The Getaway
Make a Splash at These Always-Balmy Tropical Hotspots

Leave chilly winter behind and chill out in sun-kissed splendor. Our blue dot of a planet is full of sought-after and lesser-known tropical Edens to suit every kind of wanderer. Figure out how far you can reasonably go with the funds and time at your disposal, and the world shall be your oyster.

There's a good chance you'll soon be slathering sunblock all over your body as you contemplate one of life's big questions: strawberry daiquiri or piña colada? Let the island-hopping begin.


01 Miami, Florida

Miami Beach, Florida Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

Just listen to Will Smith's 1997 hit 'Miami' for all the confirmation you'll ever need that The Magic City is hot stuff. This famous coastal metropolis in Florida is a beach lover's paradise, and city slickers value the striking art deco buildings, thrilling diversity, and a nightlife that's muy caliente.

A popular cruise port, you can get an impressive tan by visiting nearby Caribbean isles, too. There's also lots for nature enthusiasts to appreciate in Oleta River State Park and the many local tropical gardens.


02 Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica Holger Leue / Getty Images

Jamaica has tremendous cultural relevance as the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae, and the fastest man alive — Usain Bolt. The inspiration for all the music and spirituality must come, in part, from this island nation's stunning beauty.

There are plenty of sun-soaked all-inclusive resorts. But beyond these bubbles of hospitality, you'll find breathtaking reefs and waterfalls galore amidst emerald green vegetation. The stars shine so brightly in Kingston Town too (if you know, you know). Braid your hair and really embrace the aesthetics of a summery, cultural gem.


03 Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

Woman floating in a Cenote in Mexico Marianna Massey / Getty Images

If you want a tropical vacay par excellence, you won't go wrong with Mexico's Mayan Riviera. There are fabulous budget options, and this peninsula on the Atlantic coast offers numerous attractions for grown-ups and kids.

Explore ancient Mayan ruins, jump into a stunning and hallowed cenote for a memorable swim, hang out with whale sharks and dolphins, or visit the Xel-Há water theme park in Tulum. Cozumel, Cancún, and Playa del Carmen are ever-popular, but colonial Mérida and car-free Isla Holbox are additional highlights.


04 Santa Marta, Colombia

Hiking near Lost City, Colombia Joerg Steber / Getty Images

Colombia's Pacific coast offers plenty of surfing opportunities, while its Caribbean coast is better suited to lazy days spent in picturesque locales. Bustling Santa Marta is one such destination.

Not far from the pop star Shakira's hometown in Barranquilla, Santa Marta is home to the world's highest coastal mountain range. Think snow-capped peaks in the middle of paradise, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect.

Be sure to check out the Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona and the Lost City. The latter is perfect if you're in the mood for an Indiana Jones-like adventure. On the off chance that Santa Marta is too busy for you, make a trip to Colombia's Rosario Islands instead.


05 Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images

Another favorite with surfers, this relaxed haven in Central America epitomizes pura vida. Backpackers can find comfortable accommodation in Tamarindo, and eco-friendly yoga retreats abound.

An animal enthusiast's dream, the Rich Coast is certainly rich in biodiversity. Viewing leatherback turtles lay their eggs and return to the sea is delightful, and so is a visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.


06 Havana, Cuba

Green vintage car on main street Havana, Cuba MaboHH / Getty Images

Havana, ooh na-na. Delicious food, sensational music, and an apparent time warp will jostle for your attention in this beauty of a getaway spot. A favorite among Americans many decades ago, politics and shifting travel restrictions have lessened the flow of people from the north. But if you do get to go, you'll find the palm-fringed white-sand beaches and aquamarine waters of the Playas del Este calling your name.

Bring a Hemingway book to honor the scribe's love for this place. And don't forget to play some salsa beats as you drive down the Malecon in one of the Cuban capital's colorful classic cars.


07 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema and Leblon Beach in Rio de Janeiro Gonzalo Azumendi / Getty Images

The bird's eye view of Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most recognizable city images. Rio's uniqueness is apparent from the get-go with its iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, deep green forests, distinctive mountains, and Guanabara Bay. And Brazil's capital lives up to expectations. It hums with energy, whether it's Carnaval season or not

Head to the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and there's a good chance you'll glimpse some equally renowned bums.


