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Insta Q&A: Camaraderie in the Caribbean

Christina Talcott

Does the thought of setting out alone on a beach vacation fill you with dread? Dip in to the Travel Q&A mailbox with me and let's see if we can help reader Diane Nargiz of Solomons Island, Md.:

I need some advice for a week's getaway in late December or early January. I can't just go to an island and sit in the sun all day. I like to go exploring, i.e. museums, history, shops, etc. Also, it would be great if there were other people so I'd see/meet other people at dinner, etc. Is this an impossibility? Went to San Juan last year and explored the city, shops, etc., and got sun but no camaraderie.

I'm all for independent travel, but I'm thinking that maybe Diane should bite the bullet and do a Club Med or Sandals-type trip. Sometimes it's hard to find like-minded souls on a beach vacation, and a resort focused on singles will have built-in companionship. Of course, you'll pay for the privilege. At Club Med's Bahamas resort, for example, an all-inclusive package deal runs about $2,700 for a week in early January. That includes round-trip airfare from D.C., transfers, accommodations, food, booze and leisure activities. No city to explore here, but there's tons to do -- diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, volleyball, tennis, kayaking, soccer, archery, fitness classes, etc. Plus nightclub action when the sun goes down.

But obviously, that's a pretty pricey trip (and that's one of their more affordable ones). Speak up if you have a better idea for Diane. Anyone have experience with more affordable package deals from places like Apple Vacations or Liberty Travel, or are they set up more for couples? Or should she just strike out on her own?

By Christina Talcott |  December 3, 2008; 9:34 AM ET  | Category:  Insta-Q&A , K.C. Summers , Travel Strategies
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I'd try to find a small B&B to stay at, instead of a big resort. That time of year is not really warm enough for Bermuda, but on a solo trip there I stayed at a guest house in Hamilton, instead of a big hotel, and everybody chatted over breakfast, exchanging ideas on things to do during the day. As another plus, there were a few guests who were visiting family on the island or on business travel, who had a different perspective.

I've been told there are similar sorts of accomodations on other islands, particularly the more British ones, e.g. Barbados.

I've also found some camaraderie by taking small group tours, e.g. one to Arecebio Observatory while on Puerto Rico.

Posted by: xenophilia | December 3, 2008 9:53 AM

Aren't Sandals specifically for couples? That would be quite a downer if traveling alone. I took off solo to the DR, stayed at an all-inclusive resort (much less expensive than Sandals or Club Med) and had a great time. There are always excursions, but pick a resort that doesn't focus on keeping you in all the time if you're one that likes exploring.

Posted by: BrentwoodGuy | December 3, 2008 10:24 AM

I've done lots of solo travel and it can get a little lonely when you go a whole day (or two or three!) without holding a conversation. I have found it helpful to travel to places -- particularly in Europe -- where you are expected to share your table in a crowded cafe. (Every time I am in a Starbux and I see a singleton taking up a table for 4 while I wait I think of this.) I have made short-term friends this way and even ended up with a private tour of a Dublin neighborhood by someone on his (extended) lunch hour!

Posted by: linguist2 | December 3, 2008 10:59 AM

I've done the solo vacation thing, to beaches and cities, and the best place to meet people is usually a bar or cafe that has some activity that you can comment on to your fellow event-goers. Live band, soccer match on TV, photography exhibit, whatever. I've met some cool people this way.

Posted by: northgs | December 3, 2008 11:01 AM

The last time I went to Hawaii, I went by myself for two weeks. I already had a scuba diving certification, and I signed up to take an advanced certification class. That meant five days of class, and I met and hung out with a great group of folks, including some nice dinners after dives.

Posted by: Hemisphire | December 3, 2008 11:05 AM

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