Beach suggestions needed

CuseFaninVT

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#1
My wife hit me with the "I need some warmth" this past weekend, so I need some suggestions. Here's what she wants - beach, hiking, safe for running, more to do that just sitting and reading. My kid and I like to fish, either from shore or guided. We did Hawaii a couple years ago, and don't have the time to do that again. We were thinking about something like Aruba, but that seems not to have options other than the beach.

Feb/Winter break this year is last weekend of Feb through the first weekend in March.

Go!
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#4
My sister and brother-in-law love Antigua and just went again this past November. He did quite a bit of fishing there. Apparently he befriended an old local, and he just gave everything he caught to this gentleman. I've never been to the Caribbean but have been doing a fair amount of research (was going to do Grand Cayman next winter but are probably going to pivot somewhere else to save points for flights to Japan in 2020). I think getting the hiking/beach combo may be kinda tough, as those islands dont have the same topography as Hawaii. St. Lucia is supposed to be pretty lush, and St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) is apparently a big park. They may
be options. St. John got beat up pretty good by the storms this summer though.

Costa Rica?

The Shrmdougluvrs are hitting Orlando and Clearwater Beach for the second straight year. It's just too easy of a trip with young children (7 and 4). Staying at the Dolphin on points for 5 nights (all it's costing is the annual fee on the card, which i may not keep/pay and the resort fees). Doing Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Unlike some, we all really like Disney. Direct flight into Orlando (MCO). Direct flight home from Tampa on low cost carriers.

It's a shame we lost that thread from the OT board where people commented on the best places they've traveled - lots of good insights. If i recall @Forza Azzuri is really well-traveled among others. Other posters should have some good suggestions.
 

CuseFaninVT

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#5
My sister and brother-in-law love Antigua and just went again this past November. He did quite a bit of fishing there. Apparently he befriended an old local, and he just gave everything he caught to this gentleman. I've never been to the Caribbean but have been doing a fair amount of research (was going to do Grand Cayman next winter but are probably going to pivot somewhere else to save points for flights to Japan in 2020). I think getting the hiking/beach combo may be kinda tough, as those islands dont have the same topography as Hawaii. St. Lucia is supposed to be pretty lush, and St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) is apparently a big park. They may
be options. St. John got beat up pretty good by the storms this summer though.

Costa Rica?

The Shrmdougluvrs are hitting Orlando and Clearwater Beach for the second straight year. It's just too easy of a trip with young children (7 and 4). Staying at the Dolphin on points for 5 nights (all it's costing is the annual fee on the card, which i may not keep/pay and the resort fees). Doing Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Unlike some, we all really like Disney. Direct flight into Orlando (MCO). Direct flight home from Tampa on low cost carriers.

It's a shame we lost that thread from the OT board where people commented on the best places they've traveled - lots of good insights. If i recall @Forza Azzuri is really well-traveled among others. Other posters should have some good suggestions.
We did St. John's the year before last. I was trying to get her to go to Costa Rica again, but she doesn't like repeats.

Our boy is 14 now, so he can go anywhere. But I hear you...
 
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#6
I'd suggest Placencia, Belize.

No language barrier as English is the primary language. Hiking, fishing, beach, etc.

I've been to Curacao but only as a cruise ship stop. I admittedly spent most of my time in a biergarten checking out a one-legged chicken.
 

cliftonparksufan

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#7
We've been down to the Carribean a lot. Lately we seem to drive to JFK for direct flights to certain destinations on Jet Blue for about $400 each but you could connect on those same flights from Burlington.

I've done Costa Rica and it would check off a lot of your boxes. Still an all time favorite of mine. Never done Belize but they have a great beach/rain forest mix. Still need to get there.

A lot of places won't necessarily have "hiking" but we try to do a lot of walking. Most places are safe for running as long as proper precautions are used. Not sure if you are a hotel/resort person but there are many airbnb/vrbo options on these islands. We are very adventurous so we don't need a five star resort.

Most places have tours for fishing/atv's/horseback riding/kayaking/etc so you can pretty much find that on any island.

If you are looking for a quieter island, look at Nevis. Not as commercial as a lot of the bigger islands but it's one of our favorites, and you can still find plenty of activities including hiking Nevis Peak. You can fly into there or fly into St Kitts and take a boat ferry over.
 

cliftonparksufan

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#8
And thanks to cliftonparksufan for suggesting a travel forum. This is going to be highly useful. There are multiple threads we should move here.
Thanks for the shout out but I can't take full credit. One thing I meant to add to my other post is that I read the Trip Advisor travel forums a lot. You can pick up a lot of great tips and info. I don't go anywhere without checking it out. However, just like our forum, you need to get to know the players. You have your know it alls, your forum bullies and the ones that continually post the same info ad nauseum.

