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diversteve

always tired
Rest in Peace
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I'm a Fish!
Without seeming to be a Curacao travel agent...

going to restaurants
http://www.curacao.com/Attractions-and-Restaurants/Restaurants

Two that were recommended:

http://www.landhuisdaniel.com/index.php?pg=20
http://www.bistroleclochard.com/en/

it's the opposite of formal dining but we enjoyed: http://www.surfenturf-curacao.com/engels/index.html also.
I'm fairly certain someone walked down to the water to get our lobsters from a trap that afternoon.

I think I need trees.
This is the Cas Abou area:

Curacao-poison-trees.jpg

Unfortunately the orange signs tell you the fruit is poisonous (Machineel trees)

This is Playa Porto Mari - one of the best shore dives on Curacao.

Curacao-beach-6.jpg

We also drove thru an area on the main road going west near Lagun daily - sort of looked like this.
The Divi Divi tree (center) is the national tree of Curacao.

1024px-Caesalpinia_coriaria,_Cooktown_2010.jpg
 

stcroixscuba

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St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
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I'm a Fish!
There are quite a few people who have come to St. Croix to do exactly what you're planning......some even ended up working for us! There are a few sights that are easily diveable from the shore including the famous Frederiksted Pier which you will absolutely fall in love with, especially at night. I feel that it's one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, especially at night but I digress. Long term residents here can join the local dive club Caribbean Reef Association of Bubble Blowers (CRABBS) and get excellent stand-by rates with some of the local dive shops including us.

With St. Croix you get the security of still being under the U.S. flag, and we have the same currency, electricity (though it is expensive), and the same language as the U.S.....spanish......just kidding.

Someone mentioned crime and while a long term look at St. Croix's history would yield many mentions of crime most are from a long time ago such as post-Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I've lived on St. Croix for almost 30 years and other than a couple of small burglaries have had no problems (and I had burglaries in my home state of Louisiana too). I leave town after closing the store after dark almost every night, and frequently hang out later in town for dinner/drinks/etc., and have never had a problem.

There are a lot of rental properties from fantastic villas to apartments under a larger main house.

If you budget allows I would get your choices honed down to two or three places and take a mini-vacation to each to check out in person. As great as the information you're getting here is, there's nothing like showing up in person to check things out. That's what I was told 28.5 years ago when a job offer (with an airline) came up and I was ready to jump on it. They insisted that I come down for a week to check things out before giving my two weeks notice, I did, and at least for me felt like I had only delayed things for a week because I was ready to move here the first day I visited.
 

LarryHinDC

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Washington, DC, USA
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I'll throw in a little more information about Saba. As said, it is small and has no beaches, but if you will be there for several months some of the dive operations may charge you only a "local" rate for boat dives, so keep that in mind when deciding. That said, it would still be more expensive than shore diving. Most of Saba's accommodations are in your elevation range, and the trade winds blow constantly and really keep things pleasant. While there are not a lot of restaurants, the ones that are there are pretty consistently good. The main non-diving recreational opportunities are hiking and birding. And they people are among the friendliest you will find anywhere.
 

irie1029

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Fort Wayne Indiana
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Did you consider Curacao? From what I've read, I didn't think Saba had shore diving, and haven't heard about it in St. Lucia. St. Croix has shore diving, but is there enough of it for what you want?

Richard.
I am planning on [-]6 months a year[/-] ok 3 months a year in Curacao. People there are great and shore diving is sweet. Currently the politics/gangster crap is quite drama ridden but hopefully that will calm down.
 

DiverVince

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Overlooking Winnipesaukee in NH and la isla bonita
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I just don't log dives
Bill..Here's my feedback on this. We owned on St C during the timeframe 1980-1986. We then decided to sell primarily because of the crime problems on the island.No need to go into detail here. I haven't been back to the island in over 20 years. What I liked about St C was the topography was gorgeous, much nicer than what you'll find on Bonaire. Shore diving can be limited, we dove a lot at Cane Bay (must have easily made 200 dives there), Davis Bay and Salt river. Also they had a great night dive at the Fredericksted Pier. When I was there St C had some great restaurants. What I liked about the diving on St C were the wall dives and the pelagic animals found off the walls.

