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Holidays

Caribbean in July

35 replies

Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 14:21

Help me plan my holiday! My parents have offered to look after our children for a bit this summer so that DH and I can have a getaway at the end of July (hooray!). We are looking at a week in Barbados because my parents are based in the US (so we'll be flying from there) and we'd like avoid a lot of jet lag. I realise summer is hurricane season, but it looks like Barbados is out of the main path and July is not at the peak of the season? Does anyone have experience of visiting at this time of year? If we were going in April instead of hurricane season, I think Virgin Gorda might be my first choice as it looks stunning.

We've heard Aruba or Grenada could be good options for that time of year as well, but Barbados looks a bit... nicer? Is that accurate? We've also considered St Lucia, but we generally try to save the adventure holidays for when we have our children with us. As it's a just-us holiday, the priority is just to be somewhere relaxing and beautiful with easy transport so that we can explore a bit and safely walk around later in the evening to get a bite to eat, etc. Looks like it might be harder to get ourselves around St Lucia easily? Is there enough to do on Barbados to have a few interesting days out?

Would like a nice 5* hotel. Not bothered about all inclusive if there are good food options nearby, but would like (for example) to have access to a nice spa, good al fresco breakfast, afternoon tea, snorkelling excursion options, etc. Thoughts and/or tips much appreciated!

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NewIdeasToday · 13/04/2021 14:34

It’s not clear if you’re thinking of July 2021 or next summer? If this summer, have you looked into the practicalities including the quarantine requirements for the USA and the Carribean?

Also what would happen to your kids if your were delayed leaving the Carribean to go back to the US either due to one of you having a positive test result or sudden changes in travel rules being introduced?

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nickymanchester · 13/04/2021 15:01

Is one of you a US citizen or a permanent resident?

Otherwise, it's unlikely that you'll be allowed into the States - you have to have been outside the UK and EU for 14 days before you can enter unless you're a US citizen, green card holder or immediate family.

Also don't forget that before you fly to Barbados you must have a PCR test that is negative within the previous 72 hours, and that upon arrival in the country or the morning after that you will do another PCR test, whether a rapid test or the full PCR test.

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Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 15:07

Yes looking at this summer, and quarantine and travel restrictions are not an issue for us for a variety of reasons. In any case, we would only book with free cancellation if the situation changes drastically between now and then. If we were held up, that wouldn't be a problem.

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nickymanchester · 13/04/2021 15:09

Also, just noticed that if you go to Barbados this year, you'll have to quarantine for seven days in one of the government approved hotels or villas:-

Persons arriving with a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result will be required to quarantine at a designated holding hotel or approved villa at their own expense, or free of charge at a government facility.

www.visitbarbados.org/covid-19-travel-guidelines-2020#health-protocol

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Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 15:09

Yes, we have dual nationality.

Sorry, does anyone actually have something to say about Barbados? Confused

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Summerzz123 · 13/04/2021 15:23

Hi, we’ve been to Barbados twice- once in April, once at the end of June/beginning of July. Both times the weather was great. We have gone with children though!

We’re also hoping to go to Antigua at end of June/start of July! Hopefully more information re international travel will be available soon.

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Summerzz123 · 13/04/2021 15:30

Sorry, last reply was brief! We found there was plenty to do and visit. We hired w car for a few days and we’ve always gone all inclusive to the Caribbean.
I can’t remember the names of resorts; but both had gorgeous ocean views for breakfast.
I see all the previous comments re quarantine etc but these types of restrictions will probably be in place for a couple more years- lots of countries will have difficulty vaccinating etc.

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fairlygoodmother · 13/04/2021 15:37

I don’t have anything useful to say about Barbados but I would suggest also considering Mexico - no quarantine requirements, easy journey from the US, lots of fascinating culture and great food.

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BIWI · 13/04/2021 15:37

Barbados is lovely, and if you're only there for a week there's plenty to see and do.

We went once in August, and had a week of rainy weather and a week of beautiful sunny weather. It is the hurricane season, but as the island is so far towards the East, they are much less likely to be affected than other islands.

We've mostly been in October, which is still the hurricane season, and generally have been pretty lucky with the weather. Usually what happens is a quick downpour and then the sun comes out again. Only once have we had a whole day of nothing but rain.

