Top Sun Destinations: Experts Pick Their Favourite Winter Escapes

During the winter months, many people prefer escaping the snow and the cold by visiting a warm, sunny, tropical destination. Mexico and the Caribbean are some of the most favored locations but rubbing elbows with numerous other tourists may not seem like an ideal way to spend a vacation. When looking to have some fun in the sun in a less congested atmosphere, try one of these alternative hotspots.

Belize

Besides captivating beaches bordering crystal blue water, Belize offers jungles and adventure. Snorkel with harmless nurse sharks, go deep-sea fishing or venture into caves and check out remnants of ancient and not so civilized cultures. The spectacular cliffs attract climbers or learn the exhilarating sport of rappelling.

Bonaire

If traveling to the Caribbean is a must, reserve a vacation rental by owner on this magical island. Though the name may not seem familiar, many consider Bonaire in the top five best scuba diving destinations on the planet. Recognition as a diving location influenced the creation of the local license plates that boast “Diver’s Paradise.” Snorkeling is also welcomed and encouraged. The wind and waves found on the east side of the island attract windsurfers and sailors.

Key West

Do not discount this historic Florida island when searching for a warm winter climate. Indulge in any water sport desired or hop on an old trolley or coach train and tour the entire location. Visit the aquarium, maritime museums and a historic lighthouse while hearing tales about pirates, shipwrecks and sunken treasure. Enjoy the sights at one of the nature centers filled with amazing tropical vegetation, colorful birds and butterflies. Key West caters to guests on every budget imaginable boasting everything from economic historic inns to lavish resort hotels.

Paraty-Brazil

Located four hours from Rio de Janeiro, this charming seaside town proudly represents a blast from the past. The lovely little community features Baroque styled churches and colonial buildings that line cobblestone streets. Guests commonly and inexpensively rent a fishing boat for the day manned by a local captain. Indulge in deep-sea fishing while touring the local uninhabited islands. The beautiful city served as the backdrop for Bella and Edward’s honeymoon destination in “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.”

Russell-New Zealand

While many equate the country with rugged terrain, the northern region features semi-tropical landscapes. Expansive golden beaches and clear blue water remind one of the Caribbean. Explore lush, rainforest covered hills and spectacular waterfalls. Rent a boat and sail around the enchanting Bay of Islands or take a stroll along the scenic nature walkway. Learn about centuries of local history that include exploration and whaling.

St. Lucia

Located between Martinique and St. Vincent, posh St. Lucia more closely resembles a South Pacific island. Soft, sandy beaches share the space with majestic rainforest covered mountains. Land and water activities abound here. Drive into the crater of the amazing St. Lucia Soufriere volcano. Play golf or tennis. Go snorkeling, scuba diving or sailing. The island’s French history also provides a special culinary treat.