Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Bali - The Island of the Gods
With its lush green jungles, white sand beaches, and elaborate Hindu temples, it's no wonder Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. This Indonesian paradise has been attracting travelers in search of tropical bliss for decades. Once you arrive, it's easy to slip into the relaxing Bali state of mind. Spend your days lounging on the beach with a fresh coconut or getting pampered at a luxurious seaside resort. The endless coastline offers fantastic surfing and snorkeling opportunities to experience the island's spectacular marine life. Inland, verdant rice terraces cascade down volcanic hillsides like giant natural staircases.
Spirituality infuses the entire island; ornate temples and daily offerings of colorful flowers and food decorate sidewalks, beaches and household shrines. Watch elaborately costumed Balinese dancers recreate Hindu myths or join locals for an ogoh-ogoh effigy ceremony before Nyepi, the annual Day of Silence. With a front row seat, you’ll gain insight into Bali’s unique culture and traditions.
Nature lovers can hike misty jungle waterfalls, watch the sunrise over Mount Batur or bike through topographically diverse landscapes. See wild monkeys swing through the forest canopy or marvel at friendly giant fruit bats. From endangered Bali starlings to giant flowers that bloom only at night, this is a true paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Food is similarly diverse, blending Indonesian cuisine with international flavors. Savor satay or gado gado from a beachside warung or indulge at world-class restaurants. Coffee lovers can try kopi luwak harvested from the droppings of civets. And you can always grab a cheap, delicious nasi goreng almost anywhere on the island. With such variety, you’ll never get bored exploring Bali’s culinary offerings.
Accommodations range from bohemian beach shacks to luxurious cliffside resorts like the stunning Amankila. You can even spend the night at one of Bali's enchanting water temples. Romantic seaside villas make ideal hideaways for couples. Families will appreciate kid-friendly resorts with pools, camps and organized activities. With so many options, you’re sure to find lodging that fits your style and budget.
What else is in this post?
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Bali - The Island of the Gods
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Fiji - Paradise in the South Pacific
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Maldives - Pristine Islands with Overwater Bungalows
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Hawaii - America's Tropical State
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Cuba - Vintage Cars and Cigars
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Jamaica - Reggae Beats and Jerk Chicken
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Puerto Rico - Latin Flavor and Stunning Beaches
- Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Cancun - Gateway to the Riviera Maya
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Fiji - Paradise in the South Pacific
With over 300 islands scattered across the South Pacific, Fiji is a true island paradise. From secluded thatched-roof bungalows to five-star luxury resorts, you’ll find the perfect place to decompress in this tropical oasis.
One of Fiji’s biggest draws are its world-class beaches. Palm-fringed shores lined with powdery white or pink sand provide endless opportunities for rest and relaxation. Spend your days snorkeling vibrant reefs, sailing to uninhabited islands or just blissfully unwinding under the sun. Popular beach destinations include Mana Island, Malolo Island and the Coral Coast, though stunning shores can be found all over the archipelago.
Inland, discover Fiji’s lush tropical rainforests, thundering waterfalls and hidden caves. Hike through unique landscapes shaped by volcanic forces to capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot. Some of the most spectacular sights include Bouma National Park on Taveuni Island and the towering Sabeto Mountains near Nadi.
Of course, no trip to Fiji is complete without experiencing the warm hospitality of its people. Village visits offer an authentic glimpse into traditional Fijian culture and communities. Watch locals present an emotional kava ceremony, learn how to weave palm fronds or sample staples like cassava and dalo (taro). You’ll be welcomed with open arms and contagious smiles.
Accommodation options range from beachfront resorts to rustic jungle hideaways. Luxury lovers can indulge at posh properties like Tokoriki Island Resort, while budget travelers find paradise at rustic spots like Bamboo Bay Cottages on Beachcomber Island. Families appreciate kid-friendly resorts like Castaway Island Fiji. With so much diversity across the islands, you’re bound to discover your ideal Fijian retreat.
Fiji seamlessly blends relaxation, adventure, culture and natural beauty into one unforgettable tropical escape. Drift across the Mamanuca Islands on a romantic catamaran charter, then get your adrenaline pumping with heart-pounding river rafting. Snorkel endless reefs exploding with marine life before unwinding on sandy beaches with a signature Fijian massage. However you choose to experience these sublime islands, you’ll leave feeling blissfully renewed and vowing to return.
