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Thread: If not St Barth, where?

  1. #1
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    If not St Barth, where?

    It pains me to write this but with a late November travel date to SBH and in light of recent reports, I need to start thinking about a Plan B. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) my only experience in the Caribbean is the SXM airport and SBH, so Im turning the wisdom of the forum for guidance. Hopefully this info will be useful to others in a similar situation this fall and early winter.


    I know the Whats most St Barts-like island? question has been asked many times, but in looking through other threads, many of the popular responses/locations have also been hard hit this year.


    Some suggestions that were spared hits by Irma and Maria were:


    Mustique
    Bequia
    South Caicos
    Barbados
    Grenada
    Culebra
    Grenadines


    I broke out my 1994 (!!) Fodors Guide to the Caribbean (which was how we discovered SBH in the first place) and after a brief perusal, the following islands look interesting:


    Grenada
    Guadeloupe (took a minor hit from Maria, but it seems like its more of a clean up effort instead of a rebuilding effort, from what could tell)
    Martinique
    Montserrat (not sure the extent of hurricane damage here)
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Tobago
    Turks and Caicos


    What Im looking for in an island is:


    A safe place
    No hassles from the locals (not interested in turning down 20 offers a day to get my hair braided!)
    Beautiful beaches
    Natural beauty
    Good food
    Relaxed vibe
    A French island would be preferable, but not required


    What I dont need or care about:


    Golf
    Casinos
    Night life
    High end shopping
    Big hotels
    Big cities


    I dont care if the island has those things, Im just going to avoid them.


    Our typical SBH day is: coffee and croissants at the villa, then all morning on the beach, then lunch, then another beach or back to the villa, then dinner, then bed. Lots of reading, swimming and eating! Sometimes well do a hike/walk, and wed probably do more if there were more nature trails on SBH. (An intriguing aspect of some of the islands above is the hiking and rainforests, so an island that has some of that would be a plus)


    Sorry for such a long winded post, and Im really sorry that I have write it at all, but if anyone has insight or suggestions, Im all ears.


    Thanks!




    [IMG]file:///Attachment.png[/IMG]


  2. #2
    thomasj is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2009 Toronto Posts: 283

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    The answer is no island is like SBH. Which is wonderful and special of course, but it's always nice to try something different.

    I've never been to St. Lucia, however I have 2 pairs of friends that go almost every year and they love it! From what I hear, it's very safe, the locals don't hassle visitors too much, its a little more upper class (like Barbados) than the other English Caribbean islands. Even though it was a French possession for a while, its more British in manner so not sure how good their croissants are...

    From the French islands, Guadeloupe could be of interest - there are little islands off their coast called Les Saintes, which I've heard is kind of "St. Barth Lite" - very French (bakeries, smoking) not developed at all (no casinos or chain hotels) and the population are 95% French Whites. No flights, so only boat or yacht to get there.

    Martinique and Guadeloupe (I've been) are physically gorgeous islands, very French however they are big, both are quite populated, the capitals are fairly large cities and the locals are quite poor (there are a lot of social problems on these islands) which you can avoid as the locals tend to leave visitors alone (unlike Jamaica, Cuba or Dominican). My understanding is that Martinique and Guadeloupe are also easier to get to these days from the US compared to years past. Maybe give that a try?

    this article might be of interest for you: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/t...od-french.html

    a trip report comparing Les Saintes to SBH circa 2017 would be awesome....

    Good Luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by Bart -my real name- View Post
    It pains me to write this but with a late November travel date to SBH and in light of recent reports, I need to start thinking about a Plan B. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) my only experience in the Caribbean is the SXM airport and SBH, so Im turning the wisdom of the forum for guidance. Hopefully this info will be useful to others in a similar situation this fall and early winter.


    I know the Whats most St Barts-like island? question has been asked many times, but in looking through other threads, many of the popular responses/locations have also been hard hit this year.


