Where to go for a relaxing beach vacation?
December 6, 2011 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I need a vacation! I'm looking for a warm, beach-y place to relax for 5-6 days in February 2012. Pros: solitude, beautiful beaches, comfortable beds, massages, spas, great food, relaxation. Cons: crowds, kids, loud parties, lots of drunks. I will be leaving from Washington DC, so Caribbean and Central America recommendations would be great.

Additional travel information: I will be traveling alone. I need to decompress from work. I could go as high as $300/night for hotel.
posted by BigVACub to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm beginning to think the answer to this age-old question is... Belize. (Super easy, from DC, via Miami; American regularly runs super-cheap flights, I think at least two a day from MIA to Belize.) The problem being, with all these locations: Turks & Caicos is like, $1000 a night to start; most of the Bahamas is ugly (SORRY) (and except the rich people parts, or only-by-boat parts); and some places (Barbados, Antigua) don't seem that fun alone, they're more "romantic." (St. Lucia, however, is another possible answer. As is Costa Rica.) Belize has the advantage of being 1. easy 2. near 3. cheap 4. English-speaking and 5. has both amazing ocean experience and amazing jungles nearby. Please let me know what you find!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:37 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about Aruba?
posted by bquarters at 9:08 AM on December 6, 2011

Tulum in Mexico. You can fly into Cancun and then drive about 130km South. It's pretty convenient, has nice beaches, good food, Mayan ruins. It's far enough from Cancun to be nothing like Cancun.
posted by rhymer at 9:12 AM on December 6, 2011

My default suggestion is the Riviera Maya, particularly Playa del Carmen and/or Isla Mujeres. This might be one of the few times I'd suggest a resort, one with a lot of classes or group activities you can take advantage of as you please. That way you can snorkel or kayak or whatever, if you like, without having to book a private lesson.

My favorite hotel in Tulum, Luna Maya, sounds like it's pretty much about to be run out of business by the resorts. You might go and stay on the beach road, down toward the Si'an Kaan Nature Reserve (which has some great tours) before it's gone.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:15 AM on December 6, 2011

St Johns Island, specifically (US Virgin islands) and the British Virgin islands are probably the most beautiful and peaceful places I've ever seen. I say St Johns island specifically because the other US Virgin islands have more tourists.
posted by gt2 at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding St John's.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:46 PM on December 6, 2011

Seconding Belize. Costa Rica also works. I don't think you have to worry about spring break types in February.
posted by kat518 at 2:05 PM on December 6, 2011

Puerto Rico, anywhere but San Juan, used to be my beach getaway. Rincon, on the west side of the island, used to be a surfer's hangout. I would stay in La Parguera on the south coast as well. Great swimming & bodysurfing, great food, friendly people. I have not been there for 11 years, though, so things may have changed.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2011

Isla Mujeres would be my go to. It is a charming little island and easy to get to via the walk on ferry.
posted by bearwife at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2011

Thirding Tulum. It's the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, and they're opening an international airport nearby very soon, so this is your last chance to enjoy it crowd-free. I can't recommend a better place to decompress.

I've also been to Belize and Costa Rica. While I enjoyed both (and both are in some respects better for an active vacation), my major complaint was that the food wasn't very good. Tulum does not have this problem. $300 a night will be a very easy budget within which to stay.
posted by psycheslamp at 4:39 PM on December 6, 2011

Cabo- The Marquis resort will have everything you want at a price more reasonable than surrounding high priced resorts- the staff will go out of there way to take care of you. When you drive up in the taxi you will think you made a mistake, then, upon entering the lobby, all of that will bleed away EXTREMELY fast. It is the only place where I felt I was saving some money and my expectations were exceeded in every way. Highly recommended.

Then, let them make arrangements for you to:
Ride ATVs on the beach, with the ocean on your left and cattle farms on your right. You might even see the whales migrating while you tool about on your own.
Eat in their amazing fine dining restaurant. It is small and quaint with food you will remember for the rest of your life.
Relax by the pool(s). There won't be much of a crowd, you will probably feel you have the whole place to yourself.
Enjoy the pastries brought to your room each morning via the small alcove while you sleep. You will open the small door inside your room and find wonderful delights and a steaming pot of coffee.

I travel all over the world and have always thought this was a trip that truly was "relaxing" in every way.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:36 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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