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ewr2sxm
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Joined: 03/01/10
Posts: 3
Loc: Bridgewater, NJ
LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!!
      #1630724 - 02/08/15 09:46 PM (73.160.108.16)

In 1995, my husband & I met & fell in love with St. Martin/Orient Beach. Since then, for almost every vacation (sometimes, 3x per year) that's the only place we've gone, which means we haven't really explored / tried much else. We are mid-40's, and love spending the day in crystal clear/calm water and would like to ask anyone who LOVES St. Martin &/or Orient Beach for recommendations on some of their favorite (alternate) beach vacations. Anything come close in (Hawaii, Florida, Bahamas)? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)

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If you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere...


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SXMScubaman
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1630725 - 02/08/15 10:03 PM (97.113.190.65)

Don't expect the same tropical vibe in Hawaii as you get in St Maarten. We spent a week in Maui and all I can say it felt like just an extension of San Diego. The week we spent in Kuahi prior to going to Maui was a little better but still not like a tropical destination I would go back to.

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pat
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Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11268
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1630726 - 02/08/15 10:10 PM (32.216.72.14)

We've done a lot of islands over a lot of years and as far as I'm concerned, there is no other place we've found that comes even remotely close to the different vibes of St. Martin/St. Maarten. Found some nice islands that we've really enjoyed, but nothing with all this island offers.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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charlieh
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Joined: 03/16/05
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1630731 - 02/08/15 10:36 PM (71.54.151.134)

This may sound odd, but have you tried St Barts? It has a significantly different feel.

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COACHIE
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: charlieh]
      #1630735 - 02/08/15 11:33 PM (100.33.111.179)

My wife and I first came to St. Martin off a cruise and fell in love with the island. I recommend taking a cruise to get the feel of various islands and then pick one you like to return to. We especially like Grand Cayman, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbados. If you are looking for something like Orient Beach and clothing optional you probably won't find it.

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jollymonsrv
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Joined: 01/17/01
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Loc: So. Shore MA.
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1630756 - 02/09/15 08:24 AM (74.104.133.164)

For our 30th anniversary (10 yrs ago) my wife requested the same. So I searched and found Hawks Cay Resort Barbados. Only C/O beach on island and private. We were'nt there more than 1 day when she asked me "Why did'nt we go to SXM". We made the most of our vacation but she has never broached the subject again.. However. I would like to go back to St. John and day trip to BVI/ Jost van Dyke :

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pat
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: jollymonsrv]
      #1630763 - 02/09/15 08:48 AM (32.216.72.14)

That's funny - Barbados, along with Grenada and St. John, are the three 'other' major islands we've totally enjoyed and would eagerly return to. Different vibes all, but each lovely and worth a revisit, - just not SXM!

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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LBI2SXM
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1630829 - 02/09/15 01:42 PM (69.141.53.52)

We have been to most of the Caribbean islands in traveling our last 30 years, plus Mexico and Bahamas (the out islands have gorgeous beaches). None has the vibe like SXM and it turned out to be our favorite. We did discover Curacao 7 years ago and it is our 2nd favorite destination where we go every February. It's an adventure to go and visit other islands where you will be able to compare and chances are you most likely will not find an island quite like SXM!

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whammy
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: LBI2SXM]
      #1630854 - 02/09/15 03:06 PM (73.38.155.131)

How would you describe Curacao? We keep wondering about other places, but for 5 years have kept going back to SXM! (before that, Puerto Rico, Aruba)
Would like to try a new place, but feet are dragging!

And Carol, what are the things you liked about Barbados and Granada?

Edited by whammy (02/09/15 03:09 PM)


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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: whammy]
      #1630858 - 02/09/15 03:21 PM (71.101.34.145)

I think you intended to direct that question to Pat, not to me. We have only visited Barbados on cruises and I really didn't see much there that I was personally interested to go back. Grenada, I think we spent a night there one time, but again, mostly just visited on cruises.

Frankly, if you don't want or need a c/o beach, there may be several islands that you can try, but if you want c/o, that really restricts your options.


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LONGISLANDSHARON
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1630865 - 02/09/15 03:50 PM (74.90.193.107)

I feel the same way. We are going to Grand Cayman for a week at the end of April. Staying on 7 Mile Beach. Maybe it will become my 'new' SXM.

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whammy
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1630870 - 02/09/15 04:05 PM (73.38.155.131)

Sorry Carol, yes it was directed at Pat!
C/O not necessary for us.


