We’ve conquered January, but winter’s still here—and we’re ready for some sun. Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s fearless leader and Executive Editorial Director, sat down with the ladies from CBS This Morning to deliver hot tips on great beach vacations coming up, with help from our 80 Degrees trip-matching tool.
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica: For Nature Lovers
Costa Rica is known for its natural wonders, but the Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific coast represents a singular experience. It’s perfect for nature lovers who want their beach time with some adventure thrown in. This is where you’ll have the best chance of spotting endangered species like jaguars and macaws, and where you’ll find pristine beaches, great fishing, and some surfing. Nature lodges put you deep within private reserves, but offer luxury, impeccable service, and good value.
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Value: Luxury lodges from $165/night
When to Go: For the best value, travel in the green season (May through September) when lodges drop their rates and afternoon showers are common.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our Costa Rica Travel Guide.
Tulum, Mexico: Pure Beach Vacation
Tulum is perfect for a laid back beach vacation along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The epitome of barefoot chic, it’s wonderful for both romantic getaways for couples or girlfriend yoga retreats. Don’t miss visiting the majestic Tulum ruins.
Value: Luxury resorts are available, but you can also stay at relaxed beach bungalows for less than $100/night.
When to Go: Perfect ocean breezes will be wafting all winter, but if the high-season costs are excessive, late spring will bring the perfect mix of great weather and great savings.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our Caribbean Coast Travel Guide.
Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic: Escape the Crowds
The DR is more than all-inclusive resorts—the Samana Peninsula is an area that has not (yet) experienced massive development. You’ll find secluded beaches, small hotels, and plenty of natural wonders, including great whale watching from January through March. Ideal for people wanting to escape the crowds
Value: New nonstop flights on JetBlue from JFK (from $450) launched in November, putting it within easy reach. And small hotels are less expensive than the full-service ones in Punta Cana.
When to Go: Spring and fall are usually the best months weather-wise and tend to bring discounted shoulder-season prices.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our Dominican Republic Travel Guide.
Oahu, Hawaii: City meets Beach
Oahu is a crowd-pleaser—it’s a mix of city and beach, with a rugged north shore, great-value hotels, and lots of activities on and off the sand. It is perfect for families or active beachgoers who want a city vibe, too. Take a surfing lesson on Waikiki, hike Diamond Head’s volcanic peak, and experience the party at one of Honolulu’s many nightspots.
Value: Direct flights from New York and California go for $400-450 in March (New Yorkers are definitely getting the better deal here, but it’s a long flight; 10+hrs). Cheap and cheerful hotels abound.
When to Go: Long days of sunshine and mild year-round temperatures mean it’s always a good time to be in Hawaii. Lodging rates in the winter will set you back, but bargains will be available again closer to April.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our Honolulu and Oahu Travel Guide.
St. Kitts: History Buff-Approved
If you’re headed for the Caribbean, St. Kitts is a great all-around destination, offering a good mix of history, beaches, diving, and golf. There is plenty to keep you active, from exploring the Brimstone Hill fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site), to hiking through the rainforest. A tour around the island takes visitors past fields of sugarcane and villages of pastel-colored houses.
Value: An excellent choice for a full-service resort trip that won’t break the bank. We found lodging for $215/night in March.
When to Go: Waiting until true spring will bring savings, but the island’s activity will partially shut down in the summer, so don’t wait too long.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our St. Kitts and Nevis Travel Guide.
Florida Keys: Classic Getaway
Not quite 80 degrees, but pleasantly warm all the same. The Keys have some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the US, with flowering jungles, shimmering seas, mangrove-lined islands, and the charming villages of Key West and Key Largo. Watersports are big, so after a day on the water, make like Hemingway and enjoy a sunset cocktail on Duval Street in Key West.
Value: Lots of airlift to Miami make flights affordable; hotels range from full-service resorts to quiet guesthouses and converted 50s motels. There’s something for everyone’s pocketbook.
When to Go: Winter is typically 10 degrees warmer in the Keys than on the mainland; enjoy the added warmth in early spring.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Start planning using our Florida Keys Travel Guide.
Last Word: Exploring less-traveled destinations like Panama and Belize will give you a chance to enjoy more private beach time without breaking the bank on a private island.
Photo Credits: Osa Peninsula via Fredkuhl | Dreamstime.com; Tulum courtesy of Jon Jackson; Samana Peninsula via Hrvoje Tomic/iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Oahu courtesy of Oahu Visitors Bureau; St. Kitts via John Wollwerth/Shutterstock; Florida Keys courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA