5 Favorite Tropical Places to Beat the Summer Heat

From leahtravels.com by Leah Walker
5 Favorite Tropical Places to Beat the Summer Heat

Until the past two weeks, I didn’t understand how truly unbearable Paris is in the summer heat. With unseasonably warm temperatures terrorizing the city, the massive amount of stone and concrete turned Paris into an oven. As a Texas girl, I’m accustomed to crazy heat and humidity, but there is a huge difference between living in Houston and Paris: air conditioning. Now, I absolutely understand the Parisians’ mass exodus in August. If you’re, too, struggling on the sultry train, I’ve got five of my favorite tropical places to beat the summer heat.


Hawaii

Perhaps it was delirium from the heat, but last week I found myself dreaming of lava flows {the drink}, Spam musubi, and mansions in Hawaii. It took me 30-something years to get to the Aloha State, and I’m kicking myself for waiting that long. In about a three-year span, I visited Maui {twice}, Oahu, and Lanai.

What I appreciate most about Hawaii is its diversity; no two islands are the same. So, whether you’re looking for the pristine palm tree-lined beach, bustling cities, mountainous jungles with roaring waterfalls, or terrain that looks as if it was plucked from Mars, Hawaii has got you covered. And although America’s 50th state is halfway to Asia, it’s still convenient—the currency is the US dollar, the language is English, and there’s no passport required {though you should absolutely get one}. Hawaii feels a world away, but it’s just a domestic flight or two from the States.

Okinawa

While you’re in Hawaii, why not just hop over to Okinawa, Japan? Well, at a little over 10 hours {with a likely stop in Tokyo}, the flight isn’t exactly short, but sometimes getting to paradise takes effort. As Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa has the visual allure of Southeast Asia, but none of the madness. Since Okinawa was part of the Kingdom of Ryukyu for four centuries, it has its own culture, food, and languages; it’s Japan, with a twist.

Like Hawaii, Okinawa’s landscapes are diverse. What would you expect from an archipelago with around 150 islands? With 49 of those islands inhabited and 25 accessible by plane or boat, Okinawa is the place to get away from it all. Iriomote is nearly 90% covered in dense jungles and mangrove swamps, while Taketomi’s white-sand beaches and turquoise water will make you wonder if you’re actually in Japan. For divers, Okinawa is one of the most desired destinations in the world. Ishigaki is filled with coral reefs and manta rays and Yonaguni is home to the “Japanese Atlantis” and plenty of hammerhead sharks. The Okinawa hospitality, food, and diversity make the long-ass flights worthwhile.

Riviera Nayarit

My list of favorite tropical places to beat the summer heat is incomplete without mentioning Mexico. As a Texan, my first trip abroad was to Acapulco, followed by Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and plenty of border towns. The place in Mexico I’ve enjoyed most is Riviera Nayarit. Located in Mexico’s smallest state, Riviera Nayarit is tucked away between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains. There’s a lot of beauty packed into coast that spans about 200 miles. As one of the largest bays in the world, Banderas Bay is known throughout the world as a winter breeding ground for humpback whales. The once-quiet surf town of Sayulita still has its charm, despite being ‘discovered’ by travelers.

Head to Four Seasons Punta Mita for a luxury resort with a Mexican twist. Other than basking in the sun, guests can golf, play tennis, and learn to surf. For something entirely different, drive through the jungle to the Imanta Resort. Perched on a secluded part of the Pacific coast, Imanta is the place where stars like Christina Aguilera get engaged and Sofia Vegara vacation. The freestanding 1,900 square-foot standard ocean view suite is anything but standard. Fling open the doors and windows {there are no locks} and drink up the views. Imanta is one of my favorite hotels in the world and one of the reasons why I fell in love with Riviera Nayarit. Well, that and the Mexican food.

Mauritius

The wise Mark Twain once mused, ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.’ Tucked way down in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa, is the aforementioned Mauritius. I spent a week on the island in January 2016, and it wasn’t nearly enough. In fact, Mauritius might be my ideal destination.

Not only are the official languages English and French, but the food is just perfection. Chinese, Indian, French, and Creole influences meld together to create an exquisite cuisine, albeit spicy {YES!}. Of course, Mauritius is a dream for pescatarians. And thanks to all of the sugar cane, rum is also abundant, which is perfect for all those tropical drinks on the beach. Speaking of beaches, you’ll find some amazing ones, as well as luxury resorts on the island. I’m particularly fond of the beach at the Royal Palm, where I lounged next to an Italian princess and a French movie star.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

I’d be hard pressed not to include a destination in France as one of my favorite tropical places to beat the summer heat. With more than 2,000 miles of coastline, there are countless idyllic places to cool off in France. From the Atlantic beaches of Normandy, Brittany, and Aquitaine to the Mediterranean coast of Languedoc and Provence, the possibilities are seemingly endless. So, what makes Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat stand out above the rest?

Could it be ultra-chic Paloma Beach, with its crystal-clear water and view over Beaulieu? Maybe it’s the perfectly pink Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its collection of art and exotic gardens. Perhaps it’s the proximity to Nice and the cute port town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, where fish are plucked from the sea and delivered to your terrace table. Surely it’s the spectacularly Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat and its jaw-dropping Club Dauphin hovering high above the Mediterranean. Definitely it’s the combination of all of these things that make Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat one of the most fabulous places in France.

So, while I’ll be sweating away this summer in the furnace known as Paris, I’ll be dreaming of curries in Mauritius, margaritas on Riviera Nayarit, Provençal rosé in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the spirit of aloha in Hawaii, and the best sashimi in Okinawa.

 

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