With convenient flight connections from major US hubs, getting to Fiji is easier than ever. Daily nonstop routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco help cut travel time so you can maximize your time in paradise. New nonstops from Seattle, Dallas and Atlanta offer additional gateways for US travelers. And Fiji’s main hub, Nadi International Airport, is an easy hop from Australia and New Zealand as well.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Maldives - Pristine Islands with Overwater Bungalows
With luminous turquoise lagoons, swaying palms and gleaming white sand, the Maldives creates visions of paradise. This remote island nation southwest of India encompasses 26 atolls spanning the equator, offering a tranquil tropical escape. While luxury resorts with overwater bungalows may be what first comes to mind, this exotic destination has much more to reveal.
Topping many travelers’ bucket lists are the iconic overwater bungalows that enable you to sleep surrounded by the sea. Wake up to sunshine filtering through glass floor panels as schools of rainbow-hued fish dart below. Many feature infinity plunge pools, direct lagoon access via private stairs and catamaran netting for lounging above the waves. Resorts like Soneva Fushi and Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru offer some of the Maldives’ most exclusive options.
Yet you needn’t break the bank to enjoy an overwater stay. Properties like You & Me Maldives and Taj Exotica Resort & Spa operate more budget-friendly overwater villas. Or opt for a water villa with half-board to stretch your dollar. You still get those irresistible transparent floors without the astronomical price tag.
Beyond bungalows, the biodiversity astounds. Snorkel with manta rays and whale sharks in South Ari Atoll or swim among sea turtles in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. See baby reef sharks on a night dive or spot spinner dolphins frolicking off the coast. Thanks to warm, nutrient-rich water, marine life thrives - you just need to dip below the surface.
The Maldives also offers exceptional surf breaks, especially between April and October. Head to spots like Pasta Point or Chickens for awesome waves. Many resorts also cater to surfers with resident instructors and board rentals. If you’ve always wanted to learn, the Maldives serves up ideal conditions.
While relaxation ranks high for many visitors, the Maldives also tempts adventure seekers. Sign up for a diving course and explore wrecks and reefs as a certified diver. Try parasailing for aerial views of jewel-toned lagoons. For a unique perspective, book a seaplane flight between atolls. Or reel in sailfish, marlin and more big game on a fishing expedition.
The Maldives delights couples seeking romance with private plunge pools and candlelit dinners. Newlyweds appreciate overwater chapels and honeymoon amenities from champagne to couples massages. With few distractions beyond nature’s beauty, it makes a spectacular destination for getting away together.
Families also flock to the Maldives for luxurious vacations kids won’t soon forget. Many resorts offer kids clubs, water slides and teen activities from scuba courses to movie nights under the stars. The shallow, calm water provides a safe environment for kids to snorkel and swim to their heart's content.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Hawaii - America's Tropical State
With its iconic beaches, volcanic landscapes and laidback island vibe, Hawaii embodies the quintessential tropical getaway – conveniently located within the United States. Though the 50th state joined the union in 1959, its Polynesian roots infuse a unique culture that makes it feel worlds apart. Between luaus, hula dancing, ukulele music and the aloha spirit, Hawaii brims with distinctive traditions to discover.
Of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, Oahu appeals to many first-time visitors. The island’s southern shore boasts famous stretches of sand like Waikiki Beach, framed by Honolulu’s iconic skyline. Here you can surf with longboarders, relax in a beachfront cabana or watch an awe-inspiring sunset sink into the Pacific. Nearby Pearl Harbor provides a poignant history lesson, while the iconic North Shore beckons surfers with towering winter waves.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Big Island impresses with its diverse landscapes. Trek across fields of volcanic rock in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or witness lava flowing into the sea. Relax in steamy geothermal pools at Mauna Kea’s Hapuna Beach or gaze up at the icy summit atop Mauna Kea. Kayak along the rugged Na Pali Coast or join a snorkel tour to swim with manta rays off the Kona Coast. The opportunities for adventure never end.
Maui, meanwhile, tempts travelers with its famous Road to Hana, a twisting cliffside route revealing lush valleys, cascading waterfalls and breathtaking lookouts. Here you can discover the island's diverse microclimates, from the tropical rainforests of east Maui to the arid landscapes around Haleakala. For beach lovers, West Maui boasts glorious strands like Kaanapali Beach. And the charming old whaling town of Lahaina transports visitors back to the 19th century.