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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: LONGISLANDSHARON]
      #1630882 - 02/09/15 05:14 PM (108.96.178.40)

We have only gone to Cayman, again, on cruises, but the prices in general on Cayman for food and drink are just way high, I think..

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IslandBoi
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1630895 - 02/09/15 05:31 PM (72.37.249.100)

we had visited quite a few islands before finding SXM and still continue to try new ones...although we still consider SXM our favorite, we really like Barbados also...Curacao is pretty nice too

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phillygirl7
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1630961 - 02/10/15 12:18 AM (75.100.139.200)

I think international travel in between the trips to the islands may be in order. Italy, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Switzerland. Any of those places I would love to travel to, someday.

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GaKaye
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: phillygirl7]
      #1630971 - 02/10/15 07:27 AM (70.193.53.124)

That's what we've done for the past two years. I don't think any other Caribbean destination would work for us.

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DandM29212
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Joined: 02/07/10
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Loc: Columbia, SC, USA
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1631666 - 02/12/15 04:35 PM (174.107.96.250)

Obviously, every island is quite unique. If you're looking to find that "SXM vibe", whatever that is, you need to go to SXM. If you were to ask a Cayman board dweller, he'd say he can't find that "Cayman vibe" outside of Grand Cayman, either.

The question, then, is if you're just looking for that "SXM vibe" elsewhere, or whether you're looking for or at least open to something other than the "SXM vibe".

We love Grand Cayman for the upscale features and great nightlife - just more sophisticated than many places. Beach parties at night on 7 Mile are totally all inclusive - young and young-at-heart people who welcome you regardless of how long you've been on-island or if this is your first visit. Those parties aren't a local thing, either, where you fear for your safety. Re outlying Caymans - wild and great if you enjoy an island that isn't over-developed and you can enjoy yourself, make your own entertainment, or enjoy other independent minded people, all while still totally safe.

Virgin Islands - great if you enjoy boating or sailing. Far more beautiful and again, far safer, than most Caribbean islands. We love St. John cause of the National Park on 3/4ths of the island - we hate hotels built right up to the edge of the water. Activities and the little Cruz Bay nightlife are great for younger people. We enjoy sailing among the US and British islands. If enjoying the water is a plus for you, the VI's are hard to beat and so easy to get to.

Hawaii - we love the relaxation of having all the typical US conveniences in an upscale tropical environment. Just like anywhere, each island is different. Maui attracts a similar traveler profile as SXM - somewhat older and often couples entrenched since the 70's or 80's. Kuaui is a much younger, less developed, totally relaxed, safe atmosphere. We find in Hawaii, like SXM, people have been going there for 10 years or 40 years and don't really consider anywhere else as a viable alternative. Obviously, whether its worth the flight time is again a personal decision and often not for East Coasters. For me, I don't mind a day where I can just sit for 8-10 hours and read and relax. What a great vacation start! On the flight back - you just sleep - nbd.

The common theme, for us, is clear - safety is key to relaxtion. We relax much more in all the islands above than SXM.

For more adventure and exposure to a different culture, we really enjoy Belize (Ambergris Caye) and the Mexico Mayan resort areas - Tulum and south.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions; those are ours.

Edited by DandM29212 (02/12/15 06:15 PM)


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pat
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Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11268
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: whammy]
      #1631686 - 02/12/15 07:01 PM (32.216.76.210)

Quote:

whammy said:
Sorry Carol, yes it was directed at Pat!
C/O not necessary for us.




Whammy,

Sorry I didn't respond sooner but I just noticed your comment.

The things we most loved about both our Barbados and Grenada trips were perhaps not what would interest many travelers but to us they made these vacations much more than just another beach vacation. No clothing optional ops as far as we knew and no busy or overly developed beach scenes but that wasn't part of our requirements either.

Both islands were lush and green with incredible photo ops along with much more history and sight-seeing opportunities which is something we truly enjoy.

On Grenada we visited the inland mountain streams and falls and the rain forest along with the nutmeg and cocoa factories which weren't to be outdone by the beautiful beaches. And for good measure we also did a little history tour of the American 'invasion' locations including the medical school where the students were 'hunkered down' while they waited to be 'rescued' by our brave soldiers and we learned the 'other side of the story' from several locals. We also got to have our picture taken in front of our cab drivers poinsettia bushes which were humongous but which did vaguely resemble the smaller versions we decorate with every Christmas. It was a much slower paced vacation than our St. Maarten trips and we loved our little beachfront hotel and the luxury of our walled garden and private plunge pool.

