Traveling from South Africa to Caribbean Islands

Old Aug 29th, 2022, 01:51 AM
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Traveling from South Africa to Caribbean Islands

Good Day,

We want to travel to 2-3 of the Caribbean islands for my 40th Birthday at the start of December 2023.

we will hopefully be 3-4 couples.
Adult only

The issue is I want to organise this from South Africa, and goodness this has proven to be very difficult. I am really worried about the logistics & traveling as we know nothing about the area. The other issue is our travel agents also donít know too much about the area. So I am reaching out here to see if you can point me in the right direction.

We love authentic experiences so I am looking for islands that are not tooooo commercial. Cost will also play a role. And an awesome nightlife and party vibe.

Could you give me some advice on what we could consider and then NB how will we get to the islands etc, seems that can be quite challenging.

We want to travel for 2 weeks.

thanks so much!!!!
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 07:19 AM
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https://www.veryhungrynomads.com/isl...the-caribbean/
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 07:22 AM
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https://www.shermanstravel.com/slide...sland-combos-1
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 08:10 AM
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First off, depending on the day you depart and whether you are flying from Cape Town or Johannesburg getting to anywhere in the Caribbean from South Africa is going to take somewhere between 27 to 35 hours of travel time (same for your return) and involve anywhere between 2 and 4 connecting flights. You will not be able to fly non-stop to the Caribbean from South Africa and you can expect basic economy airfares to be in the range of $1,500US to $2,000US per person and significantly higher for Business or First Class. Your best options will probably be routing yourself to London Heathrow or one of the major East coast US International Airports (JFK, EWR, ATL, CLT, MIA or possibly SJU) as those airports will have variety of non-stop flights to almost all of the major and many of the smaller Caribbean islands. Once you get to one of the larger islands getting to a couple different islands becomes somewhat easier.

If your goal is to visit 2 or 3 different islands there are certain "island grouping" that lend themselves to easy island hopping. For instance, iYou could first go to St. Martin (it's actually has a French side and Dutch side so it's like getting two islands for the price of one). From there you can easily visit Anguilla and St. Barth's (getting there by ferries of short commuter airline flights). Or, make your first two islands St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands) then visit one or two of the nearby British Virgin Islands (all of these are reachable by relatively short ferry rides). Another suggestion will be to Visit the sister islands of St. Kitts and Nevis which are only a few miles apart and connected by either ferry or water taxi. Another small grouping would be Antigua and Barbuda. If you went to Puerto Rico you can take short island hopper flights to Vieques and Culebra. Another trio of islands would be Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao but getting there might prove more time consuming and travel between those islands requires flying. Still another grouping would be the Turks & Caicos - start off on the main island of Providenciales then visit Middle Caicos, South Caicos and/or Grand Turk. If you can speak a little french consider consider visiting Guadalupe, Marie Galante and Iles des Santes, These islands are very close to one another and have a strong French Influence. The last grouping that would be very good for island hopping would be St. Vincent & the Grenadines, however, getting there could add significantly more to your travel time.

If by "the start of December" you mean the first 2 weeks of the month, you'll find many resorts and hotels will have their Shoulder Season rates as High Season rates usually kick in around December 15. So that's a plus. Like almost all vacation areas resort/hotel room rates can vary significantly depending on the location of the resort/hotel the type and scope of amenities offered and the level of service you can expect. In short, you'll get what you pay for but don't expect 5-star quality for 3-star pricing, it just doesn't happen in the Caribbean. Without knowing what your actual budget is for accommodations, meals and activities there's no way to tell if the "Cost will also play a role" in your decisions.

Lastly, you've asked for "islands that are not tooooo commercial. And an awesome nightlife and party vibe." That's a bit of an oxymoron - an awesome night life and a party vibe are often found on the more populated (and therefor commercial) islands while the smaller less populated islands tend to be quieter. Not to worry though, you should be able to find some adequate but no too rowdy nightlife wherever you end up visiting. Besides, if you have 3 or 4 couples, you'll have your own party scene.

