Outside of the United States, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic are among Canadians’ top three destinations when heading south. Get off the beaten path and discover our picks of other sunny destinations down south.
Island getaway ideas
Outside of the United States, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic are among the top three destinations when Canadians head south. But there are some hidden gems off the beaten path that are sure to delight the sun-seeker in you. Here are four other top island destinations that you may want to consider this winter.
It’s important to note that many destinations currently have the ZIKA virus warning in effect. Canadian health officials recommend that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to countries affected by the mosquito-borne virus.
- Martinique – Jewel of the Caribbean: Located in the heart of the Lesser Antilles Caribbean archipelago, Martinique is a magnificent vacation spot. France claimed this stunning island in the 1600’s and the island is a French department. This makes Martinique a destination rich in French history combined with Caribbean beauty. French and Creole are the languages spoken here.
There’s an active volcano - Mount Pelée - in the town of Saint-Pierre. Climb to the top for spectacular views of the surrounding towns and beaches. Indulge in horseback riding, diving, snorkeling, visiting historic Fort Saint Louis in the capital of Fort-de-France or just bask in the sun on its gorgeous beaches. And you can cap it all off with amazing local seafood dishes.
As for accommodations, from small and medium hotels to large resorts, the options are limitless.
- Turks and Caicos – A beach lover’s dream: The 40 islands that make up Turks and Caicos may be small, but the fun and adventure they offer are immense. The islands are an autonomous British Overseas Territory, situated just below the Bahamas, and English is the official language.
Renowned for turquoise waters and fine sand beaches, the islands offer world-class diving and snorkeling, sport fishing, sea kayaking and so much more. Providenciales is the main hub where you’ll find the world-famous Grace Beach as well as the historic 18th Century Cheshire Hall cotton plantation.
You can also take day trips to one of the uninhabited islands to explore caves and ruins. The Turks and Caicos Islands boast a sophisticated food scene and unique local music called ripsaw. In addition to resorts and hotels, there are camping sites for those who like to sleep under the open sky.
- Saint-Barthélemy – Irresistibly enchanting: Also known as Saint Bart’s, this dream destination is one of the most charming spots of the French West Indies islands. As an overseas collectivity of France, the island blends the sophistication of the French Riviera with a laid back Caribbean vibe. Featuring no less than 14 white sand beaches, each with its own distinct personality, you can enjoy the quiet seclusion of Marigot and Lorient, or the vibrant scene of St. Jean Beach. Hop aboard a semi submersible vessel that takes you six feet beneath the surface of the sea to catch an unparalleled view of the abundant, colourful sea life. Or rent a yacht and explore the area like a star. You might even spot a celebrity as Saint Bart’s is a hot spot for the Hollywood elite.
At night, the island lives up to its glamorous reputation with many posh restaurants and a lively nightclub scene. There are many hotels and luxury villas to choose from and the island also offers a range of private villas, cottages and apartments you can rent.
- Montserrat – Mysterious and mesmerizing: Just south of Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean lies a tropical island like no other you’ve ever seen. Spear fishing, hiking through the tropical forest, getting up close and personal with the local wildlife like the agouti and green iguana are just some of the memory-making moments you can enjoy. The lower half of the island was affected by a volcanic eruption in the 90’s and as recently as 2010. You can explore some of the surreal landscape of the buried city of Plymouth with a certified guide. Other areas lie in an exclusion zone. In stark contrast, the upper half of the island is a lush paradise where adventure abounds. The black sand beaches are a natural wonder not to be missed. You won’t find big resorts here, but the island is dotted with small hotels and guesthouses, villas and charming B & B’s.
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