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Escape the Cold at These 5 Caribbean Destinations

SmarterTravel

Look outside. Are the trees bare? Inhale deeply. Is that manufactured heat you smell? Check the thermometer. Has the mercury already dipped to OMG degrees?

It’s hard—some would say, appalling—to be experiencing these temperatures when it’s not even winter yet. (The official start date isn’t till December 22, just FYI.) But despite what the calendar may say, the winter freeze has already set in around the country in many locales. There’s frost on the ground and chill in our toes. It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing the term “polar vortex” again. So now is the time to plan your escape so you can hopefully miss the cold when it’s at it’s worst—and newsflash, it’s definitely going to get worse before it gets better. We advise scheduling in at least a few days of sun, sand ,and gratuitous heat this winter, so you have something to look forward to during the waning hours of daylight and the waxing Arctic weather. And we’ve got just the place. Five of them, in fact: five tropical, idyllic Caribbean locales where you can ditch the frost this winter. Take your pick…

1. The Dominican Republic

Can you say, caliente? Dropped smack in the middle of a transparent Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic is almost obscenely picturesque: white sand beaches, aquamarine water, and emerald foliage reign during the winter months. And lest we forget, the island’s winter welcome also includes friendly hosts, affordable all-inclusives, convenient flights, and plenty of Latin charm, which helps this Caribbean paradise merengue its way right onto our list.

Where to Stay: Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach or Tortuga Bay

2. Barbados

What do you get when you mix one-part British colonial with one-part Calypso with one-part ancient shipwreck? Barbados, that’s what. This stunning Caribbean isle is a scuba diver’s dream—and it doesn’t treat sun lovers too poorly, either. Known for its clear blue waters, vibrant coral reefs, and (yes, really) honest-to-goodness shipwrecks and pirate legends, Barbados has a special charm all its own. Throw in a mountainous interior (great for hiking), a hopping nightlife scene, and deliciously spicy cuisine, and you have a recipe for the perfect winter escape.
Where to Stay: Coconut Court Beach Hotel or Sandy Lane

3. Turks and Caicos

Powder-soft white sand? Yes, please! Crystal-clear water? Sign us up. The world’s longest coral reefs? Our tickets are booked! Yes, the Turks and Caicos, a 37-mile chain of islands, is one the world’s special places: a destination that no photo, no postcard, no words could ever really capture. The views stretch for miles, ending only where the horizon tumbles off the earth’s curve. Your dinner tonight was swimming this morning. Reefs burst with a kaleidoscope of color. Serene and secluded bays dot the isles, inviting you to enjoy your R&R in solitude. And we can’t think of anything better for this winter.

Where to Stay: Grace Bay Club or Parrot Cay and COMO Shambhala Retreat

4. U.S. Virgin Islands

Yachters, sailors, and cruisers have known about the U.S. Virgin Islands for years, but this picturesque Caribbean getaway may not have popped up on your bucket-list vacation radar just yet. Let’s change that. St. John and St. Thomas are both spectacularly beautiful, dappled with emerald green hills, ringed with white sand, and bathed in warm sunlight year-round. Add to the appeal duty-free shopping, especially popular in the capital of Charlotte Amalie, and you have the perfect Caribbean escape to beat the mid-winter doldrums.

Where to Stay: Dreams Sugar Bay or Caneel Bay Resort

5. Jamaica

Jamaica is a Caribbean island with serious personality. With a big embrace, the island welcomes you to year-round paradise: 80- to 90-degree weather, white beaches, and turquoise waters. Then there are the roadside jerk shacks that offer seriously delish (and seriously cheap) eats, and the picturesque cliffs of Negril, tailor-made for daredevil diving. And let’s not forget the world-class golf courses of Montego Bay, the steel drums of the streets, the blue lagoons, the swaying palms, and the mountains that looks like they were finished in velvet. You’ll love it.

Where to Stay: The Caves in Negril or Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall

—Erin Raub

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This article was originally published by Oyster.com under the headline Escape the Cold at These 5 Caribbean Retreats. It is reprinted here with permission.

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

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