The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting record-breaking snowfall in the Northeast this winter, and forecasters are already expecting a polar vertex. Here in Upstate New York, temperatures have dropped dramatically and we’ve already seen the first snow storms of the season. Conditions are ripe for a Caribbean getaway.
I’m not ready to hunker down for the season. My own holiday miracle is that I have a few days to myself between the hectic rush of Thanksgiving and the craziness of winter break holidays, and Choice Hotels is sending me to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. I can’t wait to feel the sand between my toes and sunshine on my shoulders. I’m especially excited because as many times as I’ve visited the Bahamas, the Out Islands are new to me. And from what I hear, my hotel, the Hope Town Harbour Lodge, is within a short walk of many of the island’s quirkiest attractions.
There’s never been a better time to escape to the warmth of the Caribbean. With most destinations a short flight away, it pays to take advantage of unprecedented savings on Choice Hotels Caribbean properties. For a limited time, guests who book trips of three-nights or more by December 31, 2016 and stay by February 28, 2017 can receive 20 percent off the original price. (See Choice Hotels Caribbean for details.)
Where to Go in the Caribbean
Oranjestad, Aruba: Staying at La Cabana Beach Resort and Casino places you in the perfect location to access the Dutch island’s attractions. Known as the wreck diving capital of the world–with 11 dive-friendly wrecks–it’s tops on any adventure traveler’s bucket list.
Abaco, Bahamas: Serious divers head to the Bahamas’ Abaco Islands for the amazing Blue Hole cave diving. But even if your idea of an adventure is driving a golf cart (the easiest way to explore the island on land) Hope Town Harbour Lodge is an excellent base for discovering Bahamas’ Out Islands.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: Located in the heart of Grand Cayman, on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach is convenient to all that the island has to offer. The Cayman Islands have a well-deserved reputation for being a great place to learn how to scuba dive. Excellent visibility, calm conditions, and a plethora of colorful reefs, including an extraordinary underwater sculpture gardens, facilitate instruction but also beg to be photographed. When you’re ready to take underwater photography to the next level, or even if you’re just getting started, visit Cathy Church’s Photo Centre.
Willemstad, Curacao: Once the capital of Netherland Antilles, before dissolution in 2010, the historic area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Curaçao is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established in 1634, the former Dutch settlement showcases colonial town planning and trading history. ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas, situated just 15 minutes away by car from Punda, the oldest of the historic districts, is perfectly situated for exploring the family of cities that “illustrate the organic growth of a multicultural community over three centuries.”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: The Quality Hotel Real Aeropuerto Santo Domingo is a good choice for late arrivals to or early departures from the Dominican Republic. But it also makes an excellent base for seeing another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Colonial City of Santo Domingo. Established not long after Christopher Colombus’ visit in 1492, it is the oldest permanent European settlement in the New World–and home port for legendary explorers from Ponce de Leon to Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
San Juan, Puerto Rico: There are many reasons to visit El Condado, the hip urban center of Puerto Rico. Topping that list is a vibrant, cutting edge art scene. Le Consulat, an upscale boutique hotel on Magdalena Avenue, puts you in easy reach–either by car or public transportation–of major museums such as the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and the colorful galleries on historic Calle Cristo in Old San Juan.
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten: The world’s coolest landing, also its most terrifying–Dutch carrier KLM’s Boeing 747 skimming Maho Beach on approach to Princess Juliana International Airport–came to an end in late October 2016 when the airline replaced the flight with the much smaller Airbus. That doesn’t stop visitors from gawking at what are still some of the most challenging arrivals and departures. Alegria Hotel St. Maarten is located just close enough, 20 minutes on foot, that it’s easy to get to this sight, as well as all the bars and restaurants nearby. But it’s also just far enough away that you can forget all about it while sipping a cocktail and looking out at a technicolor sunset over the Caribbean Sea.
Disclosure: Choice Hotels is sending Getaway Maven Sandra Foyt to the Abaco Islands to research the destination. They will host her stay at Hope Town Harbour Lodge and cover all trip expenses. As always, our opinions are our own. Please refer to our Editorial Policy for more details.