By: Briahna McTigue
During the winter, many seek a warm getaway to ward off the cold. This influx of travellers often congregate in many similar locations and resorts across the globe. Some popular destinations are Cuba, Hawaii, Florida, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. North Americans are notoriously known to migrate to these areas, earning themselves the infamous “snowbird” title. As a result, these destinations can become overcrowded and lose their local charm. Thus, for travellers that wish to embark on a more private, slice of paradise getaway, finding a unique location is key. Check out these stunning unique trips to escape the cold.
1. Isla Holbox, Mexico
While this first getaway is located in Mexico—a common tourist destination—its charm, beauty and ease of living haven’t attracted as many tourists (yet). Holbox (pronounced hole-bosh) is a fantastic location for anyone that enjoys a barefoot, beach bound lifestyle. While this destination isn’t known for its party life, it is a perfect spot to unwind and stretch in the sun. Though relaxation is key for a successful winter gateway, there are ample opportunities for adventure and exploration in Holbox. For example, the Yum Balam flora and fauna nature reserve is a sought after experience. Here, visitors can observe flourishing wildlife and swim in the large cenote. Holbox is also known for its whale shark discovery tours, and if travellers enjoy swimming, they can spend their time at Yalahau Lagoon and Punta Mosquito beach.
2. Tulum, Mexico
If the idea of traveling to a cenote in Holbox sounds appealing, cenote hopping in Tulum may be the ideal vacation for tourists craving an action-packed experience. However, there are also several cenote trails with pre-planned cave visits, hikes and bike tours for those that prefer being dry. With over 6,000 cenotes spread across the Yucatan Peninsula, travelers looking to spend their time submerged in crystal clear water have much to choose from in Tulum. The water conditions in these magical sinkholes are also perfect for diving, snorkeling and scuba excursions. The top five cenotes to visit in Tulum are: Cenote Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote, Casa Cenote, Cenote Calavera, and Cenote Cristalino. Luxury sailing, ziplining, jungle hikes and ruin tours are also plentiful here. Lastly, a stay in the Azulik eco resort and a visit to the on-site IK Lab gallery is a must.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Travelers looking for a warm destination vacation, rich with culture and history, will fall in love with Chiang Mai. This city differs from popular winter getaway sites, as it does not have any beaches. Instead, Chiang Mai has a wide variety of activities and attractions to hold the interest of any tourist. This city is recognized for its temples, elephant sanctuaries and national parks. One of the area’s most breathtaking parks, is the Doi Inthanon National Park, Waterfall and Royal Project. From the captivating traditional architecture, expansive vistas and blossoming greenery, this national park will win the heart of any nature lover. For those seeking a greater cultural experience, Chiang Mai also organizes guided tours to explore various landscapes and temples. Some of the most well-known temples are the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Chiang Man.
4. Saint Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean
This dual-island nation is one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. Though it remains one of the less-frequented Caribbean tourism destinations, this nation does not hold back in delivering stunning landscapes, sandy beaches, and glittering ocean views. While uncrowded by tourists, these islands are notoriously friendly to visitors—making it an ideal escape. Whether by private atv or catamaran tours, there are various ways to tour the islands and engage with local history. Local safaris are also offered for travelers looking to learn about native wildlife. Lastly, while each beach offers beautiful views, one popular location is Cockleshell beach, located in Basseterre, the nation’s capital.
5. Mauritius, East Africa
Last but not least is Mauritius, a captivating country in East Africa known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs. Once home to the extinct Dodo bird, Mauritius is still rich with diverse wildlife. Overall, a vacation here is ideal for those looking for heightened adventure and in-depth engagement with the natural world. Between guided dolphin encounters, whale watching and volcanic tours, there is always a reason to stay outdoors in this biodiverse paradise. Some incredible sites to see here are: the Ile aux Cerfs, the Black River Gorges national park, the Chamarel waterfall, the Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth Geospot, and Blue Bay beach.
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