Best Winter Escapes

You wake up to another cold morning. Frosty windows, snow on the ground — and summer seems so far away. But there are some places out there that aren’t shrouded in snow or wrapped in a cold snap. Escape the polar vortex at some of the best winter escapes around the world. 

Don’t wake up to more snowy forecasts. Plan your winter escape vacation at some of the most beautiful beaches and warm locations the world has to offer. A cruise will allow you to unwind and see even more stunning locations and beautiful beaches. Read on for some of the best places for winter cruises around the world.

1. Caribbean

When you hear “beautiful beaches” or picture your ideal winter escape to warm weather, you may first imagine the Caribbean. Run from the winter months and find yourself among turquoise waters. Swap out snow for white, sandy beaches on a cruise through the Caribbean. Check out some popular locations travelers like to visit on their winter escapes to this region:

St. Maarten

Experience Dutch, French and native cultures on the island of St. Maarten. Visit the boutique shops to stock up on souvenirs, and spend your evenings at St. Maarten’s lively casinos. You’ll forget all about your winter blues as you relax, shop and play on this upbeat Caribbean island.

San Juan

Spend part of your winter escape vacation in Puerto Rico’s beautiful capital city. Take in artifacts and art at the city’s museums, and go shopping in Old San Juan for some lovely sights. Get warm on the beautiful beaches by day, then find even more to do at night when the city comes alive. Check out the bars and casinos or go dancing at the nightclubs to celebrate your escape from the cold.

Colón

Enjoy tax-free shopping at this coastal city then enjoy views of the Caribbean sea. Explore the Old Quarter as you shop for souvenirs, or tour the rest of Panama’s gateway to the Caribbean. Colón offers views of the Panama Canal with a visit to Gatun Lake. You could even take a trip to the indigenous community of Embera Quera to experience a new culture.

Oranjestad

Aruba’s capital and largest city is home to brightly-colored buildings and intriguing museums. Snap a perfect shot on Oranjestad’s streets to show your friends and family how you’re enjoying your escape to warm weather. Soak in the sun and the view the blend of old and new that the city has to offer. This fun and colorful city is sure to make you forget about the winter months at home.

Lisbon

The capital city of Portugal combines scenic hills with coastal views. Explore history at the Belém Tower fortification, and check out the other Gothic landmarks that the city has to offer. Lisbon also has colorful sights and buildings you’d expect to see in a stunning coastal town. Warm yourself on the beautiful beaches as you enjoy the sunny destination.

2. Mexico

Celebrate warm weather with a cruise along Mexico’s coast. From stunning scenes to delicious cuisine, this country has it all. Take in the culture and history, relax on the beaches or find adventure in the water. Things heat up in Mexico whether you stroll along the coastline or taste national favorites that come with a kick. Explore any of the locations below for an amazing adventure and break from snowy forecasts.

Puerto Chiapas

Puerto Chiapas is a perfect stop for history and culture lovers. Explore the Mayan ruins of Izapa, visit nearby museums or sample local produce and cuisine. Once you’ve explored the port, you can visit the nearby city of Tapachula, which has even more to offer by way of markets and a boardwalk. No matter what you do in or near Puerto Chiapas, you can take in sunny views of the stunning coastline.

Huatulco

This town is an experience for the senses. Try out Oaxacan-style cooking, which features Mexican dishes you’ve heard of like tamales and tacos as well as flavors that will be entirely new. Once you get your fill of delicious cuisine, go relax on the beautiful beach. If you’re looking for adventure, you can also observe crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Manzanillo

The port city of Manzanillo rests on the Pacific Ocean. You could relax and take in coastal views or head out on a trip through nature on an ATV adventure. You’ll wind through lush, jungle trails that show off Mexico’s greenery, which beautifully contrasts sandy beaches and blue ocean views. After your adventures, don’t forget to get a photo in front of the city’s well-known blue sailfish statue to show everyone that you enjoyed your visit to the “Sailfish Capital of the World.”

