Bucket List Worthy
Just as the frigid temperatures and unrelenting snowfall start to settle in for the season, the Flight Network travel experts introduce you to the top 27 sun destinations south of the border. However, we didn’t just choose the sunniest and warmest locales in the Western Hemisphere. With travel and accommodation prices at all time lows and a strong Canadian dollar, we’ve uncovered destinations that are up to 43-percent cheaper than just last year. Because of these ideal market conditions, Canadians can travel to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations more affordably than ever before.
We’ve developed this comprehensive list by thematically gathering flight, currency and travel data, as well as interviewing regional travel experts, destination marketing organizations, and international tourism agencies. Through our months of research, we’ve found you the best deals available on winter sun escapes.
Don’t waste another second dreaming – check out the list below, and start planning your winter-sun destination for 2017.
13. Havana, Cuba
17. St. Lucia
20. Bogota, Colombia
23. Lima, Peru
24. Santiago, Chile
26% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $359 $1 CAD = 15.25 MXN Closest airport: Cancun International Airport
Tulum is a stunning destination on the Caribbean Sea with some of the top beaches in the entire Mexican Caribbean, boasting a low-key, upscale Bohemian chic vibe. And thanks to lower airfare than last year, you can enjoy this star-studded Mexican destination like a celebrity for a fraction of the price.
The water here is an incredible blue-green that gently laps powder-fine sandy beaches, and the sunsets are colorful and oversaturated. Tulum is a much more relaxed, Bohemian destination than it’s more vibrant and hip neighbor of Playa del Carmen, roughly 30 minutes to the north. Tulum has something for all tastes and budgets, but the lifestyle here is for those seeking more nature and history than those looking for the shopping and nightlife scenes. You can also eat healthy while on vacation, so no need to worry about your vacation body. We suggest trying Real Coconut, a place full of healthy meals and unique flavors.
When you’re not basking in the sun on the coast, you’ll probably find yourself hiking ancient Mayan ruins in that oh-so-fine 28-degree weather. Tulum has its own Archeological Site, which happens to be the only one built next to the Caribbean Sea and is one of the most important in the area. The best hours to visit it, contrary to popular belief, are from 8:00 hrs which is the opening time, on. This is to avoid extra heating from the Caribbean sun.
36.25% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $558 $1 CAD = 15.25 MXN Closest airport: Cancun International Airport
The sun shines on Cancun almost year-round, and temperatures hover around the mid to upper 20s. When you’re not sipping tropical drinks by the beach you can explore the ancient Mayan ruins, take a siesta, and then dance the night away. If you’re looking for a warm destination that has just the right mix of culture, relaxation, and letting loose – Cancun is the sunny winter getaway you’ve been looking for.
8% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $120 $1 CAD = 1.49 BZD Closest airport: Belize City Airport
If you’re looking for a getaway that is filled with people as beautiful and authentic as the nature surrounding it, San Ignacio, Belize is your destination. The city isn’t a beach resort, but it is situated on the clear, blue waters of the Macal River which meets the Mopan River and the Belize River at a stunning junction perfect for cooling down on a hot day.
While visiting San Ignacio, you should take a horseback ride through the tropical jungle, explore ancient Mayan ruins and caves filled with artifacts, and cool off at ‘Rio on Pools’ where natural pools of water have been carved out of granite – overlooking lush forests. It’s the perfect place to disconnect with the world, and reconnect with nature. But if you’re looking for more of a beach adventure, Belize also has plenty of untouched sand on offer. The coastline is lined by a spectacular barrier reef system which is home to a thriving marine ecosystem. Belize also has over 300 islands to enjoy. One of the most popular things to do on the coast is to snorkel the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is easily accessed from the northern islands.
43% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $576 $1 CAD = 15.25 MXN Closest airport: Mexico City International Airport
The cosmopolitan capital is having a moment – and the world is taking notice. Amidst a city-wide renaissance, Mexico City is home to a bubbling culinary scene, and a cultural revitalization unseen anywhere else in the country. If you’re looking for a sunny, hip and cultured holiday, this is the place for you. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the world, so you’ll often find yourself wonderfully stuck between the old-world “city of palaces” and the sharp, contemporary edge the people, museums and food reflect. They might call this the cool season, but Mexico city is sunny and warm with highs in the low 20’s this time of year. Perfect weather for cafe hopping, shopping, and wandering storied streets.
17% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $394 $1 CAD = 2.41 BRL Closest airport: Porto Seguro Airport
Trancoso is a charming village in the south of the State of Bahia, surrounded by beautiful beaches and lush nature. Temperatures are high throughout the entire year, but during Brazil’s summer – from December until March – there are more events and activities for those seeking more excitement. Preserved by the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan), the Quadrado Histórico (Historic Square) is full of colorful houses, inns, restaurants and hand-made craft shops. The space keeps part of the history and characteristics of the village, which was founded in 1586 by the Jesuits.
