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Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

A place for members to talk about things outside of Virgin Islands travel.

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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby sherban » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:53 pm

Hey thanks for all the inputs, I appreciate it!

I looked into VG a bit and many of the villas look expensive there...is that true? Any suggestions?

Maybe St John again in 2015...still thinking this through...

Cheers
:)
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby PA Girl » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:59 am

This is a popular choice - http://www.guavaberryspringbay.com/

The same people rent villas as well, see the selections under deluxe villas.

We looked at some here - http://www.nailbay.com/index.php

Worked with this agency in the past and rented again with them for our next trip -

http://www.virgingordabvi.com/home/

These are on the beach at Maho - http://www.mangobayresort.com/
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby AquaGirl » Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:59 am

Hi Sherban

We just got back from 10 days in Virgin Gorda. We love STJ and the BVIs, so here are some thoughts for your consideration.

- Snorkeling from shore is a big factor for us in planning our vacations. There are several beaches on VG that have snorkeling right off the shore. We went to Savannah Beach, Mahoe Bay, Long Bay, Mountain Trunk and Devil's Bay. The coral was in great shape (except right at the shore). At Devils Bay (which is next to the Baths) you're snorkeling among huge boulders.

- If you want to go to off-shore reefs, you can go on the afternoon dive boat with DIve BVI, or go on snorkel trips at the Bitter End resort. We ended up not doing either one, but will do so on our next trip.

- We ate at little local places, mid-price restaurants and a few high end places. We had great meals everywhere, no matter which price range. The only exception was ribs - my husband loves Kansas City BBQ/ribs, and the ones on VG weren't anything like that. We loved the view from the porch of our villa, so we often got carryout and ate at the villa.

- For a change, we did some activities other than snorkeling. We hiked up to Gorda Peak, which rewards with a fabulous 360 degree view. The woods were full of butterflies which made it a special hike. There is a short hike to the top (maybe 15-20 minutes) or a long hike (50 minutes - which we did) There is a restaurant called Hog Heaven which also has a tremendous view over North Sound and out to Anegada, if you don't want to do the hike. We took ferries in North Sound to visit BIras Creek, Bitter End and Saba Rock. North Sound is a scenic area, and it was fun going to the different places with a short ferry ride. We went through the Baths, which is such a unique place, and fun to do.

- Virgin Gorda was very laid back and the local people were very friendly. Its very West Indian, of course, which is delightful and we enjoy being in that culture. At times, it was a little difficult to get straight info on things, but this was a very minor annoyance.

- The grocery stores are small and not as well stocked as Starfish on STJ. You really have to "make do" and just buy what is available and what is freshest (fruit/vegetables).

- As someone else mentioned, its more of a pain to get there. We took United non-stop from Wash, DC to San Juan, then Air Sunshine to Virgin Gorda. We arrived on island at 3:30, which was nice. Coming home, we took ferries from VG to Tortola to St Thomas, then 2 flights (via Miami) back to Washington. The ferry rides were fun and scenic, but they're not always that way.

- We rented Adagio villa on Mahoe Bay. Loved the location as it was less than 10 minutes to town, 15 minutes to the Baths, 10 minutes to Gun Creek (for the North Sound ferries) and a 3 minute walk to the beach. It had wonderful views, and was a nicely appointed house with a private pool. We definitely needed A/C in the bedroom as it was really hot this past 10 days (upper 80s to 90).

Happy planning!
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby Ron in South Texas » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:02 pm

Just throwing this out there...I know you're looking for another Caribbean island, but put Kauai on your bucket list. Granted, the beaches are not as good as the Caribbean, the water is cold, and snorkeling is not very good. However, the scenery is just jaw-droppingly beautiful. Lush tropical foliage, waterfalls everywhere, and the Napali coast. I've seen quite if few Caribbean islands and the Virgin Islands are the only ones that come close, with, maybe St Lucia on the list. Kauai and St. John are our two favorite islands. Happy hunting... :D
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby jmq » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:54 am

Here is what I wrote about Kauai vs STJ after our trip to HI in 2012:

Impressions of Kauai vs STJ: The biggest and most obvious difference between these two places in their size. I knew before we went that Kauai was pretty big, and but it still surprised me HOW big it is in comparison to the islands of the VIs, so much so that it is almost too much to take in on your first trip LOL.

The size of the mountains, the topography, the different environments, the dynamic weather, the sweep of the shorelines, the amazing vistas, the lushness of the north shore, and the size of the waves etc. are all pretty amazing, even mind blowing. It’s like St. John on steroids LOL. On the down side - - more cars, more people, more traffic (but not unmanageable).

Indeed the size difference is substantial. Google tells me Kauai is 562 sq miles, STJ is only 28 sq miles (!), and all of the islands of the BVI add up to 59 sq miles.

The from the beach snorkeling in the VIs is way better than Kauai, the water is warmer in the Caribbean, and nothing beats those colors of the Caribbean water. On our first trip to the VIs in 2005, on the ride in from the airport, my daughter kept exclaiming “Is that the ocean?!? Is that the color of the water?!?” Not the same in Kauai.

Market food prices in the VIs may even be higher than Kauai. In Kauai, stuff can be had at the Safeway at reasonable prices. There is even a Costco on the island.

Re other costs, sure airfare will be much more $$$ for most, but car rental and nice rentals with pretty great views can be way cheaper vs STJ, and that can offset the AF cost.

Re eating out, we were VERY impressed by the many kinds high quality of the fish we had in Kauai and the good options provided by the food trucks and hole-in-the-wall joints. Great fish tacos everywhere. Many more good options for lunch. Caribe and Presidente beer is way better - was not a big fan of some of the local HI brews I tried. But was also able to find Cruzan for like $7.99, so that made mixing up the homemade Mai Tais reasonable.

