Where to go on beach/scuba vacation, renting a house, w/in-laws & kids?
November 29, 2013 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions on where to go on vacation next summer (late July, early Aug 2014) with my in-laws and their kids. The criteria: 1) Within reasonable travel/flight time from Dallas, Texas. There will be four children on this trip, ages 1, 3, 5, and 7. 2) A house/apartment/bungalow to rent for around $2500/week to house 6 adults and the aforementioned four kids. 3) Good SCUBA diving for my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and myself (all with advanced open water). 4) Good beaches for my wife, mother-in-law, brother-in-law's wife, and the kids, preferably within easy access of the lodgings. Thanks very much.
posted by oneironaut to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a diver but a diving instructor friend of mine has recommended grand cayman in the past.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:35 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: 2nding Grand Cayman. We went there several years ago and the divers in our family were very pleased with the diving (in particular the wall-diving sites), while the rest of us were very pleased with the beaches, shopping, and other options for entertainment. In particular there was a lot for kids to do, things like the Cayman Turtle Farm and maybe some snorkeling depending on how strong of swimmers the older kids are. Not sure about renting a cottage, but we stayed in a condo with beachfront access and it was a great home base for various adventures around the island. We used VRBO to limit by date/price/space, but there's probably other options, too. Not sure of what your definition of "reasonable" flight time is, but I'd guess from Dallas it wouldn't be bad at all.
posted by stellaluna at 1:03 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: San Pedro/Ambergris Caye, Belize.
posted by eugenen at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Puerto Rico! I just said this in another thread, but we spent a week there in July and FELL IN LOVE with it. Four-hour flight from Houston, so I expect Dallas will be easy too.

We were only in San Juan but took a day trip to go diving in Fajardo and the conditions were great. San Juan was about the same price as Houston (maybe even less) for things like drinks and dining out. The water and beaches even in the capital city were clean and beautiful. In SJ there is a cool natural lagoon where people go snorkeling and paddleboarding.

We stayed in a Marriot with private beach space. I suspect outside of the capital prices for everything will be much cheaper. If you haven't looked at sites like VRBO and AirBnB I'd start there.

I loved PR so much I almost immediately started mentally planning our next trip. I can't wait to go back and get out of the city. That said, San Juan is cool in it's own right — it feels very European.

PR gets extra points from me because it's soooo easy — the currency is the same, your cell phones will work, most everyone (in San Juan at least) speaks English, the food was excellent.
posted by Brittanie at 1:12 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Puerto Rico, and specifically Rincon which is on the west coast. We fell in love with the place, and it has everything you want: beautiful uncrowded beaches, great snorkeling and diving, plus fun restaurants and shops with a small town feel. It's a surfing destination in the winter. You'll need a rental car, though, because it's a couple of hours (maybe a bit less) from San Juan.
posted by MelissaSimon at 2:02 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Isla Mujeres near Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel. There are apartments down at the quieter, not as sand-beachy south end of the island, and condos and hotels at the busier beachier north end. The island's only like 4 miles wide, and it's a 25-minute ferry ride from Cancun.

Hiring a dive guide with a boat is but a moment's work. I don't know if the playa.info forums are still super active, but that's one place we used to use for references.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:18 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire has everything you're looking for. It's a surprisingly short flight from Texas, has condo-sized accommodations with kitchens, restaurants and grocery nearby, and some of the BEST shore or ship diving in the world. Honestly, I'm a convert to shore-diving after going here.
posted by matty at 6:05 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: The tiny community of Akumal, on the Maya Riviera an hour south of Cancún, is kind of a center for expat divers. I especially like that one can rent a literally oceanfront house with a private beach for less than $3000 a week. If you're willing to drive to the beach, it's obviously much cheaper. The downside is that it's hot as blazes during the summer. We were there over Labor Day, and even the tour guide was sitting on the ground, fanning himself with his hat, and saying "¡Que calor!"
posted by wnissen at 11:02 PM on November 29, 2013

Best answer: Utila, Honduras, if you're feeling adventurous.
posted by empath at 4:26 AM on November 30, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, these are great. I'm going to start checking them out. Please keep them coming!
posted by oneironaut at 7:31 AM on November 30, 2013

Best answer: I personally would not recommend Bonaire because of the non-diver contingent. I don't think that island is family friendly in the same way others might be. But, for diving, it's a favorite with people for good reason.

I recently stayed at Plantana Condos in Grand Cayman and had a great experience there. The diving is remarkable and there are great beaches, restaurants, etc. It's not a cheap island, though, even if you plan to purchase your own groceries and cook while you're there. The exchange rate is not kind.

Have you given any thought to Aruba? It's a cost-effective island, great diving, and one of the nicest places of its type I've been to.

Happy to recommend dive operations at any of these places, if you're curious.
posted by MyFrozenYear at 10:28 AM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by oneironaut at 7:45 AM on December 4, 2013

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