    Some suggestions that were spared hits by Irma and Maria were:


    Mustique
    Bequia
    South Caicos
    Barbados
    Grenada
    Culebra
    Grenadines


    I broke out my 1994 (!!) Fodors Guide to the Caribbean (which was how we discovered SBH in the first place) and after a brief perusal, the following islands look interesting:


    Grenada
    Guadeloupe (took a minor hit from Maria, but it seems like its more of a clean up effort instead of a rebuilding effort, from what could tell)
    Martinique
    Montserrat (not sure the extent of hurricane damage here)
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Tobago
    Turks and Caicos


    What Im looking for in an island is:


    A safe place
    No hassles from the locals (not interested in turning down 20 offers a day to get my hair braided!)
    Beautiful beaches
    Natural beauty
    Good food
    Relaxed vibe
    A French island would be preferable, but not required


    What I dont need or care about:


    Golf
    Casinos
    Night life
    High end shopping
    Big hotels
    Big cities


    I dont care if the island has those things, Im just going to avoid them.


    Our typical SBH day is: coffee and croissants at the villa, then all morning on the beach, then lunch, then another beach or back to the villa, then dinner, then bed. Lots of reading, swimming and eating! Sometimes well do a hike/walk, and wed probably do more if there were more nature trails on SBH. (An intriguing aspect of some of the islands above is the hiking and rainforests, so an island that has some of that would be a plus)


    Sorry for such a long winded post, and Im really sorry that I have write it at all, but if anyone has insight or suggestions, Im all ears.


    Thanks!




    [IMG]file:///Attachment.png[/IMG]

    LAST VISIT: December 2018
    NEXT VISIT: March 2019 (for my Birthday!)
    St. Barth Je t'aime (except all the smoking...)

  3. #3
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,907

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    A poster here canceled SBH and is going to St Lucia. Check it out- looks very nice
    We were booked on St John Christmas week, We cancelled and are now booked at Ladera on St Lucia.

    It's one of those 3 walled rooms with a private pool overlooking the Pitons.

  4. #4
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Thanks Thomas and Dennis!

    Dennis, you meant St Lucia at the end of your second sentence, not St John, right?

    Thanks again and keep em coming!

  5. #5
    daniela is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2003 Duesseldorf, Germany Posts: 107

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    We spent last Christmas on the Saints and Marie Galante. Les Saintes reminded us of St Barth and we enjoyed it very much. Charming islands, little traffic, nice beaches and restaurants. But no, it is not the same and we would always choose SBH over the Saints due to the beaches,
    restaurants and atmosphere.
    Marie Galante was great. One beach is close to perfect with a lovely lunch option. There are some nice restaurants and it is very laid back. But both islands suffered a lot from Maria.
    so, to answer your question: I would go to Bequia.
    My second choice would be Harbour Island, Bahamas. Or maybe St Lucia, which is nice too.

  6. #6
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    I still dont know if Ill be spending time on St Barth later this year. If I dont go, or if I go for a short trip, then Im more likely to spend some time somewhere in the US. Perhaps Hilton Head, perhaps the Florida panhandle.

    Les Saintes is not SBH 20 years ago.
    Culebra is an unlikely option due to Maria.
    Mustique could be interesting.
    St Vincent and the Grenadines would be an option.

  7. #7

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    I called a travel agent who I deal with for my non St. Barts trips. I told her that I intend to go but wondered what was going on elsewhere in the event that I can't get back because of villa or air travel issues. She said she's overwhelmed with clients booking frantically anywhere that hasn't been affected by Irma and Marie. She also said that many clients are booking South America. When you think about how many people vacation in St. Maarten and St. Martin alone you can understand how availability elsewhere is tightening up.

  8. #8
    steelpe is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Posts: 453

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Well, I just had a similar conversation today. We are going to try to delay for 1 year and then add in a trip somewhere else. I'm thinking I don't want to be in the way or take up resources that might be used by a resident. In our contract it says this is allowed however I'm not sure what the agency will think.

    Never been anywhere else, I want St Lucia but the mrs does not. I'm looking for a place much more economical than st barts as we will be squeezing in vacations in back to back years.

  9. #9
    Peter NJ is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2002 Highlands NJ Posts: 6,807

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Look into Isla Mujeres....Fly to Cancun take boat to Isla its a really cool little island with beautiful beaches no car rentals but golf carts..Amazing food and a bargain compared to SBH...

