As the colder weather settles in and winter nears, we wanted to share some of the best Tropical Destination Getaways provided by VacationsToGo.
These tropical destinations all offer a variety of sandy beaches and opportunities for great outdoor fun including swimming, sunning and snorkeling.
Many of these exotic vacation spots also provide unique sightseeing opportunities. Enjoy the list and happy traveling!
Aruba — Beyond the smooth, sandy beaches of this southern Caribbean island lies a rugged and arid interior. In the nearly 8,000-acre Arikok National Park, visitors will find landscapes of candelabra cactus, huge boulders and hills of volcanic lava. The Natural Pool is a cool oasis protected from rough seas by the surrounding rocks (a four-wheel-drive vehicle is required to reach this remote spot). Or, explore some of the island’s caves. The Guadirikiri cave has two inner chambers illuminated by sunlight streaming through holes in the roof, and the nearby Fontein cave features pictographs left behind by Arawak Indians.
Bahamas — Pirates of Nassau is an interactive museum in Nassau, where kids can storm the decks of an 18th-century pirate ship — a detailed replica complete with cannons and costumed characters. Entrance fees are $12 for adults and $6 for children. Create your own perfume at Fragrance of the Bahamas just outside Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, where guests can mix essences of flowers and fruits to create a signature scent. A one-ounce custom sample costs $30.
Barbados — Barbados rum is distilled locally by companies such as Malibu and Mount Gay. Both offer factory tours and tastings, as well as the chance to buy duty-free bottles in their Bridgetown gift shops. At the Caribbean Cigar Co. in Bridgetown, you can watch as tobacco is cut, cured and hand-rolled. Tours of the factory are free, and there is a gift shop.
Bermuda — It’s said that Mark Twain was one of the first visitors to Crystal Caves, a series of limestone caverns at Bailey’s Bay. Subterranean lakes and stalactite formations can be explored through guided tours. Admission is $20 for adults and $8 for children. Dolphin Quest at the Bermuda Maritime Museum, located at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Sandys Parish, allows guests to mingle with the creatures in a protected lagoon. Prices range from $160 for a 20-minute encounter to $650 for a five-and-a-half-hour “trainer for a day” session. At the Dockyard Glassworks, visitors can watch artists demonstrate the glass-blowing process.
British Virgin Islands — In Capoons Bay on Tortola, a bar called Bomba’s Shack has become infamous for its wild full moon parties, a tradition since 1989. A family-friendly version takes place at Trellis Bay, where festivities are marked by barbecues and live bands. Both events are free, but bring money for food and drinks.
Curacao — Christoffel Park, the island’s largest national park, teems with bird and plant life. There are eight hiking trails, from a 20-minute, shaded walk through a native white-tailed deer sanctuary to a strenuous trek up a mountain. Fees are $10 for adults and $4.50 for kids. Learn about the island’s namesake blue liqueur during a complimentary tour of the Senior & Co. Curacao Distillery near Willemstad.
Dominican Republic — Amber deposits are abundant on the island’s north coast, and the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata and Amber World Museum in Santo Domingo display some of the samples found here. Baseball is extremely popular in the Dominican Republic, with six professional teams supporting a thriving winter league from October through January.
Grand Cayman — The clear waters that ring this island chain make wildlife-spotting a favorite activity. In the calm, shallow waters of Stingray City, dozens of southern Atlantic stingrays swarm divers and snorkelers. Numerous day cruise companies visit the attraction, and prices vary. Boatswain’s Beach is a 23-acre protected park that offers up-close views of small sharks, green sea turtles and iguanas. Entrance fees that allow access to the entire park are $45 for adults and $25 for children; tickets to the turtle farm only are cheaper.
Hawaii — Early risers can witness the sunrise from the top of Haleakala Crater in Haleakala National Park on Maui. On the Big Island, visitors can walk through the Thurston Lava Tube at Volcanoes National Park. The tube was formed more than 500 years ago when an underground channel of molten lava drained from its already cooled walls. The fee for both parks is $10 per vehicle.
Jamaica — Just outside Ocho Rios, the cascades of Dunn’s River Falls form a series of pools as they flow over miles of river rock and into the sea below. Many visitors like to hike through the surrounding jungle, where bamboo, ginger lilies and orchids flourish, before taking a dip. Entrance fees are $20 for adults and $12 for children.
Mexico — Sunny Acapulco, Mexico’s first true resort town, is famous for its cliff divers, whose daredevil 12-story plunges from rocky La Quebrada are a daily occurrence. Xcaret is one of the biggest attractions in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. In addition to a beach, underground rivers, lagoons and pools, the park offers a marine turtles exhibit, jaguar sanctuary, manatee lagoon, a spider monkey island, Mayan archaeological sites and a replica of a Mayan village. Tickets start at about $80 for adults and $40 for kids.
Turks and Caicos — The Conch Farm on Providenciales is the world’s only commercial conch hatchery, where the Caribbean queen species of this mollusk is harvested for the meat and the shells are used in art and jewelry. Entrance fees are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. A favorite local mascot, JoJo the dolphin, has greeted visitors to the islands since 1980, when the Atlantic bottlenose first began to interact with humans in the shallow waters of Providenciales.
U.S. Virgin Islands — Virgin Islands National Park covers about half of St. John and offers numerous hiking trails, among them the 2.2-mile Reef Bay Trail, which leads to the remains of four sugar estates and to ancient rock carvings. At the St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens, set high in the island’s volcanic peaks, you can see waterfalls, tropical birds, fish ponds and more than 400 species of tropical flowers, including many orchids, from trails winding through the property.