By Carla Torres and Katie Jackson | August 16, 2018 | Lifestyle
Looking to swap the sticky weather for something a bit more luxurious? Ahead are some spots to take a bite, an adventure, and most importantly, a break this summer in the Caribbean.
Where to Stay: Hand-laid hidden pathways, luxurious palapa-style bungalows, and the clear, Caribbean Sea: nothing says paradise quite like Mahekal Beach Resort. This serene oasis includes four luxe pools, three restaurants, and four bars on-site, and Vida Aquática, a dive center that lets you go under the sea after the sun comes down.
Where to Eat: Take a half-hour cab ride to Tulum’s tucked-away jungle road and get in line at Hartwood. All cuisine is prepared on open fire, but be sure to act quickly as dinner reservations are totally booked moments after the wait list opens. Pro tip: Be in line by 2:30 p.m. (the wait list opens at 3 p.m.) to make a day out of Tulum, and treat yourself to the toasty papaya empanadas afterward.
Where to Play: Mamita’s Beach Club hosts events ranging from music and fashion festivals to beach soccer competitions. No matter the occasion, there’s guaranteed day drinking and bottle service.
What to Do: Most tourist excursions and hotels will suggest the Tulum Ruins, but if you want to forego the predictable for the road-less-traveled, venture to Coba Ruins to climb pyramids. Check out three nearby and often unpopulated cenotes (caves) for even more exciting experiences: Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multun-Ha.
Where to Stay: An ideal beachfront getaway, Tradewinds Club at Aruba Marriott Resort gives you a bird’s eye view of the island, plus an adult pool. Following your long journey, you can head anywhere you'd like, and a hotel employee can unpack your bags for you. After all, you're on vacation.
Where to Eat: Reservations at oceanfront Elements Restaurant is ideal for a romantic meal with a view. In addition to the à la carte menu, there are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Take a 10-minute drive to end the evening with mouthwatering cheesecake shots at The Wine Room.
Where to Play: Party like a local and dance into the sunset at popular hot spot MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant, which CNN recently ranked as one of the best beach bars in the world. Don’t want the party to end? Head to the 24/7 casino at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba to bet your best hand and leave a winner.
What to Do: Known to locals as "Conchi," the Natural Pool is one of Aruba's hidden oceanic and volcanic treasures. Saddle up and discover this gem by horseback for a spectacular view of the sunrise; highly-trained equestrians of Rancho Daimari will be your guide.
Where to Stay: Welcome to nirvana! There are only three Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties in the world, so claim one of them as your home-away-from-home at Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach. Every villa-like suite at Dorado Beach is by the ocean, complete with outdoor showers and the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in. Three 18-hole golf courses, a five-acre spa with a tree house for enlightening massages, and the historic Rockefeller nature trail will make it impossible to leave this lively paradise.
Where to Eat: For a delicious meal just steps away from the resort, give Mi Casa a try. Celebrity chef José Andrés fuses the best of Spanish cuisine and American flavors with a pinch of Boricua flare. For an authentic bite of Puerto Rican food, however, José Enrique's namesake restaurant in San Juan dishes out arguably the best mofongo in the contiguous United States.
What to Do: You can’t go to Puerto Rico and not pay El Yunque a visit. The only tropical rain forest in the national forest system, and clocking in at 29,000 acres, you’ll unearth rare and exotic plants and animals that exist only here.
Where to Stay: Land in Costa Rica and go west to Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. This blissful escape places you between two beaches on the very tip of the Pacific peninsula. Something you won't find anywhere else: a monkey wake-up call.
Where to Eat: Grab dinner in a tree house perched above a tropical forest. Mediterranean meets Asian tapas at Ginger Restaurant & Bar in Playa Hermosa, and it's all whipped up with local ingredients.
What to Do: The possibilities seem endless: take a speedy zip-line with Witch’s Rock, hike up one of the top 10 active volcanoes in the world, gallop through the beach on horseback, or enjoy a moonlit paddle board under the stars (Costa Rica is one of the few places in the Northern hemisphere you can regularly view the Magellanic clouds). Ask your concierge to arrange any of these activities for you and dive into all that this beautiful country has to offer.
Where to Stay: With a direct JetBlue flight now offered out of Ft. Lauderdale, you can take a break at this vibrant island, which is a part of the British West Indies. The four-star all-inclusive Sugar Bay Barbados is perfect for kicking back and sipping on unlimited rum punch in the sun.
Where to Eat: You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a James Bond film at the island’s finest and aptly named restaurant and lounge The Cliff Restaurant, which is perched on a precipice and features the catch of the evening from the waters beneath you.
Where to Play: When George Washington was inaugurated, he ordered two barrels of rum from the oldest rum maker in the world, Mount Gay Rum. See and taste the 300-year-old tradition for yourself.
What to Do: Start your trip off by swimming with turtles on a catamaran and snorkeling excursion. Then, take the scenic route and stop by Hunte’s Gardens. Or try out Oistins Fish Fry, a ritual that takes place every Friday night for locals and visitors. Whatever you do, indulge in the macaroni pie and a Banks beer to wash it down.