But there’s no denying that the best places in Trancoso are the beaches. Ten minutes from the village is the Praia dos Coqueiros, with reefs that form natural water pools at low tide and are perfect for diving. On the south bank of the Trancoso River, is the bustling Praia dos Nativos, where one can go horseback riding or rent kayaks and surfboards. From the Praia do Rio Verde (Green River Beach) to the Espelho (Mirror) there are 16 km of deserted sands, passing through Pontas de Itaquena and Itapororoca, and through Barra do Rio dos Frades, where the river runs parallel to the beach.
30% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $770 $1 CAD = 2,234 COP Closest airport: Rafael Núñez International
Cartagena might look like she has her walls up – surrounded by a now UNESCO World Heritage protected fortress – but, this magnificent city actually welcomes visitors with open arms to its colorful streets and vibrant people. Colombia’s gotten a bad rap for years – but, they’re cleaning up their act, and now this city is showing up on travelers bucket lists more than ever.
Not only is it cheaper than ever to get here, but the Canadian dollar is quite strong. That leaves you with plenty of extra funds to browse the city’s museums (like the Gold Museum, Afro Caribbean Museum or the Museum of Modern Art) and treat yourself to a souvenir or two. While here you should also spend plenty of time getting lost in this city’s streets – exploring neighborhoods like the San Diego, the San Felipe Fort,or watching the sun set at the Cerro de la Popa monastery. Afterwards, be sure to also pop by Bar del Sur for a locally crafted beer to quench your thirst. To cool off further, you should also head over to Rosario Islands, Playa Blanca and Cholon in Baru, Tierra Bomba, San Bernardo beaches.
11% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $156 $1 CAD = 408.59 CRC Closest airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport
It has been known as a party town in recent years, but that doesn’t mean this seaside town isn’t the perfect place to kick back and relax either. If you’re looking for a place to let loose in all senses of the phrase – Puerto Viejo is it. On the main strip, you’ll find fusion food and hip eateries alongside bars with thumping beats. But just down the road, you can find yourself chowing down on some famously spicy and colorful Caribbean cuisine and napping under a palm tree on the beach. There are lush jungles, gorgeous beaches, and awe-inspiring wildlife. On top of it all, there are beaches for everyone: from surfer beaches to calm snorkel beaches with the kids. And the best part is that this famous destination is as popular as ever, which means it’s cheaper too.
12% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $168 $1 CAD = 408.59 CRC Closest airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport
This is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica – and it’s natural beauty explains why. The beaches are pristine, the nightlife is bumping, and the nearby national park is something not to be missed. While visiting this famous beach you should give surfing a go, grab your gear for diving, and haul your fishing pole to a secluded area and cast out.
The exchange rate is desirable, so the Canadian dollar can take you far here. Plus, this time of year the temperature also hovers around the mid 20s. There’s not much better than a cheap flight, affordable accommodation and seemingly endless sunshine, is there?
15.5% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $209 $1 CAD = $2.03 East Caribbean Dollar Closest airport: V.C. Bird International Airport
The Lesser Antilles often take on a reputation for being some of the more expensive Caribbean islands — not anymore. Antigua and Barbuda are considered a twin-island nation, and that means twice the enjoyment for visitors. In addition to the two main islands, the nation is dotted with smaller must-visit islands, home to breathtaking beaches. It’s no wonder the country has taken on the nickname, the “Land of 365 Beaches.”
Travel to Antigua and Barbuda this year, and you’ll enjoy these islands roughly 15-percent cheaper than last year. That may mean staying longer to explore more beaches, the historic port city of St. John’s, the Seville Cathedral, or one of the island’s countless festivals.
18% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $262 $1 CAD = .76 PAB Closest airport: Panama City International
If you’ve ever dreamt of soaking in the sun on a deserted beach, the San Blas Islands off of Panama’s Caribbean sea are for you. It’s all called San Blas, but this group of islands is actually made up of 365 separate islands. This heavenly spot is almost unheard of. So much so, most of the accommodations are humble, but beautiful beachside shacks and hammocks hanging from palms. The plus is that since the San Blas islands are relatively unheard of, you’re guaranteed to find a small island to claim for yourself for your stay. It doesn’t get more tropical than that, does it?
27% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $335 $1 CAD = 15.25 MXN Closest airport: Cozumel International Airport or Cancun International Airport
It might be close to the world famous beaches and party town of Cancun, but Playa del Carmen has carved out a name for itself by being more laid back, a bit cooler, and definitely oozing with a European vibe. Plus, the average temperature here is 28 and sunny.
The beaches are beautiful, but it’s the feel of this seaside haven that attracts visitors. Here you can get a better taste for the Mexican way of life (if you’re willing to go just past the touristy strips), and you’re definitely going to beat the boozy-crowds in Cancun. In fact, Playa del Carmen is Latin America’s fastest growing city. The cosmopolitan town offers the perfect combination of beach, culture, and nighttime entertainment around.
