Five places to try for a sun getaway this winter: Caribbean, Mexico, U.S. & more
Okay, we're still enjoying summer in Ontario. But pretty soon it'll be (sorry) Labour Day and then it's back to school and then the Toronto International Film Festival and then the leaves start changing colour and then we all wish it was summer again. Well, not all of us but a lot of us who aren't so enamoured with wind and snow and ice and cold and block heaters and toques.
With that in mind, here are five spots you might want to think about for a winter getaway later this year or, better yet, in early 2014 when YOU JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE.1. The Riviera Maya. I had a great time at an all-inclusive resort between Cancun and Tulum a few years ago. The beaches are terrific and the ruins at Tulum are world-class. Take a tourist bus into Playa Del Carmen for fun patios and outdoor restaurants and interesting shops, or try swimming in an underground cave or cenote. Cancun is great for night life. But for me it's all about the weather and the beaches and the diving.
2. Hawaii. It's a little further to go, at least from eastern Canada, but you can't argue with awesome food, great beaches, American health care, no beggars, awesome music and Polynesian culture. I recommend Maui for folks who've never been and want to see all the Hawaiian islands have to offer in a reasonably sized package. Nature lovers might try Kauai, which is quieter, or the big island of Hawaii, which has everything the other islands offer plus huge cowboy ranches, volcanoes and even a bit of winter skiing. Oahu has Honolulu and Waikiki, where there's plenty of action. But Oahu also has wonderful, quiet beaches and beautiful mountains for hiking. Not to mention some of the world's biggest surf in winter on the north shore.
3. Barbados. It's a little further away than some Caribbean spots, but that means it usually avoids the cool temperatures that occasionally plague the north Caribbean. There are awesome luxury properties such as The Crane and Sandy Lane, where Tiger Woods married former wife Elin Nordegren and where I got threatened by English soccer player Wayne Rooney's wife when she thought I was taking photos of him, even though I had no clue who he was. You can find cheaper spots on the south shore and on the east side in Bathsheba, where there's great surfing and a long, lonely beach. Don't miss a trip to Hunte's Gardens for a meeting with a fun, eclectic garden lover.
4. New Zealand. Also in the "further to go" category, I sometimes characterize New Zealand as being Canada to Australia's United States. It's a kinder, gentler kind of place with fabulous beaches and wonderful wine and adventure travel opportunities and south Pacific culture. Not to mention big city attractions in Auckland and incredible alpine scenery and fjords in the South Island. There's maybe one freeway in the entire country and it goes for only a few miles before petering out. And there are far more sheep than people. It makes me think that this is what California may have been like before the tourists arrived.
5. Florida. Good old, reliable Florida packs in the Canadians year after year. Why? Tremendous variety, ease of access, affordablility and sunshine. That's why. Miami offers glitz and fabulous dining in South Beach, as well as terrific, funky hotels like Soho Beach House, a personal fave. Orlando is the home of the mouse and Harry Potter and Legoland and other theme park attractions and also has surprisingly good dining and great golf. It's quite inexpensive, too, for the most part. Tampa and St. Pete have long, endless beaches, a myriad of hotel opportunities and fabulous sunsets. Key West is an entity unto itself, with fun-loving citizens and great restaurants and hotels and a wonderful, every-man-for-himself vibe. The Everglades offer tons of quiet spots for kayaking or observing nature. Further north, you'll find sugary beaches and affordable hotels and fun restaurants in Panama City Beach. On the east coast, St. Augustine offers tremendous history and beautiful architecture and Amelia Island has great golf, world class resorts and a laid-back feeling in towns like Fernandina Beach.
MORE TO COME ANOTHER DAY SO STAY TUNED....