Carribean island most like Hawaii

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cantos
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Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by cantos » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:11 am

Planning a Carribean vacation this year -- really want an island that's mountainous and has hiking/adventuring (but not too hard to get to) like Hawaii.

We're on the East coast so going to Hawaii every year is out of the question, no matter how much we love it! Have been to Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Antigua. Very nice but not really outdoorsy enough for us. Those of you Carribean-lovers, what do you recommend for ADVENTURE/nature/mountains and snorkeling? I realize this may be a search for the impossible...

invst65
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by invst65 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:17 am

Have you considered Puerto Rico?

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by renue74 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:17 am

Puerto Rico has mountains, national parks, ziplines, etc.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by bloom2708 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:21 am

St. Thomas/St. John in the US Virgin Islands might meet your criteria.

There is good hiking on St. John. I don't think you can call it mountains though. You take a boat from St. Thomas to St. John.

Magan's Bay on St. Thomas is quite nice.
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David Jay
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by David Jay » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:21 am

Hawaiian islands are so different - which one do you want to target?

We visited Grenada last spring. Nice mountain "spine" down the island with a nice park reserve.

St Lucia has a volcanic origin as well, providing some mountains.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Drew777 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:33 am

Not an island, but I think Costa Rica would meet your criteria.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by SouthernCPA » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:19 am

bloom2708 wrote:St. Thomas/St. John in the US Virgin Islands might meet your criteria.

There is good hiking on St. John. I don't think you can call it mountains though. You take a boat from St. Thomas to St. John.

Magan's Bay on St. Thomas is quite nice.


Agree. St. John is not exactly mountainous but most of it is national park with many hiking trails. Went last summer. The USVI/BVI is one of my favorite spots in the world.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:27 am

St Thomas was my first thought. You can also take an excursion over to St. John's in a variety of ways. The hike up the mountain from Charlotte Amalie straight up would be a pretty good work out (very good). These are small islands so closest to Kawaii (I've been to all of these).
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by TheTimeLord » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:34 am

My impression of the U.S. Virgin Islands is that they have far higher and deeper levels of poverty outside the resort walls than Hawaii. British Virgin Islands are supposed to be better, Puerto Rico is a good suggestion and I will throw in St. Maarten/St. Martin.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Blueskies123 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:41 am

Your not going to find 15,000 foot mountains but there are active volcanoes on some islands. You already have some good suggestions, i would skip Puerto Rico. One not mentioned is Martinique.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Gropes & Ray » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:57 am

Drew777 wrote:Not an island, but I think Costa Rica would meet your criteria.


Agreed. I feel like you described Costa Rica. Never been myself, but several in my family have.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:06 pm

Gropes & Ray wrote:
Drew777 wrote:Not an island, but I think Costa Rica would meet your criteria.


Agreed. I feel like you described Costa Rica. Never been myself, but several in my family have.


In a similar position and would express same sentiment.

Costa Rica number one for nature, very good for people, things to do. Perhaps a crime problem in the main city? But otherwise OK?

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by David Jay » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:06 pm

You could take a 2 week cruise and scout out most of those Islands (Royal Caribbean out of Puerto Rico - first week is St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Lucia, Grenada; second week is St. Maarten, Antiqua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados).

We only did the first week, but a dinner couple was staying onboard for the second week.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by czeckers » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:18 pm

Highest peak in the Dominican Republic is just over 10,000ft. However, I don't think the travel experience to the DR would be the same as Hawaii.

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Watty
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Watty » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:23 pm

Compared to Hawaii one big difference is that many of the Caribbean islands have a big problem with poverty once you get out of the resort areas so you have to go there with different expectations. You would need to carefully research how safe it would be to the more remote areas of some of the islands.

