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5 Midwinter Tropical Getaways to Take the Freeze Off

Need to thaw out? Here are beaches worth visiting this winter.

You deserve a tropical break this winter (Pavel Ievlev/iStock)
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Need to thaw out? Here are beaches worth visiting this winter.

Winter can feel long, dark, and cold. You deserve a break. One that includes a sandy beach, a surfboard, and temperatures that don’t require a down jacket. Here are five tropical getaways that’ll make you feel like summer has come early. 

Hana, Maui, Hawaii 

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(wingmar/iStock)

Best for: Romance

The road to Hana is packed with must-see sights, like cascading waterfalls, striking ocean vistas, and a place literally known as the Garden of Eden, which has 100-year-old mango trees. Stay in Hana on the eastern edge of Maui and you’ll be smack dab in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. Book an ocean bungalow at Travaasa Hana (from $400), where you’ll be treated to a glass of guava, passionfruit, orange juice, and a lemon-scented towel upon arrival. Hike into the crater in Haleakala National Park, watch sea turtles gather on Ho’okipa Beach, and don’t miss uku ceviche and fresh mai tais at Mama’s Fish House. 


Abacos Islands, Bahamas

abacos islands
(Nina Henry/iStock)

Best for: Quick Getaway

The Abacos are a 120-mile-long island chain, located 180 miles east of southern Florida, making it relatively easy to get there but a surprisingly secluded Bahamian destination. You’ll fly direct from south Florida—either West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, or Miami—to one of two airports on the islands. It’s doable for East Coasters on a long weekend. Once you arrive, you’ll find colonial villages, six national parks, and deserted white-sand beaches. Charter a sailboat in Marsh Harbor and go island hopping across the collection of barrier islands, dive through underwater caves, or fish for marlin and tuna amongst the outer islands. Stay at the Sandpiper Inn (from $200), a quaint oceanfront hotel with big wrap-around porches and a farm-to-table restaurant on site.


Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

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(iStock)

Best for: Adventure

Winter is the rainy season in Bali, but it’s also low-tourist season, which means you’ll have the surf breaks to yourself. In Canggu, a series of villages located about 45 minutes from the Denpasar International Airport and just north of the hip expat haven of Seminyak, you’ll find rice paddies, fishing boats, and a mellow surf vibe. More advanced surfers should head to the sandbar and river mouth area of Echo Beach, while beginners and long boarders should veer toward Old Man’s and Batu Bolong. Rent a private villa through Airbnb or book a modern room at the Frii Bali Echo Beach (from $41), which offers surfboard storage and rental. Don’t miss breakfast scrambles at the Crate Café and mahi mahi burgers at the Grocer and Grind.


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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(Majaiva/iStock)

Best for: Nightlife

The beach towns that dot the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic are known as Punta Cana, and although it’s a tourist oasis packed with all-inclusive resorts, you’ll avoid some of the throngs by showing up midwinter. You’ll come for the turquoise waters and golden beaches, but there’s plenty to do besides lounging on a chaise. If golf isn’t your thing, you can snorkel or dive amongst coral reef at Bávaro Beach, soak in the blue lagoons at Hoyo Azul, sign up for a surf lesson or paddleboard tour at Macao Beach, or check out the hundreds of plant and marine life at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park. Stay at the Westin Punta Cana Resort (from $290), which opened in 2014 and offers some non-all-inclusive rates. If you’re looking for a party, most of the big resorts and casinos have nightclubs pumping techno.


Bodrum, Turkey

bodrum castle
(dogayusufdokdok/iStock)

Best for: Culture 

Bondrum is an old fishing village turned chic seaside resort town on the west coast of Turkey, where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. You’ll sip Turkish coffee from sidewalk cafes, chow on mezze and kebabs from mobile carts, and soak in communal Turkish baths. Charter a boat from the Bodrum Marina to cruise along the bay’s hidden coves in search of perfect swimming holes. Check out shipwrecked treasures at the Museum of Underwater Archeology, housed in the Castle of St. Peter, and shop for pottery and rugs at the local bazaar. Stay in a luxury suite with views of the castle and the Aegean Sea at the Marmara Bodrum (from $117).

Filed To: Beaches / Surfing / Adventure / Travel
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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