Escape Winter’s Grasp: Cheap Tropical Vacations for a Much-Needed Break

During the dead of winter, we all dream about a tropical vacation where the sun, sea, and sand will warm our bodies. Luckily, a dream vacation doesn’t have to break the bank!

There are many more options now for savvy travelers. It just takes a bit of research and planning, and you can sit by tropical waters in no time.

Tropical countries are those that are by the equator, so places in North, Central, and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia are included in that list.

They have a warm climate that can get super humid. Remember that the humidity can be a lot, so the best time to plan a trip is when it isn’t summertime at the place you want to visit. But when it is cold in the US, most likely than not, it is warm in the tropics.

Even though tropical vacation destinations like the Caribbean aren’t exactly known to be budget-friendly, sometimes joining a package tour or taking a cruise is more affordable than trying to hit a couple of cities or even countries in one trip.

Below are some of the tropical places to visit worldwide that are beautiful and affordable.

Recommended by Bernadette Young of Explorer Chick

Tropical Places to Visit in the Caribbean

Glover’s Reef, Belize

Glover’s Reef, Belize
Image Credit: Explorer Chick.

A hallmark of tropical countries is their warm ocean waters and fantastic coral reefs. One of the best places in the Caribbean to go scuba diving is Glover’s Reef in Belize. Even the snorkeling is amazing!

This country in Central America is home to the Belize Barrier Reef, one of the most pristine in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over on the mainland is the jungle, where you can do river tubing, visit Mayan ruins, and have all sorts of outdoor adventures.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel Mexico
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

On the eastern side of Mexico sits Cozumel on the Caribbean Sea. The water is startling blue, and the white sand beach is free year-long, so that’s one less thing to think about budget-wise.

The tropical island is full of resorts for day-tripping and relaxing at the beach. It is Mexico with a Caribbean feel, so scuba diving and snorkeling are the top activities. For some Mayan culture, visit the Moon Goddess Ix Chel’s temple and the San Gervasio ruins.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

Ocho Rios is a popular vacation spot in Jamaica for nature lovers. Aside from the beautiful beach to swim in, folks spend their days at nature spots like the Blue Hole to jump off waterfalls or walk along the stone formations of Dunn’s River Falls.

You will definitely need a pair of water shoes to walk through the jungle and the river to see the sites. And, of course, no trip to Jamaica isn’t complete without eating a patty, a filled puff pastry, or sitting down to a plate of marinated and grilled-to-perfection jerk chicken. Try their hot sauce made with ghost peppers if you like spicy food.

Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Image Credit: Explorer Chick

The Dominican Republic shares its island with Haiti, and it is so much more than Punta Cana. When you’ve had enough of the beaches, head inland!

Within the jungle, the mountains have the highest peaks in the Caribbean, where you can rappel off the faces of waterfalls, go caving, and slide down limestone chutes. You’ll likely be flying into the Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo. Exploring the DR’s culture in Zona Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth a day or two.

Tropical Places to Visit in the Americas

Baja, Mexico

Baja, Mexico
Image Credit: Explorer Chick

Over on the west coast of Mexico is Baja, California. While Cabo San Lucas is a favorite tropical vacation for sun-seekers, the rest of the peninsula is much more quiet and quaint. There is fantastic surfing for all levels to conquer the waves.

The Sea of Cortez is the best place to see ocean life. Whale watching season is February to March when whales flock to the Pacific side to mate and give birth during the winter.

If you are a wine drinker, wine is made at local vineyards, where you can have a sip or two at tours and tastings. Not surprisingly, seafood is plentiful and fresh, pismo clams or fish tacos. Anyone?

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Image Credit: Explorer Chick

The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for ocean lovers where you can channel your inner Charles Darwin and get up close and personal with sea lions, giant tortoises, penguins, iguanas, boobies, and reef sharks. Many of these animals are unique to these islands in South America!

The national park is also a significant conservation and research area, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn about sea animals while enjoying their natural habitat.

Only a limited number of people are allowed daily, so a trip there isn’t a spur-of-the-moment event; it must be planned out. For a budget-friendly option, consider staying at one of the bigger islands and making day trips. Otherwise, the other option is to live on board a ship to visit the islands.

Paracas, Peru

Paracas, Peru
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

A couple of hours away from Lima, the sleepy town of Paracas is a worthy stop in a trip through the southern part of Peru. The town is home to the Paracas National Reserve with its sand-filled vistas and mountains that are wonderful to hike during sunset.

It is also interesting to see the mysterious Paracas Candelabra petroglyph carved into a mountainside, the only one in the area that dates back to 200 B.C. Islas Ballestas is a quick boat ride away to see penguins, sea lions, and plenty of birds. Actually, one of the islands is full of guano (bird poop), and the nutrient-rich fertilizer is a major export of Peru!

Tropical Places to Visit in Asia

Boracay, Philippines

Boracay, Philippines
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

Boracay Island is one of my favorite places in the world. It is one of the best tropical destinations in the world, known for its powder-fine sand along the shore of White Beach. This is where most of the resorts and restaurants are located and where most of the crowds enjoy the crystal-clear water.

The other side of the island is really windy, where a lot of the windsurfing and other water sports are done. But honestly, sitting on White Beach for the whole day and doing nothing is the perfect tropical vacation. The sunsets are one of the best in the world, with the sky turning bright orange and then purple.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

Bali is the best island for surfing, with stunning beaches. Part of the island’s charm is its scenery dotted with rice fields, volcanoes, rivers, and waterfalls. But one of the main draws of the island of the gods is its culture, a Balinese and Hinduism mix that is seen and felt with its temples, festivals, and unique architecture.

The food is fantastic, too, with many options for vegetarians and vegans. Watch out for the spice level; it can be a bit intense!

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Image Credit: Bernadette Young

Do you know those stunning limestone formations in Vietnam? Yup, those are in Halong Bay! The tropical destination in the northern part of Vietnam has emerald waters dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets.

The seascape was formed by the water coming in and out of the bay over millions of years. One of the unique ways to see the islands is to take a junk boat, a traditional boat with red sails, to see caves, hidden lagoons, and grottoes.

 

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