Kauai oozes natural beauty, from the rugged cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the stunning canyons and waterfalls along the Wailua River. Its laidback vibe provides the perfect setting to unplug surrounded by lush scenery. Lounge on golden sands like Poipu or Polihale Beach, hike through the rainforest or kayak down a twisting river. For an eerie adventure, visit Waimea Canyon or Koke’e State Park shrouded in fog.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Cuba - Vintage Cars and Cigars
Step back in time with a visit to the largest island in the Caribbean Sea – Cuba. Despite its proximity to the United States, Cuba remains a world apart thanks to decades of isolation under the Castro regime. As one of the last communist holdouts, it offers visitors a chance to immerse in a unique cultural time capsule. Vintage American cars from the ‘50s cruise the streets as if frozen in time, while equally historic architecture lines cobblestone plazas in Old Havana. Yet there’s much more to Cuba than nostalgia for the past – especially when it comes to indulging in two of the country’s most iconic offerings: cigars and rum.
Cigars may be what first come to mind when you imagine Cuba. After all, some of the world's finest tobacco hails from the island’s rich soil. Brands like Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta have achieved global fame, while cigar factories like the Partagás Cigar Factory in Havana provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the art of hand-rolling. Aficionados flock to Cuba to sample legendary smokes in situ, basking in the time-honored tradition of enjoying a fine cigar.
Don’t expect convenience though – you can’t simply pop into a store and pick up Cuban cigars. Due to the longstanding trade embargo with the US, Americans must procure cigars through government-sanctioned Casa del Habanos outlets. But for committed cigar lovers, it’s worth the extra effort to puff an authentic Cuban straight from the source. Insider tip: splurge for a custom roll by an experienced torcedor to take home a truly unique smoke as the ultimate souvenir.
Of course, no cigar experience is complete without an exceptional rum to pair it with. Cuban rum gives Bacardi a run for its money, boasting a smooth yet complex character derived from local sugarcane. Sip your way through Havana Club’s range of award-winning rums or try lesser-known brands for a truly local experience.
Don’t limit yourself to Havana though. Head east to Santiago de Cuba, the birthplace of Bacardi and Cuba’s rum capital. Here you can tour the Bacardi factory, learn about rum production and taste test different styles and ages direct from the source. Nearby El Ron Museum also traces the history of Cuban rum all the way back to the colonial era. Or travel south to visit Trinidad, where you can sip sugarcane juice cocktails on the beach between dips in the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Jamaica - Reggae Beats and Jerk Chicken
Close your eyes and imagine lounging on a sunny beach as reggae music drifts on the breeze. Palm trees sway overhead while the tangy aroma of jerk chicken wafts your way. Suddenly you’re transported to the easygoing island of Jamaica, home to vibrant culture and delicious cuisine.
While many associate Jamaica with Bob Marley and reggae music, visitors quickly learn that’s only the beginning. The island pulsates with an infectious joie de vivre that’s impossible to resist. From bustling markets to lush mountains ringing aquamarine bays, Jamaica dazzles the senses.
Negril boasts iconic Seven Mile Beach, where live music spills from beachfront bars and fiery sunsets ignite the nightly sky. Watch daredevils cliff dive at Rick's Cafe before digging into succulent lobster fresh from the sea. Down the coast, trek through lush foliage to the cascading Blue Hole or explore the bioluminescent Glistening Waters by kayak after dark.
The north coast tempts with Ocho Rios, gateway to Dunn’s River Falls for climbing terraced cascades surrounded by rainforest. Swing from riverside ropes or zipline through misty mountains near corporate villas. Or head inland to tour the Blue Mountains by 4x4, stopping for a tasting at a local coffee plantation.
Then there's the food. Beyond jerk chicken, Jamaica dazzles taste buds with curries, stews and tropical produce. Sample ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish, along with bammy cassava cakes and festive rum punch. Local fruits burst with flavor, from juicy mangoes to refreshing soursop. And Blue Mountain coffee remains among the world's most coveted brews.
After sunset, join locals at Kingston’s Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest or Montego Bay’s Reggae Sumfest Street Dance, where thumping bass and gyrating dancers own the streets. Or check out historic venues like Kingston’s Bob Marley Museum to immerse yourself in reggae’s roots. Don't just listen to the music - let its infectious rhythms move through you.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Puerto Rico - Latin Flavor and Stunning Beaches
Puerto Rico seduces with a captivating blend of Latin culture, stunning scenery and exuberant joie de vivre. As a U.S. territory, it delivers a Caribbean vacation without needing a passport or converting currency. It’s the best of both worlds - all the festive flavor of a tropical isle infused with modern luxuries and conveniences.
