Now they got the sun, an' they got the palm trees
April 14, 2012 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Two mid-20s gals want choose their ideal, last-minute, warm, not-too-pricey, non-resort vacation. Help us, please!

My friend and I need a vacation, asap (as in, around a month from now). She wants a beachy-relaxy one; I'd like that as well, but with the option of exploring on the side (checking out cities, hiking/nature, etc.). A few points:

- We're both mid-20s Canadian gals.
- We're looking at a May departure, around a week, and we'd be leaving from Toronto
- Not 100% sure on her budget, but I'd like to keep it <$2000
- We're both normally more "adventurous" and independent travellers I guess (i.e. more prone to backpacking than organized tours) but since we have limited time and have been stressed lately (err, for the last couple of months), would like something a bit more low-key. I would like to be able to do some tours or wandering, she might join or just chill.
- We weren't so hot on the idea of a resort (particularly not all-inclusive) given our former travelling patterns, but not totally opposed. The idea just makes us feel a bit weird. But then again, we've never done it before.
- Beaches = YES. We wouldn't need to be directly on the beach, as long as one is close.
- We're both capable, but not fluent, in Spanish
- She can drive, I cannot. Preferable if we could take public transit or not deal with too much transportation
- Both vegetarian

Right now, I'm thinking Cuba, Mexico or Puerto Rico, but finding it tough to narrow down on specific areas that would be ideal for us. We were originally considering Greece as well, but we both feel that going to Europe we might feel "compelled" to make our vacation super exciting (FOMO, I suppose), but we don't want to feel more tired coming back from vacation than before we left! If anyone has any ideas, anecdotes, etc. I would love to hear them! Thanks a lot!
posted by Paper rabies to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They're very tour group-y, but you might find something that's more flexibe on STA's last minute deals page. Several are under $2000.
posted by spiderskull at 5:49 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have not been, but several friends of mine have had wonderful experiences in Costa Rica. Plenty of beach as well as jungles (zip-lining!) for hiking and exploring. There are also a lot of English speakers in Costa Rica, so super-fluent Spanish is not required.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:07 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another vote for Costa Rica, and not just because you can go to the sloth sanctuary and cuddle tiny baby sloths. BUT YOU TOTALLY CAN AND THEY ARE VERY HUGGY. Belize is also fantastically - almost ridiculously - gorgeous. Both countries lend themselves very well to laid-back backpacky-esque tourism.
posted by elizardbits at 6:40 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah, Central America is definitely where you're headed.
posted by mannequito at 7:47 PM on April 14, 2012

I like Isla Mujeres. It's gorgeous, touristy enough to be practical but not so touristy that it's obnoxious. There area is untroubled by the violence that is striking so much of the west coast and norther border. You can get there cheap-ish because it's right near Cancun. There are houses you can rent by the week, or small hotels, and there are a bunch of resorts, too. I have a friend who owns a place, so I've stayed in a small house, on the water, a few minutes walk from the downtown. I've always loved it.

It's a nice quiet place, you can ride bikes all over the island, or rent a golf cart. It's an 8 minute ferry ride from Cancun, so you can go on over and stay up all night dancing in the clubs if you want, or take a day trip to Tulum or Chichen Itza. There's scuba diving, a nice little downtown, great beaches.
posted by looli at 8:12 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I'm not a resort-type traveller, either, but I will say that I stayed at the Hilton in Cancun last year for a few days on a side trip (not all inclusive) and it was pretty effin' fantastic.
posted by looli at 8:19 PM on April 14, 2012

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I think we're going to head to Isla Mujeres. As much as I want to go to Costa Rica (oh good god, I want to snuggle a sloth so badly now), my friend has already been a few times. Another time, another vacation!
posted by Paper rabies at 10:11 AM on April 17, 2012

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