Go for a hotel on the West coast as the sea there is much calmer. You're also near a lot of lovely restaurants. The ones on the South coast tend to be cheaper, but often have smaller beaches and the sea is less calm.

Definitely recommend meals at The Cliff or Tides

For a day out, try Marvin Sobers for a trip to swim with the turtles . It's a small boat/one man band-type of thing, and much nicer than the bigger, more corporate trips.

There's also a fantastic beach bar at Holetown, where Marvin operates from, that does the most amazing roti.

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CraftyGin · 13/04/2021 15:42

We have been to Jamaica in July and it was fine - very pleasant right on the shore.

I would just investigate the all-inclusive/not. We went to Bahamas one year on a non inclusive package and food was ridiculously expensive. This was coupled with a husband who thought that it was immoral to let your 2-yo child share your plate.

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Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 15:43

@fairlygoodmother

I don’t have anything useful to say about Barbados but I would suggest also considering Mexico - no quarantine requirements, easy journey from the US, lots of fascinating culture and great food.

Yes, Mexico would be good, though I've been a number of times so would like somewhere new!
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Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 15:44

@BIWI

Barbados is lovely, and if you're only there for a week there's plenty to see and do.

We went once in August, and had a week of rainy weather and a week of beautiful sunny weather. It is the hurricane season, but as the island is so far towards the East, they are much less likely to be affected than other islands.

We've mostly been in October, which is still the hurricane season, and generally have been pretty lucky with the weather. Usually what happens is a quick downpour and then the sun comes out again. Only once have we had a whole day of nothing but rain.

Go for a hotel on the West coast as the sea there is much calmer. You're also near a lot of lovely restaurants. The ones on the South coast tend to be cheaper, but often have smaller beaches and the sea is less calm.

Definitely recommend meals at The Cliff or Tides

For a day out, try Marvin Sobers for a trip to swim with the turtles . It's a small boat/one man band-type of thing, and much nicer than the bigger, more corporate trips.

There's also a fantastic beach bar at Holetown, where Marvin operates from, that does the most amazing roti.

Thanks, this is really helpful!
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BIWI · 13/04/2021 15:46

The House hotel is one I'd love to stay at!

Don't know what your budget is, but this looks gorgeous.

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Mygardenisnotperfect · 13/04/2021 16:11

My ex is Caribbean and have lots of Caribbean friends so have visited quite a few of the islands. I’d say the whole of the Caribbean can be rubbish or gorgeous weather in hurricane season, unpredictable weather basically but even in hurricane season it will be warm and you’ll get glimpses of sun after the rain unless you’re very unlucky.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of Barbados, although it probably meets all your criteria and it’s still the Caribbean at the end of the day! Some call it “Little England” and I find it a bit weird that there is similar architecture etc there. Kinda at times feels like you’re in the UK but just on a nice sunny day and with more black people around. It has good transport etc as you say though and some lovely five star resorts with private beaches (another moan is so many beaches are private for the big hotels it’s actually annoying that you can’t easily just go to the beach in many areas unless you get tips from the locals or are content to stick to your assigned hotel beach. I think my impression is that hotels there are more pricey for the same level as you’ll find on a less developed island maybe. Obviously still a relaxed vibe in some areas, nightlife pretty good, lots of touristy activities and windsurfing etc. I think there is a fish market on ?a Friday night which is buzzing by the beach in the main capital which is worth going along to for the chilled vibes (even though I’m allergic to fish 😂) Lots of tourists so locals are sometimes slightly unfriendly/hostile (not the Rastas-exact opposite!) I’m white though and you might get a different reception if you are black I think possibly. They are just fed up with everything revolving around tourism but also realise it’s a huge part of the economy so it’s a slightly uneasy grudging acceptance vibe at times for me.

I visited Antigua briefly which I loved. Seemed a lot “wilder”, more rural, and more what I think of as authentically Caribbean in my head. But slightly less geared up for tourists/less to do which isn’t necessarily an issue if you just want to hang with the locals, go to the beach, eat nice food, stay on your resort. Less Singapore more Cambodia if you’ve been to that area of the world?

