35 Places Where You Can Enjoy Warm Temps Year-Round
Sure, winter has its charms, but sometimes you just need a little sun and warmth and the ability to leave the house without layers. If you get hit hard by the winter blues or don’t feel like you relaxed enough this summer, a tropical vacation is the answer. Since some places near — or within! — the U.S. are blessed with year-round warm weather, it’s easy to hop on a plane and be on the beach in a matter of hours.
To help you fantasize about or plan your next warm getaway, we’ve gathered a list of 35 places that you can easily get to from the U.S. They are all within five hours of a major American airport. Most of them are in the Caribbean, but each has its own distinct features, so you can definitely find somewhere that fits your travel style. Go ahead and save this list, it’ll help you survive many winters to come!
Don’t get Cartagena wrong: Way before Americans realized it was the place to be, it was already Colombia’s most-visited city. Adorned by colorful colonial architecture, the walled Old City is a pleasure to walk around, even if all you’re doing is taking pictures with the ornate wooden doors and looking up at the balconies filled with plants and flowers.
Seafood and fruit abound here, and the latter can famously be found on the heads of the Palenqueras, who come from the nearby town of Palenque (the first freed-slave town in the Americas) to sell fruit while wearing traditional clothes. If you want to escape to an even more secluded tropical paradise, plan a trip to one of the nearby Rosario Islands.
Trinidad & Tobago
This two-island nation is one of the only places in the Caribbean with an economy that does not primarily rely on tourism. This means that you won’t find the typical island vibe that seems to exist for the purpose of hosting travelers.
Port of Spain, the capital, is filled with dance halls blasting soca and pretty urban beaches. Outside the city, you’ll find small towns and hills that roll into the ocean. On its part, Tobago is where nationals vacation, taking advantage of its forests, waterfalls and the Nylon Pool, a natural shallow pool within the ocean. Then, there’s also what’s probably one of the best and most underrated food scenes in the continent.
The jewel of the Yucatan peninsula may not be a secret anymore, but it’s still worth a visit. Besides perfect beaches and warm water, you will find seaside Mayan ruins overrun by resident iguanas.
You can easily spend your days doing nothing but drinking beer in a hammock, but you can also join one of the several yoga and wellness retreats that are always being offered or explore sacred cenotes. Tulum is also near Xelhá, an eco-friendly waterpark that only uses natural water and is committed to sustainability.
The home of a genre that has reached every corner of the world, this island evokes images of a laid-back lifestyle that is the dream of many. Besides reggae, you can always find jazz, blues or dance-hall venues.
The turquoise water that surrounds the island and its white-sand beaches create a perfect contrast with the deep green of its mountains and rainforest. Even if you love laying in the sun, save time to trek into the forest looking for waterfalls and natural pools.
The 50th state has never lost its native culture, which can still be seen in the language of the locals, their wonderful aloha spirit and the soul of the islands. There are six major islands that receive tourists, and they each have a distinct personality.
Go to Oahu for big resorts and the famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, to the Big Island for the most food options, to Maui to explore the largest dormant volcano in the world, to Lanai for a truly laid back experience, to Kauai for dramatic cliffs covered in a tropical forest and to Molokai for an intimate look into native Hawaiian culture.
This beautiful Caribbean island stands out from the rest because of its Pitons, two majestic mountains that create a truly breathtaking backdrop. Like most volcanic islands, St. Lucia has unique natural wonders, most notably for its Sulphur Springs, a volcano you can actually drive to.
Of course, you’ll also find perfect beaches and several opportunities for adventures within the rainforest.
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Sunny days and perfect weather year-round are the key features of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Home to the capital and its surrounding towns, expect to find beautiful beaches as well as mountains and forests.
You’ll also get a cosmopolitan experience and all the perks that come with it in San Jose. As Central America’s safest and most stable country, Costa Rica is a great destination for both first-time and seasoned travelers.
If you want the Caribbean but don’t want to share it with thousands of other people who had the same idea, head to Guadeloupe. Part of the French Overseas Region, the island has mostly managed to save itself from overcrowded beaches and an invasion of foreign resorts.
It’s also a great eco-tourism destination, as the vast majority of the island is protected natural land.
Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos offers the quintessential Caribbean experience: deep blue water, soft-sand beaches and a laid-back attitude.
To this, add the third-largest reef on the planet, so avid divers and curious snorkelers can enjoy exploring an underwater ecosystem that never fails to leave them breathless.
If international travel isn’t possible, Puerto Rico makes you feel like you’ve left the States without really leaving. This unincorporated territory is technically part of the U.S. but has managed to maintain its own culture and language.
Most travelers head to the picturesque capital of San Juan, which dazzles with its colonial architecture, Spanish forts, beautiful beaches and selection of international food. San Juan is also the place to visit museums and learn about the island’s thriving local arts scene. For more active traveling, hike or zipline in El Yunque rainforest.
Roatan is arguably one of Honduras’ most beautiful and popular destinations. This small but mighty island is surrounded by the great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, making it a prime spot for snorkeling and diving.
Expect to see turtles, rays, tropical fish and maybe even sharks!
Santa Marta, Colombia
This city on the Colombian Caribbean coast is filled with luxury hotels, trendy bars and busy beaches. If you want an escape to the sea without giving up any modern comforts, this is your place. But Santa Marta is also the gateway to some of the most interesting natural landmarks in Colombia — namely, the Tayrona Natural Park and the Lost City.
The first is an escape into rugged wild beauty. You’ll get beaches surrounded by jungle topped with the Santa Marta snow peak in the distance. The latter is an archaeological treasure set so deep within the jungle that you can only arrive on a two- to three-day guided trek — rest assured, the effort is worth it.
The Cuban capital has long been held in the collective North American imagination as a land where time has stood still. Of course, this is in part due to the island’s economic conditions, and locals might not be as excited as foreigners to drive 70-year-old cars.
Nevertheless, Havana’s charm is simply undeniable. The temperature is almost always perfect, the food is even better than you can imagine, and the beats of salsa, blues and son cubano fill the air at night. Travel restrictions are strict again, but U.S. nationals can still travel under certain conditions.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
We don’t need to tell you about Rio’s Ipanema Beach and iconic Sugarloaf Mountain. Head to this sprawling city for urbanity with amazing natural views, non-stop parties and constant sunshine.
As Brazil’s most-visited city, you’re bound to share space with crowds wherever you go, but that never seems to take away from the magic of the experience.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
If rather than warmth what you want is real heat, the Dominican Republic has it for you. Its capital city, Punta Cana, is mostly famous for its massive all-inclusive resorts and the never-ending stream of cruise ships that dock on its port.
But do yourself a favor and step out of the ready-made mold to explore the city outside of the resorts. You can also engage in myriad incredible outdoor activities like scuba diving, ziplining, hiking and windsurfing.
This beautiful Dutch island is constantly listed as one of the most colorful places on Earth because of its beautiful rows of pastel houses. The beautiful weather in Curacao is fairly constant, and even hurricane season rarely rains on the constant parade of life here. Scuba diving around the island’s reefs is probably the most popular activity for tourists and locals, matched only by lying on the beach while soaking up the sun.
If you’re wondering how good the nightlife is, we’ll just emphasize that this is a combination of Dutch and Caribbean culture, and leave it up to your imagination.
Key West, Florida
Another way to get to the heat any time of year without leaving the U.S. is to head to Key West. Most people fly into Miami and then go on a road trip through the Keys to get to this town at the tip of Florida, but you can also fly directly into Key West International Airport.
Besides the weather, pastel-colored houses and massive coral reefs, Key West is famous for being an LGBTQIA-friendly destination. Other attractions include visiting the closest point to Cuba and Hemingway’s house.
Rihanna’s home country is filled with calypso beats, good rum and, of course, idyllic beaches. Besides the quintessential Caribbean experience, Barbados offers features like limestone caves that you can explore, beautiful gardens and numerous golf courses.
Its duty-free shops also attract international tourists looking for bargains with a side of tropical weather.
Off the coast of Placencia, you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef, part of the second-largest reef in the world! Within it, you’ll also find the famous Great Blue Hole, a gigantic sinkhole that is considered one of the greatest diving spots in the world.
Besides these two great features, Placencia is filled with still-quiet beaches, mangroves and tall palm trees.
Antigua & Barbuda
This twin-island destination is extremely attractive to budget travelers that want a Caribbean vacation without the usual prohibiting prices.
Besides literally hundreds of beaches, the islands are surrounded by beautiful corals, boast interesting museums and cultural spaces, and offer food that you’ll be talking about for weeks.
Panama City, Panama
Want Miami without U.S. prices? Head to glitzy Panama City. High-rise buildings make up the skyline, and both tourists and locals head out to the city’s nightclubs once the sun sets.
But besides the cosmopolitan perks of diverse gastronomy, thriving nightlife and luxury hotels, the Panamanian capital also offers a well-preserved colonial center, complete with cobblestones streets and landmarks like the Presidential Palace. As a bonus, the city has views of the country’s most famous feature: the Panama Canal.
This collection of islands has made an international name for itself as a tropical paradise. All-inclusive hotels abound here, but we encourage you to get out of the resort zone and learn more about the local culture, including the history of its indigenous people.
Life — and tourism — here centers around the ever-present ocean, so fill your days with scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and other watersports. You can also take advantage of the many duty-free shops found in the larger islands or shop for handmade souvenirs at local stores.
You know we couldn't have this without including the city that brings the heat in more ways than one. Head to South Beach just to say you did, but then spend time in the much-better Haulover Park beach. At night, hit some of the world’s most exclusive nightclubs, go alternative chic at Wynwood Walls and enjoy the extreme fusion of a city mostly made up of first-, second- and third-generation immigrants.