    If you want to stay in caribbean I would try Bequia but its a hassle to get to...

    What about the out islands in the Bahamas
    The last of the famous international playboys

  10. #10
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,907

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bart -my real name- View Post
    Thanks Thomas and Dennis!

    Dennis, you meant St Lucia at the end of your second sentence, not St John, right?

    Thanks again and keep ‘em coming!
    Yep. Thanks for the catch. Fixed it.

  11. #11
    thomasj is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2009 Toronto Posts: 283

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Thanks Daniela for the descriptions.
    I've been to Harbour Island, loved it (I would kind of describe it as a "English St Bart's" - quiet, no development, lots of UK jetsetters and celebs however does anyone know how Bahamas is faring? Also HI is a LOT quieter than SBH bit wonderful for beach bums.
    Quote Originally Posted by daniela View Post
    We spent last Christmas on the Saints and Marie Galante. Les Saintes reminded us of St Barth and we enjoyed it very much. Charming islands, little traffic, nice beaches and restaurants. But no, it is not the same and we would always choose SBH over the Saints due to the beaches,
    restaurants and atmosphere.
    Marie Galante was great. One beach is close to perfect with a lovely lunch option. There are some nice restaurants and it is very laid back. But both islands suffered a lot from Maria.
    so, to answer your question: I would go to Bequia.
    My second choice would be Harbour Island, Bahamas. Or maybe St Lucia, which is nice too.
    LAST VISIT: December 2018
    NEXT VISIT: March 2019 (for my Birthday!)
    St. Barth Je t'aime (except all the smoking...)

  12. #12
    Aot is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2016 Maine Posts: 79

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    If you have money to burn...
    Petit St Vincent...simply beautiful, very, very private and...expensive!

  13. #13
    thomasj is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2009 Toronto Posts: 283

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Maybe take this as an opportunity to try an island that is completely different? (After all nothing will ever compare to SBH amiright?) I went to Bonaire 2 winters ago and it is probably my 2nd favourite Caribbean island.

    PROs? - Not easy to get to for sure however Delta and United do fly limited jets in so no 3rd turboprop is required.
    - use USD as official currency. While not super cheap at least no exchange is required. Its about Miami prices for food.
    - its the most European of the ABCs. Lots of Dutch spend winters there, locals voted to stay in NL. Locals leave tourists alone. Not.once in 2 weeks did anyone approach me to hassle or sell anything.
    - amazing snorkeling, scuba diving and kite surfing. Its definetly an island for more active types.
    - the colour of the water.
    - Dutch grocery stores with good.selection of European goods.
    - lots of Sun, pretty dry little chance of being rained out.
    - seems to have a very large return visitor rate (like SBH) I met many Americans that have been going to Bonaire every year for a long time, in some cases decades. That says something.

    CONS
    - expensive and limited flights.
    - subpar beaches, they exist but this is not a place that will rank best beaches in the Caribbean.
    - driving is boring. It's a flat island, you will miss all the hills, twists and turns :)

    Good Luck with your choices everyone!

    If anyone ever considers Bonaire, I stayed here and highly recommend: http://www.pietboonbonaire.com
    LAST VISIT: December 2018
    NEXT VISIT: March 2019 (for my Birthday!)
    St. Barth Je t'aime (except all the smoking...)

  14. #14
    seasalt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 577

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
    We were booked on St John Christmas week, We cancelled and are now booked at Ladera on St Lucia.

    It's one of those 3 walled rooms with a private pool overlooking the Pitons.
    We stayed at Ladera in 2000. It's a great place. St Lucia is beautiful. Not St Barth though.

  15. #15
    Maya is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2016 Posts: 75

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    We went to St. Lucia 3 years ago, hated every minute. Never again.

  16. #16
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,907

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by seasalt View Post
    We stayed at Ladera in 2000. It's a great place. St Lucia is beautiful. Not St Barth though.
    Good to hear. FWIW, I'm not going there looking for St Barth's.

  17. #17
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,907

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maya View Post
    We went to St. Lucia 3 years ago, hated every minute. Never again.
    Can you say why?

    Where did you stay?

    Specifics?