Our Barbados trip was only a week long and I wish it might have been longer, and it was the only successful timeshare trade we ever made.

We stayed in what was then one of, if not the oldest on-going hotels on the island and probably one of the most picturesque and most often photographed locations as well. There were three magazine photo shoots and one wedding photographed there during our week long stay. The hotel was a story in itself but I'll spare you the details beyond saying we loved it.

We drove miles and miles on Barbados sightseeing through every niche and corner we could access and got to see a beautiful old light house on the cliffs in what I think was the Bathsheba area and discovered a monastery we hadn't heard one word about until we ventured down the driveway by mistake.

We explored an old sugar plantation and got to walk the catwalks where the threshing machines were turning the sugar cane into black strap on its way to becoming molasses or being sold to the Mt. Gay Rum Company......all things which were light years away from anything we would typically find on St. Maarten.

Funny thing to me - before going there for some reason, Bridgetown, Barbados had always been somewhere I really wanted to see. When I finally got there, I couldn't wait to get out of the city/developed and active area and get back to our quiet beach and exploring the real island.

These probably weren't things that many strict beach vacation goers might want to do but we loved every single moment of both trips to these two islands, as well as the beaching on both and the dining ops, too....I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the fried flying fish at Oistens.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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Cincinnati_Kid
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1631689 - 02/12/15 07:13 PM (71.65.100.64)

Pat, are you talking about Crane Beach Hotel in Barbados? I have been there and it is very picturesque. What a view!

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Paradise is an island in the Caribbean!


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pat
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Cincinnati_Kid]
      #1631690 - 02/12/15 07:19 PM (32.216.76.210)

Yes, I am, and yes it is and I almost forgot the caves you could access from the far side of the beach - supposedly where Sam Lord hid his bounty from the reef wrecking he was supposed to have done in the area. Island lore or reality? Who knows? Whe really cares? But we enjoyed the stories.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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charlieh
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Joined: 03/16/05
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1631696 - 02/12/15 07:55 PM (71.54.151.134)

This is the kind of thread I really enjoy following. One place that friends of mine absolutely loved was Belize. Both the mainland part as well as the islands.

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phillygirl7
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Joined: 10/21/09
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1631717 - 02/12/15 09:35 PM (75.100.139.200)

We went to Barbados a few years ago and we did like it. Some comments, you do have to dress up there more so than SXM to go out for dinner at night. You do drive on the opposite side of the road there (from U.S. standards). I also recall the locals being very health minded there, people walk to work, and they walk to church, and they walk everywhere, because it makes them feel healthy and fit.

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Computerwise
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Posts: 140
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: SXMScubaman]
      #1631892 - 02/13/15 05:54 PM (67.82.154.64)

Disagree with ScubaMan about Hawaii.. it is much more beautiful than SXM, If you stay away from the touristy areas, you get an island vibe. Beautiful nude beach at Little Makena on Maui, don't miss Sunday nights when all the locals get together in the evening. Kauai is also very scenic, much more laid back. Big Island, active volcano, just amazing. If you like rainbows, waterfalls, beautiuful scenery, great weather and some adventure..check out Hawaii..

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biglar
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: phillygirl7]
      #1631895 - 02/13/15 06:07 PM (71.254.120.197)

We just got back from Hawaii for the 3rd time and it will be our last. Water on the three islands we visited was so rough we were only in it a couple of times. Too far a flight from the East Coast when the Caribbean is close-by. We also love Barbados and have been there several times. We have used VBRO several times and have found great places on a few different islands. On Barbados you have the unique experience of eating in Oistens, a small fishing town that somewhat reminds us of the lolos in Grand Case, but with 4Xs as many. Our favorite beaches on Barbados are Crane and Bottom Bay. Antigua is another favorite of ours. WE have met more friendly people on that island than any other. One taxi drive we hired to take us on a tour and after a full day trip took us to his house to meet his wife and then we went to Shirley Heights, a great night spot high above the island, for an evening meal and to listen to the steel drum bands. You've never heard good steel drum music until you hear classical music done on steel drums. Unbelievable. The US Virgin Islands are fun. Magens Bay is one of my favorites and St. John's Coral Beach is really neat. St. Croix we can pass on. Virgin Gorda is very interesting, but very small. And, for pure beach time, you can't beat Turks and Caicos. Provo is amazing with the beautiful white sand that is truly powder soft and gorgeous aqua/teal waters. Very little to do on this island except enjoy the beaches. They do have the only Conch farm in the world on the island, at least according to them. Barbados, Provo and St. Martin are our 3 favorites.

