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Looking for winter vacation ideas

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Hello! (I'm posting from my girlfriend's account)
My girlfriend (26) and I (27) have 3 weeks of vacation time we want to use to go somewhere this winter over the christmas/new years weeks. We live in New England which means by then we will want someplace warmer. We like a variety of different things but mostly to explore new places. We enjoy a mix of cultural (cities) as well as big nature hiking trips, our ideal trip would feature a mix of both of these. Our trip last winter was to Puerto Rico where we rented a car and drove around the whole main island as well as visited Culebra and Vieques over 2 weeks. It was a lot of fun and we both snorkeled for the first time and would absolutely love to do that again. The year before that in winter we did a southwest roadtrip along the old Route 66 from Albuquerque to LA stopping in Sedona, petrified forrest, Grand Canyon and Death Valley among other places which was also really fun but definitely much colder than we wanted, we were also pretty disappointed with how short the days ended up being as there was nothing to do in the nighttime.

What I’d really like this year is going someplace warm (doesn’t have to be hot) where we could do some adventurous things such as hiking and snorkeling but also maybe have a bit of relaxation and cultural stuff to do nearby as well. I really wanted to go to Europe, maybe Spain, Italy and Greece but the more I read about it it seems that those places will be on the cold and wet side during late December. Currently I’m leaning towards either Central America which would be snorkeling in Belize mixed with exploring the rainforest and experiencing the different cultures of the area. My other two ideas are a trip to Hawaii or a Southern US roadtrip going down from NYC to Miami, seeing the Everglades, and maybe driving west to New Orleans?

I just started planning so I’m totally open to new ideas, my caveats is that I’d like to keep travel costs down somewhat, Ideally $600-$800 per plane ticket but definitely under $1k per ticket. I’d also love some advice on Hawaii, I’m seeing fairly cheap airfare but I’m cautious that all lodging will be very pricey. Usually we go the apartment rental/airBnb route which is what we really like. I don’t mind staying at fancy resorts sometimes but thats not entirely our vacation style and we’d rather have a mix in accommodations. I’m also not sure if 3 weeks is too long for either of these plans. Ideas, itineraries, and any thoughts on the above are very welcome.
Thanks in advance,
Mike

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