Easy to get to from the mainland U.S. and boasting numerous all-inclusive resorts, the Caribbean and Mexico have long been among the most popular destinations for those seeking fun in the sun. But culture, climate, and clear blue waters are only some of what makes these two regions attractive getaways. Mountainous jungles, cosmopolitan cities, and historic towns await, promising a good time for everyone.
To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve put together a list of destinations that cater to your travel style and preferred experience.
For Adventure Seekers
Costa Rica: With mountainous terrain, expansive rainforests, and numerous volcanoes, Costa Rica is teeming with adventure. As a guest on the island, you’ll have the opportunity to experience its lush forests from an all-new perspective—by taking a zipline tour through the canopy. The island is also a great destination for hikers, with over sixty dormant volcanoes and a variety of trails leading to their summits. Finally, if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, a trip to one of the island’s two cloud forests, Monteverde and Santa Elena, is a must.
Jamaica: One of the larger islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities to partake in. Climb Dunn’s River Falls and follow the river’s mouth to a secluded beach. Navigate a stretch of the Martha Brae River and experience the island’s interior forests via a 30-foot bamboo raft. You can also partake in a bobsledding adventure inspired by the Jamaican National Team as well as numerous watersports like freestyle sailing and sport fishing.
Cancun: If you’re looking for some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving you can find, Cancun is the place to go. With world-class sites like Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc, the region’s fertile waters are home to many fascinating creatures, from giant sea turtles to schools of colorful reef fish. And if you prefer to spend most of your time on land, the Mayan ruins of El Rey are close enough for a quick day trip.
St. Lucia: With top-notch luxury resorts, private pool suites, and over-the-water bungalows, St. Lucia is perfect for couples looking for romance. The island has a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere and many fun things for couples to do, like hiking the Piton Mountains or bathing in the Toraille Waterfall. If romantic dinners are more your thing, the island doesn’t disappoint. From catered meals served beneath a private tent at the Jade Mountain Resort, to watching the sunset from the cliffside restaurant, Rabot, St. Lucia is an island for lovers.
Antigua: Popular for its coral-ringed beaches, Antigua is an island possessed of an old-world romance. The capital city of St. John is a mosaic of cobblestone streets and multicolored houses that overlook the Caribbean Sea. Couples will also find a plethora of secluded beaches and picturesque bays to enjoy. English Harbour is great for activities like sunset horseback riding or visiting natural sites like the Pillars of Hercules. For peaceful relaxation and subtle intimacy, Antigua is second to none.
Riviera Maya: Located just south of Cancun, the Riviera Maya offers couples a much different experience compared to the tourist hotspot. From dining among a thicket of mangroves to sunset dinner cruises that serve fresh lobster, this strip of all-inclusive resorts and natural wonders is perfect if you and your partner are looking to experience luxury without sacrificing rustic ambiance.
For Culture Seekers
Barbados: If food is one of the things you love best about traveling, you should consider a trip to Barbados. Representing a mixture of African, Portuguese, Indian, Creole, Irish, and British cuisines, Bajan food makes for a truly special culinary experience. Make sure to try the national dish of cou-cou and flying fish, a cornmeal porridge served with fried fish and spicy gravy at one of the island’s many restaurants. In your spare time, you can visit the historic town of St. George. Its massive stone fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage site and a great opportunity to take in a little history.
St. Martin–St.Maarten: Home to two distinct and lively cultures on one island, a visit to St. Martin–St. Maarten is a unique experience. The north side of the island, St. Martin, is controlled by the French government. Here, you’ll find a splendid mix of upscale restaurants and party beaches while still enjoying a beach town vibe. Farther south, the Dutch side of the island offers more cosmopolitan fare, such as clubs and casinos. You can freely travel between each side, giving you the best of both worlds. Hit up the famous Front Street shops on the Dutch side. Go for a hike to the picturesque Pic du Paradis on the French side. Whatever you decide, the island’s dual personas will make for double the fun.
