Caribbean vacation??

I know this is a European site - darn! I am hoping to find advice for my daughter who hopes to go somewhere in the Caribbean after her college graduation for wind surfing and relaxing on a beautiful beach (lucky girl). Does anyone have suggestions of a reasonable, beautiful, safe place to go?? Great wind surfing and diving would be a plus.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9472 posts

Dorian, go to the forums they have country specific forums , even down to city specific ones. As for safety that relies mostly on your daughters common sense, ability to control her drinking( drinking age is 18 everywhere , and frankly in most places they will fudge that bit anyways) and choices she will make on her own Personally I would encourage a college grad to make a good Euro trip, at least they will get some real sightseeing and cultural experiences inbetween beaches and partying. Suggest Greek Islands, loved them when I was 23, and also consider south coast of Spain .

Posted by Dorian
Mercer Island
27 posts

Thanks very much for your comments! Unfortunately, she is meeting a friend from England who she met last year during her semester abroad. The friend wants to go somewhere other than Europe so the Caribbean is their "half way" point. I'll try Trip Adviser too. :)

Posted by Kris
Garden City, KS, USA
18 posts

Tell them to do a cruise together...then they can see different ports & try different things. Most of the party stuff can stay on ship. I love all-inclusives, but would guess at her age a min. 7 day cruise would be more her style. I highly suggest Royal Caribbean...they are the best from my experience.

Posted by David
Basingstoke, England
98 posts

Cuba has all the elements you list plus it has wonderful music, beautiful cities and tons of history. It also is friendly welcoming and as safe as any holiday destination is likely to be.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

David, You may not be aware of this, but U.S. citizens can't go to Cuba. Well, they just recently started allowing us to go if we are on a guided tour. One way for Americans to circumvent this is to go from Canada or Mexico.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7734 posts

"...One way for Americans to circumvent this is to go from Canada or Mexico..." Do so at your own risk. The US Govt. pays cash rewards to airport and airline employees who rat-out Americans illegally visiting Cuba. I know someone who visited the Island via Mexico, and received a $1000 fine in the mail a couple weeks after he returned.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

I hope my comment on circumventing the 'law' about travel to Cuba doesn't express any approval of that method. Although I would like to go to Cuba some day, I will wait until it is legally possible to go, if I go at all.

Posted by David
Basingstoke, England
98 posts

I did know your government does restrict your freedom to travel to Cuba but I met a number of Americans on a recent trip and they all seemed to be greatly enjoying themselves and finding out about a different society first hand.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

There's got to be a way to do it. It seems the whammy is not in the going, but in buying stuff. I did the Tampa-Havana race maybe ten years ago, got the passport stamped and everything, but coming home, it was the only time that customs really did a detailed search of the boat (couple or three hours) and we really got quizzed about spending money. Another guy came back with a couple of boxes of cigars and they seized his friggin boat - - no idea if he ever got it back.

Posted by Nancy
1 posts

We are planning a trip to Concordia Eco Resorts on St John in May, looks like it will be tons of fun and safe. Everyone we have talked to making our plans has been extremely helpful and nice.
However, might be too quiet for young college kids. But you could check out the site

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

From the Trip Reports guidelines: "Discuss your most memorable experiences from your recent European vacation." Dorian, you might delete this thread and repost under General Europe; you'll receive many more responses there...and perhaps completely avoid the 'Cuba' side-discussion ;-) This section is for trips already taken, and many of your target audience doesn't even read Trip Reports! Hope your daughter has a great trip!

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
646 posts

Dorian, sorry we hijacked your post, but I just returned from Cuba on a Road Scholar tour (former Elderhostel). Yes, you have to be on a licensed tour, but it was SOOOOO worth it. Cuba is beautiful, although crumbling in places. The Cubans are warm and friendly people and love folks from the US. I had no problem either getting into Cuba or returning to US because I was on a licensed tour. All this and it is just 45 min's from Miami. Anyone at all interested should check out a licensed tour. It was the best trip I have ever taken and I have been on 5 Rick Steves' tours.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2030 posts

One of the best "bang for your buck" areas to travel to in the Caribbean is the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. While a lot of people associate Mexico with the drug war/gang violence and kidnappings, it's important to understand that while the problems in Mexico are serious, it does not effect the entire (or even most) of the country, and the three states in the Yucatan are some of the safest to visit with almost no incidents targeting tourists as a result of those issues.
(Petty crime and sexual assault is a risk as it is virtually everywhere in the world) Cancun is what most people think of, but it's entirely skippable. What's great about the area around it though is you can have a diverse variety of experiences within a relatively small geographical region - mayan ruins, jungles, beautiful colonial cities, and of course, simply fantastic beaches. There are plenty that are ideal for windsurfing south of Cancun. And of course, a short ferry ride to Cozumel, which has some of the best diving in the world. If they're looking for an indpendent trip, it's an ideal area. Playa Del Carmen is a fun, fast-growing, European-flavored city with reasonably priced accommodation and comforts like A/C and makes a good base. I prefer Tulum to the south, which wasn't even "on the grid" last time I was there but development is happening fast and that may have changed since 2008. Feel free to message me if you'd like more info. While it's not as cheap as it used to be down there, it's still a good value compared to expensive Caribbean islands.

Posted by Sandra
Atkinson, NH, USA
18 posts

last year we went to Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands) and it was spectacular! this year we went to Turks and Caicos which was also nice, beautiful snorkeling and beaches, but expensive for food as everything is imported well everything is imported on most of these island, so far Virgin Gorda has been my favorite and we have been to many islands, Aruba was also very very nice.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3399 posts

Doran: Wind surfing and relaxing, huh? And you're in Washington State? Hawaii has some great airfares right now, and they fit her needs. The Caribbean has as perfect weather as there is in this world, but other than the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, it's not a surfing mecca. My wife and I are very experienced Caribbean travelers, and recently returned from a cruise from New Orleans to Montego Bay. I just wouldn't want my daughter to be young and go to many of the islands, especially the popular stops Mexico. I do like Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, however. But I still suggest Hawaii.
Me personally? I'd be looking for a good travel partner that's up for the challenge of taking on Europe by backpack and train. Now, that's an experience of a lifetime. My time at the University of Innsbruck is still cherished.

Posted by Ann
DR and Atlanta
132 posts

Cabarete in the Dominican Republic has great windsurfing. Also a fun destination for young people and very cheap.
The closest airport is Puerto Plata.