Holiday spot in the Caribbean or Central America in July
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jun 12, 2012 7:57 AM Last Post By: scottieb33
Jun 8, 2012 1:00 PM
My husband and I are looking for a vacation spot in the Caribbean or Central America in July. We are hoping to find a locally owned/ operated beachfront accommodation with bungalows/cabinas/ huts. We do not want to stay in an all inclusive resort, but would enjoy if meals or at least breakfast was included. We love the outdoors, and swimming, snorkeling, and trekking is a must. I would love to be able to snorkel directly off the beach if possible. We do not need a big night scene, but would rather have small bars and restaurants to mingle with the locals. We were planning to go to Roatan Honduras or Bocas del Toro Panama, but the flights are not working in our favor. We have already been to Mexico, Bahamas, Cayman Island, and Jamaica, so we would like to try another country. We have stayed at similar accommodations in Fiji and Mexico, therefore looking for another place of paradise. Please advise!
Jun 8, 2012 11:46 PM
1The first two places that come to mind are the San Blas islands in Panama (you would fly into Panama City then take a 30 minute or so flight out to the islands) and St. John USVI.
At least from where I usually fly from (Washington DC), San Blas is a little easier to get to than Bocas, and I like them better than Bocas as well. See this link where I provided more info about a great place to stay in inexpensive over water bungalows. San Blas wouldn't be the place to do your hiking, but you could do that right outside of Panama City/
St. John is another great choice and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. It also has some very good hiking and some very good snorkeling that is accessible from the shore. To get to St. John, fly to St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and then take a short inexpensive ferry over. You can also side trip to British Virgin Islands via ferry as well. I stayed a few weeks ago at Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel and really liked it. It is one of the best budget options on the island and it is locally run by a very nice couple. They also serve a modest complimentary breakfast each morning (fruit, pastry, cereal, yogurt). It is about a block from the harbor and tiny beach in Cruz Bay (the only town on the island -- small but has everything you need within walking distance such as numerous restaurants, a couple of grocery stores, etc.). The only option I can think of with accommodations right on the beach are at Cinnamon Bay campground, which does have some cottages, but quite frankly they look a little depressing to me and I would much, much rather return to Cruz Bay in the evening for meals, etc. (only about a 15 to 20 minute ride away). Here's a link to a picture of Trunk Bay, one of the many spectacular beaches on St. John. Most of the island is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, so it is not heavily developed and not very crowded.
Where did you go in Mexico that you liked? Take a look at the Isla Holbox info (off the northern tip of the Yucatan) I included in the posting above that I linked to with the Panama recommendation. It would be perfect for what you are looking for, except it isn't great for hiking and you would want to do that over on the mainland. It is great for biking though and it is one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks in the summer months. You should give that a serious look.
Where did you like in Fiji? I traveled there a few years ago and did a lot of island hopping and some hiking, diving, etc. I thought the beaches in the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands were great, but were rather disappointing elsewhere in Fiji. The beaches in St. John though are on par with the beaches in the Yasawas and Mamanucas.
Jun 8, 2012 11:53 PM
2BTW, I have been to Roatan as well and I would prefer St. John (and numerous other places in the Caribbean as well) over Roatan. The beaches in Roatan aren't all that great compared to most other Caribbean islands. Its big claim to fame is cheap diving, which is pretty good and some of the least expensive in the Western Hemisphere. If you are not going to dive though, there's a long, long list of places I'd rather go in the Caribbean. If you are a diver, St. John's diving is just as good as Roatan's, it's just that it is much more expensive.
Jun 9, 2012 2:23 PM
Jun 10, 2012 1:22 PM
4Hey, thanks for all the great info. The site has locked up twice now that I have tried to post so I will give you the quick version and try to make sure it goes through.
Mexico, in 2007 we visited Balamku Eco friendly resort 4 1/2 hours south of Cancun. We flew into Cancun and drove. Its 5.7 kilometers outside of Majahual. (small village with lots of excellent restaurants and perfect Mexico atmosphere) We also went fishing with Peter (owns a resort down the road from Balamku) We caught over two dozen red and black snapper. We had the option to keep them but decided to donate to his restaurant as the catch of the day since we had limited refrigeration/cooking capabilities. It was excellent, just us, him and his mate on a small boat. We also took advantage of exploring the area with our car.
Fiji, in 2010, we stopped in Fjii as our first stop on a 4 month holiday to Australia & New Zealand. We stayed at the Octopus Resort in the Yasawa Islands. Once landing in Nadi, we took a cab ride to a local marina where the Octopus Resort boat picked us up and it was a one hour boat ride to the Waya Island. The resort was perfect, great meals/entertainment or peacefulness depending on what you wanted to do each day. We stayed in a private bungalow which was all we needed. 30 meters from walking out in the water was a reef that had the best snorkeling we have experienced. (This included a trip to the great barrier reef) and we have spent a fair amount of time in the Pacific. The staff was very friendly and we could not have been more pleased with our decision.
Jun 10, 2012 3:39 PM
5STS - I stayed at the Octopus Resort as well and loved it! Also stayed at Oarsman's Bay Lodge.
Another place you might really like in the Caribbean is British Virgin Islands and, in particular, Virgin Gorda. I just got back from a return trip there last week. Guavaberry Spring Bay rents out cottages that aren't right on the beach, but the property fronts the beach and it's just a short walk to their private beach, as well as our favorite beaches anywhere, The Baths and . They all have the crystal clear water similar to the Yasawas. You could also combine BVI with a side trip via ferry to the US Virgin Islands, and, in particular, St John. BVI and St. John are very laid back and uncrowded (skip St. Thomas, USVI, which I wouldn't linger in long). They also have some very good diving and snorkeling.
As you know from doing some diving in the Caribbean, there's not as much marine diversity as there is in the South Pacific (I've dived the GBR and Fiji as well), though there's certainly lots of good diving in the Caribbean. Roatan's diving is pretty average to slightly above average for the Caribbean, but it is the cheapest diving in the Caribbean (other than shore diving in Bonaire) so that is one of its most compelling reasons to visit.
Jun 12, 2012 7:57 AM
6It sounds like you're pretty flexible on location, in this case, I like seeing where flights are affordable at kayak.com/explore and then also checking a couple deal sites for hotels. I like staying at higher end hotels so I only look at sites like Jetsetter.com and Bungolow.com. If I see a place I like, I always double check the hotel price with Expedia or someone, but for the most part this has served me well. I get great vacations at good prices :) Good luck!
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