I would second the suggestion for Costa Rica for the types of things that you are looking for.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by ponyboy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:09 pm

None of the carribean islands are like hawaii. Hawaii is safe...you can go almost anywhere. Thats not the case in the carribean. Too much poverty. You have to stick to resorts. Puerto Rico has a lot to offer. Culebra (flamenco beach) has nice snorkeling. Kayaking, sightseeing. We're also from the east coast. Been to hawaii 4 times in the last 7 years. Cant get enough. All the islands are very different.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by SRenaeP » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:37 pm

Drew777 wrote:Not an island, but I think Costa Rica would meet your criteria.


+1

Also consider St. Lucia.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:53 pm

I've never been to Hawaii but Puerto Rico has everything you mention. Costa Rica and Jamaica do as well.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:04 pm

Anybody know why there's a 20-pound frozen turkey up in the light grid?

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by jabberwockOG » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:06 pm

Sadly many carribean islands have widespread poverty, crime and drug problems. Most places a small but significant part of the local population is generally resentful and rude to what they consider rich tourists. Anything not nailed down is subject to being stolen. I gave up on the Caribbean.

Hawaii on the other hand is almost universally safe and beautiful and as such is well worth the extra travel time to get there.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:13 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Jags4186
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:08 pm

Dominica might meet your needs.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Dominica

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Watty
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Watty » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:11 pm

Valuethinker wrote:Costa Rica number one for nature, very good for people, things to do. Perhaps a crime problem in the main city? But otherwise OK?


Less safe than most places in the US, but not terrible compared to a lot of other places especially if you are smart about not flashing jewelry, cash, or electronics and taking common sense precautions. There are lots of places on the internet to research this.

A common recommendation is to leave nothing in a rental car, ever, not even when you stop for lunch because car break-ins are so common there. There are also flat tire scams where someone will puncture your tire so it has a slow leak then stop and offer to "help" you so they will have a chance to steal your stuff.

Tourists drowning is also not uncommon.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:39 pm

There are bad neighborhoods everywhere. There are areas in most large American cities at least as bad as the bad parts of the caribbean in terms of crime. If you pay attention to your surroundings and aren't actively seeking out bad areas, there really isn't much to fear, even on the "crime-ridden" islands like Jamaica. As far as having your valuables stolen, that isn't a problem if you follow the first rule of travel: don't take anything valuable with you to begin with.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:59 pm

Every tropical paradise is about the same. Nuances are strictly a matter of taste.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by OnceARunner » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:08 pm

St. Lucia for sure. It is a volcanic island.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by metacritic » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:57 pm

When we lived on the west coast we went to Kauai and the
Big island frequently. After moving east I googled "which Caribbean island for those who love Hawaii."

St John came up most often and so we went. It's wonderful. Better beaches and snorkeling IMO. Less Aloha spirit and incredible beauty. But still wonderful. Try it out. I also like Martinique.

We still go to Hawaii every few years but the Caribbean ain't bad at all.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by cantos » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:52 pm

Wow, terrific ideas here. Have been googling up a storm w the new possible destinations... Love the bogleheaders!

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telemark
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by telemark » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:58 pm

Jags4186 wrote:Dominica might meet your needs.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Dominica

Second the motion. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, this is a beautiful volcanic island. I visited
it on a cruise once, would love to go back and spend some time.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Cruise » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:25 pm

Montserrat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montserrat

Only kidding...:)

I think you can safely skip the Caribbean and enjoy a Mai Tai on your flight to Hawaii.
Last edited by Cruise on Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

jhawktx
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by jhawktx » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:19 pm

The carribbean is a poor substitute for Hawaii. Plan to be disappointed.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by WhyNotUs » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:19 am

jhawktx wrote:The carribbean is a poor substitute for Hawaii. Plan to be disappointed.


Hmm, I am #1 fan of Hawaii and used to live there. Having said that, there are nice places in the Caribbean. US VI, St Johns could be a good pick at Concordia for instance
http://www.concordiaeco-resort.com/

St. Lucia is great but one should be a bit more thoughtful about venturing off the beaten path solo. Might want to go with a hiking guide up the Pitons.

For me, the thing that makes Hawaii special is the Hawaiian culture and traditions. In that regard, I find Jamaica an interesting comparison to HI. Not really the same but an interesting culture.

