The holidays are over, and the long, seemingly endless stretch between now and flip-flop season has begun. Ready to trade in your puffy coat and hot cocoa for a bikini and a margarita? Plan a trip to one of these five Caribbean destinations that boast sandy beaches, ice-cold drinks and perfectly warm climes. It’s time to thaw out:
Average January high: 82°F
Get there: Departing from Tampa, Florida, the quick 4-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on Brilliance of the Seas heads to Cozumel.
Take it in: The island just off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is known for its awe-inspiring coral reefs. Take a catamaran to the National Marine Park, where you’ll drift-snorkel over the thriving Paraiso and Xul-Ha reefs. Want more inspiration? Check out these shore excursions in the Western Caribbean.
Belize City, Belize
Average January high: 80°F
Get there: Go a little further afield on a 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on Navigator of the Seas, which departs from Galveston, Texas, and features port calls in Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Roatan, Honduras.
Take it in: Head inland to Bacab Eco Park, a 20-minute drive from Belize City, where the lush jungle is home to more than 200 species of tropical plants, huge hardwood trees, palms and wildlife. After a leisurely nature walk, unwind in a poolside hammock.
Average January high: 84°F
Get there: Make your way even closer to the equator with a 9-Night South Caribbean Adventure Cruise aboard Explorer of the Seas. After departing Port Canaveral, Florida, stops include Labadee, Haiti; Oranjestad, Aruba; Kralendijk, Bonaire; and Willemstad, Curacao.
Take it in: Underwater exploration goes a step (or a splash!) further with the Seaworld Explorer, an underwater submarine-cum-observatory off the coast of Curacao. Walk into the hull, where you’ll sit five feet under the water’s surface and get face-to-face with turtles, schools of fish, and more vibrant marine life.
Average January high: 82°F
Get there: Departing from New Orleans, the 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on Serenade of the Seas sails for two days before hitting Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.
Take it in: Sit on the white-sand Red Stripe Beach and sip its namesake beer.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average January high: 85°F
Get there: Set sail on the Atlantic on the world’s first smartship, Quantum of the Seas, from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on a 10-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Ports of call include San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Basseterre, St. Kitts.
Take it in: Hop on a tram up to Charlotte Amalie’s Paradise Point, where you can gaze over the town and sparkling blue waters beyond. Enjoying the heights? Then board the panoramic gondola that glides 700 feet above the island to Flag Hill.