The Path Less Traveled
St. Croix and St. John: While most travelers are familiar with St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John are also worth a trip. The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix lets you indulge in the winding paths of the St. George Village Botanical Garden or wade through the Carambola Tide Pools. Just a short distance away is the island of St. John. Only reachable by ferry, the island is home to the Virgin Islands National Park. With numerous trails and world-class snorkeling in sites like Trunk Bay Beach, St. John is a great getaway for nature lovers.
Ambergris Caye: Known for great sailing, snorkeling, and fishing, Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island. With its low-key, laidback island vibe and close proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, there’s a lot to love about the 25-mile-long cay. Along with dive and sail charters galore, Ambergris is also known for its incredible nightlife centered in the main town of San Pedro.
Bacalar: If off-the-beaten-path is more your style, you’ve got to check out Bacalar. Located on the Mexican-Belize border, this little village is a great respite if you’ve grown weary of the resort scene. Perched on the tranquil shores of a mangrove-lined lagoon, the town features a little something for every traveler, from over-the-water bungalows for those looking for a little luxury, to whitewater rafting and ziplining for the adventurous lot.
Where to Stay
When it comes to travel, where you stay is just as important as where you go. In recent years, boutique hotels have become more and more popular. They tend to offer high levels of service, coupled with luxurious amenities.
However, in the Caribbean and Mexico, all-inclusive resorts are still the top request, catering to travelers who don’t want to worry about paying for meals in addition to accommodations.
But whether you opt for a boutique or all-inclusive experience, you should look into booking an over-the-water bungalow. These stunning accommodations provide all the comfort and luxury you would expect from a high-class hotel stay, while still offering unrivaled access to nature. And the best part ? They can be found in many destinations across Mexico and the Caribbean.
With so many alluring destinations so near, any traveler to Mexico or the Caribbean should consider in-region travel an experience in itself, rather than a means to an end.
Among visitors to the Caribbean Islands, yachting is becoming increasingly popular. Private state-of-the-art yachts can be booked and come with a variety of options. If you’re an experienced sailor, you can look into sailing your own yacht and enjoy the independence that comes with it. If you’re just looking to relax, we recommend booking a crewed yacht. It’s the best way to island hop.
Another option is to set sail on a mega cruise ship, which is a great way to see multiple locations in one trip. And because the ships travel at night, you’ll wake up every morning to a new paradise.
Things to Consider
Given the current state of the pandemic, the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions and requirements should be top of mind for any traveler.
Currently, Covid entry requirements vary by destination and change almost daily. Most islands require a negative Covid test prior to arrival, with the United States requiring a negative Covid test to return home. Anyone planning on traveling at this time should be prepared for changes and understand that they can occur during your trip as well.
Passports should also be a consideration. While destinations like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico do not require a passport, one will be required if you plan on island hopping and, in most cases, must be valid for at least six months past the return date.
Lastly, if you plan on traveling to the Caribbean or Mexico during hurricane season, we recommend investing in trip insurance. This way, you’ll be protected even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Why Book In Advance
Ever-popular destinations, Caribbean and Mexican resorts tend to get booked early, especially during holidays and school breaks. You should always book as early as possible to ensure they get their desired dates and accommodations.
This is even more important now. Because of the many cancellations during 2020 and 2021, availability is already becoming limited for 2022.
How The Travel Team Can Help
The Travel Team prides itself on offering destination suggestions based on your interest. We can advise you on which destinations may be easier to get to and which are the most economical. We’re also here to offer guidance on all components of your trip and help you put together the best itinerary possible.
In this current environment, our expertise is invaluable. There is so much information for travelers to parse through, between travel restrictions and entry requirements, travel insurance, and airline schedule changes. We can help you navigate through it all.
As your travel advisor, we will be there for you before, during, and after your trip. We are your advocates and will help you with all the details.