St Vincent also very nice in places in a similar way but they did just have a massive volcano explosion and I’d say less touristy compared to Antigua with all the pros and cons of that. There is a nice bar called Barefoot bar with gorgeous views just outside the capital there.... Bequia beautiful and very interesting/off the beaten track but another level again of more rural/less touristy. Canouan is absolutely gorgeous but super pricey and very isolated and small, I think there is only one resort there but very high class, used to be a Raffles. Lovely if you can afford it! Basically only a resort hotel and nothing else but a nice one albeit expensive.

St Lucia I see as somewhere in between the Antigua/St Vincent and Barbados in term of development for tourists so can be a nice compromise. I think it’s the most beautiful of the islands I’ve seen. And reasonably geared up for tourism, you’re probably right about transport although in all these islands there are little minibuses that go everywhere at breakneck speed with everyone piled in and if you’re comfortable with that you can get most places and locals are very happy to advise. Also lots of taxis who are available and friendly locals most places who’ll give you a lift if you’re comfortable with that.

There are loads of other islands so can only talk about these ones I’ve visited personally. I’d be interested in checking out Tortola and Trinidad and Tobago as well as Guadeloupe personally (I know not technically an island) - I checked where Death in Paradise is filmed including the nice looking hotels! I also think the Playa Riviera in Mexico near Tulum will have a lot of what you’re looking for and I had a fab holiday there pre pandemic 😭 Lots of gorgeous hotels. I’m sure you’ll have a great time whatever island or place you pick. Check out if there is a carnival on, the timings vary in different islands but St Vincent is July I think and you might want to go or indeed avoid!

Obviously these are just my personal opinions and everyone is different in what they enjoy.

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Mygardenisnotperfect · 13/04/2021 16:13

Also if it’s not a direct flight and you have to take a flight from Barbados or Antigua with Liat then pack the essentials in your hand luggage as they alsmosy always lose your luggage in my experience. Always turns up eventually but if you’re only going for a week super annoying! Pack your swimsuit in the hand luggage is my best tip! And another big pro of Barbados!

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Flippyferloppy · 13/04/2021 16:28

I have travelled to the Caribbean several times during hurricane season. You'd have to be really unlucky for there to be a hurrican while you're there and for it to affect the specific island you're on.
Barbados is lovely with a very British feel. If you fancy something more exotic-feeling, you might enjoy Guadeloupe or Martinique, which are both very Caribbean and very French at the same time. Deshaies (the Death in Paradise filming town) in Guadeloupe is where we based ourselves, in a lovely eco-lodge

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Linguaphile · 13/04/2021 17:01

@Mygardenisnotperfect

My ex is Caribbean and have lots of Caribbean friends so have visited quite a few of the islands. I’d say the whole of the Caribbean can be rubbish or gorgeous weather in hurricane season, unpredictable weather basically but even in hurricane season it will be warm and you’ll get glimpses of sun after the rain unless you’re very unlucky.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of Barbados, although it probably meets all your criteria and it’s still the Caribbean at the end of the day! Some call it “Little England” and I find it a bit weird that there is similar architecture etc there. Kinda at times feels like you’re in the UK but just on a nice sunny day and with more black people around. It has good transport etc as you say though and some lovely five star resorts with private beaches (another moan is so many beaches are private for the big hotels it’s actually annoying that you can’t easily just go to the beach in many areas unless you get tips from the locals or are content to stick to your assigned hotel beach. I think my impression is that hotels there are more pricey for the same level as you’ll find on a less developed island maybe. Obviously still a relaxed vibe in some areas, nightlife pretty good, lots of touristy activities and windsurfing etc. I think there is a fish market on ?a Friday night which is buzzing by the beach in the main capital which is worth going along to for the chilled vibes (even though I’m allergic to fish 😂) Lots of tourists so locals are sometimes slightly unfriendly/hostile (not the Rastas-exact opposite!) I’m white though and you might get a different reception if you are black I think possibly. They are just fed up with everything revolving around tourism but also realise it’s a huge part of the economy so it’s a slightly uneasy grudging acceptance vibe at times for me.

I visited Antigua briefly which I loved. Seemed a lot “wilder”, more rural, and more what I think of as authentically Caribbean in my head. But slightly less geared up for tourists/less to do which isn’t necessarily an issue if you just want to hang with the locals, go to the beach, eat nice food, stay on your resort. Less Singapore more Cambodia if you’ve been to that area of the world?