Hope this helps. Good luck planning your trip.



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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RoamsAround View Post
First off, depending on the day you depart and whether you are flying from Cape Town or Johannesburg getting to anywhere in the Caribbean from South Africa is going to take somewhere between 27 to 35 hours of travel time (same for your return) and involve anywhere between 2 and 4 connecting flights. You will not be able to fly non-stop to the Caribbean from South Africa and you can expect basic economy airfares to be in the range of $1,500US to $2,000US per person and significantly higher for Business or First Class. Your best options will probably be routing yourself to London Heathrow or one of the major East coast US International Airports (JFK, EWR, ATL, CLT, MIA or possibly SJU) as those airports will have variety of non-stop flights to almost all of the major and many of the smaller Caribbean islands. Once you get to one of the larger islands getting to a couple different islands becomes somewhat easier.

If your goal is to visit 2 or 3 different islands there are certain "island grouping" that lend themselves to easy island hopping. For instance, iYou could first go to St. Martin (it's actually has a French side and Dutch side so it's like getting two islands for the price of one). From there you can easily visit Anguilla and St. Barth's (getting there by ferries of short commuter airline flights). Or, make your first two islands St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands) then visit one or two of the nearby British Virgin Islands (all of these are reachable by relatively short ferry rides). Another suggestion will be to Visit the sister islands of St. Kitts and Nevis which are only a few miles apart and connected by either ferry or water taxi. Another small grouping would be Antigua and Barbuda. If you went to Puerto Rico you can take short island hopper flights to Vieques and Culebra. Another trio of islands would be Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao but getting there might prove more time consuming and travel between those islands requires flying. Still another grouping would be the Turks & Caicos - start off on the main island of Providenciales then visit Middle Caicos, South Caicos and/or Grand Turk. If you can speak a little french consider consider visiting Guadalupe, Marie Galante and Iles des Santes, These islands are very close to one another and have a strong French Influence. The last grouping that would be very good for island hopping would be St. Vincent & the Grenadines, however, getting there could add significantly more to your travel time.

If by "the start of December" you mean the first 2 weeks of the month, you'll find many resorts and hotels will have their Shoulder Season rates as High Season rates usually kick in around December 15. So that's a plus. Like almost all vacation areas resort/hotel room rates can vary significantly depending on the location of the resort/hotel the type and scope of amenities offered and the level of service you can expect. In short, you'll get what you pay for but don't expect 5-star quality for 3-star pricing, it just doesn't happen in the Caribbean. Without knowing what your actual budget is for accommodations, meals and activities there's no way to tell if the "Cost will also play a role" in your decisions.

Lastly, you've asked for "islands that are not tooooo commercial. And an awesome nightlife and party vibe." That's a bit of an oxymoron - an awesome night life and a party vibe are often found on the more populated (and therefor commercial) islands while the smaller less populated islands tend to be quieter. Not to worry though, you should be able to find some adequate but no too rowdy nightlife wherever you end up visiting. Besides, if you have 3 or 4 couples, you'll have your own party scene.

Hope this helps. Good luck planning your trip.
Oh my goodness this is such an awesome reply!!!! Thank you SO much!!!!!!
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 04:03 PM
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From South Africa, you'll find plenty of options with BA or Virgin Atlantic via London Heathrow - London Gatwick to several Caribbean islands. Avoid anything with a connection in the US, it is painful for non US citizens with immigration, customs and thru checking of luggage (not poss on the way back) & needing an visa as South Africa is not part of the visa waiver scheme. I'm assuming you are SA passport holders. Connections on KLM or AF via Amsterdam or Paris CDG should work well for options to the French islands such as Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin (FR) St Maarten (NL) which is a gateway for getting to Anguilla or St Barths by flight or by ferry. The French islands are not just influenced by France, they are part of France!

With South African passports, I'm sure you're aware visas are needed for many countries. So if you are planning 2-3 islands as well as transiting/connecting in the UK, France or the Netherlands, it is something to bear in mind.

