With the chance to enjoy classic cold-weather activities like skiing, snowboarding and sledding, winter can seem enticing at first. But after a while, the allure starts to fade as icy temperatures and extended hibernation set in, beckoning us to escape to sunnier locales. Whether you’re daydreaming of postcard-worthy scenes of tropical greenery and isolated sands or you’re craving an outside-the-box getaway in a far-flung isle, these five off-the-grid islands are perfect places to escape the winter chill.
Kauai, with its unspoiled sands and inspiring landscapes filled with soaring cliffs and coral reefs, appeals to those looking to get off the beaten track. Though winter ushers in chillier evenings with temperatures hovering around the high 70s and 80s, now is a relaxing time to drive along the dramatic Na Pali Coast, trek along the Kalalau Trail and stretch out along sugary sands at Po’ipu Beach or Kalapaki. Head to the north coast’s Hanalei Bay or take in cliffside vistas while indulging in high-end amenities at The St. Regis Princeville.
For whitewashed buildings and fewer crowds than popular Greek isles like Crete, Corfu and Santorini, head to Skiathos, where you’ll find cobbled streets, a scenic harbor and lesser-known beaches. Take Vassilias Beach, which is dotted with pine trees and offers ample opportunity for sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming. Breaks from soaking up the sand and sunshine be spent savoring memorable meals at authentic tavernas and exploring lesser-known gems like the Bourtzi fortress in the harbor and the Evangelistria monastery, which features an ornate church and sits amid pine and cypress trees.
Reethi Rah, Maldives
While the Maldives are already on the world traveler’s map, there are still plenty under-the-radar spots awaiting discovery. Located approximately 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives are isolated, to say the least. Reethi Rah Island is one of the largest islands in the North Malé Atoll and boasts the ultra-luxurious One&Only Reethi Rah Maldives, were you can spend your days sprawling across silky white sands and admiring aquamarine lagoons. When you need a break from the sun, pamper yourself at the spa, get re-centered with yoga and meditation classes at the fitness center or enjoy shopping at the property’s three boutiques. Best of all, from December to April, the Maldives offers warm, tropical temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
Mustique, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Located about 18 miles southeast of St. Vincent, Mustique‘s private island lures visitors with its powdery sands, clear waters and utter seclusion. Macaroni Beach offers a serene spot for sun-worshipers with its pristine beaches, turquoise waves and palm huts. For a little more activity, you can arrange horseback rides along the beach or check out mesmerizing coral reefs in standout dive spots and snorkeling areas in the Tobago Cays. As for lodging, consider springing for a stay at the Cotton House, a boutique hotel that features a spa, and wellness center and ocean-facing rooms outfitted with spacious balconies, Nespresso coffee machines and pillow menus. The hotel staff can arrange activities, such as paddle boarding excursions to Macaroni Beach, where a chef will be waiting with a picnic packed with fresh seafood and champagne or a private diving trip with a professional PADI instructor.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is known for its pristine beaches, and Punta Cana, with its golden sands, turquoise waters and palm trees waving in the breeze, is no exception. Beyond the warm waters and iconic beaches like Playa Grande, you’ll find plenty of idyllic fairways to perfect your swing, such as La Cana Golf Course and the Punta Espada golf course. Other top recreational activities include ziplining, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing. What’s more, for budget-minded visitors, there are an abundance of affordable all-inclusive resorts that cover the cost of meals, activities and lodging, making for a wallet-friendly winter getaway. And if you’re a big spender, Eden Roc at Cap Cana offers plenty of seclusion in its 34 suites, appointed with iPhone docking stations, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee makers and access to a private beach club.
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5 Top Island Getaways to Escape the Cold This Winter originally appeared on usnews.com