12 Delicious Last-Minute Exotic Destinations
12 Delicious Last-Minute Exotic Destinations
Although we spend so many months a year looking forward to summer, sometimes the sun shining in our usual environments is just not exciting enough. In other words, it’s much more relaxing to enjoy a coconut drink on a beach in the Caribbean than at a rooftop bar in New York or Chicago. It’s not too late to plan a sunny getaway. Here are 12 delicious last-minute exotic destinations you can plan and execute within the next few months.
Although it is hurricane season in the Caribbean, Barbados’ eastern location means that it normally escapes direct hits. It also means that you can get some great deals on hotels during their quieter off-season. Better yet, the annual Crop Over festival lasts from May to August, and features cultural activities (think calypso dancing lessons, art shows, historic walks) and fun-filled carnivals. You absolutely must eat the famous blue marlin sandwich at Cuz’s Fish Stand, as well as the legendary fish beignets with Scotch bonnet sauce at Oistins.
Dorado, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has a rich culinary heritage and the delicious food to prove it; chef Ben Vaughn of Food Network’s Health Inspectors wrote about it for us in April. One of the most fabulous getaways you can embark on this season is to Dorado, Puerto Rico, where rooms at the Hyatt Hacienda Del Mar are going for $123 a night (20 percent less than the usual rate). If you’re looking to really treat yourself, consider vacationing at the Ritz Carlton at Dorado Beach, where you can get 20 to 30 percent off if you stay for more than three nights. The fact that Mi Casa by José Andrés, one of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, is in the hotel is a big draw.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
You’ve listened to “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys enough times. Now’s your turn to go to Jamaica. Stay at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, which we voted the best all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean due to its fabulous dining program (think Scotch bonnet deviled eggs, crab-crusted grouper, and pineapple pizza, plus a swim-up bar), and balcony or patio access in every room. While you’re there, make sure you get some jerk chicken at Scotchies Jerk Centre, a local favorite.
Nassau, the Bahamas
There’s nothing like the aquamarine hue of the waters surrounding the Bahamas. Whether you stay at a large resort like the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort (which has frequent deals in the “special offers” section of its website), where you can enjoy world-class dining at Nobu, or go for a small boutique hotel, make to enjoy some alfresco dining at Café Matisse.
Oranjestad or Noord, Aruba
Aruba offers a slice of paradise, much like any other getaway on this list, but what makes it stand out is the safety factor outside its resorts. Even the tap water is safe to drink. TripAdvisor users say what they love most about this island (besides the stunning views) is the feeling of not being boxed into their resorts. That being said, there are some excellent resorts on the island, such as Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, which made our list of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. Try the delicious local cuisine, particularly keshi yena, which is minced meat served in a shell of Dutch cheese, such as Gouda or Edam. Try it at Gasparito Garden in Noord.
Ponta Mamoli, Mozambique
This is the farthest-flung exotic getaway on this list, but after reading our London City Editor’s recent review of White Pearl Resorts, we just couldn’t exclude it. Located along a remote stretch of golden sands, White Pearl Resorts is nestled onto a towering, flora-smothered dune with 21 private suites overlooking unspoiled beach and bush. Enthusiasts of seafood and local flavors will rejoice in White Pearl’s flexible dining program, which combines modern cooking with traditional Mozambican favorites, such as lime and whiskey prawns or traditional cataplana stew of mussels, chorizo, prawns, and prosciutto.
Not everybody equates the word “exotic” with fruity summer cocktails on the beach. People looking to immerse themselves in a different culture can hop right across the Atlantic to Porto, which is most famous for the sweet and potent port wine that is bottled there. Take a day trip out of the city to explore the majestic viticultural region of Duoro Valley — we recommend a tour of the Esporão winery — or explore the city’s many parks. Across the river from Porto, in Vila Nova de Gaia, sits The Yeatman, which has a Michelin-star and is on our list of the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants in the World. You may be surprised to know that there are a lot of peacocks in Porto; how’s that for exotic?
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The water surrounding Turks and Caicos is such a unique shade of blue that there is a nail polish color named after it. Moreover, three restaurants in the small city of Providenciales made it onto our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean: Coyaba, Mr. Grouper’s, and Da Conch Shack. For a true escape, stay at the Meridian Club, where televisions and telephones are not included in the package.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Right now, Living Social is selling a voucher for an all-inclusive four-night stay at the five-star Grand Bahia Principe in Punta Cana for just $619, almost half the regular price of a stay at this resort. The offer expires on June 20, but don’t worry, this certainly won’t be the last time you’ll see a discount like this during the Dominican Republic’s off season. For fresh seafood and divine views of the Caribbean Sea, dine at La Yola.
Punta Mita, Mexico
A recent dispatch from the Punta Mita Gourmet and Golf Classic by contributor Robert Rosenthal whet our appetite for ceviche, mole, mezcal, and — gasp! — even worms. The good news is that the luxurious Four Seasons in Punta Mita is offering a third night free when you stay two nights. Don’t miss this offer.
Soufrière, Saint Lucia
With tickets starting at $879 for five-day resort packages that include airfare, you’ll want to waste no time in planning your trip to St. Lucia. Do not leave the beautiful island without eating a meal at Jade Cuisine at Jade Mountain, a restaurant on our list of 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean, where locallysourced ingredients turn into beautifully plated seafood dishes you’ll remember forever.
Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Whether you enjoy meals at one of St. Croix’s many fantastic resorts or eat local, you won’t regret ditching the city for a few days to catch some must-needed rest here. Stay at the Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort, which offers an all-inclusive meal plan that includes unlimited domestic beer and soft drinks, house wine, and non-premium cocktails.