After we sold St C, I spent some 20 years traveling the Carib, always looking for my next property and place to spend the winter months when I stopped working a 40 hr week. Spent time on all 3 Caymans, BVIs, Roatan, Cozumel, Aruba & Curacao all come to mind. For years we'd go to a different destination and more often than not the following year would return to Bonaire. I will say the first time I was on Bonaire in 1985, I thought it was a great place to dive, but certainly not to live or invest since the infrastructure back then was so limited. Well that changed over time, the local population and the government banned together and purchased Klein Bonaire, thereby keeping it free of commercial enterprise, the restaurants got much better and the support structure increased. I can tell you, no island in the Carib has more shore diving opportunities than Bonaire, bar none. Without doubt, Bonaire is truly a diver's island.

Bonaire positives: great shore diving, generally calm water on the lee side, fairly well established infrastructure, they just invested a ton of money in a sewer system for the homes and condos along the seaside to limit eutrophication of the waters, they are very ecologically conscious. Bonaire negatives: the topography isn't the greatest, unlike the lush green mountains in the Virgin Islands. Of late the crime issues have increased from what it was in the past. Hopefully the local government is getting a handle on this.

Whatever you decide, best of luck. I'd recommend at least spending several weeks at those destinations that interest you. I wouldn't listen too much to what tourists say, but would give greater credence to information supplied by those who indeed live there. They are a source of your best info.
 

sphyrnidus

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Netherlands
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Saba is a wonderful and magical place to visit and dive. Clean, safe, with fascinating topography. With that said, it is a tiny island and while there is a hospital, I think medical care would be minimal and bare bones. I recently talked with a dive master who lived on the island for 1 year. While he loved the island, the food and the people, he desperately craved a change of scenery and more topside options.
There is no functional hospital on Saba. The building is there, but it has never functioned. Even more: the doors are so small a bed can't be pushed in to a room. There are good medical facilities on Saint Maarten however. But Saba is quite 19th century..
 

Jersey

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After we sold St C, I spent some 20 years traveling the Carib, always looking for my next property and place to spend the winter months when I stopped working a 40 hr week. Spent time on all 3 Caymans, BVIs, Roatan, Cozumel, Aruba & Curacao all come to mind. For years we'd go to a different destination and more often than not the following year would return to Bonaire. I will say the first time I was on Bonaire in 1985, I thought it was a great place to dive, but certainly not to live or invest since the infrastructure back then was so limited. Well that changed over time, the local population and the government banned together and purchased Klein Bonaire, thereby keeping it free of commercial enterprise, the restaurants got much better and the support structure increased. I can tell you, no island in the Carib has more shore diving opportunities than Bonaire, bar none. Without doubt, Bonaire is truly a diver's island.

Bonaire positives: great shore diving, generally calm water on the lee side, fairly well established infrastructure, they just invested a ton of money in a sewer system for the homes and condos along the seaside to limit eutrophication of the waters, they are very ecologically conscious. Bonaire negatives: the topography isn't the greatest, unlike the lush green mountains in the Virgin Islands. Of late the crime issues have increased from what it was in the past. Hopefully the local government is getting a handle on this.

Whatever you decide, best of luck. I'd recommend at least spending several weeks at those destinations that interest you. I wouldn't listen too much to what tourists say, but would give greater credence to information supplied by those who indeed live there. They are a source of your best info.