If you have never been on it, they do have "experts" for each area that you can private message for more detailed info if you can't find it using the search function. I like to go to the beaches and the restaurants that maybe only the locals go to. Not the places that cater to all the other tourists. Trip Advisor can help you find those places.
 
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cliftonparksufan

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#9
My sister and brother-in-law love Antigua and just went again this past November. He did quite a bit of fishing there. Apparently he befriended an old local, and he just gave everything he caught to this gentleman. I've never been to the Caribbean but have been doing a fair amount of research (was going to do Grand Cayman next winter but are probably going to pivot somewhere else to save points for flights to Japan in 2020). I think getting the hiking/beach combo may be kinda tough, as those islands dont have the same topography as Hawaii. St. Lucia is supposed to be pretty lush, and St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) is apparently a big park. They may
be options. St. John got beat up pretty good by the storms this summer though.

Costa Rica?

The Shrmdougluvrs are hitting Orlando and Clearwater Beach for the second straight year. It's just too easy of a trip with young children (7 and 4). Staying at the Dolphin on points for 5 nights (all it's costing is the annual fee on the card, which i may not keep/pay and the resort fees). Doing Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Unlike some, we all really like Disney. Direct flight into Orlando (MCO). Direct flight home from Tampa on low cost carriers.

It's a shame we lost that thread from the OT board where people commented on the best places they've traveled - lots of good insights. If i recall @Forza Azzuri is really well-traveled among others. Other posters should have some good suggestions.
We did Grand Cayman last year. It checked off a ton of boxes for us. Very nice place with some great off the beaten path places if that's what you are into.
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#10
We did Grand Cayman last year. It checked off a ton of boxes for us. Very nice place with some great off the beaten path places if that's what you are into.
How many days did you do and how did you get there? We were going to do 5-6 nights at the Westin using points, but like i posted earlier, this probably doesn't work for us anymore because those points can be better spent on our flights to Japan. Thinking about Cancun, Nassau, Bahamas, Aruba, Barbados or Curacao instead.
 

cliftonparksufan

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#11
How many days did you do and how did you get there? We were going to do 5-6 nights at the Westin using points, but like i posted earlier, this probably doesn't work for us anymore because those points can be better spent on our flights to Japan. Thinking about Cancun, Nassau, Bahamas, Aruba, Barbados or Curacao instead.
Not sure where you live but Jet Blue does direct flights to maybe all of those places from JFK. We've been to Barbados three times. It's a busy island but very nice and lots to do. We would keep going back there if there weren't so many other places to check out.

We didn't really care for Aruba but if you like to gamble, that is would move up on your list. People ask why we didn't like it and it's mainly because it's a desert island. Not as pretty as a lot of the others.

We went to Grand Cayman for a week. It's not cheap there but most places aren't. Lots to do and great beaches. We would definitely go back.

I like Cancun because it's easy to get to. It's cheap. Lots of all inclusives. But it's also tacky and crowded. Great place to go with friends. Not really romantic but fun.
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#13
Not sure where you live but Jet Blue does direct flights to maybe all of those places from JFK. We've been to Barbados three times. It's a busy island but very nice and lots to do. We would keep going back there if there weren't so many other places to check out.

We didn't really care for Aruba but if you like to gamble, that is would move up on your list. People ask why we didn't like it and it's mainly because it's a desert island. Not as pretty as a lot of the others.

We went to Grand Cayman for a week. It's not cheap there but most places aren't. Lots to do and great beaches. We would definitely go back.

I like Cancun because it's easy to get to. It's cheap. Lots of all inclusives. But it's also tacky and crowded. Great place to go with friends. Not really romantic but fun.
This would be a family vacation as we have younger boys (both will be in elementary school by the winter 2019 when we go). The kids love the beach and the water. My wife and i aren't much for gambling, but do like venturing out to explore places, so long as safe. Grand Cayman seemed a good fit because for the points, it couldn't be beat, Seven Mile Beach is supposed to be nice, and though it expensive, it is supposed to be very "first world" and safe, plus you have some obvious excursions like Stingray City and the turtle farm that would work with kids.

I've never done an all inclusive before, but given my wife and i don't drink too much, I'm not sure its the best value with my kids. I'd like to see some Mayan ruins. Is that a doable excursion from Cancun, or would i have to get further south to like Tulum?
 

cliftonparksufan

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#14
This would be a family vacation as we have younger boys (both will be in elementary school by the winter 2019 when we go). The kids love the beach and the water. My wife and i aren't much for gambling, but do like venturing out to explore places, so long as safe. Grand Cayman seemed a good fit because for the points, it couldn't be beat, Seven Mile Beach is supposed to be nice, and though it expensive, it is supposed to be very "first world" and safe, plus you have some obvious excursions like Stingray City and the turtle farm that would work with kids.

