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Where to go in the Caribbean

This is our first time to the Caribbean. We would like a condo on the beach, not to touristy, but would like things to do.
Beautiful beaches and pool and restaurants. Family of 5, youngest child 17 yrs old. Which island and condo do we choose?
St. Martin was interesting but it seems the planes fly real low there when landing. Or are all islands like that?

Posted by
23355 posts

Unless you go to a private island with a private ALL of the Caribbean island are touristy. Just some are more touristy than others. We like St. Thomas since it is American. St. Martin shares the island with the French and the French side is more interesting. All planes fly low when landing. Since the islands are not very big, it hard not to fly low over the beaches and condos and still hit the runway.

Posted by
565 posts

When are you going and what is your budget? The Caribbean is a big and varied place outside of the usual cruise ship docks. I fly into St. Martin a couple of times a year so I'm assuming you are watching the clips of the beach at the end of the runway where people hang off the fence (right next to the boat drink bar!). Lots of non touristy places, but condos and non touristy aren't usually in the same sentence. Let me know and I can help!

Posted by
3391 posts

There is only one tiny beach at the end of the main airport in St. Martin where the planes fly over. Other than that there is very little air traffic except in one other small town called Grand Case where there is a small airport that services the island hopper planes. Great restaurants in that town though!
It's hard to avoid touristy places in the Caribbean - if you don't have tourism then there really isn't much to do beyond relax and enjoy the beauty!
There are beautiful beaches in St. Martin. Orient Bay is lovely - it is quite touristy but there is lots to do and the beach is white and sandy. You can also go up to Cul de Sac and take the boat out to Pinel Island. It's a great place to spend the day with a few good beach bars and restaurants and a walk around to the back side of the island to watch the waves crash and have small beaches to yourself.
Some of the best beaches in the world are on the island of Anguilla, just a ferry ride away from St. Martin. Not as touristy with quiet beaches that have some of the whitest sand I've seen anywhere. The downside of that is that there isn't as much to do since the tourists haven't taken over yet! On the back side of Anguilla you can take a boat out to Sandy Island...a tiny whisp of sand with a beach bar that looks like it's out of a Corona commercial. Pretty spectacular!
Most of the islands you go to will have similar things...good restaurants with music and beach bars, snorkeling and scuba excursions, shops selling shells and tropical clothing, sunglasses and rum. The more touristy populated ones will have added water sports like jet skiing, paragliding, kayaking, SUP, etc...but with kids in the mix it would be nice to have those things to do!

Posted by
8533 posts

If a place wasnt touristy, there would be no condos on the beach. I think Turks & Caicos is a good alternative. Grand Cayman is also a fun option, although that may be mostly hotels. Aruba worth considering. But the biggest factor to me, is how easy is it to get to any of the destinations. From where I live, it can take > 1 day with mulitple plane changes to get to someplace like St Lucia or St Martin.

Posted by
252 posts

How about Curaçao? A little less touristy maybe...a little Dutch influence...great warm weather since it is so south.
Perhaps to consider for you.

Posted by
350 posts

Barbados is beautiful. Great beaches, small can drive the island in less than a day. Great water sports and nice restaurants. I

Posted by
2116 posts

Virgin Gorda (Little Dix Bay) remains one of our favorites, followed by St. John (Caneel Bay Resort). The to-do's would include day sailing to The Baths, Joest Van Dyke, and snorkeling, walks on the beach and more snorkeling/sailing. But, if your to-dos must include nightlife and a lot of shopping, then these places may not be your best bet. If you like a less touristy option, but the ability to shop, etc., you could always stay on St. John and take the ferry over to St. Thomas during the day.

We haven't personally stayed there, but the Anchorage condos on St. Thomas near Cow Pet Bay is a friend's favorite place to stay.

All depends on your definition of 'things to do' and what time of year you will be going. We prefer the natural beauty vs. the typical 'tourist attractions and activities.' But, not everyone is the same.

Posted by
16 posts

Look at private beach house rentals. Go to an out island in the Bahamas -personal favorite is Eleuthera. Or one of the less touristy islands (Caribbean as a whole) and create a vacation of your own. Get away from the crowds and have a nice relaxing time. As a family we have had more fun the any touristy place can offer by getting away. Most islands have lots of different beaches and or history to explore. Eat at local restaurants. Set your own schedule. LIVE!!!!!!!

Posted by
295 posts

I recently went to the Island of Roatan in Honduras. It was amazing. Nicest beaches I've ever seen. Better than Hawaii or Mexico. I went with my family, 2 kids. We ziplined, did beach time, shopped, etc. Everyone loved it. Every affordable too. We all want to go back.

Posted by
13 posts

I think grand cayman as much to do. They have swimming with sting rays, turtle rehab farm, and a dolphin experience. Lots of restaurants and condos.
Aruba, did not feel there was a lot to do but my kids enjoyed the ostrich farm there and we had a lovely dinner on a 'ranch'. At the beach plenty to do, including sailboarding and the one where you sail with a half parachute over the water (kite sailing?). Great snorkeling from the beach as my kids were young then.
Curaçao. Lovely beach, fun little old European town, but really there from the beach we could see and smell the gas refinery. (Sorry, being honest, but the hotel was gorgeous!)
St. Lucia-absolute best Caribbean experience we had at the Jalousie hotel (Hilton then, now a different chain) where you have your own cabin with plunge pool, golf vehicles to pick you up if desired when you go to beach and common facilities. Isolated but sits between two pitons and is an absolutely beautiful location. Snorkeling, kayaking and boating in the bay is perfect. Excursions to other reefs available. Pretty secluded though, but did I say beautiful?
Virgin Islands-also nice. We did day trip over to St. John's.
St. Kitts-plenty to do. Day trip to Nevis and snorkeled off a boat/tour. Beautiful and can drive around the island in one day.

Honestly, you will love any of these islands. If you are looking for a Myrtle Beach, all of these are more laid back BUT offer better beaches, snorkeling, restaurants and overall relaxing experience.

Posted by
8181 posts

We've been to every island north of Barbados, Aruba and Curacao. We've also been to Cozumel, the Yucatan, Jamaica and The Caymans many times. We've also spent extended time in Nassau, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John. We were in Turks and Caicos in October.

My favorite of all the islands is St. Lucia. It also has some of the premier all inclusive resorts anywhere--like Jade Mountain. See We took a Consol Tour of the island with a tourguide named Yellowbird, and we loved the place.
It all comes down to your budget. All of the islands for beachfront condos will be relatively expensive, and transportation to the deep Caribbean (other than San Juan) can get very expensive.

I returned from Seaside, Florida a week ago. The Gulf Coast from Panama City over to Gulf Shores, Alabama have the best beaches in the world. And Gulf Coast condos are more reasonably priced than islands in the deep Caribbean. But where you really save is in transportation getting there.