And one day I hope this can be my life too! But seriously, I suggest RENTING for 6 months to a year before you venture down the let's buy a place option. I'm currently 'living the dream' on an island. It ain't all it's cracked up to be. I'm here because someone moved down, took the job and left after 4 months. Not the first person to do so. I've met many counting the days till they can get off the rock. This is a working crowd and 'working' and 'island' can be polar opposites. Maybe for the fully retired it's different, but island time is real and not conducive to getting things done. Repairs, cable, supplies, electricity, medical, food, cell service, shopping (St. T does have a Home Depot, 2 K-Marts and a Cineplex I've found) are all things to think about. And while those VI's may be green and mountainous - they are mountainous! My little Toyota barely makes it up some hills (Bolongo Bay area) and don't miss a curve, the first drop is deadly. My co-worker and I sat together on the flight back to Contin US and shared that he was looking forward to driving a car in excess of 40MPH on flat highways. Just things to keep in mind.

For me Bonaire is stunning, it's a desert island, not a tropical island. It's the old story of appreciating your surroundings.

Good luck and keep us informed!
 
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Location
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; airport: STX
Greetings and this has been an excellent summary of choices. I especially like people mentioning people's reactions to shopping needs. Your comments on gardening are important, too (I love getting my hands in the earth).
I've travelled the world and have made St. Croix my home for many reasons.
1) it is still (kinda) the USA;
2) I lived on St. Thomas for two years and while the busy lifestyle has its place, I prefer to visit using Seaborne Airlines (and visiting the rest of the Carribean);
3) The scuba diving here is spectacular. The Pier, Wrecks, Canyon, Wall and 42 miles of reef make for endless diving opportunities for the adventurous soul. Most boat diving is limited to a dozen sites on the north (Christiansted-the North Wall) and about 80 dive sites off the west (Frederiksted). Then there is shore diving. The south and east are more challenging as this is the predominate direction of the wind and waves.
St. Croix is rated a top 5 destination for diving, The Pier is one of the Seven Jewels of the Caribbean for its beauty/enormity/archaeology/turtles/seahorses/frogfish, clarity of water, macro life, photography, and so much more.
4) This island is BIG into agriculture. Ridge-to-Reef Farms, markets, gardens, hydroponic testing, aquaponic testing -- basically, this is an epicenter of learning to fed the world. THe University was a pioneer in many fields that is being used worldwide.
5) Hiking is spectacular. This is the Maui of the Carribbean.
6) beaches are great and used for nesting of endangered turtles. Ever watch Shawshank Redemption? That last scene with Morgan Freeman walking up to Tim Robins was filmed here in St. Croix near Frederiksted.
7) Shopping: we have Home Depot, Radio Shack, and Kmart. The rest are local vendors. (no Best Buy, no Walmart, no mega-grocers except the local chain Plaza Extra).
8) History -- this island has loads of it. And the politics are relatable to the USA -- just remember our "Governor" and "Senators" are for a cummulative Virgin Island population of ~110,000 people. I liken the politicians to a small city and the inherent family/chicago-style corruption. It is really easy to understand and that is a (frustrating) advantage.
9) Easy for friends and family to visit -- no passports for USA citizens.
10) launching pad to other islands (CapeAir, SeaBourne Airlines, etc.)
11) I really do recommend the 80/20 plan. Here for 80% and off island for 20%. Travel, explore, go to the mainland and use airbnb, couchsurfing, or a proper annual vacation (or two -- 6 on, 1 off). Time away make you appreciate the 'don't hurry' lifestyle of the Cruzian people.
12) there IS an east vs west attitude from the white population on the island. East is more densely populated/condos/etc where people like to live amongst themselves. The west is more expansive, lush/green, spacious, and relaxed. The difference between the two? about 30-40 minute drive. :)
13) enjoy life. There is top-notch scuba, paddleboarding, horseback riding, jetskis, hiking, gardening/cooking, and a great culture. Oh! and St. Thomas is 18 minute seaplane flight away and Puerto Rico is about 22 minute flight away. :)
Regards,
N2theBlue
 

They call me Tater

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I am looking forward to visiting St. Croix in January and Saba in the spring. I am going with the thought of not only diving but also trying to find a place I would like to make a regular spot to escape to. We prefer the smaller/quieter islands (and cheaper is good too) but it has to be big enough that I can do things with the non diving wife. I will be curious to hear about your decision...
 

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