I got crazy sick in Aruba. Locating healthcare was a challenge. The hotel folks were not particularly helpful. I finally found a clinic via Google. I waited two hours to see an excellent doctor who trained in the Netherlands. She believed I had pneumonia. She was unable to prescribe everything she wished for because the pharmacy didn't have it. The doctor helped me so much.

    The Ritz was average at best, with pretty poor cs.

    Airport customs (in Aruba) took every bit of 2.5 hours. Part of it was outside, I was very, very sick, standing, dealing with my luggage and my elderly mom. Global entry folks had a slightly shorter experience, but not too much.

    I would never go back to Aruba. While I am not all that well traveled in the Caribbean, I have been to a few different islands. To me, Aruba would be more fun as adult only trip and not a week long. There just isn't much to do other than the beach.
    To do this day I am traumatized by tubing from going tubing in Aruba. The guy literally about killed me. He dumped me off the tube so hard that I couldn't even move to get back to the boat. DH thought I was dead. Then I had to stay in the boat while he tried to kill DH by crazy driving. I had my arms and legs braced against the boat just trying to stay in it while he turned. Every time we take the kids tubing I freak out even though it's DH driving. It brings back horrible memories.

    OP - I don't think Aruba probably has what you're looking for with the kids. We went before kids and it was fine, but my kids would not last more than a day there.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the feedback! Its exactly the kind of info Im looking for. Even DH said the same who went to Aruba but did say it was 20 years ago for him. He felt there are other better islands for what we have in mind.

    Im stumped cuz early November is also hurricane season. Granted its the tail end of it, so I rather not stay right smack in middle of hurricane belt. Will have to Google more.

    Dh is intrigued by Antigua as it has great mix of beaches, clear water and greenery plus golfing. The boys can play 9 hole with him too, as well some local trials if were so inclined too. Were not really AI type, as love to sample local vibe and cuisines. From what I read about Antigua and even St martens fit the criteria so far.

    I love the idea of Belize but probably too adventurous? But maybe not. I kept Belize on my list as a place when my youngest is 10 years old so he can participate more adventurous things.


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  9. #9
    Kindra178 is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Definitely put Puerto Rico on your list. So much culture, good food, rain forest, day trips and no customs. I love Old San Juan.

    MSWR, I got knocked off the tube (raft), as did my kids. He kind of made fun of me for being unable to get back on, and told me that he helped people much bigger than me back on the raft. The whole thing was so offensive. I also got pt when we returned because my back was messed up.

  10. #10
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    We've been to a few islands. The two we've returned to are Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico. We enjoy both.

    I've been curious about Turks & Caicos. And I've always wanted to check out St Barth's.
    DD1 - 1996
    DD2 - 1999
    DD3 - 2005

    Surfaces are for working, not for storing. - Peter Walsh

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