If you can already feel the impending low temperatures and nasty weather of the fall and winter seasons nipping at your summer happiness, don’t despair. It is never too late for a beach-bound getaway to the Caribbean. Literally – it’s never too late. The weather is excellent year-round, and that wide open tourist season means that it’s never overwhelmingly busy.
Here we’ll look at three of the top beach spots in the world to help you fight off stave off those fall and winter blues for just a little longer. Our tour includes the Dominican Republic, Mexico’s Western Coast, and the Yucatan Peninsula. We’ll pinpoint the very best beach in each region, discuss some fun things to do, and make lodging recommendations at each stop.
The Dominican Republic
For the definitive island getaway, look no further than the Dominican Republic. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the smaller Haiti, the Dominican Republic boasts over 300 miles of staggered coastline blanketed by cool white sand beaches, and the inner regions of the nation are lush with ecological attractions, historic sites, and the untamed wild. The economy of the Dominican Republic is fueled a large percentage by tourism, a metric that continues to grow year-over-year. This means that along with the world-class beaches that only nature could provide, the local hospitality industry is ready and waiting to receive your business, and it knows how to treat valued customers.
Undisputedly the beach to visit in the Dominican Republic is Bávaro Beach. One of the top resort destinations in the world, Bávaro Beach is known for the pillowy softness of the sand and the light aquamarine tone of the water. Virtually untouched by the pollution that can plague many North American coastlines, the jewel-toned waters along the beaches of Bávaro will capture your heart and soul with their hypnotic splendor, and what’s more, there’s plenty of beachfront to go around.
While the swaying palms of the “Coconut Coast” are likely all the attraction you’ll need, the Dominican Republic is rich with exciting things to do, most of them family-friendly, and all of them near Bávaro Beach. The Punta Cana Ecological Park combines fresh water lagoons, flora habitats, and horse riding trails for an all-in-one taste of the local wildlife. A petting farm of domesticated animals is ideal for younger guests.
If you’re looking for something a little more active, suit up and hit the waves with your surfboard. Thanks to the strong winds slapping past the eastern most tip of the island, the wave patterns along the coast are consistent and ideal for surfing at the intermediate and challenging level. Adventure sports enthusiasts wanted.
Due to the inherent prestige of the property and the critical importance of the tourist trade in the area, getting the most out of Bávaro Beach and all the Dominican Republic will require a stay at one of the many all-inclusive resorts that dot the coastline. For both the Dominican Republic and Mexico we recommended the all-inclusive resorts of Barceló for the effortless combination of five-star service with unbeatable locales.
For all-inclusive Dominican Republic vacations, consider these resorts by Barceló.
The Yucatan Peninsula and its closest regional neighbors are home to some of the biggest names in beach resort travel: Cancún, Cozumel, and Playa Del Carmen to name a few. The Yucatan also revels in an entirely different personality than the Dominican Republic. The immersive, soulful relaxation of a resort like Bávaro Beach is not so much replaced as it is set in the background as the surging rhythms of a party atmosphere rise to the top.
In other words, the Yucatan Peninsula is ideal for vacationers who want just as much luxury, but also like to hit the dance floor at a boisterous party.
Undoubtedly the place to visit in the Yucatan is Cancún, the most popular tourist destination in Mexico. The sands along Cancún beach are not as soft as those along Bávaro, nor the waters as strikingly hued, but there might not be another beach in the world that’s got more going on. Beachfront fiestas are a daily occurrence, and you’ll have no trouble simply walking in to any party you like, even when they are resort-sponsored. Along the northern hook of the beach you’ll enjoy the softest sand and gentler waves, but you’ll also pay more to stay, while the south-reaching concave slash extending below the hook has rougher sand, but a heartier atmosphere. Even along the beach you can custom-tailor your experience.
As for activities in Cancún, where to begin? One of the standout local attractions in the collection of shopping malls within the city limits. While you can’t completely avoid those resort staples like over priced jewelry stores and novelty shops, the shopping centers of central Cancún at least offer more than tourist traps. Stores selling crafts indigenous to the area, representations of Mayan culture, and traditional clothing are all worth a browse for the shopping enthusiast.
While it’s a bit of a ride, the trip to the capital of the Mayan Empire, Chichen Itza, is well worth it. Guided tours will lead through the fascinating world of the Ancient Maya as the design and at time frightening purposes of these incredible structures are explained in vivid detail. Be sure to apply sunscreen and consider bringing the bottle for reapplication during the trip.
Cancún and all the Yucatan Peninsula has a wider list of options than the Dominican Republic, so it’s not necessary to stay all-inclusive or even at a resort hotel, but it is certainly preferable. Along with luxurious service and accommodations, one of the primary benefits of staying all-inclusive is the excursion and area assistance. With so many great attractions to explore, the helpful advice of a knowledgeable hotel concierge is truly invaluable.
Consider one of these Cancún, Mexico all-inclusive resorts by Barceló.
This is a deceptively vast region with room (and beaches) enough to produce several “Best Of” articles. The second most popular resort town in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, can be found along the upper reaches of the western coast, and Manzanillo, Ixtapa, and Hualtulco offer great options as you move southwards. You’ll find that each stop has an atmosphere all its own, but one concurrent fact runs through them: this is the place for active travelers.
Sure, lounging out on the beach as the sun slowly bakes your skin and the only sound is the stir of the waves and maybe the icy clink of a cold beverage is great. There’s room for that kind of vacation here, much like you can enjoy it in the Dominican Republic. But if you like to surf, play volleyball, go horseback riding, mountain climbing, river rafting, nature seeing, sport-fishing, golfing, and yachting, your paradise is sure to be along the western coast of Mexico.
There are countless fantastic beaches to choose from, but for the sake of keeping your options open, the best beach along the western coast must be the twenty-five golden miles of Puerto Vallarta. Now an expansive resort Mecca, Puerto Vallarta was a fishing village before it became famous, and the rustic feel of the city serves as a nice visual counterpoint to the soaring resorts. Some of the best fun to have during your stay will take place in the water. The crystal blue waters offer incredible visibility for snorkeling and scuba diving, and the temperature is just right for swimming, surfing, and body boarding. If you have the opportunity, charter an excursion out to Corbetena. You’ll find an abundance of sea life in the underwater cave systems from manta rays to turtles to sharks (the safe kind).
Golfers are also in luck. Even in the small bay area surrounding Puerto Vallarta there are literally more than a dozen excellent golf courses, many of which have garnered some form of critical acclaim from awards to magazine recognition. You won’t go wrong no matter which you choose, but Jack Nicklaus Golf Course is arguably the best, and it won’t be far from your Puerto Vallarta resort.
Once again, to ensure the complete experience (and it’ll be costly either way so why not go for it?), it’s recommended that you stay at an all-inclusive resort. Like the Yucatan Peninsula, you have other options, but the added complexity of “doing it yourself” can really put a hamper on the whole experience.
For all-inclusive Mexico vacations to Puerto Vallarta, consider the resorts of Barceló.
This is obviously just the beginning of a list that could go on indefinitely and include hundreds of beaches that all make compelling cases for being the best. The important takeaway is that it’s a wide world of beach-bound entertainment out there, and with the winter slumps fast approaching, there couldn’t be a better time for one last hurrah.