First and foremost, beaches lure travelers from around the globe. Along the north coast, dunes give way to Atlantic swells, while the Caribbean caresses the southern shores. In the west, surfers flock to Rincón to ride barrels breaking along reef-protected sands. Cuevas Beach impresses with a seaside cave perfect for swimming, while Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island dazzles as one of the world’s top strands.
Snorkelers adore Puerto Rico’s limpid waters teeming with marine life. Swim among neon reef fish and sea turtles off Fajardo or Vieques Island. Charter a boat to spot humpback whales during winter months. And eco-adventurers kayak the exotic bioluminescent bay at Vieques after dark, surrounded by glittering waters resembling a cosmic glow.
Beyond the beaches, Puerto Rico boasts a vibrant cultural mélange. The passion pulses through bomba y plena music, flavorsome criolla cuisine and Parranda holiday celebrations. In Old San Juan, stroll blue cobblestone streets past candy-colored colonial buildings. Look for smiles on the faces of locals, whose warmth and generosity capture the island’s true spirit.
Spanish fortresses like El Morro trace more than 400 years of history and architecture. The buildings may look aged, but Puerto Rico always feels fresh and alive. Salsa music spills from steamy clubs as dancers shimmy across the floors late into the night. Embrace the rhythm - just try to resist swaying along.
Indulge at acclaimed restaurants putting creative twists on local ingredients. Taste mofongo mashed plantains, shredded pork stew and rum-spiked coquito drinks. Or keep it simple with juicy piononos chicken and fresh-squeezed pineapple juice from a beachside kiosk. Either way, prepare your taste buds for a fiesta.
Puerto Rico delivers a vivid Caribbean escape, yet never compromises on modern comforts. Luxurious resorts like Dorado Beach wow with private infinity plunge pools, golf courses and indulgent spas. Families appreciate condo rentals and villa communities with on-site amenities. And wallet-watchers find paradise in affordable Airbnbs, backpacker digs and campgrounds by the sea. With such diversity, travelers of all styles find their perfect Puerto Rican retreat.
Skip the Snow, Say Hello to Sun: 5 Dreamy Tropical Islands to Cure Your Winter Blues - Cancun - Gateway to the Riviera Maya
With white sand beaches, ancient ruins and vibrant nightlife, Cancún seduces as the gateway to Mexico's magnificent Riviera Maya. This former sleepy fishing village morphed into a glitzy coastal resort town starting in the 1970s. Today it thrives as one of Mexico's top tourist destinations. Visitors from across the globe flock here to soak up the sun and revel in the festive ambiance.
Cancún's main draw remains its spectacular beaches facing the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Stretching over 14 miles, the Zona Hotelera brims with posh resorts and pulsing open-air bars. Playa Delfines offers scenic vistas and strong surf, while Playa Langosta charms with calm waters perfect for swimming. At Playa Las Perlas, lounge beneath thatched palapas then grab a beachfront massage. Or head further south to lounge on the sugary sands of Playa Del Carmen.
Snorkelers and divers adore the world's second largest coral reef just offshore. Dazzling tropical fish like angelfish and parrotfish dart through the clear water. You can glimpse sea turtles, reef sharks and even whale sharks gliding silently by. Many all-inclusive resorts offer snorkeling and diving excursions right from their beaches. It's like having an underwater wonderland at your doorstep.
Of course you can't visit Cancún without experiencing its legendary nightlife. From open-air beach clubs to pulsing dance spots, the party rages on well past sunrise. At iconic spots like Coco Bongo, revelers sing karaoke on stage and bask in choreographed musical numbers as acrobats perform gravity-defying stunts. Meanwhile, Senor Frog's keeps the atmosphere playfully outrageous with conga lines, crazy contests and potent mixed drinks.
Beyond beaches and nightclubs, many visitors take day trips south to explore magnificent ancient Maya ruins. Chichén Itzá dazzles as one of Mexico's most storied archaeological sites, transporting you back to the era of Mesoamerican pyramids and ball courts. Marvel at El Castillo pyramid or witness the serpent god Kukulcán emerge during the spring and fall equinoxes. Further south, Tulum perches dramatically atop seaside cliffs. Wander its crumbling temples and glimpse the Caribbean through stone archways.
For families, Xcaret offers an interactive escape with nature parks, a river past Mayan dwellings and sparkling cenotes (sinkholes). Xel-Há nearby impresses as one of the world's largest natural aquariums. Snorkel among tropical fish and ride inner tubes along an underground river beneath the jungle. At Xplor, zip line across the treetops, drive amphibious ATVs and swim through underground caverns. With so many options, kids will never want to leave.