Folks in Kauai are quite friendly - people are very nice and real laid back. No disapproval if you forget to say “aloha!” LOL.

Never saw so many old hippies in one place and old guys with gray hair down to their shoulders, esp on the North shore. I thought hey maybe I would do that too if I lived there LOL. I also liked what I call the “surfer” mentality of the people and the “surfer” vibe of the small towns – way more charming than those in California. The Kauai people appear to have much more environmental awareness too - not a plastic bag to be found on the island (just a small example).

In general, St. John seems to have a more "tropical" feel to it than Kauai as STJ is more humid, STJ doesn't have the same frequency of trade winds blowing. STJ has the tree frogs singing their night songs and has that kind of musty tropical smell, but both also have the crowing roosters :)
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby jmq » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:10 pm

Aquagirl - thanks for VG trip report. Giving me a bad case of DIF (hope they don't quarantine me for it)

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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby toni » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:38 pm

AquaGirl wrote:Hi Sherban

We just got back from 10 days in Virgin Gorda. We love STJ and the BVIs, so here are some thoughts for your consideration.

We took ferries in North Sound to visit BIras Creek, Bitter End and Saba Rock. North Sound is a scenic area

Happy planning!



Thanks for the report, we are going in a few weeks for our second trip and are very excited. We were thinking of doing these ferries, can you give me any info on them? Times, locations or prices?. Which did you like the best to see? Thank you!
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby AquaGirl » Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:35 pm

Hi Toni,

Where are you staying on VG? We had such a nice time on the island and its on our list to go again.

Here is the website we used to check on ferry schedules and prices.
http://www.bestofbvi.com/info/info_bviferry.htm
There is a little dropdown box to use for selecting which route you want to see.

Unfortunately, these schedules are not always accurate. There have been a lot of talk on other BVI travel forums regarding ferries. Sometimes they run and sometimes they don't. For example, on Tues morning they list a ferry from Roadtown to STT at 9:45am and 10am. The 9:45 didn't run, but the 10am did. One person summed up the issue by saying: "All part of the adventure I suppose but remains a wildcard on anything one tries to plan."

Some people have suggested you call the ferry companies the day before to confirm they plan to run the one you want. Not sure if this is a guarantee and sometimes its hard to get the info. We leave lots of time and have backup plans for "just in case", but never had a problem getting to where we needed to go.

Another person mentioned that one of their bags went missing when they took a BVI ferry. It turns out it was left behind at the ferry office, but it took some doing to get it to them. We always check that all our bags have made it onto the ferry before it leaves the dock.

Regarding the different resorts on VG:

- Personally I wouldn't bother seeing Biras Creek, unless you are curious about it. We ate lunch there and the food was ok, but very expensive (prix fixe $35). For the money, its not someplace we would stay.

- We enjoyed seeing BItter End Yacht Club and would consider staying there. It seems like a fun place and its primary focus is on sailing. They have 100+ water toys (sailboats of various sizes, windsurfers, little motor boats, paddle boards, etc) you can use if you book certain week-long packages. They showed us a room, and we walked the length of the property (fairly long walk) to see the restaurant, pub, pool, etc. We didn't eat there, so can't comment on the food.

- We got a ferry from Bitter End over to Saba Rock, so we didn't have to go back to Gun Creek to get the regularly scheduled Saba ferry. You can just call and they will pick you up at the Bitter End dock. Saba is a very small and unique place and has some interesting history. There isn't much to see as its very small, but we really enjoyed happy hour and dinner there. The food and service was great. At 5pm, they feed the tarpon that hang around their dock. It was quite entertaining. I would recommend visiting here. I enjoy the ferry rides to these places in North Sound as you get beautiful views of the area and I love being on the water.

- We also visited Little Dix Resort and had our anniversary dinner there. We had called ahead and arranged for a tour of the resort. Its a very beautiful resort and the people were friendly. The grounds were reminiscent of Caneel Bay - not surprising since they were both developed by Rockefeller. While we wouldn't stay here, we were glad to see it.

Have a great trip!
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby sherban » Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:27 pm

Thanks all!!!
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby Connie » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:02 am

Saw someone mention Great Exuma. We went there last month. I've been meaning to write a trip report, so here's my take on the Island.

Gorgeous water, absolutely beautiful. Snorkeling? Just so so. Places to eat are hard to come by. I said to my husband before we left that we may starve and there were times I thought we would.

The Island is big and we went to Little Exuma a couple times. Found great food up there and the beaches were amazing. You have to remember that the Island is more than 60 miles long. Just driving to Little Exuma was over 30 miles, but it was worth it.

The people are the nicest we have ever met on any Island. Always smiling and very eager to talk to you about anything.

Expensive. A case of beer was was 55.00. Rum is cheap. You may not find what you want in the stores. They get what they get and you have to work around that. We did take a couple things with us like some snacks and breakfast things. There is no fast food stores on the Island, which is great.

Georgetown did not impress us at all. It's not quaint like STJ. Shopping? We found one store that we liked. I always bring back tshirts for my brother and daughter. Couldn't find anything, so they got hats this year.

I consider Great Exuma a remote Island. We enjoyed the beauty of it, but it's a little too slow for us. Will we go back? No.

Another thing.....we will NEVER fly into Miami for a connecting flight to anywhere. I hate that airport and I don't even want to get into what happened there with us, but it was a horrible traveling day. Just bad memories that made our trip :(
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Re: Other Islands...Which one would you choose?

Postby jmq » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:52 am

Looks like this airport may actually open sometime in the near future making travel to the Grenadines WAY easier.

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/destina ... rport.html

As we get older, we seem much less tolerant of mega travel days so this will open up more reasonable travel times to worthy Caribbean destinations like Bequia.
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