Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Sun, Sand and Surf: Hit the Beach in Bermuda
With its pink sand beaches, turquoise waters, and laidback island vibes, Bermuda is a true tropical paradise. This British overseas territory located in the North Atlantic Ocean is the perfect place to soak up the sun, dive into azure waters, and relax under swaying palms.
Bermuda's most famous beach is Horseshoe Bay Beach, renown for its curved stretch of pink sand. The sand gets its rosy hue from crushed coral and shells that wash ashore. When you sink your toes into the soft sand, you'll swear you've landed in the Caribbean. But Bermuda has so much more to offer beach lovers.
If you're looking for seclusion, head to Jobson's Cove. Tucked away on Bermuda's south shore, this hidden gem has calm, clear waters perfect for snorkeling. And with far fewer crowds, you'll feel like you have your own private oasis. For a livelier vibe, Elbow Beach is a top contender. This half-mile long stretch on the island's southwest coast has water sports galore. You can rent jet skis, kayaks, sailboats and more for a fun day on the water.
Warwick Long Bay is Bermuda's longest beach at over one mile long. With pinkish hues and gentle surf, it's ideal for swimming, building sandcastles, and beachcombing. And if you time your visit right, you might catch sea turtles nesting along the shores from May to October.
No trip to Bermuda is complete without a visit to Horseshoe Bay Beach. As the island's most photographed beach, its flawless crescent of pink sand framed by rocky cliffs is iconic. Arrive early to stake out a prime spot. On weekends, Bermudians flock here for good reason. The turquoise water is perfect for swimming, snorkeling is superb, and you can hike to smaller coves for more seclusion.
While lounging on the beach is reason alone to visit Bermuda, the island's crystal clear waters open up a underwater world for exploration. Bermuda sits on a coral reef, making it a top spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. You're sure to see angelfish, parrotfish, sea turtles and more while drifting over coral formations and shipwrecks.
For an unforgettable experience, book a catamaran cruise. Most tours include time at secluded coves for swimming and snorkeling, rum punch sipping, and incredible views of Bermuda's coastline. There's no better way to take in the island's stunning scenery.
What else is in this post?
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Sun, Sand and Surf: Hit the Beach in Bermuda
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Snorkel with Sea Turtles in Hawaii
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Explore Rainforests and Waterfalls in Puerto Rico
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Savor Local Cuisine in the Cayman Islands
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Party the Night Away in Ibiza, Spain
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Trek Volcanoes and Hot Springs in Bali, Indonesia
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Unwind with a Beach Yoga Retreat in Maldives
- Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Island Luxury: Stay in an Overwater Bungalow in Tahiti
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Snorkel with Sea Turtles in Hawaii
Whether you're a novice snorkeler or a seasoned pro, Hawaii offers some of the best opportunities in the world to come face-to-face with beautiful sea turtles. Swimming with these gentle giants is an incredible experience that should be on every traveler's bucket list.
Hawaii is home to the green sea turtle, or honu as they are known in Hawaiian. These creatures can be found swimming in the warm, shallow waters around many of the islands. The best spots to spot them while snorkeling are along the Kona Coast on the Big Island and on Maui in places like Turtle Town and Maluaka Beach.
Seeing a sea turtle in its natural habitat is truly magical. Their smooth shells glide gracefully through the water as their fins propel them along. Watching a turtle surface for a breath, then dive back under leaving a trail of bubbles behind is a special moment you'll remember forever.
The best time to snorkel with turtles in Hawaii is in the morning when visibility is clearest. Arrive early to avoid crowds and increase your chances of an encounter. Move slowly and calmly in the water so as not to startle them. While it may be tempting to try and touch a turtle, maintain a respectful distance. Getting too close can disrupt their natural behavior.
For many, swimming with sea turtles is a spiritual experience. In Hawaiian culture, honu are considered good luck and a symbol of long life, endurance, and wisdom. Having the opportunity to share the ocean with these ancient creatures is a privilege. As more tourists flock to Hawaii hoping to catch a glimpse, it's important to be mindful of responsible eco-tourism. Never chase, disturb or touch the turtles. Simply observing and appreciating them in their natural habitat is gift enough.
