Me and my DH are going on our first cruise this December on Maasdam departing from Norfolk. We are going to visit St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Martin. We love the beach and we would like to know which would be best for us in each of these islands based on two criteria. First, plenty of shadow since my husband is fair-skinned and I am pregnant which means I have to stay out of the sun as much as I can. Second, water deep enough to allow for comfortable swimming.
Also, we are planning on renting a car and exploring these islands on our own. Are there any safety concerns in doing that apart from the left hand side driving and the steep roads?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my question. I would be grateful for any input you could offer.
Hmmmm, regarding yor questions about beaches, I would recommend that you visit http://www.CaribbeanPortReviews.com and explore the information about each port their. It will definitely help you make a choice.
I would caution you to not rent a car in any of the ports you are visiting simply because they are difficult driving (at best) and finding your way around is not all that easy. I would use the taxi system to get to the beaches and then enjoy the ports themselves. Ditto for renting motor scooters.
Based on your criteria: In St. Thomas I recommend Sapphire Beach. Beautiful beach, lots of shady areas, a nice bar/restaurant, calm/shallow waters (and there is even some great snorkeling on one end of the beach).
If you're on a cruise ship, you'll be docking in Phillipsburg, which is the largest and most unattractive town on the island. Disregard what the other person wrote about taking cabs, it's easy to get around, however the roads are extremely curvy and the island drivers like to drive fast and they will tailgate you. In St Martin you drive on the right. Cupecoy beach is beautiful, but far. Dawn Beach is not too far from Phillipsburg, is beautiful and has OK snorkleing. At all beaches you can rent a chair and umbrella (you do not HAVE to.) but the sun is extremely strong and you will get burned unless you have 45 sunscreen or higher. I've been to St Martin 5 times in the last 2 years, make sure you go for dinner at Grand Case. Go to Le Pressoir, or to Tastevin. Dinner for 2 with drinks will cost you $110-150. but worth it. Have fun.
If you have never driven in a foreign country I would have to second Tom's advise, stick with the taxis.
In St. Martins, you can take the water taxi for $5.00/pp for unlimited use, go to Antoine's by the Sea, a small charming little restaurant and beach bar across from the pier, a five-dollar charge per person for lounge chairs WITH cushions, umbrella included!
In St Thomas I would definetly recommend a taxi, traffic is awful.....and if you are not used to driving in a foreign country and this is your first time going, use the public transportation.
As Tom stated, check out our sister site http://www.CaribbeanPortReviews.com you will find a host of useful information there. Also check out some of the cruise review section for personal recommendations for these locations.
Thank you all so much for your input. Actually, both me and my husband are originally from Greece and we have driven in the narrow streets of the Greeks islands before, so we will probably give it a try and rent a car in St. Thomas and St. Martin. Also, we enjoy the deep water for swimming. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions!