Escape from the Cold | 11 Best Warm-Weather Vacations
If you’re like us, then when the weather turns chilly, we start looking for places to go to escape. Here are our picks for the 11 best warm-weather vacations!
Kohala Coast | Hawaii
Average Winter High: 79°
Why you should travel here: The coast extends north for about 15 miles until just past the small town of Kawaihae. The Kohala coast is home to some of Hawaii’s most magnificent luxury resorts. Wherever you stop on the Kohala coast, you’ll hear tales of the Night Marchers: They’re the ghosts of long-dead warriors who are said to return to warn the locals of such cataclysms as tidal waves or volcanic eruptions. (Whether they’ll warn the tourists in the resorts is unclear.)
Where you should stay: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a landmark of luxury on Hawaii’s Golden Kohala Coast. Located on the beautiful Kauna’oa Bay with a white sand crescent beach, it is the ideal setting for a relaxing getaway. Events like the Mauna Kea Luau and the Clambake at the Beach immerse guests in the island’s culture.
Rio de Janeiro | Brazil
Average Winter High: 86°
Why you should travel here: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—sensuous, chaotic, sophisticated, open and friendly—is one of South America’s gems. The Cidade Marvilhosa (Marvelous City), as Brazilians call it, displays a unique blend of contrasts: old and new, tremendous wealth amid crushing poverty, an urban metropolis nestled around mountains and a huge forest. If the buzz of the city becomes too much, there’s always an easy escape to the beautiful coast or to the lush Tijuca Forest that surrounds Rio de Janeiro’s mountainous slopes.
Where you should stay: Club Med Rio das Pedras is spectacular resort nestled amid lush greenery set at the edge of a long beach at the heart of Brazil’s second largest protected ecological reserve. The resort’s colonial style bungalows mingle in harmony with the surrounding wildlife. The large seafront swimming pool lies next to the restaurant where after a day of water-skiing or excursions, a variety of buffets await you at La Jangada. Here in this unique location, the live music and warmth of the Brazilian welcome will sweep you away into another world, where mountains, forest, river and ocean converge into one.
Cape Town | South Africa
Average Winter High: 79°
Why you should travel here: Cape Town is host to a number of cultures that contribute to the city’s eclectic music, food, and festival scenes. Most impressive is St. George’s Castle, an symbol of the history that lies in this town. Once used as a base for slave trade, the forlorn-looking castle lets you get a feel for the suffering of captured slaves. Take a break from the gorgeous beaches and vibrant nightlife to take a tour through the historical parts of the town, following knowledgeable guides, whose stories will send chills down your spine.
Where you should stay: Taj Cape Town is perfectly located in the center of historic Cape Town at the entrance of the famous pedestrian precinct, St. George’s Castle. It’s prime location ensures a blend of fascinating history. Within walking distance to most tourist attractions, monuments, museums, shopping, restaurants, markets and nightlife.
Miami | Florida*
Average Winter High: 80°
Why you should travel here: Warm weather, sandy beaches and bright sunshine were selling points more than 100 years ago, just as they are today. But Miami’s allure extends beyond its shores. People from all over the Caribbean and Latin America have settled in Miami, giving the city its distinctive, lively international character. South Beach, with its cheerful, sherbet-colored art-deco buildings and palm-tree-lined avenues, is the center of Miami’s trendy dining and nightlife scene.
Where you should stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour is a luxury beachfront oasis set along pristine white sand beaches in the most exclusive neighborhood of Miami Beach. Escape to this hidden gem, located only 15 minutes from the renowned South Beach on the northeastern end of Bal Harbour Village. With idyllic beaches, easy access to the fashion mecca of the famed designer boutiques, world-class exclusive art galleries, exceptional cuisine, internationally acclaimed design and nightlife all at your fingertips.
The Florida Keys*
Average Winter High: 74°
Why you should travel here: You really haven’t seen Florida until you’ve seen the Florida Keys, a 125 mile archipelago of approximately 1,000 coral islands at the southern end of the state. The residents who have settled in the islands have much to do with the area’s distinctive character: They’re a mix of salty sea dogs, artists, retirees, musicians, drinkers, hippies, writers and free spirits of various sorts.
Where you should stay: Opening on New Year’s Eve in 1920, Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Casa Marina is a flawless merging of Old Key West ambiance and contemporary luxury. The resort is minutes away from the third-largest coral reef in the world and while providing a sense of relaxing seclusion, the resort is also a short walk to the renowned nightlife, restaurants and art galleries on Duval Street.
Average Winter High: 81°
Why you should travel here: Singapore has always been a crossroads between East and West. Once upon a time, its port swelled with Chinese, Arab, Malay, Indian and European traders who went to exchange exotic wares. Today, the city-state has expanded to become one of the world’s busiest ports, and over time, as goods have been exchanged, cultures have mingled as well. Singapore’s dedication to preserving cultural heritage has created a number of excellent museums and thriving, ethnically distinct neighborhoods. Chinatown and Little India still retain some of their original cultural relevance for Singaporeans while attracting foreign visitors who marvel at the endurance of cultural identity.