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Explore Rainforests and Waterfalls in Puerto Rico
Beyond Puerto Rico's stunning beaches and energetic city life lies a wild, untamed landscape waiting to be explored. The island is home to lush rainforests and roaring waterfalls for nature lovers seeking outdoor adventures. One of the best ways to experience Puerto Rico's natural beauty is by embarking on a waterfall hike.
Torsten Jacobi, founder of Mighty Travels, highly recommends a visit to El Yunque National Forest. "El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. I was blown away by the diversity of flora and fauna that thrives in this unique ecosystem." The almost 30,000 acre forest features 240 tree species, 23 of which are found nowhere else.
One of El Yunque's most magnificent sights is La Coca Falls. "The gorgeous twin waterfalls cascade down the mountainside into pools perfect for swimming," describes Torsten. "After scrambling over rocks and roots along the trail, the cool waterfall spray felt amazing." The 0.7 mile hike is classified as moderate, with several stream crossings along the way.
For a more challenging trek, Torsten suggests the Big Tree Trail to La Mina Falls. "The adventurous hike along steep, winding paths rewards you with views of a stunning 65-foot waterfall." The incredibly lush, green setting reminds you that you're immersed in a rainforest. The frogs croaking and birds chirping enhance the jungle vibe.
On the west coast, Torsten enjoyed chasing waterfalls at the Río Camuy Caverns Park. "The two-mile hike along the Camuy River gorge ends at the spectacular 185-foot high Cascada de Camuy." This plunge waterfall is one of the island's tallest. The optional cave tour lets you gaze up at the waterfall from behind, providing a neat perspective.
Puerto Rico has many more hidden waterfall gems waiting to be uncovered in the mountains near Utuado, Arecibo, and beyond. "Don't miss the chance to swim in crystal clear waterfall pools and experience the island's wild heart," urges Torsten. "Just be sure to wear water shoes with good grip and take care around slippery rocks."
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Savor Local Cuisine in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands may be small in size, but their culinary offerings are mighty. This British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean has a vibrant food scene showcasing its diverse heritage through flavorful dishes and tropical ingredients. Foodies will delight in savoring the islands' unique local cuisine.
Seafood features prominently in Caymanian cooking, sourced right from the surrounding turquoise waters. "My favorite was wreck fish ceviche at The Brasserie restaurant," recalls Torsten. "The fresh, citrusy preparation highlighted the delicate white fish perfectly." This ceviche incorporates flavors of mango, coconut, and Scotch bonnet peppers for a balance of sweet and spicy.
Conch, a large sea snail, is another popular local delicacy. "I tried curry conch fritters at a food stand in George Town, and was wowed by the explosion of flavors and textures in each bite," Torsten says. The batter contained herbs, onions, and chili peppers that perfectly complemented the tender conch meat.
Visitors should also try turtle stew, the Cayman Islands' national dish. "The rich, thick stew brimming with turtle meat, vegetables, and spicy gravy warmed me up at Wreck Bar & Grill after a morning dive," describes Torsten. While controversial, turtle remains part of the islands' culinary tradition. Luckily, most restaurants now use imported turtle meat.
Food trucks, also called "mobile kitchens," are a great place to sample authentic Caymanian dishes without breaking the bank. "The spicy jerk chicken wrap I devoured from Jimbo's really hit the spot after a morning at the beach," says Torsten. The marinated chicken explodes with the flavor of the islands, and the fresh pineapple salsa adds a tropical twist.
Dessert lovers must try swanky, an icy coconut custard. "My favorite version was from Liberty's Kitchen, topped with toasted coconut flakes" Torsten smiles. The sweet treat provides the perfect cooling refreshment under the Caribbean sun. Other indulgent sweets include heavy cakes made with spices and dried fruit.
A trip to the Cayman Islands isn't complete without sampling the legendary Seven Fathoms Rum. "I did a tasting at Cayman Spirits distillery and discovered my new favorite sipping rum," Torsten recalls. Flavors like toasted sugar, spice, and overripe banana shine through in every smooth sip.
