The 15 Best Tropical Vacations yet

If you are looking for a great tropical vacation, look no further. We researched dreamy destinations that feature beautiful beaches, warm waters, super scenery, and nigh limitless sunshine. Here then, without further adieu are the 15 best tropical vacations yet.

1. Maldives


The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean southwest of both Sri Lanka and India. There are 26 beautiful natural atolls. The capital is Male but the bone-white beaches and luxury resorts are out beyond that. It is the perfect destination for a cruise vacation too.

Simply put, while The Maldives offers visitors a lot it is not a top tourist cruise stop. Experience world-class snorkeling and diving. Visit the North and South Male atolls if you’re interested in surfing. There are other great activities offered here too including swimming with whale sharks and manta rays and even big-game fishing.

2. Bora Bora, Tahiti

The South Pacific paradise known as Bora Bora is highlighted by an emerald peak surrounded by a crystal clear blue lagoon. You will see coconut palms clustered along above the water. You can even get one with glass floors so you can see the marine life below you.

But there’s more than natural beauty here. There is a cultural appeal as well. There is gourmet cuisine that comes complete with a Gallic influence. The official language, however, is French.

There’s a lot to do here as well. There are numerous water sports, kayaking trips to tiny islands (motu), scenic hiking trails, and, for the more adventurous, shark dives. While it can be pricey, it remains a top destination for not only honeymoons but also “once-in-a-lifetime” tropical vacations.


3. Riviera Maya, Mexico

Also known as the Mayan Riviera, the Riviera Maya provides visitors with zesty local cuisine, culture, and beautiful beaches too for a decidedly affordable price. Located along the Caribbean coast, on the tip of the well-known Yucatán peninsula, the Mayan Riviera includes the resort destinations of Playa del Carmen, Cancún, and the stunning island of Cozumel.

There’s no need to book rooms at an all-inclusive resort here, but if you choose to you’ll discover several different options. There are also yoga retreats and intimate boutique hotels. The best value resort is Barcelo Maya Palace.

The best bet for families is the Rosewood Mayakoba. So check in then enjoy diving, fishing, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins and stingrays. Explore the ancient ruins of Tulum or take a day-trip to the popular Chichén Itzá.


4. Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Ensconced in the Cook Islands, Aitutaki is a favorite of travel experts. It’s also reported to be a regular “dream destination” for anyone longing to be a castaway. Aitutaki features a gleaming aqua lagoon, sublime beaches with plenty of palm trees, and verdant peaks.  The locals are said to be some of the friendly folks in the entire South Pacific too.

While Rarotonga is the biggest island and the main tourist stop, Aitutaki is only a 45-minute flight beyond the gateway and the true jewel of this wonderful 15-island tropical archipelago. Here you can go fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and experience village life. Here you can also have access to over 20 motu (little islands) around the lagoon. If you can afford it, stay in a luxurious, private over-the-water bungalow that includes a private motu where you can play Robinson Crusoe (or Tom Hanks) for the day.


5. Kauai, Hawaii, USA

Kauai is the “Garden Isle” of the island state. It includes tropical coastal peaks, waterfalls, and deep rainforests amidst natural, lava-carved landscapes. While Maui and Oahu (the birthplace of yours truly) are more popular, Kauai is less commercial and more relaxing.

Kauai is famous for having one of the planet’s rainiest locations but it also includes a number of other microclimates as well. For example, the Poipu area is drier. Here you will discover more than golden beaches.

Here you can hike the peaks of the Napali Coast, take in the scenic view from Hanalei Bay’s cliffs and explore all 10 miles of Waimea Canyon. Other attractions include sleepy beachside monk seals, charming coastal towns, colorful coral reefs, tropical gardens, wild waterfalls, and exceptional surf breaks.


6. The Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

The Mamanuca Islands are the perfect spot for a tropical vacation if you favor sun-soaked South Seas islands. Found in Fiji, they’re but a brief boat ride out of the gateway village of Nadi. This is a string of approximately 20 Instagramable islands.

They are praised for their thriving coral reefs, palm-dotted beaches, and clear water. Indeed, it’s no wonder why TV’s “Survivor” and the film Cast Away were shot here. Where you specifically stay depends on both your budget and your interests.

There are several different options. They include family-friendly hotels with traditional huts, backpacker resorts, luxury hideaways such as Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Vomo Island Resort, and even the adults-only Tokoriki Island Resort. Mid-range resorts include Malolo Island Resort, Mana Island Resort, and (of course) Castaway Island.


7. St. Barts, The Caribbean

French-influenced St. Barts is the place to be if you like a jet-setter scene that comes complete with private villas, and fun in the sun in a tropical paradise. Expect a sizable price tag though as mega-moguls and movie stars mean you pay more for food and accommodations. Still, your purchase comes complete with beauteous blond beaches backed by verdant hills, world-class dining and shopping, and a more sophisticated culture that other tropical locations lack.

Naturally visiting in low season will garner you some decent deals. You can even stay in a boutique hotel or private villa and live like the rich and famous do but for less. You can also go diving, kite-surfing, sailing, fishing, surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking. Visit Gustavia, the pretty red-roofed capital, too.


8. The Abacos, The Bahamas

The Abacos is located less than 187 miles east of the state of Florida. Here you will discover some of the best water in the world for sailing. Also known as the Family Islands or the Out Islands, this peaceful place seems a world away from the tourist traps of Florida. Here you can enjoy pine-fringed, semi-private beaches, quaint fishing villages, and lively coral reefs. Here the main modes of transportation are boats and golf carts.

History buffs will note the impact of the Brit Loyalists who originally settled here. It can be seen in the colonial cottages. The best spots for a low-key tropical vacation include the three-mile-long, charming, old school Green Turtle Cay, Elbow Cay, with its popular candy-striped lighthouse and Treasure Cay with its white-sand beach.

9. Ambergris Caye, Belize


Ambergris Caye can be found right off the tip of the well-known Yucatán Peninsula. It’s the largest and most popular of Belize’s 200 cayes. Its famous Hol Chan Marine Reserve makes for some great snorkeling and diving.

A mere half-mile from shore, the Belize Barrier Reef system is the world’s second-largest. Visit Shark Ray Alley where you can come face to face with stingrays and nurse sharks. Fishermen flock to the flats here for barracuda, snook, permit, and tarpon fishing.

Drop in on the lively town of San Pedro. Dine on fresh fish at the funky eateries found there. The northern section of the isle is located so close to Mexico you can also sample Mexican-inspired cuisine too. A lot of the locals even habla Espanol.


10. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles is a great choice for travelers on a budget looking for a tropical vacation. Mind you, this place is not simply great value resorts and beautiful beaches. DR is home to a number of diverse ecosystems too.

It includes coral reefs, deserts, jungles, mangroves, savanna, and green peaks. Go white water rafting in the popular Río Yaque del Norte. Hike through the jungle to the waterfalls, and go bicycling through pine forests.

Visit Santo Domingo. It’s the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its history and colonial architecture. If you’d like to stay at an all-inclusive resort head to La Romana, Punta Cana, or Samaná. If you just want to dive, snorkel, sunbathe, surf, and swim, you can do that as well.


11. Bali, Indonesia

Bali offers a tropical vacation with a spiritual aspect. Look at the incense-filled temples and gentle, calm locals. Naturally, it is more than that.

See the rice paddies in the setting sun. There are unique shops, restaurants, and beach scenes. Bali also offers affordable spa treatments.

Ensconced in the green hills, Ubud is what some call the isle’s “emerald soul.” If you’re traveling with the family Sanur is the place to be. Veteran visitors suggest staying in Seminyak or Kuta which both include super surf beaches.

Accommodation options include numerous options from inexpensive hostels to luxurious villas complete with personal drivers and chefs. Still not enough? Take a day-trip to the popular nearby isle of Lombok.

12. Port Douglas, Australia

Port Douglas is located roughly an hour north of the city of Cairns in Queensland. This upscale destination has gone from a charming fishing village to a tropical tourist spot and a base for wilderness safaris and reef trips. An ideal place for nature lovers, it’s close to the Daintree Rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Of course, you needn’t leave PD to enjoy the beach. Port Douglas has Four Mile Beach. It’s a great place for long walks on the beach but there’s no swimming during infamous stinger season (from November through June).

Additional attractions include riding the Bally Hooley Sugar Train through the cane fields to Mossman, the Wildlife Habitat, and fishing trips through the Cape York Peninsula. The best time to go is from May through September when it’s cooler and drier.


13. The Andaman Coast, Thailand

This is not only the place for fiery food, exotic culture, and wonderful scenery, but it won’t break your budget either. Veteran visitors use the Andaman Coast (specifically Krabi or Phuket) as a base from which to explore all the islands in the Andaman Sea. The limestone peaks rising from the turquoise water here are most striking.

If you’re looking for resorts, Phi Phi Don has them. If you’re a movie buff, there’s Ko Phi Phi Leh, where the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach was shot. There’s also Phang Nga Bay, home to famous James Bond Island. If you want a more personal patch of tropical paradise though travel a bit further afield. The best time to go is any time other than during monsoon (late May through mid-October.)

14. The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

The Nicoya Peninsula is situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Its jungle-like forests attract eco-tourists but this place is much more than that. While Tamarindo is a big tourist town where you can zipline and go horseback riding, there are other places to see if you wish to avoid the tourist trade.

Playa Tamarindo is perfect for surfers of all skill levels and also includes plenty of hotels and restaurants. This place attracts backpackers, families, too. If you love leatherback turtles the best time to visit is when they nest at Playa Grande from October through March. Be sure to visit the popular Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which now protects one of the last unspoiled portions of cloud forest on the continent.


15. Florida Keys, USA

The Florida Keys is where you will find the United States’ only coral reef. The Florida Keys are actually coral isles that are joined by causeways. You can cruise between via the well-known Overseas Highway, which runs from Key West to Key Largo south.

US Residents don’t even have to leave the country for a fun tropical fix. Located less than 111 miles south of Miami and less than 90 miles from Cuba, visitors can stroll the palm-lined sand or do some fantastic fishing. Other attractions include the popular Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary right off Key Largo, Bahia Honda State Park, legendary Key West, and (for those into snorkeling and diving) the well-known John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.


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