December 9, 2018

Best Tropical Winter Escapes

Best Tropical Winter Escapes

Looking for a way to warm up your winter wonderland?  Lots of people choose to forgo icicles and flurries and opt instead for a warm, bikini-clad holiday.  If this is you, you’ve found the Holy Grail of travel blogs although this one has some great suggestions as well.  Leave the parka at home and get your AC ready! Read on for the best tropical winter escapes and remind Santa to bring his shades when dropping your gifts this year.

Kampot, Cambodia
The provincial town of Kampot in southern Cambodia doesn’t look like much at first sight because it is small and sleepy with unpaved streets and run down buildings, but Kampot’s sleepiness is part of its charm. Traffic is light and it’s easy to get around on foot, bicycle or motorbike. Life is slow and unrushed, with hot afternoons meant for lounging in hammocks or swimming.  The riverside location is at the foot of the Elephant Mountains and is a huge part of Kampot’s attraction. The river attracts everyone (both tourists and locals) at sunset for strolls. Just outside town you can swim and kayak from one of the riverside guest houses.  Known throughout Cambodia as the coveted weekend getaway destination, Kampot is a much needed reprieve from the chaos of Phnom Penh. Try out one of the eco resorts like Ganesha and Eden Eco Village that line the river while secret lakes and waterfalls abound for early morning canoeing and swimming. Rent a moto and take a drive up the winding roads of Bokor Mountain or over to La Plantation’s organic pepper farm and sample some of the world’s best.

Honduras

Do you like waterfalls, scuba diving, mountains and untouched rainforests? Who doesn’t? This second largest central American country is for you. It has colonial villages (Gracias, Comayagua), ancient Maya ruins (Copan), natural parks (Moskitia), a Pacific and Caribbean coastline, and the Bay Islands.  These all offer great beaches and coral reefs where snorkelling and diving are exceptional by any standard.  The country is bordered by Guatemala to the northwest, El Salvador to the south and Nicaragua to the southeast.  The Lodge at Pico Bonito lies in the middle of the gorgeous Pico Bonito National Park, putting some of the world’s most dazzling natural environments at your doorstep.

Mexico City

Mexico City is, and has always been, the center of Mexico in terms of population, events, politics and fun. Though it has a riddled past, these days the city is cleaning up its act. Revamped public spaces are springing back to life, the culinary scene is exploding and a cultural renaissance is flourishing. On top of all that, by somehow managing to distance itself from the drug war, the nation’s capital remains a safe haven of sorts. In the past few years, the ancient city has enjoyed a vibrant resurgence thanks to a close knit artist community and a world class food scene. Stay at the Four Seasons in the center of the city, enjoy the rooftop pool and the open courtyard, and save time in your trip to float the Xochimilco Gardens in the colorful trajineras.

Belize

Explore the ancient Mayan Ruins, an award winning historical site where you can get guided tours and learn more about Belizean history.  After that, swim through translucent seas and be treated to a kaleidoscope of coral, fish, whale sharks and turtles, while divers go deeper, investigating underwater caves and walls and the world-renowned Blue Hole. With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea, pint-sized Belize is packed with islands, adventure and culture.  Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world, after Australia’s, and with more than 100 types of coral and some 500 species of tropical fish, it’s pure paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. Add to this island life on the sandy cays, where you can spend your days kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, fishing or lazing in a hammock, and you’ve got a perfect tropical vacation.

Oman

These picturesque deserts are like nothing you’ve ever seen before this holiday season. Explore the great canyon of the Al Hajar Mountains and rip through the dunes of the Wahiba Sands. Head into Muscat to see the traditional architecture of the Royal Opera House Muscat and Grand Mosque, and be sure to take home some of the city’s famous fragrances.  Oman’s capital is very family friendly, with malls having dedicated fun zones and parks with play areas. It is, however, the beach that draws most tourists, whether it is for a picnic, to swim, a game of beach football, or just to stroll and enjoy the sunset. Water sports activities such jet skiing or banana boat rides are available at Qurum Beach and most beachfront resorts.  The afternoon can be spent watching dolphins frolic in the sea, followed by a beautiful sunset Dhow cruise starting from Marina Bandar Al Rowdah or Al Mouj Muscat.

