The Green Getaway—Isla Holbox, Mexico
For those whose idea of a tropical getaway puts the emphasis on nature, the go-to destination this season is Isla Holbox off the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A quiet retreat from nearby Tulum, the 26-mile-long island balances its burgeoning art scene with a host of nature preserves and conservation projects, drawing the world’s largest gathering of whale sharks and a growing population of flamingos, both of which are best seen by kayak.
Be sure to pack comfy shoes along with your swimwear because the island has virtually no cars, with locals getting around by golf cart or moped. Either is a great option for taking in the variety of murals created by artists for the International Public Arts Festival. These looks are perfect for trekking around the island or for just sitting back and enjoying the sunset at a local restaurant like El Chapulim, Mandarina, or Viva Zapata.
The Best of Both Worlds—Cartagena, Colombia
Warm-weather destinations don’t necessarily have to mean just the beach, so if you’re looking to balance your time in the sand with some more city-minded activities, look no farther than Cartagena, Colombia. One of the jewels of the Caribbean coast, Cartagena balances its Spanish colonial charm—the “old town” dates back to the 16th century and along with the stunning colonial architecture, within its walls are beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces, and mansions with overhanging balconies and shady patios—with the modern amenities of the Bocagrande peninsula and its trendy cafes, glossy restaurants, and water views.
To see how the locals live, head to Mercado Bazurto, where you’ll find a chaotic local market with blaring music, raucous vendors, and incredible street food, and for night-time action, Café Havana mixes the meanest mojitos in town. Cap off the evening at Café Del Mar as you sip cocktails atop the city walls with Caribbean views and breezes.
Lap of Luxury—St. Lucia, Caribbean
There are tropical escapes, and then there are the luxe locales that have you breathing a relaxed sigh just from thinking about them. St. Lucia is definitely the latter. With acres of tropical rainforest, white sand, and tranquil blue water, it’s the ideal destination for when you want to get away from it all while maintaining the comforts of home. The mountains meet the sea in the town of Soufrière, making for a backdrop that’s sure to stun.
Spend a day or two lying on pristine Sugar Beach—aptly named for its powdery white sands—before poking around the island’s capital, Castries, home to an amazing open-air market. Or to keep the relaxation going, head to Diamond Falls and take in the botanical gardens and soak in the hot spring-fed mineral baths. Either way, be sure to pack your favorite swimwear because the beaches are the island’s main draw.