--------------------
www.lifewithldub.blogspot.com


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Chicki
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Joined: 02/14/14
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Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1632317 - 02/16/15 12:38 PM (64.58.241.2)

Aruba gets my vote. The beaches are so crystal clear and calm. People are extremely friendly. Plus Aruba is out of the hurricane belt.

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whammy
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: biglar]
      #1632361 - 02/16/15 04:47 PM (73.38.155.131)

It sounds like Barbados is on the top of a few lists!
We love Aruba (awesome restaurants, feel safe, and super friendly people!)We spend part of the day on the beach, but the most fun there is exploring the "Outback" or "Other Side"! Moved on to SXM because of the variety of beaches, but find it more built up than what we consider perfect!
Is there an island somewhere that is still safe, or has the drug problem ruined all of them? Would love to find a place like the old days - relaxed, good food, steel drums, friendly people, fun shopping, minimal crime! Too late, perhaps.


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pat
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: whammy]
      #1632407 - 02/16/15 08:27 PM (32.216.76.210)

Whammy,

With all due respect, I think those days and places are history. No place is without crime these days and the Caribbean is one of major drug distribution areas for the Americas, so utopia no more.

Once upon a time we thought SXM was that place but they allowed it to become developed to what you see today. We love AXA but it's very expensive and very quiet, but it is a nice change of pace from SXM.for a few days.

At another point in our lives we thought St. Kitts was 'that place' but then we became friendly with a very well established gentleman who moved to CT from there for both personal safety and business reasons and he gave us his perspective on his island. Whoa!!

We thoroughly enjoyed Grenada but we are great history enthusiasts and are prone to enjoy more than just a good book, a good bar and a great beach.......and then we explored Barbados!

One thing we learned in speaking with several Bajans we had occasion to chat with was they DO take tourism very seriously. There was a time when they lost sight of its relevance to their financial well-being and stability, and they fast learned how the bad rap they had justifiably earned in the tourism sector was killing them financially so they really got serious about rediscovering their past status in the world of tourism.

We met a teacher who told us they started teaching the school children from their earliest years on that their island needed the good vibes of all the people from the youngest on up, and if what we encountered was any indication, they've done a very good job at reclaiming their past glories in the tourism department.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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LBI2SXM
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1632424 - 02/16/15 10:55 PM (69.141.53.52)

Whammy, I have to agree with Pat as far as no island is without drug and crime problems. Some more than others but there are still a few left that are not as bad as some. Reading Wendalls posts with the crime on SXM just about everyday is scary. Makes me unsure if I even want to return there after so many visits. We were actually afraid on Tobago when a group of kids tried to roll our car over, never would I even recommend Tobago to anyone, too much crime there. Anguilla is an island you may want to discover, beautiful and tranquil but may not be what you are looking for. St. Barts is low crime, when we were there we never locked our villa or car, it's the way it is on that island. And it can be done without breaking the bank, we did it for a week. Barbados is a friendly island, never had to worry about crime (although I am sure they have their problems) but the island has some beautiful beaches and great dining and the locals are fantastic people. One of our favorites is Curacao, very European, lots of friendly Dutch tourists, hard working locals, beautiful beaches but different from Aruba beaches as there are many rocky (coral) stepping stones into the water but the clarity and snorkeling and diving cannot be surpassed by many others. It's hard to say what is safe anymore, we have to be street smart wherever we go. Utopia is no more on any of the islands (per Pat) and I agree with her also, so sad but it is what it is.

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Elisabeth_nj
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: LBI2SXM]
      #1632778 - 02/18/15 03:00 PM (76.117.217.60)

I love this thread because its the reverse for us. We have been traveling to Aruba for the past 15 years, for many of them 2x's a year. Took a break and did STT & STJ 3 different times and are now going to SXM for the first time in April. Can't wait to see what you all love about the island! I've been researching it for years and finally going!!!

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charlieh
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Elisabeth_nj]
      #1632793 - 02/18/15 04:25 PM (71.54.151.134)

I think that the main point of interest in SXM is having the 2 sides which are quite different. It's fun to explore the island via rental car. The beaches around the island have very different vibes.

