What would be the best destination for Christmas – New Year from North America? Looking for a combination of beach, active (hiking, surfing), possibly city life. See what we have prepared for you.
Havana – can’t say enough how great this city is. An amazing blend of history and culture. Accommodation in the casa particulares is very reasonable. However, if you’re looking for some beach / snorkel / dive time, it’s not so great to start in Havana. You can travel to the Varadero area, which has the party scene you’re trying to avoid.
Or you could start in Trinidad instead, which is close to the less touristy beaches to the east of the island and has a lot of the culture. That’ll be my next Cuba trip.
Nicaragua – Little Corn Island is beautiful. Still has the laid back backpacker vibe, but developed enough to be comfortable. Good snorkelling or diving around the island, and if the weather is good, you can do tours to various keys around the island. Mainland Nicaragua is all about volcanoes. You can see the lava lake at Masayo, or climb any number of volcanoes. Ometepe is nice and relaxing – perfect for exploring on scooter or in an ATV.
Granada is best avoided though, it’s a tourist trap. There are some nice surfing spots on the Pacific Coast, if that’s your preference.
Key West – You can avoid the party scene, it is beautiful, and there’s lots of active stuff to do… Kayaking through the mangroves, snorkeling, sailing, parasailing, jet ski tour around the island, Check out the beauty of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Look at a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Great restaurants in all price ranges. Perfect weather at the time of year you would go. Check Best Western Hibiscus Hotel or Crowne Plaza Key West – La Concha for 2 fairly reasonably priced hotels – although holiday season will be higher than other months since it is so busy due to holidays and such nice weather in Key West at this time of year.
Cancun itself is dull but pretty much everything south and west of it is amazing to explore. Just head south to Playa del Carmen and go to Cozumel – the hostels there are great, Tulum, the lagoon of Bacalar, the much less touristed beach town of Mahual. Plenty of massive gorgeous temples to see west of the big tourist pull of Chichen Itza. Buses are easy to catch everywhere and the “first class bus” ADO has a great app and website to use. Its easy to get around in the area & plenty of solo travelers wandering about to get great info from.