FInally, Cuba is worth considering. It is huge and has some of everything including a very interesting cultural and political story. Haven't made it there yet but will soon.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by metacritic » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:41 am

Yes, I have stayed at Concordia more than once. Pricey for being completely bare boned. But magical, too. I'd gladly go back in the very near future. I didn't know anything about St. Lucia before this thread so thanks to OP and others who raised the idea.

What makes one have to be careful in St. Lucia? Safety generally or safety in regards to hiking specifically? I think you mean the former but just want to be sure...

WhyNotUs wrote:
jhawktx wrote:The carribbean is a poor substitute for Hawaii. Plan to be disappointed.


Hmm, I am #1 fan of Hawaii and used to live there. Having said that, there are nice places in the Caribbean. US VI, St Johns could be a good pick at Concordia for instance
http://www.concordiaeco-resort.com/

St. Lucia is great but one should be a bit more thoughtful about venturing off the beaten path solo. Might want to go with a hiking guide up the Pitons.

For me, the thing that makes Hawaii special is the Hawaiian culture and traditions. In that regard, I find Jamaica an interesting comparison to HI. Not really the same but an interesting culture.

FInally, Cuba is worth considering. It is huge and has some of everything including a very interesting cultural and political story. Haven't made it there yet but will soon.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by ponyboy » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:13 am

Zika is a major issue in the carribean now. If you plan on having a child in the future you may want to avoid these places.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Watty » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:19 am

jhawktx wrote:The carribbean is a poor substitute for Hawaii. Plan to be disappointed.


If you went to Hawaii looking for a Caribbean experience you would also be disappointed.

Some of the islands that have been mentioned have small populations and are somewhat remote so getting more than basic medical care could be difficult. It would be good to consider getting medical evacuation insurance since even a moderate health problem or injury could require you to be flown somewhere else.

One other difference between Hawaii and the Caribbean is that your health insurance may provide limited or no coverage outside the US. If you are going to the USVI or Puerto Rico it also be good to double check that your health insurance covers you.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by dbr » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:27 am

Watty wrote:
One other difference between Hawaii and the Caribbean is that your health insurance may provide limited or no coverage outside the US. If you are going to the USVI or Puerto Rico it also be good to double check that your health insurance covers you.


Yes, traveling to an actual foreign country is a completely different operation in terms of travel insurance and travel medical and evacuation coverage. Checking on PR and USVI is a good idea.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by head gamez » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:32 am

We have been to Hawaii one time and loved it. We really wanted to go back two years ago but opted for Costa Rica due to our schedule. It reminded me of Hawaii in so many ways, and we plan to return.

Our next trip will be to Scrubb Island in the BVIs.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by SRenaeP » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:33 am

Watty wrote:
jhawktx wrote:The carribbean is a poor substitute for Hawaii. Plan to be disappointed.


If you went to Hawaii looking for a Caribbean experience you would also be disappointed.

Some of the islands that have been mentioned have small populations and are somewhat remote so getting more than basic medical care could be difficult. It would be good to consider getting medical evacuation insurance since even a moderate health problem or injury could require you to be flown somewhere else.

One other difference between Hawaii and the Caribbean is that your health insurance may provide limited or no coverage outside the US. If you are going to the USVI or Puerto Rico it also be good to double check that your health insurance covers you.


Also, note that even if your health insurance covers you, you still may have to pay the upfront costs. In my case, I had to pay the provider upfront then seek reimbursement from my insurance company. While they covered the medical costs, they did *not* cover/reimburse prescription costs.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by ThreeBears » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:10 am

I've been to Hawaii twice. While physical assault crime is uncommon, on Maui almost EVERY stop we went to were signs stating that theft is a common problem and a reminder to not leave valuables visible in cars or they will be stolen.

Also, unless you live on the west coast, getting to Hawaii is harder than getting to Europe.

I've really appreciated all the Caribbean recommendations. I need to get there again.