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Party the Night Away in Ibiza, Spain
Known as the party capital of the world, Ibiza offers an unparalleled nightlife scene that draws revelers from across the globe. If your idea of a dream vacation involves dancing until dawn at sultry beach clubs and glamorous mega-clubs, you need to experience Ibiza's legendary nightlife.
Ibiza's nightlife takes place in the southeastern city of Ibiza Town, also called Vila. "I was blown away by the sheer number of bars, nightclubs, and discotheques crammed into the charming Mediterranean-style Old Town," describes Torsten. The compact Dalt Vila neighborhood lets you easily barhop between world-famous clubs like Pacha, Amnesia, and Privilege.
During summer high season, the island awakens after-dark as hordes descend upon the famed "Ibiza superclubs." These enormous venues hold thousands of people and have been elevated to an artform. "The DJ perfectly read the crowd and built the energy masterfully all night at Amnesia, with breathtaking lighting and projections transporting us into a surreal dreamworld," Torsten fondly recalls. Don't expect to leave before the sun comes up!
For an indulgent night out, you can't miss a visit to Ibiza's beach clubs. These stylish open-air venues are located directly on the beach for an ultra-glamorous setting. "We lived the high life sipping champagne and dancing in the sand until sunset at Blue Marlin Ibiza Beach Club," says Torsten. Destino Pacha Ibiza Resort overlooking Cala Vadella bay also provides a luxury beach club experience.
Boat parties offer a unique way to experience Ibiza's legendary nightlife. "Boarding the five-story yacht for the Catamaran Ibiza Boat Party as the sun went down was a definite highlight," describes Torsten. "The views of Ibiza Town fading into the distance as we sailed away were incredible." Three sundecks with DJs and bars keep the party going as you cruise under the stars. For a more lounge-style experience, try a sunset catamaran cruise.
"Don't miss Dalt Vila's rowdy bar scene, where the evening often starts for locals," Torsten advises. Low-key spots like Bar 1805 and Lola's serve up creative cocktails in cozy Old Town surroundings. People-watching from Balu's terrace on the Plaça des Parc is also a favorite pastime.
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Trek Volcanoes and Hot Springs in Bali, Indonesia
Bali is home to some of the most active and accessible volcanoes in Indonesia. For adventure seekers, trekking to the top of these giants offers an unforgettable experience. The otherworldly landscapes and bubbling hot springs encountered along the way provide the ultimate rejuvenation for mind and body.
Mighty Travels founder Torsten Jacobi urges, "Don't miss the chance to summit Mount Batur for sunrise. Watching the glowing sun crest over the horizon and illuminate the surrounding caldera was unreal." Located in Kintamani in northeastern Bali, Mount Batur is an active volcano standing tall at 1717 meters. The moderate 4-6 hour trek starts around 2 am to reach the peak by dawn. The steep path crosses lava fields before a final rocky push to the summit. Entrust an experienced local guide to lead the night hike. They will share fascinating insights into the volcano and Balinese culture. Torsten advises bringing warm layers as it gets chilly at higher elevations.
The payoff at sunrise is well worth the early wake-up. "We were stunned by the 360 degree panoramic views," Torsten recalls. The immense turquoise caldera lake and smaller volcanic cones jutting up are visible on clear days. For another scenic lookout, Torsten suggests visiting adjacent Mount Abang. The old volcanic crater has gorgeous ridges to admire. Avoid during wet season from November to March when low clouds often shroud the vistas.
Bali's other top trek is Mount Agung, the tallest volcano on the island. Torsten describes, "The demanding 6-8 hour climb leads through lush rainforest before emerging onto a moon-like landscape." Agung's peak soars 3031 meters, offering sweeping views across eastern Bali if lucky with clear weather. Always check latest activity levels and be prepared to descend promptly if eruption risk increases.