Los Angeles

For some of us, the quickest way to cure the winter blues is to go where both the palm trees and the stars are. Los Angeles has something for everyone, with 75 miles of sunny coastline, a flourishing Downtown, lifestyle playgrounds for the rich and famous, acclaimed restaurants, trend-setting art and fashion scenes, and internationally flavored neighborhoods. One of the most popular ways to experience L.A. is by enjoying free activities, such as a scenic drive or visiting top cultural attractions. Los Angeles has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to green travel, from public transit to eco-friendly hotels. L.A. Tourism celebrates the city’s incredible diversity with its LGBT and ethnic guides. And you can bring your canine companion to L.A.’s dog-friendly parks, hotels, restaurants and attractions. Whether it’s luxury or budget, family friendly or singles, L.A. Tourism has the best itineraries and guides to explore this amazing city!  To relight your inner fire, jump between tanning at Venice Beach and taking in LA’s burgeoning art scene.

Costa Rica

December ushers in the dry season, so you can enjoy the warm weather without getting caught in a torrential downpour. There’s also a number of local festivals from January through March, perfect for experiencing the culture.  Costa Rica’s beaches offer the perfect escape from noisy cities. Whether you’re travelling with friends, family, or that special someone, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay. From big hotels with comfortable facilities to ultra-posh boutique hotels, there’s something for everyone. Besides great accommodations, Costa Rica is increasingly renowned for its widely varied and delicious foods distinct to each region. One thing they all share in common is their excellent taste.  Costa Rica’s beaches are surrounded by forests, and have great natural diversity. Many contain beautiful coral reefs, perfect for diving and exploring. Depending on the beach, complementary activities may include hikes to mangroves, diving, surfing, sport fishing, hiking on trails or horseback rides. With easy access to many beaches, you can make the most out of both coasts. Most have warm water throughout the year, so they can be enjoyed year round. If it’s variety you’re interested in, each coast offers different shades and textures of sand. White, yellow, gray and black beaches are the result of the constant crashing of varied seashells on coral reefs.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

December marks the off-season on Italy’s South Eastern coast. Though you won’t see temperatures as high as in June or July, you can expect days as warm as 55 degrees Fahrenheit and won’t have to deal with quite as many tourists. Magically suspended between the blue sky and the iridescent colored sea, the Amalfi coast seems to be born from the palette of a painter. It is the land where the sweet scent of lemon blossoms mixes with lush Mediterranean vegetation and the salty sea air; where the brilliant colors of bougainvillea and carnations stand out among whitewashed houses, clinging to the last offshoots of the Lattari Mounts that plunge dramatically into the sea. A vertical landscape houses a picture perfect labyrinth of stairways and alleys. The shift from the sea to mountain is seamless: the mountain sides were terraced over the centuries, shaped by human labor to create flaps of arable land and already compared, during the Renaissance period, to the legendary Hesperides by the Italian writer and naturalist Giambattista Della Porta.

Miami

Get ready for sun-filled days and temperatures on the mid-70s. Miami hosts several winter events to make sure to keep the city alive during its off season.  The largest holiday theme park in the world, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is back for another season at Tropical Park. Enjoy carnival rides, shows, games, a 92-foot tall Christmas tree and more than three million Christmas lights. Ride the ferris wheel, race speedy cars, or risk it all on the “Mega Drop.” The park is open until the beginning of January. Check out the Deering Holiday Wonderland located at the elegant and historic Deering Estate located on the edge of Biscayne Bay when it’s festively decorated for the holidays and decked out in beautiful Christmas lights. Highlights include story time and photos with Santa Claus and a Festival of Trees evening stroll.  Lounge on idyllic beaches, take advantage of the city’s numerous water sports and explore the famous and colorful Art Deco District.

Hawaii

When considering a vacation to Hawaii for the month of December, choosing when to go greatly impacts both costs and crowds. The first few weeks are very quiet and relatively inexpensive, while the last week — including Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays — is a popular and expensive time. Hawaii’s weather is almost always wonderfully warm. Daytime temperatures typically reach the low 80s while evening temperatures dip in the middle to upper 60s. Even in December, tropical flowers continue to flourish as usual. You may also see poinsettia plants and shrubs growing and blooming outdoors.  With the exception of Hawaii’s Big Island, December is the wettest month for Hawaii. That doesn’t mean that you’ll likely encounter rain all the time. From our experience, we’ve enjoyed some wonderfully sunny days in Hawaii in December. We do recommend that you bring a breathable, rain-proof jacket and/or an umbrella so that a passing shower typically won’t interfere with your plans for very long. Even though this time of year is one of Kauai’s busiest, but with sunny days in the high 70s, it’s worth pricier hotel rates. Don’t worry about dealing with pesky crowds: The rural island only has two highways and visitors are encouraged to travel on foot through the gorgeous, rural terrain.

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