I've never done an all inclusive before, but given my wife and i don't drink too much, I'm not sure its the best value with my kids. I'd like to see some Mayan ruins. Is that a doable excursion from Cancun, or would i have to get further south to like Tulum?
I'm not exactly sure how far the Mayan ruins are but another option to stay is Playa Del Carman which is about an hour south of Cancun so it's closer to the ruins. Lots of great resorts to stay at and great beaches but not as busy/crazy as Cancun. Still lots to do there and not as tacky as Cancun.

I wouldn't recommend the all inclusives if you like to get out and explore, and especially if you don't drink a lot, but your kids would most likely have other kids their ages there plus you wouldn't have to worry about finding places to eat as everything would be right on hotel property. Plus they usually have a lot of activities and a nice pool. For a first timer to the Caribbean it might not be a bad option.
 

DMDMD

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#15
This would be a family vacation as we have younger boys (both will be in elementary school by the winter 2019 when we go). The kids love the beach and the water. My wife and i aren't much for gambling, but do like venturing out to explore places, so long as safe. Grand Cayman seemed a good fit because for the points, it couldn't be beat, Seven Mile Beach is supposed to be nice, and though it expensive, it is supposed to be very "first world" and safe, plus you have some obvious excursions like Stingray City and the turtle farm that would work with kids.

I've never done an all inclusive before, but given my wife and i don't drink too much, I'm not sure its the best value with my kids. I'd like to see some Mayan ruins. Is that a doable excursion from Cancun, or would i have to get further south to like Tulum?
My wife and I were never really "all inclusive" vacationers (still aren't), but we really did enjoy Cancun when we went for a friend's wedding. We did do Chichen Itza ruins from Cancun which was a 2.5 hour bus ride if I remember correctly, and very much worth it. There are several well organized and safe tours to get you out there, give a little tour of the ruins followed by time to wander and then take you back. Ours stopped in a little town and had a meal included on the way back, which was nice for breaking up the ride. There's lots of other kid friendly activities around Cancun as well. We went out and did some snorkeling and Kayaks were included at our all inclusive. We alternated days with excursions out of the resort and days staying in and hanging out of the beach/pool. We stayed on the cheap side of the spectrum and the food was OK at the buffet (kids would love it) and pretty good in the restaurants. The alcohol wasn't top shelf but there was plenty of it and your hand is never empty if you don't want it to be. I don't have kids, but the kids there always seemed happy. There are just so many things for them to do all the time.
 
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#19
If you are looking for a quieter island, look at Nevis. Not as commercial as a lot of the bigger islands but it's one of our favorites, and you can still find plenty of activities including hiking Nevis Peak. You can fly into there or fly into St Kitts and take a boat ferry over.
I was about to chime in with St. Kitts and Nevis. I've heard it's been built up a bit since the last time I was there, but the beach by the 4 Seasons on Nevis is one of the nicest I've ever seen.
 

AZOrange

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#20
I'm not exactly sure how far the Mayan ruins are but another option to stay is Playa Del Carman which is about an hour south of Cancun so it's closer to the ruins. Lots of great resorts to stay at and great beaches but not as busy/crazy as Cancun. Still lots to do there and not as tacky as Cancun.

I wouldn't recommend the all inclusives if you like to get out and explore, and especially if you don't drink a lot, but your kids would most likely have other kids their ages there plus you wouldn't have to worry about finding places to eat as everything would be right on hotel property. Plus they usually have a lot of activities and a nice pool. For a first timer to the Caribbean it might not be a bad option.
Went to PDC for my honeymoon. So much better than Cancun. Stay at the Fairmount Mayakoba
 

AZOrange

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#21
How many days did you do and how did you get there? We were going to do 5-6 nights at the Westin using points, but like i posted earlier, this probably doesn't work for us anymore because those points can be better spent on our flights to Japan. Thinking about Cancun, Nassau, Bahamas, Aruba, Barbados or Curacao instead.
You have a lot of points...what am I doing wrong?
 

cliftonparksufan

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#22
I was about to chime in with St. Kitts and Nevis. I've heard it's been built up a bit since the last time I was there, but the beach by the 4 Seasons on Nevis is one of the nicest I've ever seen.
Plus you can check this off your bucket list if it is on it. I've been to both St Kitts and Nevis five times starting in 1999 when they were pretty sleepy. Both have had big development but nothing like islands like St Maarten or Aruba. The Marriott hotel and casino in St Kitts really attracted people to that island but until there are direct flights from NYC they will both be fairly quiet islands. I compare it to Barbados and Antigua. Both have direct flights from JFK so you see a lot more American tourists than ever before.
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#23
You have a lot of points...what am I doing wrong?
Those are either/ors. I don't have a lot of points at the moment. And i doubt you are doing anything wrong, though I can offer some basic guidance/tips if you'd like (I am only a novice).