Other not-so-cliché activities include kayaking through mangroves at Oleta River State Park and getting deep into the Everglades on a hike or airboat ride.
St. Barts is the Caribbean’s answer to St. Tropez. The island has thrived on branding itself as exclusive and luxurious — a status it flaunts as proudly as a millennial influencer on vacation.
You’ll find the harbor dotted with private yachts, the beaches lined with five-star resorts, the streets decorated with designer boutiques and the restaurants lauded by top chefs.
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
Though not the hottest item on this list, Ometepe is nevertheless blessed with a temperate climate year-round. And that’s one of the reasons why its tropical forest has been able to thrive, along with the numerous species of flora and fauna that live within it.
Other natural features include twin volcanoes, waterfalls and springs. Located inside Lake Nicaragua, there are also numerous archaeological treasures such as petroglyphs found in Ometepe.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Given its status as the largest British Virgin Island and that the capital of the territory is here, it’s no surprise that Tortola is a popular destination for tourists from mainland Britain.
White-sand beaches surround its perimeter, calling sailors and boaters to shore. Since it’s a volcanic island, Tortola’s topography is made up of contrasts, which can be best appreciated by hiking up Sage Mountain for astonishing panoramic views.
The salsa capital of the world is a city unlike any other and provides the perfect escape from winter for people who want city vibes and no beach. Smoldering hot year-round, Cali is a city that wakes up late and stays up way past sunrise.
If you want to engage in cultural activities, you have to dance, as it’s an entire way of life here. But when you’re taking a break from dancing, you can head to the Hill of Three Crosses, pass by La Ermita Church and try unique regional food like cholado and champus.
One of the most popular destinations for Americans and Canadians wanting to escape the harshness of winter, Aruba has something for everyone.
Those who want to spend their time in all-inclusive beach resorts are more than welcomed to, but there’s also casinos for people who want a less traditional thrill and lush national parks for lovers of the outdoors and active travelers.
If you want Yucatan the way the locals live it, skip Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and head to the state capital. Full of Mayan ruins and Spanish colonial architecture, Merida is a testament to the history of Mexico and the mix of cultures that have defined the country.
Visit centuries-old churches and landmarks, enjoy high-end Mexican cuisine, and bargain at one of the many markets around the city.
Part of the British Overseas Territories, the Cayman Islands are a truly unique Caribbean destination. Of course, you will get pristine beaches, miles of coral reefs and great dive sites.
However, you can also do things like visiting the famous Pig Beach and swim with cute piggies who have conquered an island of their own and spend their days swimming in the warm water, sleeping in the sun and drinking rum. Ok, maybe not drinking rum, but we’d love for that to be true.
Costa del Sol, El Salvador
Less than an hour away from San Salvador, the country’s capital, Costa del Sol is a popular beach getaway for city dwellers looking for a break. Boasting the largest beach in the country, you’ll find the required fresh seafood restaurants, boating activities and cocktails with a sunset view.
If you’re looking for a more unique experience, you can also do some horseback riding and get some wind in your face.
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
Made up of more than 30 islands, you’d have to dedicate years to be able to explore the entirety of this Caribbean nation. Its most-frequented city is Kingstown, the capital, located on the island of Saint Vincent.
From here, it’s fairly easy to do day or overnight trips to some of the other islands, depending on how isolated you want to be. Not surprisingly, the country is one of the most-popular honeymoon destinations in the world.
If you want to escape the cold but don’t love the idea of a boiling beach break, set your eyes on Loja. Nestled in a valley, Loja hits the perfect weather of 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. This means that it’s never too hot and never too cold, which is perhaps why the town has a reputation for being one of the happiest places in Ecuador.
And it’s not just the weather that is just right. Loja is relatively small but offers music festivals, art galleries and beautiful colonial architecture. The locals are friendly, the mountain views astonishing, and the vibes are always relaxed.
For some reason, Grenada doesn’t get the same hype or number of tourists as neighboring island nations. This could be one of its advantages, since you’ll see fewer crowds and won’t have to share the beaches with as many people. Not that that would actually be a problem on the main island of Grenada, which has about 45 beaches.
When you’re ready to leave the sand, you can tour several plantations to see why the main island has been nicknamed “the Spice Isle,” or visit Fort George, an iconic colonial landmark.
St. Martin/St. Maarten
Like the Dominican Republic and Haiti, this single island is divided between two different nations — both of which gave their side the same name (just spelled differently). The French side, St. Martin, is filled with the fragrance of French-Creole cuisine, while St. Maarten, the Dutch side, inevitably has a different flavor.
But besides good food (which, honestly, can be found on either side anyhow), the island is filled with first-rate beaches, luxury resorts, duty-free shops and colorful reefs.