08 Kaua'i, Hawaii

A woman kayaking in Kaua'i, Hawaii TaylorMcKay / Getty Images

It's hard not to conjure up Hawaii when you think about an ideal tropical vacation. This group of volcanic islands is an American treasure. With its gentle local culture and natural adornments, Hawaii is sure to meet your lofty expectations.

Known as the Garden Isle, Kaua'i is particularly gorgeous and environmentally conscious. Between the red-rock canyons, green peaks, sea caves, postcard-perfect vistas, and charming towns, you might not want to leave.


09 Dubai, UAE

Jumeirah Open Beach in Dubai, UAE Jorg Greuel / Getty Images

Beyond the western hemisphere, Dubai is a fabulous place during winter. Turquoise waters lap against the shore and the beaches are super clean. There are glamorous 7-star hotels like the Burj al Arab overlooking Jumeira Beach, and more affordable options to suit most budgets.

And there's no shortage of things for families to do. Malls have attractions to keep kids busy while parents indulge in retail therapy, and the city's modern theme parks will appeal to anyone young at heart.


10 Bora Bora, French Polynesia

A woman in the pool on Bora Bora Christina_Morgan / Getty Images

A beloved honeymoon destination, Bora Bora is a slice of heaven on earth. You may need to pinch yourself to confirm your surroundings are real and not a dream or a highly-edited computer wallpaper awash with spectacular shades of green and blue.

Take it as easy-breezy as you like on this quiet island, or schedule a range of fun, outdoorsy activities. Most important of all, savor the fact that this is The Life.


11 Colombo, Sri Lanka

Female Worker in Tea Plantations of Sri Lanka tunart / Getty Images

Still one of the best-kept secrets out there, Sri Lanka is as warm a destination as you could want. There's really something for everyone here. The people are friendly, the beaches excellent, and the relatively low prices will warm your heart, too.

Sri Lanka is supremely rich in culture, with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, some of them ancient. The wildlife includes elephants and leopards, and the landscape features rainforests, rice paddies, and acre upon acre of tea plantations. If you love going diving in uncrowded sites, Sri Lanka currently checks that box.


12 Mauritius and Réunion

Woman at a beach in Mauritius Roberto Moiola/robertharding / Getty Images

These small neighboring islands close to Madagascar offer travelers different experiences, so it's worth visiting them both if you can.

In Mauritius, you'll probably bump into a fair number of South Africans who favor this exquisite island for visa requirements less restrictive than the French region of Réunion. Mauritius has luxurious seaside hotels with golf courses and spas and family-friendly resorts. It's the perfect place for water babies to take long swims.

Réunion is not as bather-friendly. It's greener and more mountainous, offering adrenaline-fueled activities alongside its very French character. Both islands have a multicultural cuisine, influenced, in part, by locals of Indian descent.


13 Zanzibar, Tanzania

Stone town, Zanzibar MOIZ HUSEIN / Getty Images

Zanzibar is peppered with the history of the Spice Route. This east African archipelago is in demand as a standalone destination, and it makes for a rewarding add-on to a Serengeti trip in the region. Dhows dot the horizon, and near Pemba Island, the snorkeling is fantastic. Unguja, also known as Zanzibar Island, is where you'll find the UNESCO World Heritage site, Stone Town.


14 The Maldives

Young couple paddling on paddleboard in tropical ocean graphixel / Getty Images

Comprising 26 atolls close to the Asian subcontinent, you'd be hard-pressed not to find the Maldives on the average island connoisseur's bucket list. The beaches have powder-soft sand and sparkly amazonite-colored waters.

Each resort is a private island, and you're spoilt for choice. The over-water villas are made for unwinding and are Instagrammable, but consider whether other options may meet your needs better. Independent travel is also possible.

In recent years, the Maldives has made the news because it could disappear beneath the Indian Ocean if global warming continues, so bump it up your list after you turn off your lawn sprinklers.


15 The Andaman Coast, Thailand

Phi Phi Island, Thailand Balate Dorin / Getty Images

From Krabi to Phuket and beyond, Thailand's Andaman coast will have you saying wow many times over. There's a reason the Thai islands have flashed across cinema screens many a time. The lagoon-laden scenery is magnificent, and everyone is welcome to stay and have the best massages, hammock naps, and sips of fresh coconut water.

Do your research to find spots and activities that are as secluded or buzzing as you'd like. Although always warm, try to avoid the monsoon season between May and October.


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