Indulge in fantastic food and white sand beaches in Martinique. (Photo: iStock)
Winter may not be upon us yet, but we’re already feeling the seasonal slump. Here are 11 baller escapes to ease our winter blues.
If your idea of an amazing warm weather holiday entails fantastic eats and white sand-beaches, set your sights on the French Caribbean isle of Martinique. The enchanting island combines the food, customs and the flair of the French, with the Caribbean’s abundance of beautiful landscapes. Explore Martinique’s bustling, postcard-perfect capital, Fort-de-France, stopping to snap photos of its palm-fringed pathways, seafront restaurants and multicolored homes with balconies overflowing with flowers.
After browsing the stalls of fruit and homemade rum at Chez Carole, the cavernous covered market, bring your appetite to the market’s eponymous eatery, where you can dig into the country’s signature codfish fritters, coconut chicken and succulent stewed octopus.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Just a 2.5-hour flight from Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas rocks an easy commute and exotic appeal. While the 20-mile stretch between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is dripping in luxurious hotels that have entertained the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, and George Clooney.
If you’re in need of a break from lounging on the beach, Wild Canyon ATVing is certain to get your blood pumping. With a personal guide and your own ATV, you’ll follow routes that whip you between barren desert vistas and beaches stretched along the Sea of Cortez. In town, grab dinner at Los Tres Gallos an authentic Mexican spot off the beaten path of Cabo’s strip that serves killer pozole, mole enchiladas, and tamarind margaritas in an outdoor courtyard.
Key West, Florida
Florida is a US vacay staple for a reason; with both Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, the state is all about the beaches. Skip over Fort Lauderdale and South Beach, however, and hole up in Key West – and be sure to hit Old Town, Mallory Square and Key West Harbor. You’ll want to hit Duval Street a 1.25-mile stretch through downtown Key West that serves as the epicenter for all things eating, shopping and drinking. When hunger hits, head for Louie’s Backyard, a cafe-style Caribbean-American restaurant that resides in a Victorian home right on the ocean. No surprise, all of their top-billed plates are seafood, including cracked conch with mango chutney and sautéed gulf shrimp.
Okay, okay, before you go trying to prove us wrong, we realize that *technically* American citizens still haven’t been given the full go-ahead for travel to Cuba. That said, many restrictions have been lifted and if you want to go badly enough, you can (more on that here). Once you’re over the border, you’ll be in need of a welcome drink. Do so like Hemingway, and head for his favorite bar, Floridita, on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate, and order a daiquiri. For dinner, there’s La Cocina de Lilliam, a lush family-run patio restaurant that has served Cuban favorites – like arroz con pollo, fried green plantains, and tres leches cake – to guests as distinguished as President Jimmy Carter.
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Beach bums listen up; Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, has 42 miles of supreme sand (in black pebble and blonde varieties). Two of the island’s best include Alcala and Los Gigantes Beaches. You’ll also want to embark on day trips to the crater-, volcano- and petrified lava-filled landscape of Teide National Park. Between refreshing dips in the North Atlantic and driving through the snow-capped peaks of Mount Teide, sneak in a meal at the well-hidden Lucas Maes. Inside the restaurant’s mansion digs, you’ll be served up seasonal dishes like ravioli with chanterelles, truffles and parmesan and bluefin tuna wrapped in sweet potato puree, tomato chutney, soy and ginger vinaigrette.
A warm-weather escape doesn’t necessarily imply lazing on the beach or vegging out around the pool. If you’d rather take to the outdoors and get moving, consider Kauai. The greenest and oldest of the islands, Kauai has towering cliffs, plunging valleys, gushing waterfalls and verdant hills, making it a destination ripe for outdoor enthusiasts. Start your adventures with a bird’s-eye view of the gorgeous island on a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour of the Waimea Canyon, then, for an up-close perspective, hike the rugged cliff tops of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail. Want to feel the wind in your hair, instead? Opt for a thrilling sailboat ride around the Ne Pali Coastline—a majestic series of valleys, fluted walls and sheer ridges rising thousands of feet from the Pacific.
For years, Palm Springs has been a trendy weekend getaway for harried Los Angeleno’s in need of sun-soaked R&R. But the stylish desert oasis offers pleasures beyond its sublime weather—specifically, its stunning scenery, kitsch-is-cool architecture, flourishing culinary scene and stylish hotels. The Aerial Tramway, an 11-minute cable car ride that takes guests a half thousand feet up the sheer face up Mount San Jacinto, is a great way to get a lay of the land, and if that leaves your stomach queasy, we’d recommend strong drinks and nouvelle Mediterranean fare at the Purple Palm.
Postcard-perfect sands, a soulful vibe and easy access make Jamaica the ideal weekend getaway. Ditch the touristy cruise ship ports of Kingston and Ocho Rios for Negril, a quiet beachside town on the island’s secluded western tip. When hunger strikes, tuck into open-fire jerk chicken or lobster with a side of live reggae at the chill, locals-favorite spot, 3 Dives. Then while away your afternoons next to the turquoise water at Seven Mile Beach with a Red Stripe in hand.
With its pink-sand beaches, colorful colonial towns and crystal caves, Bermuda is like a quick trip to the Caribbean. The average fall temps hover in the 70s, the prices drop significantly in the shoulder season and, bonus: it’s only a two-hour flight from the east coast. Save time to explore the quaint hub of Hamilton by stopping for fresh fish sandwiches (with coleslaw, hot sauce and raisin bread) at Art Mels and a spiked Rum Swizzle ice cream cone at Meltdown. Then, browse the neighborhood boutiques where you can pick up authentic Bermuda shorts at TABS or a hand-carved surfboard at Isolated Surfboards.
South America has its fair share of gems, and Cartagena is definitely one of the prized few. The sultry coastal city is home to kick-ass ceviche, eye-popping architecture, cool art galleries and more. Spend your days ‘gramming Cartagena’s colorful buildings, cobblestone streets and grand plazas, as well as shopping for bright handwoven bags from the streetside vendors, emerald trinkets at Lucy Jewelry, and high-end clothes, art and interior design at St. Dom, a concept store for upscale Colombian brands.
Whatever you do, don’t leave without tasting some ceviche at either the hidden El Boliche Cebichería or the sleek La Perla (try the sea bass ceviche, Peruvian lomo saltado stir-fry, and suckling pig with polenta). For traditional Colombian lunch, La Mulata dishes up crowd pleasers like grilled shrimp with rice and carne asada with patacones (savory fried plantains). Swallow it down with refreshing coconut water from the street fruit stands, a killer mojito at the old-school Cuban-style La Vitrola, or a lychee spritz from El Baron, which overlooks Plaza San Pedro.
Panama City is a diverse cosmopolitan hub combining 18th-century architecture, world-class art, tropical rainforests and a diverse foodie scene. Visit the striking Frank Gehry-design Biomuseo or the popular Miraflores Locks, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating workings of the Panama Canal, or hike to the summit of Cerro Ancon, a 654-foot hill overlooking the city.
This article was published through a partnership with Jetsetter magazine.