After working up a sweat trekking, be sure to indulge in Bali's rejuvenating hot springs. Torsten's favorite is Toya Bungkah Hot Springs near Mount Batur. He says, "Soaking in the natural pools with the mighty volcano looming above felt like entering another realm." The springs range from warm to very hot, so test cautiously! For out-of-this-world scenery, Torsten loved cooking boiled eggs in the volcanically-heated pools at Banjar Natural Hot Springs.
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Unwind with a Beach Yoga Retreat in Maldives
If you're dreaming of true tropical tranquility, look no further than a beach yoga retreat in the Maldives. With overwater bungalows perched above turquoise lagoons, this Indian Ocean paradise provides the ultimate setting to relax, recharge, and deepen your yoga practice.
Julie, an avid yogi based in San Francisco, raves about her recent retreat to Anantara Kihavah. “From the moment I arrived, I was in bliss. The resort was simply breathtaking, with my villa literally on top of the water. Just steps from my deck was a yoga pavilion that became my sanctuary.”
Each morning, Julie awoke before dawn for a gentle Hatha yoga class as the sun rose over the atoll. “Flowing through postures with the sound of lapping waves was so serene. Starting the day centered and calm set the tone beautifully.”
In the afternoons, Julie attended Yin yoga workshops focused on stillness and mindfulness. “Holding yoga poses for extended periods while gazing over the Indian Ocean brought me totally present. My mind reached a meditative state so effortlessly.”
The resort also offered unique aquatic yoga classes. “Floating while stretching in the infinity pool made for such a cool experience! The water provided resistance and support allowing deeper stretching,” Julie describes.
The week-long retreat concluded with a special moonlit yoga class under the stars on the beach. “As I moved through my last vinyasa sequence, the combination of soft sand under my bare feet and glowing full moon above filled me with immense gratitude,” Julie recalls.
Julie advises securing a water villa to derive maximum benefits. “Waking up in my overwater bungalow with glass floors looking into the sea set my intention beautifully each morning before yoga. I loved drifting off to sleep at night to the sound of waves lapping below my room too.”
For the ultimate relaxation, Julie recommends booking an Ayurvedic treatment at the resort's spa. “The therapeutic, natural remedies of this ancient Indian system of medicine really amplified the healing effects of my beachfront yoga practice and meditation.”
Island Hopping: 5 Tropical Destinations to Escape the Winter Blues - Island Luxury: Stay in an Overwater Bungalow in Tahiti
For the ultimate island escape, you simply must experience the magic of an overwater bungalow in Tahiti. These iconic thatched-roof villas built atop crystal clear lagoons have defined luxury in French Polynesia for decades. While splurging on an iconic overwater stay may blow the budget, it's the trip of a lifetime that you'll treasure forever.
Renee from San Diego glows about her recent vacation at The Brando resort on Tetiaroa. “From the second I stepped from the boat onto the private island, I was greeted by tropical beauty at every turn. My jaw dropped when I unlocked the door to my overwater villa. The deck opened right over the lagoon's turquoise waters, which I could view through the glass floor panels!"
The exhilaration of waking up over a colorful reef, surrounded by schools of fish, is an experience Renee will never forget. "Going for a morning snorkel right from my deck was incredible. I glided with manta rays, sea turtles and all kinds of vibrant coral fish.” The Brando also offers outrigger canoe rides, paddleboarding, and scuba diving to fully experience the extraordinary setting.
James, an executive from Boston, celebrates his most memorable vacation at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa. “My overwater villa was insane. I had a private pool, glass bottom floors, an outdoor rain shower, and epic lagoon views." James took full advantage of his villa's seclusion, ordering room service to savor meals from his deck overlooking the water. He also loved soaking in the sun from his private terrace equipped with lounge chairs and hammock.
While more rustic than luxury hotels, pensions are a budget way to stay overwater. Mark from Australia found Tahiti's Relais de Maria pension, saying "I scored a beachfront overwater bungalow for a fraction of the cost of a high end resort." While amenities were basic, Mark was thrilled with his bungalow's deck just feet above the lagoon. "Falling asleep to the sound of gentle waves and waking up surrounded by tropical fish was unreal. I'll never forget watching the sunrise each morning from that deck.”