St Vincent also very nice in places in a similar way but they did just have a massive volcano explosion and I’d say less touristy compared to Antigua with all the pros and cons of that. There is a nice bar called Barefoot bar with gorgeous views just outside the capital there.... Bequia beautiful and very interesting/off the beaten track but another level again of more rural/less touristy. Canouan is absolutely gorgeous but super pricey and very isolated and small, I think there is only one resort there but very high class, used to be a Raffles. Lovely if you can afford it! Basically only a resort hotel and nothing else but a nice one albeit expensive.

St Lucia I see as somewhere in between the Antigua/St Vincent and Barbados in term of development for tourists so can be a nice compromise. I think it’s the most beautiful of the islands I’ve seen. And reasonably geared up for tourism, you’re probably right about transport although in all these islands there are little minibuses that go everywhere at breakneck speed with everyone piled in and if you’re comfortable with that you can get most places and locals are very happy to advise. Also lots of taxis who are available and friendly locals most places who’ll give you a lift if you’re comfortable with that.

There are loads of other islands so can only talk about these ones I’ve visited personally. I’d be interested in checking out Tortola and Trinidad and Tobago as well as Guadeloupe personally (I know not technically an island) - I checked where Death in Paradise is filmed including the nice looking hotels! I also think the Playa Riviera in Mexico near Tulum will have a lot of what you’re looking for and I had a fab holiday there pre pandemic 😭 Lots of gorgeous hotels. I’m sure you’ll have a great time whatever island or place you pick. Check out if there is a carnival on, the timings vary in different islands but St Vincent is July I think and you might want to go or indeed avoid!

Obviously these are just my personal opinions and everyone is different in what they enjoy.

This is really informative, thanks! Great food for thought, will look into St Vincent and Grenadines and Antigua. The "little Britain" aspect is indeed a worry, and is one reason we're hesitant. I was focusing on Barbados because of the hurricane aspect and also the easy travel/luxury resort aspect, but perhaps we should shift our focus. I'd definitely prefer somewhere visually and culturally distinct. We don't mind somewhere wild as long as the hotel is nice (I love the Singapore Raffles!) and we don't get completely rained out.
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BIWI · 13/04/2021 17:25

@Mygardenisnotperfect

so many beaches are private for the big hotels it’s actually annoying that you can’t easily just go to the beach in many areas unless you get tips from the locals or are content to stick to your assigned hotel beach

Actually this isn't true. All beaches on Barbados are public

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BIWI · 13/04/2021 17:27

IME Antigua is just as touristy as Barbados, just a bigger island.

Tobago is a lot more unspoilt/less touristy - but the downside of that is less luxury and far, far fewer choices of restaurants and hotels.

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Januaryblue2020 · 13/04/2021 17:33

Barbados is nice but much more built up than most islands- try The House for a five star adults only resort, it's lovely.
For a more laid back Caribbean experience, consider Grenada. It's gorgeous and loads of lovely hotels (Spice island / Calabash)

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BIWI · 13/04/2021 17:35

Er - I just posted a link to The House!

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Mygardenisnotperfect · 13/04/2021 22:06

BIWI oops! Happy to be corrected. Very interesting, clearly my perception is not the reality then. I know the beach access is always a point of contention with locals but maybe because they are all technically public. I do think in practice some in front of hotels are hard to access though. This article talks a bit about that. www.caribbean-council.org/beaches-public-access/

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Ellmau · 14/04/2021 00:32

St Vincent's just had a major volcanic eruption, I wouldn't count on it being open for tourism.

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ElizabethTudor · 14/04/2021 00:51

I really enjoyed Barbados when I went.
Fantastic beaches.
And definitely do the Sunday brunch at Bajan Blue, Sandy Lane. Amazing food, great location, excellent value. I’m doing it again when we go back to Barbados

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BIWI · 14/04/2021 09:09

BTW the fish market in Barbados mentioned earlier is Oistins, which is something of a Friday night institution. It's on the South coast, in the part of the island which is more associated with parties/night life, St Lawrence Gap

Personally, having been twice, I didn't really enjoy it. TBF, fish isn't my favourite thing - which probably influenced it! - but also it was a combination of being a bit too touristy, very busy (I don't like being in crowded places very much) and also felt a bit threatening to me. But everyone else seems to rave about it, and DH loved it, so that's probably just my perception!

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