Puerto Vallarta

Start your visit to this resort town resting on the beautiful beaches. While the tide will certainly tempt you to relax on the warm sand all day, Puerto Vallarta has much, much more to offer. The town comes alive at night and has water-based adventures for adrenaline seekers during the day. Try agave cocktails at a beachside bar and dine at one of the many restaurants then head to the town center for boutique shopping. You could also enjoy some of the world’s best sport fishing in this beautiful coastal town to finish off your visit with excitement.

Cozumel

For those who like to spend time in and under the water, this Mexican island is for you. Cozumel is well-known for its scuba diving opportunities, so get ready for some underwater adventures. Witness dolphins, manatees and sea turtles in the Chankanaab eco-park. Explore the Mesoamerican Reef or stunning and unique art with submerged sculptures. You’ll want to bring an underwater camera to this island stop.

3. South Pacific

One great thing about the southern hemisphere — when it’s winter up north, it’s summer down south. Trade in your winter months for sunny summer days with a cruise around the South Pacific. This region contains popular destinations along with unique stops when you visit on a South Pacific cruise. You’ll experience diverse indigenous cultures and learn to appreciate how people live and how things work in this hemisphere.

Melbourne

Experience the Australian coast during your visit to Melbourne. Along with amazing views, the city provides an array of delicious beverages. Start your morning with artisan coffee, sample the Yarra Valley’s famous Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wine, then taste boutique gin and wonderful whiskey from the area’s distilleries. If sampling locally crafted beverages isn’t for you, you can always explore the city to take in its impressive art scene. From performing arts to indigenous creations, the city has a cultural experience for everyone.

Sydney

As one of Australia’s largest cities, Sydney is well-known among world travelers. Of course, you must take a photo of the Opera House to experience the city’s architectural wonder. Once you’ve soaked in the art and culture, soak up the sun at Bondi Beach or watch ships come through the bustling harbor. You can also explore other artistic and cultural wonders throughout the city at botanical gardens, then take in views of Sydney at the Skywalk.

Krakatoa

This large volcanic crater is a must-experience for any fan of adventure. Hike around for some amazing scenery and to forget all about your winter blues. The scenery will entrance you as watching for volcanic activity gets your adrenaline pumping. Don’t forget your camera because you’re sure to see some amazing natural sights with a stop at Krakatoa.

Pantara Island

Pantara Island is a small yet scenic feature of Indonesia’s Thousand Islands. At this remote port, you can enjoy secluded beaches that contrast other bustling, well-known cities in the South Pacific. Relax on Pantara Island’s white sandy beaches surrounded by emerald green waters. This tropical paradise will melt away your winter worries and replace them with warm feelings and amazing views.

Singapore

The island’s tropical climate makes a great winter escape from any polar vortex. Wander through Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, Little India and Chinatown to introduce your senses to new cultures and sights. And of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Singapore without sampling some of the world-famous street food. Finish off your day as you sip the gin-based Singapore Sling and watch the bustling activity of the world’s second-busiest port.

4. Tahiti

Located over 2,600 miles south of Hawaii, Tahiti is a part of French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. These exotic destinations in Tahiti will awaken your senses and welcome you into a colorful, exciting and inviting world. Take a cruise around Tahiti and surrounding areas to get an experience you won’t soon forget. Explore the motus, or small islands, and clear, shallow lagoons then immerse yourself in new cultures throughout this scenic corner of the world.

Papeete

Sample cuisine from food carts in French Polynesia’s capital city. After you fill up in the evening, explore what nightlife the city has to offer. If you prefer to explore during the day, head out on a shopping adventure. Look out for island crafts to take home to inspire warm feelings about your trip through the rest of winter. You’ll close your eyes and think back to pristine sandy beaches and relaxing warm water.

Bora Bora

This small, luxurious island is home to turquoise waters and a coral reef, perfect for scuba diving or snorkeling. Snap a photo or experience the wildlife. If you aren’t one for daring adventures, relax and warm up on the sandy beaches. Admire the dormant volcano that sits at the center of Bora Bora among lush greenery as you enjoy your perfect winter getaway.

