Brenna LaBine – Ice is gripping the East Coast, hundreds of flights have been cancelled across the United States due to severe weather, storms are causing power outages in thousands of homes… And here I sit on a balmy 85-degree-day trying to get the air conditioning in the office to make this place cooler.
If you or someone you know is suffering this bitter winter chill, then this list may save your life, or at least your sanity. Here are the top 5 tropical getaways for this holiday season. Grab your bathing suit, sunglasses, and ticket, and hop on a plane (granted you are not snowed in) and come thaw out in one of these affordable, sunny destinations…
1) Panama: Pick a coast, any coast. That is how it goes here in Panama—A country blessed with two long coastlines of equal beauty and appeal. You can go as “Americanized” as you please here with all amenities and comforts of home, or you can go for pristine, barely touched, white sand beaches—as we like to say, “going off the grid.”
And Panama boasts a festive Christmas culture with Christmas trees everywhere (real Christmas trees for that matter) and muchas fiestas.
For a back-to-basics getaway try San Blas or Pedasi. For something with more first-rate amenities, check out the stunning Rainforest Resort in Gamboa, or Coronado Beach right outside of Panama City.
2) Colombia: Colombia is awe-inspiring with rolling hill after rolling hill of lush greenery. The cities we recommend in Colombia are clean, safe, inexpensive, and offer favorable climates. Colombia has much more European influence than its neighbors to the north, where you will find a more Caribbean feel. Meaning, Colombia is a place to go if you prefer a more refined culture at affordable prices.
For beach destinations, we recommend Cartagena or Santa Marta. If you want constant spring-like weather, art, and music, check out inland Medellin.
3) Mexico: Easily accessible and relatively affordable, Mexico is an ideal destination for holiday getaways from the United States. We recommend Puerto Vallarta for many reasons. The infrastructure is nothing short of first-world. There is a resort-culture, fine-dining, and great shopping.
Another notable destination for snow-birds is Bahía de Navidad (Christmas Bay). This is a beautiful, sweeping, crescent-shaped bay and beach located on the Costa Alegre (Happy Coast) on Mexico’s Pacific seaboard. Barra de Navidad, at the southeast end of the bay, shares the beach with its neighbor, Melaque, on the northwest end. These two towns, separated by just a short walk across the beach, are very different. Barra de Navidad is chic, charming, and upscale compared to rustic, laid-back Melaque.
4) The Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic has been gaining momentum as a hot-spot destination and for good reason. The Dominican Republic offers many sure-to-please options for those looking to jet-off to warm weather and white-sand beaches this Christmas season.
Check out Punta Cana. You can even fly into their local airport, or take an express bus from Santo Domingo. You will find first-rate amenities here as it has been built with the purpose of offering luxury beachfront getaways at affordable prices. You can choose from various beachfront resorts for your stay.
Another top-recommended spot in the Dominican Republic is Sosusa/ Caberet on the North Coast. This offers more beachfront luxury, but is less-developed than Punta Cana. The beaches here offer perfect swimming conditions in bright blue waters. There are also many trails for hiking and horse-back riding.
5) Ecuador: Festive and affordable—Ecuador is a great place to go for the holidays. Ecuador has a long coastline that offers many promising destinations. These pieces of paradise have been largely untouched, providing a laid-back atmosphere for your getaway.
For something more upscale try Samborondon. Other desirable options are Plaza Lagos for you golfers out there, or look at Playas, Salinas, or the tranquil Lobster Bay.