It’s official; Canada’s rainy, sometimes snow-blasted season is in full swing. If you’re like us, you’re dreaming about soaking up the sunshine on a beach in one of the world’s most tropical destinations.
That’s what sun-drenched vacations are all about: enjoying life at a slower pace while taking in the Instagrammable vistas all around you. And if you can soak up the sun somewhere a little off the beaten track? Even better.
Of course, there’s no better way to do this than with your best friend by your side. After all, research has revealed that spending time with your bestie can even improve your health (amazing, right?).
Booking a vacation with your favourite friend is always a good idea. To help inspire your next trip, we’ve teamed up with the travel experts at Flight Centre to discover eight of their top-ranked tropical escapes.
Tulum has long been a savvy traveller’s alternative to the busy beaches of Cancun. When you’re there, Flight Centre’s travel pro, Marissa Walsh, recommends visiting the Kaan Luum Lagoon. “Take a taxi from Tulum to Kaan Luum and arrange a specific pick up time as there is no cell service in this little lagoon.” She says to take a mud bath and go swimming with the fish in the neon blue waters. But don’t forget to pack a lunch because the area is secluded and off the beaten path. “The locals visit this spot to escape the masses in the busy season and relax,” Walsh adds.
If you’re looking to fuel up afterwards with the best ceviche in the area, look no further than La Barracuda. Walsh says this sea-to-table shack is always bustling with locals looking for their seafood fix.
If you and your friend have never heard of Riviera Nayarit, you can guess how secluded and peaceful this place is. To give you an idea of how epic this beach haven really is, it’s a 320km stretch of coastline nestled in between the Pacific Ocean and the Western Sierra Madre Mountains.
Riviera Nayarit is home to the seashell-shaped Chacala Bay where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go for a refreshing dip and enjoy a grilled fish feast in one of the local thatched-roof hut restaurants.
The treasures of Mexico just keep on giving, and Yucatan as a state has equally beautiful spots around every corner. Rich in history, the destination is renowned for its enchanting Mayan ruins as well as picturesque beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. While you’re here, book a tour and explore Yucatan’s tropical rainforests or go swimming in a wondrous cenote.
But a bucket list trip to the Yucatan wouldn’t be complete without visiting Mérida, the state’s vibrant capital. Jessica Pong, who has three years’ travel marketing experience with Flight Centre in Toronto, says that taking part in local weekly events is a must-do when you visit Mérida. “Learn traditional Mexican dances in Parque Santa Ana, and catch the Mexican ball game held in the town square,” Pong recommends.
Isla Holbox is located just north of Yucatan in Mexico, and since there’s no airport on the island, you can fly into Mérida International Airport and make this your next stop. This is the kind of place where relaxation is a priority and you’ll truly discover what is meant by the term “island time.” Make your way into the town and immerse yourself in the local art scene, snapping photos at all of the eclectic murals that grab your attention.
If you and your bestie are eager to combine island vibes with adventure in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia is the place to go. Your vacation itinerary here can be as diverse as you’d like it to be. Spend time in the volcanic mud baths of Soufrière, meet new ocean friends during a snorkelling excursion, or head out on an ATV ride through the countryside.
Pro tip: Make time to see a live sea turtle hatching during your vacation — it might just be the most spectacular thing you ever witness.
Located further south in the Caribbean sea lies another extraordinary island: Aruba. We can tell you that the white sandy beaches here are plentiful and even more mesmerizing than you think.
Indulging in great food is a huge part of life on the island. Flight Centre’s Opal Thomas, who has been working with the company for 12 years, says Gianni’s Restaurant is a must-visit while you’re in Aruba. “From handmade mozzarella to parmesan wheels that line the walls of this fabulous place, it’s an authentic Italian experience like no other. You really forget you’re on a tropical island once your taste buds meld with their incredible cuisine,” she says.
Any first-timer’s trip to Colombia has got to include a stop in the capital city, Bogotá. It’s another destination where you can spend each day in the sun while exploring the culturally-rich landmarks.
Drink in local life (figuratively and literally) at the bustling Paloquemao Market and make your way up el Cerro Monserrate to check out the awe-inspiring view. You can do a day trip out to the active mud pit of El Totumo Mud Volcano or go swimming in the lush Tayrona National Park.
Off the coast of Nicaragua, you’ll find the Colombian island of San Andrés. As you can imagine, this Caribbean utopia has a selection of pristine beaches where the white sand feels like a soft blanket under your feet. A visit to the UNESCO-protected Seaflower Biosphere Reserve in the San Andrés archipelago is a must as it gives you an unforgettable look at underwater life.
Central America’s fascinating sanctuary of Costa Rica is somewhere you can build a vacation around the wonders of nature, ultra-tropical beaches, and vibrant local culture. Since it has beaches in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica really spoils the traveller for choice.
Take a step back in time by visiting the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, join a trek through the rainforest, and experience Costa Rica’s avian diversity by going bird watching. Soak it all in!
Inspired to book your next friends’ vacation? Check out Flight Centre to start planning your trip with the help of Canada’s top travel experts, then get ready to experience the true meaning of a tropical escape.