If you want warm waters and to be able to swim in it comfortably, I would avoid Turks & Caicos, Bahamas etc as they are not in the Caribbean sea but the Atlantic, therefore in winter it will be colder. I'd not suggest Puerto Rico either, it's not really what you imagine the Caribbean to be.

Your only restriction in grouping islands is how you get from one to the other so look for interisland flights or ferries or where BA & VS fly to as several of their direct flights stop enroute and drop/pick up passengers. Problem is if you group Aruba, Curacao & Bonaire for example, they are very similar islands in terrain, why not pick contrasting islands. You really don't have to look for logical groupings. I've done groupings like Grenada plus St Lucia, you could do Barbados plus Antigua (fly from Joburg/CPT to London to Barbados, take a flight Barbados to Antigua, then back from Antigua to London then onwards to JNB/CPT) BA fly to Aruba from next year which is a first, so you could combine Aruba + Antigua (as the direct BA flight stops in Antigua, so fly London to Aruba, Aruba to Antigua, from Antigua you could do a side trip to Montserrat and Barbuda, then Antigua to London, London to Joburg) You could also combine Grenada with St Lucia, all on BA. Virgin Atlantic also have a great network around the Caribbean, you could combine London Heathrow - St Vincent (and therefore the Grenadines) plus Barbados or Tobago with Barbados. You can also combine Grand Cayman with Bahamas (Nassau) but as with Turks & Caicos, it might be a bit cool in the Bahamas in December.

And thats just BA & VS. With KLM & AF, as part of the same airline group, you have further options of flying into one island and out of another back to Paris or Amsterdam. Check L'Express des iles for catamaran services between several islands.

To help narrow the choices down, it would be good to think about what type of island you are looking for, dry arid with white sand beaches or tropical, green, mountainous with beige sand, do you want snorkelling, or historical sights, tropical gardens etc, volcanos. waterfalls or just chill on beaches. Nightlife in the Caribbean is pretty sedate with dinner being the main event in many cases. Puerto Rico would deliver the nightlife, Aruba & St Maarten as well. Barbados & St Lucia too if you are in the right part of the island. Pricey islands would be Anguilla, St Barths, Grand Cayman, Turks & Caicos. December is peak season which doesn't help the budget.

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Old Aug 31st, 2022, 10:02 PM
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I agree with the observation that islands with an awesome nightlife and party vibe and necessarily going to be ones that are more "commerciialized".

Have you considered Jamaica?
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Old Sep 6th, 2022, 09:00 PM
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I agree with those above -- best bet is to fly into Miami and then island hop from there.

Have you considered the Bahamas? I'd recommend Abaco, which is an area in the northeastern Bahamas. Abaco is actually made up of a main island (Abaco!) and a number of smaller cays that you can reach by a short ferry ride.

Abaco is wonderful, because it's less than an hour's flight from Florida, it's less touristy and more authentically Bahamian than Nassau, the Bahamian capital, and once you're there, it's easy to get around the region via taxi, rental car or ferry boat.

Each of the Abaco destinations has a different personality, so you could visit two or three of them and have an equally amazing, but slightly different experience in each.

Off the top of my head, I'd suggest Green Turtle Cay and Elbow Cay (Hope Town.) These are quite small islands, with little settlements, lots of options for accommodations and dining, and lots of activities (beaching, SCUBA, snorkeling, beach combing, some nightlife and party vibe but not overwhelmingly so, boating, fishing, etc.) With a group of your size, you'd probably do well in a large rental home, rather than a hotel... That way you can have a kitchen, laundry facilities, etc. But there are certainly lovely little resorts on both islands if that's your preference.

We live part of the year on Green Turtle Cay, and have spent time in most of the major destinations in Abaco -- happy to provide additional info if it would be helpful!

Amanda
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Old Sep 10th, 2022, 12:41 AM
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The OP is from South Africa, those with South African passports need visas for many countries, inc the USA. Therefore going via Miami and island hoping is not a good idea, going via the US is to be avoided at the best of times but especially so for them. They can get to Nassau from London, direct.
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