More than one-third of United States travelers are headed for the airport at least once during the holiday season. 53% of Americans plan to hit the open road.
Some are headed to uncommon destinations for Christmas and New Year’s.
Deloitte found that 48% of Americans plan to travel between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects the busiest holiday travel season yet, with millions of people being screened daily.
More than 25% of U.S. air travelers will fly overseas this holiday season. While many head to traditional cold-weather locales, others seek warm alternatives to escape the winter tourism surge.
Tropical beaches and jungles are considered unconventional for Christmas and New Year’s, but they offer fewer crowds and more relaxation at a reasonable price. These warm-weather vacation spots provide a welcome relief from the seasonal influx of holiday tourists to colder destinations.
10 Tropical Destinations To Escape the Holiday Crowds
Whether traveling within the U.S. or overseas, there are many tropical places where travelers can escape the crowds for Christmas and New Year’s.
Bimini, 50 miles east of Miami, consists of two small islands in the western Bahamas. Considered the world’s sport fishing capital, Bimini is a pristine getaway with world-class diving, beaches, and turquoise waters. Traveling to Bimini from Florida on a ferry or plane is easy, making it a convenient place to spend the holidays.
There are many luxurious Bimini resorts, and with so many unique things to do in the Bahamas, tourists will never run out of activities. Since Bimini has fewer than nine square miles, the island chain can be explored in several days.
“My husband and I visited Bimini, Bahamas, in December to escape the cold, and it was quite the adventure,” says Alexandrea Sumuel of Wander With Alex. “We snorkeled with reef sharks, took an eco boat tour and saw the famous SS Sapona shipwreck, enjoyed shopping the straw markets, and devoured the conch salad at Ebbie’s!”
Another convenient and underrated Christmas and New Year’s destination is Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is famous for its scenic beauty and exciting outdoor excursions. From picturesque beaches to lush jungles and cascading waterfalls, Puerto Rico has something for everyone. December and January also fall within Puerto Rico’s dry season, offering minimal rain and pleasant temperatures.
Oahu, home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, is a fantastic island getaway for Christmas and New Year’s. U.S. News Travel ranked Honolulu as one of the best places worldwide for Christmas vacations, thanks to the city’s light displays and seasonal events. Expect warm, comfortable weather in Oahu during the holidays. Outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and whale-watching are popular this time of year.
“Living in the Pacific Northwest, we get more than our share of rainy days, so having a tropical vacation to look forward to really helps brighten our spirits,” explains Karee Blunt from Our Woven Journey. “Hawaii is fabulous any time of year, but we especially love finding things to do on Oahu during winter. Snorkeling, whale-watching, and enjoying the local cuisine chases away all our winter blues!”
The South Pacific island country of Fiji is a picturesque place to celebrate the holidays. Fiji is an archipelago of over 300 small islands famous for their pristine beaches and rugged jungles. Travel + Leisure suggests staying at the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa during the holiday season for a relaxing escape from the seasonal hustle and bustle. Lounging in a beachside hammock may not be a conventional way to spend Christmas, but it guarantees relaxation.
The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are an ideal Caribbean destination for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. This British territory is made up of three islands and offers thrilling adventures and laid back beaches for holiday travelers. Popular activities in the Cayman Islands include deep-sea diving, fishing, and snorkeling, and the area is home to many tropical species of lizards, birds, and fish. Tourists can enjoy seasonal markets, tree-lighting ceremonies, parades, and more throughout this island paradise.
Holiday travelers looking for a warm-weather destination to spend their holidays should consider the Maldives. This South Asian country is home to over 1,100 islands with scenic and pristine beaches. Many Maldives resorts offer Christmas party packages with seasonally inspired meals, family-friendly performances, and festive activities. While Christmas is not officially celebrated in the Maldives, it’s a quiet place to escape the holiday crowds.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Pack your luggage and head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, one of the best tropical places to spend Christmas and New Year’s. This vibrant resort town is ideal for escaping the holiday chaos and ringing in the new year at one of the area’s many luxurious all-inclusive resorts.
“Our family of four escaped to Puerto Vallarta last winter. It was a perfect getaway after a particularly cold Montana winter,” says JayDee Vykoukal of Mom Blog Life. “We enjoyed the sunshine and water without a worry in the world except what we wanted to eat or drink next. An all-inclusive is a great way to take away all the stress of holiday prep and leave it to the staff at the resort.”
Thailand is an idyllic location to end the year, offering everything from peaceful resorts to heart-pumping excursions. The capital city of Bangkok is full of activity, with many ornate temples and vibrant local neighborhoods.
Travel + Leisure considers the country’s Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort one of the world’s best warm-weather Christmas destinations. This remote area is a beautiful nature refuge for elephants rescued from poor living conditions. The resort serves a decadent feast of American and Thai dishes for Christmas.
Key West, Florida
Karen Kelly, a food and travel writer from Seasonal Cravings, loves traveling to Key West with her three kids.
“It’s the perfect spot for adventure, and they love the snorkeling trips and renting jet skis for the tour around the island,” she explains. “After a long day, there are so many delicious restaurants in town and an interesting cast of characters performing on the streets. There is something for everyone in Key West.”
Key West is a festive U.S. holiday destination with warm conditions for year-round watersports and an impressive assortment of seasonal events. Its convenient location three hours south of Miami makes the island ideal for an overnight stay.
“We visited Barbados to defrost from winter on their gorgeous beaches, but its warm, dry weather was just the beginning of why we fell in love with the island,” says Monica Fish of Planner at Heart.
The Caribbean island of Barbados attracts visitors worldwide, and the holiday season is a great time to experience the country’s unique charm. Whether visitors are interested in art, history, food, or outdoor exploration, Barbados has endless opportunities to discover something new.
“Barbadians are warm, welcoming people proud to share their home, heritage, culture, and delicious food,” says Monica. “Plus, they love Christmas, so you’ll feel and see plenty of holiday cheer throughout the island in December.”
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Elise Armitage is the founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California, founded in 2012. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.