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whammy
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Loc: Cape Cod
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: charlieh]
      #1632825 - 02/18/15 07:55 PM (73.38.155.131)

Quote:

charlieh said:
I think that the main point of interest in SXM is having the 2 sides which are quite different. It's fun to explore the island via rental car. The beaches around the island have very different vibes.




And it's great to have a choice of beaches depending on which way the wind is blowing!


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whammy
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1632827 - 02/18/15 07:59 PM (73.38.155.131)

Pat and LBI2, I guess the "good old days" are gone!
Even Bermuda now has drug-related problems.
SXM certainly has us for now!


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caribbeanscout
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1632919 - 02/19/15 08:38 AM (70.199.68.3)

Have you considered chartering a catamaran with friends and exploring islands? We chartered a cat with friends and to date one of the best caribbean trips yet. We started from Oyster Pond, to St.Barths, to St.Kitts and Nevis and looped back. Hard to say which part was the highlight; lots of memorable moments. Really enjoyed Nevis. We are hoping to charter another catamaran and explore the BVIs. Perhaps this would be a good option for you as well in your search for finding a new favorite beach destination.

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porkchop06
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: pat]
      #1632983 - 02/19/15 12:37 PM (70.192.0.245)

Agree!

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CMHToddandTony
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: GaKaye]
      #1633002 - 02/19/15 03:07 PM (74.140.102.207)

This is what we have been doing the past several years as well. Last summer we spent some days in Barcelona with all the cultural sights and outings. We then took a train a short 20 minutes away to Sitges, a lovely costal town with great charm and exceptionally nice people. We did the same a couple of years back by visiting Paris for a week then on to Nice for a week. What a great trip that was! You can get the best of city and beach trips in Europe with a little planning.

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Sunblind
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Joined: 08/15/06
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Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: ewr2sxm]
      #1633169 - 02/20/15 01:35 PM (90.31.67.245)

Uruguay has low crime, beautiful beaches, and easy to explore by rental car or public transportation. Water is not clear like the Caribbean, but has the most amazing sunsets. Best to visit in mid Dec - end Feb, which is their summer.
El Refugio Chihauhau Beach is rustic bliss, clothing optional hotel/beach, and 15 minute drive to Punta del Este.


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charlieh
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Joined: 03/16/05
Posts: 3130
Loc: Greensboro, NC
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: Sunblind]
      #1633338 - 02/21/15 01:11 PM (71.54.151.134)

Here is a web article I saw today about the A,B,C islands. Certainly some options to consider.

web page

Edited by charlieh (02/21/15 01:12 PM)


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whammy
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Joined: 12/12/10
Posts: 1001
Loc: Cape Cod
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: charlieh]
      #1633395 - 02/21/15 05:32 PM (73.38.155.131)

Interesting comparisons! One phrase in the Curacao section that gave me pause - "Nightlife is best enjoyed from the safety of the resort". Hmmm. We loved Aruba the two trips we made, and felt extremely safe (this was 6 years ago) First trip was a stay on Eagle beach, the low-rise section, and the 2nd was on Palm Beach, the high-rise section. We thought Eagle Beach was much nicer, less crowded, wider beach, but more expensive hotels! Driving to the "Outback" side of the island with it's wild natural scenery of yucca plants and cactus and rocks is an adventure!

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LBI2SXM
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Joined: 06/02/08
Posts: 2116
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: whammy]
      #1633479 - 02/21/15 10:26 PM (69.141.53.52)

I do not agree with "nightlife is best enjoyed from the safety of the resort." I think who wrote that article is not aware. Curacao is as safe as Aruba and Bonaire and is truly enjoyable and safe. It's natures best secret and I would like to see it stay that way! Keep the crowds away! Curacao has everything Aruba has except the Miami beach atmosphere that seems to be everyone's desire.

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pat
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Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11268
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: LOVE SXM, but need to try something NEW!! [Re: LBI2SXM]
      #1633482 - 02/21/15 11:10 PM (32.216.76.210)

Quote:

LBI2SXM said:
......Curacao has everything Aruba has except the Miami beach atmosphere that seems to be everyone's desire.




Trust me on this - not EVERYONE is looking for the Miami Beach atmosphere and a lot of us have railed against the advent of that newer aspect of SXM FOR YEARS!! But for those who want/need it, it's there, and more-so with every passing year.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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