Where you should stay: Shangri-La Hotel is one of the top luxury hotels in Asia and the world. Situated amidst 15 acres of lush tropical landscape, the hotel is a mere 10 minute stroll from the main entertainment and shopping belt of Orchard Road.
Guanacaste | Costa Rica
Average Winter High: 85°
Why you should travel here: Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province is heralded as the “next Hawaii,” with a tremendous building boom that includes five-star hotels, all-inclusive resorts and large condominium projects. Some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful and expansive beaches are located in Guanacaste, and many of them have black volcanic sand. The contrast of these ebony-sand beaches with sparkling blue waves crashing on them, bordered by verdant forest, is striking. The forests that abound in Guanacaste are dry tropical forests as opposed to tropical rain forests found in the rest of the country.
Where you should stay: Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo overlooks the sapphire blue waters of Culebra Bay and authentically personifies Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” way of living. Featuring rooms that immerse guests in nature with stunning views, the organic design is inspired by the local flora and fauna. True to the Andaz brand, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort creates locally-inspired experiences and engages guests in the local culture in a comfortable, unique atmosphere for which Andaz is known.
Playa del Carmen | Mexico
Average Winter High: 82°
Why you should travel here: The small city of Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan coast is the geographic and cultural center of the Riviera Maya, one of Mexico’s fastest-growing destinations. For those who find the nearby city of Cancun too large and glossy and lacking in local character, bustling Playa del Carmen is the cure: cozy, funky and quite international, though still with a Mexican flair.
Despite the town’s growing popularity, the pace remains delightfully slow much of the time. And the core of this pleasant town is young, vibrant, and joyous. During the day, the downtown beaches always have a lively crowd of locals and tourists enjoying the azure waters of the Caribbean, and the downtown shops and restaurants are alive with customers. In the evenings, Playa takes on a more festive air, with groups of friends, families and strolling musicians filling the street as the local restaurants, bars and discos compete for their attention.
Where you should stay: Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla is located in a stunning little bay at the prestigious Playa del Carmen enclave on Mexico’s eastern Caribbean shore. Guests will transcend into the unparalleled beauty of the exclusive area famous for pristine white sand and sparkling turquoise water.
Willemstad | Curaçao
Average Winter High: 84°
Why you should travel here: Curaçao’s capital city, Willemstad, is divided into two parts: Punda (old-world Dutch ambience and great shopping) and Otrobanda (“the other side”—also good shopping, but with a more contemporary flavor). Punda and Otrobanda each take about a half-day to see, and they’re connected by ferry, a land bridge or the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Most of the tourist sites are in Punda, which is the oldest part of town. Its collection of historic buildings is a big reason why Willemstad and its harbor have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The many brightly colored buildings in Otrobanda give this section of the city a fairy-tale feel.
Where you should stay: Baoase Luxury Resort is ideally situated between Willemstad and the Curacao Sea Aquarium and surrounded by meandering freeform pools, waterfalls, Asian art, and Balinese gardens. Families, couples, and groups appreciate the resort’s relaxed and secluded ambiance.
Nassau | Bahamas
Average Winter High: 77°
Why you should travel here: Located on the island of New Providence, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas. You’ll find the islands’ best sightseeing and historic buildings there. Also expect to find a crowd: Nassau is a very busy place, thanks to the high volume of cruise-ship passengers. To have a good time in Nassau, approach the port with an open mind. Even though it’s an international city and commercial center—and firmly a part of the present—it still maintains its old-world island flavor. Slow your pace as you explore Nassau’s rich history, tranquil beaches and turquoise waters—one of the best commodities of the Bahamas.
Where you should stay: The Cove Atlantis is elegantly situated between Cove and Paradise Beaches creating the feeling of being cast away on a private, white-sand sanctuary. The ultra-luxury property was designed by architect Jeffrey Beers to bring high design together with the bluest ocean and mother of pearl hued sand.
Qamea Island | Fiji
Average Winter High: 88°
Why you should travel here: Dramatic tropical forests cling to steep mountains and valleys and pale strips of serene beach line the shores of Qamea, Fiji’s northern gem. Enjoy watersports like hobie cat sailing and sea canoeing. Snorkel along the shores or go a little deeper with PADI-certified scuba diving to explore the myriad of underwater delights in the multitude of reefs, walls of coral and extravagant underwater biodiversity that is renown for being the prime diving experience. Back on land, hike or visit local villages for a taste of indigenous food and daily life, or spend your afternoon at a leisurely game of croquet.
Where you should stay: Qamea Resort and Spa is an exclusive tropical destination for discerning travelers seeking a truly authentic Fijian experience without sacrificing luxury or service. The resort fronts onto a private white sand beach of just under a kilometer in length, offering guests spacious bures and exclusive Royal Beach Houses with private swimming pools and Jacuzzi Spas, all facing the beach and positioned for maximum privacy.
*Note: Florida sustained serious damage during Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Recovery efforts will take months or even years. Travelers should investigate current conditions prior to planning a visit.