Winter vacations aren’t necessarily beach vacations, but for many of us who live in cold northern climes when we think of vacations in the winter we think of warm, tropical destinations.
Best Tropical Vacations
In my opinion, the best tropical vacation spots are anywhere with a good beach. However, for many people the best tropical vacations are the least expensive. For others, it’s the most romantic. Or, the best people watching. Or, the most remote. Or, good for families. The list of things that individuals look for in a vacation destination is almost endless, but I’m going to narrow down the choices to 3 of the most popular: inexpensive, romantic, and family friendly.
5 Best Cheap Winter Beach Vacations
Tulum, Mexico – Tulum shares the same beautiful white sand beaches and warm turquoise water as nearby Cancun and Riviera Maya at a fraction of the price. Additionally, Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city.
Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico is a short flight from most East Coast, southern, and Midwest locations. Its diverse topography provides numerous outdoor options while its long history and Spanish culture appeal to those interested in more cerebral pursuits.
Costa Rica – Due to a recent increase in popularity, prices have risen in Costa Rica, but it is still relatively affordable and an amazing place to visit with beaches, rain forests and eco-resorts.
Key West, Florida – Key West is both laid back and crazy at the same time. You won’t find endless beaches, but you will find good weather, beautiful sunsets and great happy hours!
Nassau, Bahamas – Nassau is the capital city of the Bahamas. Similar to Puerto Rico, Nassau is a short flight from many US cities. Many popular movies have been filmed in Nassau including:
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
After the Sunset (2004)
Into the Blue (2005)
Casino Royale (2006)
5 Best Romantic Winter Beach Vacations
St. Lucia – According to Lonely Planet, St. Lucia is “noted for its oodles of small and luxurious resorts that drip color and flair. St Lucia is really two islands in one. Rodney Bay in the north offers modern comforts amid a beautiful bay. In the south, Soufrière is at the heart of a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic wonder of the impossibly photogenic Pitons.”
Bora Bora, Tahiti – Bora Bora is known as a honeymoon paradise because of its incredible beauty, French influence, and luxurious overwater bungalows.
Kauai, Hawaii – Kauai is called the Garden Isle for a good reason. It’s a lush tropical paradise. Additionally, it’s not as crowded as Oahu or Maui and it has lots of areas to explore from magnificent mountains to beautiful beaches.
Maldives – Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean–Arabian Sea consisting of a double chain of 26 small coral islands. The water surrounding the Maldives is impossibly blue, the sand is blindingly white, and the resorts are sumptuous.
Little Palm Island, Florida Keys – Little Palm Island is an island in the Florida Keys that can only be visited by guests of the Little Palm Island Resort and Spa. Perhaps that’s why Travel + Leisure Magazine calls Little Palm Island, “Florida’s most secluded and romantic retreat. South Seas-style idyll set along a white sand beach.”
5 Best Family Winter Beach Vacations
St. John, USVI – Trunk Bay in St. John is home to the National Park Underwater Trail, a 225-yard trail that follows a reef where all the underwater features are labeled with signs 5 to 15 feet under the water’s surface. That makes this an ideal place to introduce kids to the wonders of snorkeling.
Oahu, Hawaii – Oahu is Hawaii’s most populated island with delights that range from metropolitan Honolulu and Waikiki to the big waves of the North Shore. As a result, it’s a fantastic destination for families who are seeking beautiful beaches and a variety of activities.
Paradise Island, Bahamas – The megaresort, Atlantis Paradise Island, is a kid magnet with its onsite waterpark and multitude of activities. If you can pull your kids away from the waterpark, the white sands and turquoise waters at the beach are wonderful too.
Turks and Caicos – Turks and Caicos is one of familyvacationcritic’s top family beach destinations because it has one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches (Grace Bay); it’s a laid back, uncrowded destination; and it offers many outdoor adventures.
Grand Cayman – Grand Cayman has a seven-mile beach, called appropriately enough Seven Mile Beach, where your kids can play to their hearts’ content, giving you time to relax. There are also numerous other kid friendly activities on the island including Stingray City and Cayman Turtle Farm.
To many joyful beach experiences!
— Lisa Dworkin