  18. #18
    thomasj is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Nov 2009 Toronto Posts: 283

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    I think, considering that some members here are considering St Lucia, that you specify at least a little why you "hated" it. Only fair no?
    Side note: I've had friends visit SBH and "hate" every minute. Different strokes... QUOTE=Maya;981015]We went to St. Lucia 3 years ago, hated every minute. Never again.[/QUOTE]
    LAST VISIT: December 2018
    NEXT VISIT: March 2019 (for my Birthday!)
    St. Barth Je t'aime (except all the smoking...)

  19. #19
    Maya is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2016 Posts: 75

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Generally felt very unsafe, constantly being pestered by the hawkers, although Marigot Bay was ok, the rest, no thanks

  20. #20
    LMAC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2003 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,570

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Do not go to Guadeloupe. We went for a number of years ..... granted sometime ago ..... but it wasn't safe then (road blocks with police for example) and I cannot imagine it
    has gotten any better. Not to mention beach vendors !!!!!!
    Libby

  21. #21

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    We went for a quickie (5 days) last April to Eleuthera, a Bahama out island. It was Very quiet. Some nice beaches, but not many restaurants. An easy ferry ride to Harbor Island if you need more eating options, but We found Hi a little crowded and not really our cup of tea.

  22. #22
    Chipper is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Dec 2013 Nashville, TN Posts: 331

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    I will chime in, but as you (and we all) know, nothing can compare with SBH.
    Places we have been and really like: Turks and Caicos, Virgin Gorda(not sure if it was affected) and Harbour Isand.
    These 3 are all safe and fun, but English, fwiw.
    Hotty Toddy!

  23. #23
    Koops is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jan 2016 Chicago/DeKalb Illinois Posts: 45

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bart -my real name- View Post
    It pains me to write this but with a late November travel date to SBH and in light of recent reports, I need to start thinking about a Plan B. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) my only experience in the Caribbean is the SXM airport and SBH, so Im turning the wisdom of the forum for guidance. Hopefully this info will be useful to others in a similar situation this fall and early winter.


    I know the Whats most St Barts-like island? question has been asked many times, but in looking through other threads, many of the popular responses/locations have also been hard hit this year.


    Some suggestions that were spared hits by Irma and Maria were:


    Mustique
    Bequia
    South Caicos
    Barbados
    Grenada
    Culebra
    Grenadines


    I broke out my 1994 (!!) Fodors Guide to the Caribbean (which was how we discovered SBH in the first place) and after a brief perusal, the following islands look interesting:


    Grenada
    Guadeloupe (took a minor hit from Maria, but it seems like its more of a clean up effort instead of a rebuilding effort, from what could tell)
    Martinique
    Montserrat (not sure the extent of hurricane damage here)
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Tobago
    Turks and Caicos


    What Im looking for in an island is:


    A safe place
    No hassles from the locals (not interested in turning down 20 offers a day to get my hair braided!)
    Beautiful beaches
    Natural beauty
    Good food
    Relaxed vibe
    A French island would be preferable, but not required


    What I dont need or care about:


    Golf
    Casinos
    Night life
    High end shopping
    Big hotels
    Big cities


    I dont care if the island has those things, Im just going to avoid them.


    Our typical SBH day is: coffee and croissants at the villa, then all morning on the beach, then lunch, then another beach or back to the villa, then dinner, then bed. Lots of reading, swimming and eating! Sometimes well do a hike/walk, and wed probably do more if there were more nature trails on SBH. (An intriguing aspect of some of the islands above is the hiking and rainforests, so an island that has some of that would be a plus)


    Sorry for such a long winded post, and Im really sorry that I have write it at all, but if anyone has insight or suggestions, Im all ears.


    Thanks!




    [IMG]file:///Attachment.png[/IMG]

    Check out Palm Island.