I liked the beaches in Aruba, but it's a small island and I didn't think it had much hiking. That said, it was definitely safe and they have other adventure activities like -- the natural pool, snorkeling, and fishing.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Niemanterry » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:40 am

Been to all of the caribbean islands mentioned. While on a tour in grenada, we had a lady from hawaii. She pointed out that all the plant life was the same. She pointed out the plants by name. Now...if you want less crime, I recommend bermuda or grand cayman. Otherwise all the suggestions about the islands are spot on.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by oilrig » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:29 pm

I grew up in Puerto Rico, and go back and visit family several times per year. I have also been to most of the islands in the Caribbean many, many times. I have never once felt unsafe or had any issues with theft/crime during all my travels in the Caribbean. I have felt more unsafe in cities like NYC, Houston, New Orleans etc. than I have in the Caribbean. As always, as long as you use common sense and aren't stumbling around drunk in shady areas at 3am, flashing large amounts of cash and wearing expensive rolexes, then you will be just fine!

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by malabargold » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:34 pm

Grenada, Nevis

SRenaeP
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by SRenaeP » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:06 pm

oilrig wrote:I grew up in Puerto Rico, and go back and visit family several times per year. I have also been to most of the islands in the Caribbean many, many times. I have never once felt unsafe or had any issues with theft/crime during all my travels in the Caribbean. I have felt more unsafe in cities like NYC, Houston, New Orleans etc. than I have in the Caribbean. As always, as long as you use common sense and aren't stumbling around drunk in shady areas at 3am, flashing large amounts of cash and wearing expensive rolexes, then you will be just fine!


I agree. I was a bit surprised by the numerous references to crime. A little situational awareness goes a long way...

-Steph

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by fourwheelcycle » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:32 pm

Costa Rica - Pura Vida!

No question, Costa Rica offers the best variety of geography and experiences similar to Hawaii, and all in one country with no need for island hopping. Leave the east coast in the morning and check into Jungle Beach Hotel next to Manuel Antonio Park by 5: PM; stop to see the giant river crocodiles during your private car ride from the airport to the hotel. Tour the park on day 1, including the best beach in Costa Rica inside the park. Take an ATV tour on day 2 and an estuary boat tour on day 3. Private car ride to Monteverde cloud forest on day 4, with cloud forest tour and jungle nite tour on day 5, zip line tour on day 6. Taxi, boat, taxi to Arenal volcano on day 7, hanging bridge jungle tour on day 8, sky tram tour or hike on Arenal on day 9, private car to airport and fly home on day 10.

If this is too tame you can change it to add surfing beaches and rock climbing. Great hiking in Monteverde - you'll be around mountain tops with the cloud tops at or below you! March is the best month to avoid rain.

Great trip for half the cost of Hawaii. With the money you'll save, stay at the Hidden Canopy Treehouses Boutique Hotel in Monteverde. Stay in the Clouds Room (we did) or splurge for the Eden tree house - imagine a private jacuzzi looking out through the treetops with no one to look back at you except maybe a monkey.
Last edited by fourwheelcycle on Tue Jan 24, 2017 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by alfaspider » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:51 pm

If there's not a ton of time (like 2+ weeks), I would generally prefer to the Caribbean to Hawaii. While Hawaii is very nice, I found the travel to be much tougher than going to Europe from the central U.S. The jet-lag coming back is the worse, because most find going east harder, and you do it at the end of the trip rather than the beginning (like Europe). So you return from your vacation grumpy and jet lagged. A lot of airlines also run normal short-haul planes from Hawaii to the mainland rather than the nicer widebodies. We flew "business class" back from Hawaii from our honeymoon and got domestic business class service, which basically amounts to a mediocre meal and a free drink or two. That was a far cry than business class coming from Europe on the same-distance flight, which included amenities like lie-flat seats and a 5-course meal with wine parings.

That being said, while both destinations are tropical, the Caribbean is its own thing and each island has its own flavor. If you are worried about safety, Grand Cayman has nowhere remotely threatening, but it's really mostly good for just sitting on the beach rather than actively doing anything. There's not much going on outside the beach unless you are looking to form a shell company while you are there :mrgreen: .

