While some of us are still wearing our lightweight jackets and savoring the last days of fall, others are already daydreaming about escaping the snow. With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s time to face the inevitable: winter is coming. So why not pack your bags? Trade in your parka, duck boots and snow shovels for sunscreen, bathing suits and hiking gear. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious beach vacation, adventure destination, or a unique cultural experience, here are our picks for the top five affordable warm weather destinations both near and far.
Whether you enjoy lounging on sparkling black and gold island beaches with an ice-cold cocktail in hand, are more of a nature enthusiast seeking adventure thrills, or are an avid golfer, look no further: Tenerife is the destination for you. With average temperatures of 77-degrees yearlong and seven different golf courses, Tenerife is the luxurious destination for you to cure your winter-blues. (And did I mention if offers a 7% lower VAT tax rate than anywhere else in Europe?) Hello shopping.
Tenerife is the perfect location for nature enthusiasts that enjoy a combination of water sports, family activities, and hiking/walking across numerous national parks. While you’re visiting, don’t miss out on the chance to explore Mt. Teide, the ENSCA world heritage site and tallest mountain and volcano in Spain. After you’re done adventuring, it’s time to sit back and relax. Tenerife is home to some of the best resorts and best European spas, like Hotel Botanico, a Thai-styled resort surrounded by the Puerto de La Cru’z famous botanical garden. If you are looking for a honeymoon paradise, there’s also a variety of affordable accommodation options in the south end of the island.
Top Tip Before You Leave: Experience the Carnival.
Tenerife is ideal for travelers looking to find a combination of colonial Spanish culture. Every year, crowds of people come to experience Carnival: the biggest fiesta bash of the year in Tenerife will take place Feb 19 – March 5, 2017. The Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the most “Brazilian” of all the Spanish Carnivals, and it is known around the world for its popular ambience.
Maybe you’ve never considered vacationing to the Azores or never even heard of it. But here’s why you need to. Religiously known for is its very inexpensive direct flights, this island is filled with spectacular mountains, lakes and beaches and is a unique and budget- friendly vacation spot. A four-hour direct flight from Boston will transport you to this completely volcanic island. With average temperatures of 65-degrees in January, affordable hotel accommodations, and plenty of outdoor activities, the Azores is an affordable destination that you can’t afford to miss-out on.
Top Tip Before You Leave: Discover Volcano-Cooked Azorean Food.
The village of Furnas on Sao Miguel, take things to the next level by using natural volcanic energy to slow-cook a stew that’s a signature local dish, Cozido das Furna- layers of meat, vegetables, chorizo and sausage. Order this hearty dish at a local restaurant, and you may be invited to the springs to watch the pot being cooked. At Canto da Doca, a casual, contemporary restaurant, you can enjoy a little DIY volcanic cooking.
From the rich culture, beautiful architecture, worldly food and wilderness, Morocco is truly an experience unlike any other in North America. A popular spot for travelers is the medieval city of Fez, one of the oldest imperial cities known for its narrow streets in the maze-like medina, which you can easily get lost in.
A diverse country with temperatures in 80-degrees, Morocco is brimming with trendy and unique shopping and flea markets, such as Fez- stacked with ceramics, leather goods, baskets, carpets and jewelry. Besides jewelry, another hidden gem is the Atlas Mountains. It gets chilly at night, but the beautiful landscape is worth the trip up. You will also be able to experience lots of local tribes selling rare argan oil, which is known as excellent for your skin and hair. Far from the hustle and bustle and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains and four-and five-star hotels, Agadir is a sun-seekers beach paradise.
Top Tip Before You Leave: Indulge in a traditional Moroccan meal.
Eating in Morocco is a social ritual, and everyone takes great pride is all aspects of a meal, from purchasing the freshest products to preparation, cooking, and display for each dish. A scrumptious and popular Moroccan meal you need to try is: Mischa, couscous, Pastilla (pigeon pie) and Mechoui (roasted lamb meal). It will tingle your senses like never before. Think: pastry pie with a savory filling of pigeon, whole roasted lamb, and fresh couscous, all cooked to perfection.
Noted for being a beautiful, lush and tropical destination with easy accessibility, St. Lucia has oodles of small and luxurious resorts filled with color and flare. Many of these are all inclusive- resorts, all perfect for luxury, romance and family. With year-round temperatures of 80-degrees, St. Lucia is comprised of lush and tropical rain forests. Based on a volcanic island, mud baths and visiting the crater are popular activities. If you’re in the mood for a day trip or two, visit Martinique, its cheap (only $57!), easy and well worth it.
Top Tip Before You Leave: Experience the Anse La Raye Fish Friday.
Every Friday the locals and travelers come together for a street party and to fry up in the streets. Whole lobster costing as little as $15, and fish cakes costing as little as a few cents, this is a great budget-friendly activity!
With miles and miles of white stand beaches, Hilton Head is a go-to destination because it has a bit of everything. Relax on the hammock, bike on the beach during low tide, or feast on fresh southern seafood. Accessibility is also key at Hilton Head. Not only is it the perfect spot to enjoy cycling, but it is also a short distance from Savannah, Georgia, making it a great day-trip to venture to. When in Savannah, sip on a Georgia peach and venture around the old port, checking out the old town squares to see the famous Spanish oaks, which are hundreds of years old.
For you nature lovers, there is incredible wildlife to see on Hilton Head Island. From unique birds- such as Sand Pipers, to the turtle nesting of the loggerhead turtles, there is something for everyone! But if golf’s more your go-to, there’s great golf on and off the island. Be sure to check out the islands award winning oceanfront golf resorts that overlook the ocean, Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes and the Hilton Head National Golf Club.
Top Tip Before You Leave: Participate in a traditional oyster roast.
The best place to do this is Harbour Town Yacht Basin, a premier yachting destination and marina with a stunning view. Think: fresh and juicy shrimp coming off the boats and bushels of oysters when they open up.
Sergio Barros represents Tenerife Tourism in the United States (http://www.traveltotenerife.com ) He is based in Boston.