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ajtraveler66

Virgin Islands vs W. Caribbean?

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Just returned from NCL Encore cruise to St. Thomas/Tortola.  I absolutely loved it, and I definitely want to go back again some time.  

 

Hopefully we will be cruising again next February.  So now we're debating on whether to repeat the cruise we just did....or to check out the W. Caribbean.  [Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, Honduras].

 

We're talking beaches here.  That's our main interest when we get off the ship.

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We've enjoyed several eastern and western Carib cruises and have favorite beaches and places in each -

Western Carib favorites include  Rum Point (Grand Cayman), Doctors Cave Beach (Jamaica), Playa Palancar (Cozumel), the cays off Belize... 

Eastern Carib favorites include Smuggler's Cove (gorgeous Tortola), Savannah Bay (Virgin Gorda), White Bay (Jost), Sapphire & Brewers (STT), Friar's Bay, and Tintamarre on the Golden Eagle (SXM),  and Grace Bay (Providenciales, Turks & Caicos on a land visit).

 

BUT some of the nicest beaches in the world are found on the Southern Carib islands like Barbados, Aruba, St Lucia, etc. Many  of these Southern Carib cruises include some of the Eastern or Western Carib ports. There are also back-to-back cruises that do both.

 

So my suggestion is definitely YES - experience and enjoy different areas, and then return for longer visits to those that you like most!

 

[EDIT] I didn't mention some ports like Nassau, New Providence (Bahamas), Mahahual, Costa Maya (Mexico), and West Bay, Roatan (Honduran Bay Islands), these are ports you will hit and they have their good points, they're just not our personal favorites...

Edited by blue_water

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To me, there is nothing like the Southern Caribbean, especially the Virgin Islands.  I enjoyed climbing the Mayan Pyramids in Belize and my DH enjoyed diving in Roatan, but the beaches in the VI are the best!!  As the Eagles sang "Peaceful, Easy Feeling".  Nothing else like them. 

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Just returned from NCL Encore cruise to St. Thomas/Tortola.  I absolutely loved it, and I definitely want to go back again some time.  
 
Hopefully we will be cruising again next February.  So now we're debating on whether to repeat the cruise we just did....or to check out the W. Caribbean.  [Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, Honduras].
 
We're talking beaches here.  That's our main interest when we get off the ship.


We have taken both those itineraries and found beaches in USVI & BVI to be better



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Posted (edited)

We find some of the Western Carib beaches to be absolutely gorgeous and everyone who enjoys cruising should experience these different areas themselves. Each of us have our own opinions  - based on our own individual experiences which can be affected by so many variables!) - and you really need to see the gorgeous beaches throughout the Carib yourselves.

 

We love the BVI (BVI and USVI are in the Eastern Carib itineraries, by the way), and beaches like Grace Bay which are not in cruise ports (Providenciales is a nice land vacation). But to be honest, some of the nicest beaches we've enjoyed (and are now enjoying) are in the Western areas of the Carib and are accessible by cruise ship...

Edited by blue_water
typo

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Having done multiple cruises on both western and eastern Caribbean hands down the Eastern Caribbean. We are beach people and find most of the western beaches a bit rocky and not very calm, where as in the Eastern Caribbean they are much more calm. We have fallen in love with the beaches on St Thomas so much so that we are booked for a week on the island in a beach front condo

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Posted (edited)

We stay on Sapphire Beach when staying on STT (highly recommend the Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina over Secret Harbour or other condo properties for an oceanfront experience). SH is in a much more protected bay, but you cannot choose the condo you want, whereas you can rent directly through an owner at the SBRM, and Sapphire is a much nicer bay, IMHO. Sapphire is a gorgeous beach with stunning views and water colors. However any beach that offers snorkeling will have some iron shore - or will be rocky as you said, and Sapphire is no exception. With all beaches, whether in the eastern or western Carib, Mother Nature giveth and taketh, and you just need to be aware of that and pack water shoes when traveling. And there are days when Sapphire and Coki (pictured above) beaches are extremely rough as they are open and dependent on sea conditions. We’ve also seen Sapphire as smooth as glass...high season is safer than winter months if a calm beach is important. Magens is the most-touted STT beach and is gorgeous, especially from atop the hills. Also completely sandy and dead calm. But just a bit boring as compared to Sapphire and Coki, at least to us.

 

Our experience is thatsome of the most gorgeous, sandy beaches are located throughout the Yucatan and Belize. And of course Grand Cayman (GCM) is famous for her powdered sugar sand in Seven Mile Beach, Rum Point, etc, and of course you must visit the stingray sandbar. Jamaica offers similarly gorgeous, sandy beaches like Seven Mile Beach in Negril, and our favorite, Doctors Cave Beach in MoBay. The southern Carib beaches are even nicer than those of STT, and are more like the nicest beaches on STJ, Virgin Gorda and Tortola.
 

If you love cruising and you enjoyed a particular itinerary do that again, by all means. But after a few cruises to the same eastern Carib islands of STJ, STT, Tortola, Nassau, Cruise line private islands and SXM we longed to see other gorgeous beaches. And with the western itineraries you also get a chance to experience cultures and history that the eastern islands simply do not offer. For the nicest western Carib beaches I’d suggest an itinerary that includes GCM and Jamaica. When we stay on GCM we enjoy taking the jet ski excursion with Fatfish Adventures, hitting stingray sandbar when there are no crowds, the reef, Rum Point and the mangroves. They cater to cruisers as well. A more personalized experience than the boats going out, and then you can enjoy SMB for a few hours after.


If I had to pick the top sandy beaches we’ve visited on cruises they would be on Barbados, Aruba, Tortola, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. 

So keep an open mind and plan to experience different areas as you continue to cruise.  
 

Edited by blue_water

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