Raiatea

The island of Raiatea is located not far from Tahiti. It is the former cultural and religious center of the Society Islands, and today, it is rich in culture and history. Learn about a new culture as you escape the winter months. You can also enjoy sailing, scuba diving and other adventures in Raiatea’s beautiful lagoon and coral reef.

Motu Mahaea (Tahaa)

Across the lagoon from Raiatea, you can enjoy similar adventures at the islet of Tahaa. You’ll experience scenic viewpoints and learn the importance of the plants and wildlife on the small island. You can also explore sacred sites and vanilla plantations that round out the location’s culture.

Lautoka

Lautoka is nicknamed Sugar City, and it’s no wonder why. The second-largest city of Fiji, Lautoka is home to plentiful sugar cane. The city also offers a stroll down tree-lined streets to catch a glimpse of stunning colonial homes. Soak in the cheerful culture of Lautoka as you stroll and stop by the outdoor markets to experience the local culture. Don’t forget to save time for a relaxing mud pool bath that will release your winter stress.

5. Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Spend your winter months on the sunny coasts of Costa Rica. The exotic region unites natural and man-made wonders where you can explore by day and play or relax by night. A cruise around Costa Rica will take you through the Panama Canal as you visit other stunning locations. The bright colors of the local flora and fauna will shake you out of your winter blues. As you look for winter escape vacation ideas, consider some must-sees of this area.

Panama Canal

Didn’t get enough of the Panama Canal in Colón? Make a trip across the man-made wonder. If transiting the Panama Canal is part of your bucket list, don’t wait any longer to experience it. Escape snowy forecasts and fulfill a lifelong dream as you journey across the structure on a cruise, getting ready for what lies beyond the canal.

Puerto Caldera

This port serves as the starting point for many cruises. Your journey may begin in Puerto Caldera, one of Costa Rica’s most popular cities. Even though it’s a popular destination, you’ll feel like you’re traveling off the beaten path. Let Puerto Caldera be your gateway to experiencing new cultures, seeing splendid wildlife and enjoying blissful warm weather in a tropical location.

San José

Looking for one of the best sun-filled destinations to visit in the winter? San José is for you. The capital of Costa Rica sits among mountains and volcanoes, creating a city surrounded by stunning scenery. Enjoy the local culture at the National Theater then spend more time outdoors at the National Park. Visit the museum in San José to see stunning artifacts or walk around the city to enjoy the Spanish colonial architecture that dapples the streets.

Quepos

Experience wildlife and natural wonders in this city. From mangroves to lagoons, rainforests and beaches, Quepos is a nature lover’s paradise. It’s also home to plenty of adventure. Quepos is the best place to zipline above the jungle floor. Enjoy the rush or see if you can spot local sloths, toucans, monkeys and more as you glide among the trees. Want more adventure? Head out on horseback to a mountain summit surrounded by a lush rainforest.

Isla Parida

Enjoy hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and more at this pristine destination, especially with a visit to Chiriquí National Marine Park. Panama’s Isla Parida archipelago is also the best place peaceful swimming and exciting diving, but you could always just relax on the beach, soaking in the warm weather. Observe the local marine life and photograph nature through the beauty of Isla Parida’s lush plant life.

Plan Your Winter Escape With Windstar Cruises

Ready to visit the best sunny destinations this winter? Plan a getaway with us at Windstar Cruises to see more of the world than you ever thought possible. Our smaller ships can take you to ports large cruise lines can’t, meaning you can see unique, tropical spots. No more turning up the heat in your house, imagining it’s summer. Head to where it’s warm to escape to beautiful beaches, sample amazing cuisine and experience new cultures.

Spend the winter months with us at Windstar Cruises. Check out the destinations we’ll help you explore or find a cruise today. Leave the snowy forecasts behind and treat yourself to a cruise around some of the best winter escapes out there. Experience it all with Windstar Cruises!

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