Depends on where you are going. Some areas, you will pretty much need a guide.
If you can get by on your end, and there are not serious dangers in doing so, then I will opt for the explorer route. There are definitely travel destinations that are not safe for some gringos on their own.
Independent quests are always on my mind...a resort is nice but usually your saving forever for a vision that might not happen. I love scoring close to home. Driving the 4x4 deep and finding an empty sandbar with a bud. When it's warm here and firing I feel like I am in Mexico/Costa anyway, with less hassle.