For a lot of reasons (not bad ones), I am not well-travelled. My wife is not well-travelled either because she grew up without means. Although we will never be jet setters or nomads, we make a good living from two stressful jobs. We want our kids to be able to see the things we never did and have decided to "invest" in experiences.

To that end, we plan to do two family trips a year (of about a week each), sprinkled in with some long weekends regionally. This year we are hitting Florida and San Diego. Next year is up in the air. Summer of 2020 we hope for Japan. My mother in law came over from Okinawa in the late 70s, and has only been back once since and we are planning an extended family trip.

My points strategy is pretty simple - decide on a place we'd like to visit and come up with a points/miles strategy to minimize cost. All of the places i mentioned are ones where I can pay for lodging with points or, if I went to Mexico and did all-inclusive, I could pay for the flights with miles/points.

Here is a basic points strategy anyone can do if they are interested in Disney World. The Swan and the Dolphin are joint ventures between Disney and Starwood Resorts (Westin and Sheraton), which means you get Disney transportation, extended park hours, early access to fast pass, etc. I became a Starwood Preferred Guest member a few years ago b/c we like to stay at the University Sheraton when we go to games. Last winter they were offering a signup bonus for their SPG Amex card of 35000 after 4000 spend. The card has a $95 fee that is waived the first year. So i signed up, and by the time i hit my minimum spend, I already had about 40k points. The Dolphin is bookable for 10k points per night. When you book 4 rewards nights, you get a 5th night free. So, for maybe the cost of one annual fee and some spending i would have done anyway (+ resort fee and taxes), I got 5 free nights at the Dolphin (not the greatest Disney resort, but it will more than do).
 

AZOrange

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#24
Those are either/ors. I don't have a lot of points at the moment. And i doubt you are doing anything wrong, though I can offer some basic guidance/tips if you'd like (I am only a novice).

For a lot of reasons (not bad ones), I am not well-travelled. My wife is not well-travelled either because she grew up without means. Although we will never be jet setters or nomads, we make a good living from two stressful jobs. We want our kids to be able to see the things we never did and have decided to "invest" in experiences.

To that end, we plan to do two family trips a year (of about a week each), sprinkled in with some long weekends regionally. This year we are hitting Florida and San Diego. Next year is up in the air. Summer of 2020 we hope for Japan. My mother in law came over from Okinawa in the late 70s, and has only been back once since and we are planning an extended family trip.

My points strategy is pretty simple - decide on a place we'd like to visit and come up with a points/miles strategy to minimize cost. All of the places i mentioned are ones where I can pay for lodging with points or, if I went to Mexico and did all-inclusive, I could pay for the flights with miles/points.

Here is a basic points strategy anyone can do if they are interested in Disney World. The Swan and the Dolphin are joint ventures between Disney and Starwood Resorts (Westin and Sheraton), which means you get Disney transportation, extended park hours, early access to fast pass, etc. I became a Starwood Preferred Guest member a few years ago b/c we like to stay at the University Sheraton when we go to games. Last winter they were offering a signup bonus for their SPG Amex card of 35000 after 4000 spend. The card has a $95 fee that is waived the first year. So i signed up, and by the time i hit my minimum spend, I already had about 40k points. The Dolphin is bookable for 10k points per night. When you book 4 rewards nights, you get a 5th night free. So, for maybe the cost of one annual fee and some spending i would have done anyway (+ resort fee and taxes), I got 5 free nights at the Dolphin (not the greatest Disney resort, but it will more than do).
Holy bejeebus...this might be the best and most courteous response in board history. Thx!

On a side note...San Diego...solano beach...
 

Shrmdougluvr

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#25
Holy bejeebus...this might be the best and most courteous response in board history. Thx!

On a side note...San Diego...solano beach...
So for San Diego, I tried to take the Board's advice. Basically, we are going to stay two nights in Old Town, plan on hitting a Padres game (using the Trolley), and three nights at the Catamaran to get that beach access. Since we will be renting a car for that portion of the trip, we are also going to hit the zoo and at least La Jolla.
 


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