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by surfhb » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:10 am

Costa Rican beaches are similar to to every other pacific mainland coast - good snorkeling and blue/green waters don't really exist like they do in Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Like another poster said, try Cuba. Beautiful beaches, wonderful swimming, mountain hiking and very little crime. The rest of the world has enjoyed it for years :)

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by TRC » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:24 am

We just got back from a 2 week vacation in Maui and it's in a league of its own. Our family is also east coast and we've been to the Caribbean 10+ times. So glad we went back to Hawaii....though it was a long flight! That being said, I can't think of any Caribbean islands that stack up. I will say that Costa Rica is pretty awesome (though not in the Caribbean). The rainforest and zipeline are really fun there. Strictly caribbean, we really liked St. Marten the best....mostly for the restaurants and culture scene.

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by cjcerny » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:05 am

St. Lucia

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by WhyNotUs » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:12 am

metacritic wrote:What makes one have to be careful in St. Lucia? Safety generally or safety in regards to hiking specifically? I think you mean the former but just want to be sure...


Yes, the former. As a sailor I keep an eye on activities in the Caribbean islands through cruiser reports and the reports have turned more towards security when roaming SL. Inside a resort is fine but it sounds like the OP wants to venture so I was suggesting to go with an outfitter.
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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by snackdog » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:12 am

Dominican Republic without question is the *island* nation in the Caribbeean "most like Hawaii" for adventure and hiking. Snorkeling, scuba, surfing, caving, 3000m peaks for hiking, waterfalls, mountain biking, dune buggies, dolphin parks, you name it. You trade the dull Americanized, sanitized, Buba-infested Hawaii for a far cheaper, closer, more exotic and authentic destination. The only dangerous areas are urban, which are easily avoided. You'll never go back to Hawaii!

https://www.google.com/search?biw=2133&bih=1205&noj=1&site=webhp&tbm=isch&sa=1&btnG=Search&q=dominican+republic+adventure

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Re: Carribean island most like Hawaii

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:48 am

alfaspider wrote:If there's not a ton of time (like 2+ weeks), I would generally prefer to the Caribbean to Hawaii. While Hawaii is very nice, I found the travel to be much tougher than going to Europe from the central U.S. The jet-lag coming back is the worse, because most find going east harder, and you do it at the end of the trip rather than the beginning (like Europe). So you return from your vacation grumpy and jet lagged. A lot of airlines also run normal short-haul planes from Hawaii to the mainland rather than the nicer widebodies. We flew "business class" back from Hawaii from our honeymoon and got domestic business class service, which basically amounts to a mediocre meal and a free drink or two. That was a far cry than business class coming from Europe on the same-distance flight, which included amenities like lie-flat seats and a 5-course meal with wine parings.


I can confirm about West-to-East flying -- 5 hours shift from east coast to UK time. And jet lag does not seem to get nicer as I get older ;-).

Also re the relative difference between Business Class transatlantic (bliss) v. domestic business class in North America (if not to Hawaii). I think it's the overnight flights that make airlines invest in it, and half the revenue in a British Airways transatlantic flight is in Business Class and First (Virgin abolished First Class and upgraded B Class). BA Business Class, Emirates, Virgin, all pretty good.

That being said, while both destinations are tropical, the Caribbean is its own thing and each island has its own flavor. If you are worried about safety, Grand Cayman has nowhere remotely threatening, but it's really mostly good for just sitting on the beach rather than actively doing anything. There's not much going on outside the beach unless you are looking to form a shell company while you are there :mrgreen: .


As others have mentioned, Cuba is good in the resorts. Outside, everything is on the edge of breakdown-- like a 1950s eastern european country or a Soviet 'stan in the 1980s. But the people, nightlife etc. are by all accounts amazing, and if you have USD then you can enjoy life.

I think if one were scuba-ing, a major thing for me would be the reputation of the operator because of safety considerations (true of any travel destination).

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