By Cordelia Solomon
As the seasons change and cold weather approaches, we find ourselves dreaming of snowy wonderlands and tropical paradises alike. Whether you prefer to spend the colder months on a beach, soaking up the sun, or bundled up in the mountains, a winter time escape awaits you. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite winter vacation destinations.
Sitting on the intersection of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Iceland--the land of fire and ice--is home to active volcanoes, geo-thermal hot springs, massive glaciers, and erupting geysers. And, while it attracts more visitors in the warmer, summer months, Iceland has an extra sparkle in the winter.
Whether you’re traveling solo or with companions, looking for adventure or some R&R, Iceland is the perfect destination for anyone. From breathtaking waterfalls and stunning lava fields to glacier lagoons and ice caves to the wondrous Northern Lights a winter trip to Iceland and all its natural wonders are sure to blow you away!
Situated in expansive Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is an outdoor adventurer’s dream anytime of year. However, visit in the winter and you’ll discover Banff in all its glory.
Its snow capped mountains offer the perfect backdrop for skiers and snowboarders as they shred some of the best runs in the world. Its famed jewel-colored lakes from the popular Lake Louise to the lesser known Lake Minnewanka and Moraine Lake, can be admired from their shores of from one of the many vistas above.
Take in the sounds and smells of the wintery outdoors, and keep your eyes peeled for majestic wildlife as you hike Banff’s exceptional trails. From the summit, the sweeping views of the valley below will take your breath away.
For those of you that aren’t quite the outdoorsy type, but still appreciate an epic winter wonderland, Banff’s got plenty for you, too! Take in the picturesque scenery from the gondol, visit the Banff upper hot springs, or cozy up in one of its many mountaintop or lakeside lodges!
The small peninsula of Placencia--or the “pleasant place” as the Spanish called it--located just off the mainland, is home to lush rainforests, Mayan ruins, a diverse bird population, and the famous Blue Hole. Its crystal clear waters and over 120 miles of reefs and caves are a divers (or snorkelers) paradise. It’s jungly interior are filled with stunning wildlife that can be admired by zip-lining across its canopies.
While the northern half of the peninsula is filled with stuffy resorts, venture south and you’ll find a laid back, vibrant beach village where locals and tourists intermingle and crack jokes as if they’d known each other for years. Its dazzling beaches and lagoons are best experienced while sipping a beer or indulging in native cuisine with locals.
Sure, the colors, sea-bright yet faded, the painted wood houses mounted on stilts or in the trees, and the natural wonders that surround it contribute to its undeniable charm, it’s the locals here that truly make Placencia a place like nowhere else. So, pack your bags and head on down for a winter escape like none other!
A trip through Southeast Asia should be on everyone’s bucket list. However the region’s crown jewel is Cambodia, a charming country whose deep scars left by the Khmer Rouge are still felt throughout.
Discover Cambodia’s harrowing recent-history in Phnom Penh. Visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum before taking the 45 minute tuk tuk ride to Choeung Ek, The Killing Fields, the mass grave site where the Khmer Rouge executed over a million Cambodians between 1975-1979.
Watching the sunrise over the jungle temple of Angkor Wat is a must see, and possibly the most angelic moment you’ll experience in your life. Grey skies slowly become stained with pink while the edges of the ancient temple’s corn-cob towers begin to sharpen, and in a matter of moments, the once pale pink sky is filled with an array of pastel colors that sit perfectly behind the majestic temple whose colorful reflection now dazzles in a lilie-filled moat. A soundtrack of cackling geese and the soft ringing of gongs from the neighboring monastery plays as the sun continues to rise. Soon it’s all over and it’s time to explore the magnificent 12th century temples all filled with meticulously detailed carvings depicting scenes from Hindu epics.
Finally, Cambodia is home to some of the most pristine islands. While its neighboring Thai islands get all the fanfare, Cambodia’s abundant, lesser known islands, including Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Thmei, offer a perfect tropical getaway with far less crowds!