  24. #24
    NancySC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 1,287

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    So many islands, now few choices. Before SBH 1st visit 20+ yrs ago, we rented houses on Elbow Cay, one of the cays off of Great Abaco...idyllic, great beaches, snorkeling...rent a boat or golf cart, not cars for this cay, not many restaurants & couldn't take our boat at nite to any>SBH became our go to for all these years. On a WindStar cruise Feb. 2017, we were @ Bequia again after 20+ being there years ago along with Les Saintes/Terre de Haute...told yrs ago that was what St Barths was like yrs ago before we all discovered what a wonderful place it was/is. We still liked Les Saintes, more restaurants, Bequia not for everyone, primitive I thought. St Lucia was another place on the most recent cruise as it had been years ago on other cruises...never again. You must stay in one of the lovely resorts, & stay there, as in not driving at nite, like another island not naming here. Before the most recent WindStar we spent a week on Nevis after seeing the island so many times from being at Gouverneur, we enjoyed our time @Nisbet Plantation, reminded me of old Bermuda in some ways, safe, nice beaches. Don't forget Antigua, especially Curtain Bluff & the Barbados coast..not the Atlantic side. Have travelled to many islands including Culebra...laid back, not so much to do, think has to have damage from Irma or Maria or both. Having lived on St Croix years ago, my heart breaks for STX & her people as well as the other USVI's where have been numerous times. And dear St Barths, we hope will come back strong, but think will take more time than other years. Only once did we follow a hurricane early in our villa rentals, palm trees looking like cigars stuck in the sand, the brown hillsides, fewer restaurants to choose from then than now. Wishing all we met there the very best in their recovery, & we'll be back, most likely in spring.

  25. #25
    seasalt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 577

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maya View Post
    Generally felt very unsafe, constantly being pestered by the hawkers, although Marigot Bay was ok, the rest, no thanks
    We felt that when we were at Ladera, it was all great and safe. Once we were out of this oasis, not so much.
    The beaches are nice, but mostly volcanic and imho not as charming as beaches on st barth. The restaurant scene is totally different. There are a few good restaurants, but getting around was not safe and easy, so we ended up eating a lot at Ladera.
    Ladera is not on the beach, but has a great view. The plus is there are mini pools that come with the suite.

  26. #26
    Canuck is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2015 Canada Posts: 80

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Spent a week in Mustique a couple of years ago. Very, very quiet, nice beach at Marconi. We stayed at the Firefly which was awesome. Food there was out of this world good. It's not St Barths though in terms of restaurants and vibe but we liked it. Bequia too small and not much there. Spent 7 vacations in St Lucia. If you want peace and quiet I'd think twice and they are having more crime there too. Anyway, hope this helps you!

  27. #27
    LindaP is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2003 Denver, Co Posts: 2,817

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    We also loved loved Mustique , stayed at the Firefly as well, and loved the island and the people. But it is quiet....they also have a special, stay a few nights on Bequia and a few on Mustique.
    Another option, although hard to get to, and also nothing to do but eat, sleep , drink, hike, snorkel, sail (loved it) was the private island of Petit St Vincent .
    We also had reservations to go to SBH in early November, got a full Delta refund....and decided to go see the small village where my husbands father was born on the eastern coast of Italy and do a road trip around Puglia, and Amalfi.
    Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance !

  28. #28
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    In my mind, Italy is always a good destination. Enjoy LindaP and Bill.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  29. #29
    marybeth is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2004 Pittsburgh, PA Posts: 3,493

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    I have nothing helpful to add but am grateful for this thread in case we do rebook. Right now I'm too busy with work/life to research other options.

    Linda, I agree with Amy, Italy sounds great!

  30. #30
    SB HONEY is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Dec 2010 FOLSOM, CA Posts: 298

    Re: If not St Barth, where?

    Linda, the Amalfi coast is wonderful, try and make dinner reservations at Le Sirenuse in Positano. It's a most beautiful and memorable setting. The dinning room is only lit by candle light. They light 436 tea lights and it takes one man over an hour to light them all. For us it's one of our most cherished travel memories.
    Also regarding an above mention of Virgin Gorda and the recent hurricanes. It suffered serve damage from Irma and Maria. We had planned a week in St Barth in Nov/Dec followed by sailing 10 days in the BVI. Have canceled both legs of the trip. Chartered boat destroyed and all the places that made us love sailing there no longer exist. Have rebooked St. Barth for April 2018, but unsure when we'll be able to return to the BVI waters....we will sail there again but not for a year or so. So sad for the islands and all the people who have lost homes and jobs.

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