Playa del Carmen has a hip, twenty-block shopping and entertainment strip, 5th Avenue, just steps from the stunning white sand beaches. Here, you can shop, dine, drink, and enjoy all of the amenities you enjoy at home with a uniquely Mexican and international flair. While it will be difficult to tear yourself away from Playa del Carmen, you may use the cash you saved on airfare and accommodations to visit nearby Tulum or Cancun.
42% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $800 $1 CAD = 1.32 AWG Closest airport: Queen Beatrix International Airport
A picturesque island nestled in the warm, calm waters of the Caribbean Sea, the island of Aruba is the idyllic winter escape. Being the sunniest Caribbean island, and with temperatures that hover around 26 year round, it’s no wonder they call it “one happy island”. If you’re looking to sit back on a beach this winter, Aruba is an incredible destination to choose. The island has world-renowned white-sand beaches, Eagle Beach being named one of the best in the world last year. This year it’s also 42% cheaper to travel to Aruba, so you can use all that extra savings and treat yourself to a shopping-spree at the picturesque Renaissance Mall, or maybe check into a beach side spa for the day. While in Aruba, also be sure to hangout with the feathery locals on Flamingo Beach, grab your snorkeling gear and take full advantage of that crystal clear water, and hop on a sailboat for a sunset spin around the coast of the island.
42% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $626 $1 CAD = 1.3 CUP Closest airport: José Martí International
Havana is one of the world’s ‘it’ cities right now – and it’s also one of the most affordable. If you’re searching for a warm getaway unlike anything else in the Caribbean, Havana is for you. This city will enchant you with brightly colored buildings, friendly smiles, and pastel colored Cadillacs buzzing down untouched-from-time streets. Havana is seeing major investments from abroad thanks to a thaw in icy relations with our neighbors, the United States. The warm Cuban weather, which never dips below the low 20’s, is now flooding with travelers too. So if you’re looking for a warm, cultural and adventurous holiday, now is the time to jet down to the “Pearl of the Antilles” and enjoy this untouched gem just as it is.
30% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $347 $1 CAD = 1.48 BBD Closest airport: Grantley Adams International
This island’s pink sand dazzles against turquoise tides, is home to a Unesco World Heritage capital, hosts killer parties and is lush and vibrant even away from the bays. This city undeniably has it all – including delicious food, warm people, and waves big enough to surf. If rum is your thing, the island is also home to the world’s oldest distillery: Mount Gay. But when you’re not kicking back with a cocktail on the famously warm and beautiful beaches, you can be stuffing your face with the latest creations from the vibrant culinary scene or wandering through hidden gardens. The average temperature is 26, year round, so you can always expect a fun, relaxing, and tropical stay on the island of Barbados.
22% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $428.50 $1 CAD = 34.22 DOP Closest airport: Santo Domingo aka Las Americas
Located on the Caribbean’s second largest island, the nation of the DR has a whole lot to offer. From powdery sand and tranquil waters to lush mountainsides and a cosmopolitan capital – this island surprises at every turn. One thing you can almost always expect, though, is good weather: temperatures hover around 25 year round.
Plus, the Canadian dollar goes far in the DR – meaning savings doesn’t stop after you book that inexpensive flight down there. We suggest spending that extra cash by going on a famous whale watching cruise and treating yourself to a spa. When in Santo Domingo you should also visit the impressive Catedral Primada de America – which is the oldest in the hemisphere.
15% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $263 $1 CAD = 0.74 USD Closest airport: Luis Muñoz Marín
The U.S. dollar might be a bit stronger, but you can save big on last minute airfare to this stunning Caribbean island. Not only does this Puerto Rico have world-class beaches, it’s capital has a storied old town plastered with colorful walls, and alleyways that carry the sound of music and the smell of bold cuisine from nearby plazas.
While in San Juan you must visit Playa Flamenco – often named the best beach in the entire Caribbean. You should also visit the Bioluminescent Bay at night – where you can catch the water glowing with glowing creatures. When not basking in this islands beauty and warm weather, you should also chow down on a plate of food and wash it down with a rum drink.
5% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $60 $1 CAD = 1.99 USD Closest airport: Hewanorra International Airport
Any savings is worth it if you get to visit the majestic island of St. Lucia. You can get the best of both worlds here: the north, Rodney Bay, offering luxurious resorts and beaches to bum on; the south, Soufriere, is laid back, home to hidden beaches and Pitons that shoot up from the earth in incredible height.
This island might be small, but she is mighty in beauty and culture. Take the savings and splurge on a stunning resort, or take a private sail.
25% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $454 $1 CAD = 95.53 JMD Closest airport: Norman Manley International Airport or Sangster International Airport
Jamaica is so much more than all-inclusive resorts and (admittedly) breathtaking beaches we’ve come to know. This island is home to a seemingly immeasurable amount of hidden waterfalls, rich rainforests, and hospitality. Plus, this year it’s a whopping 25% cheaper to travel too – all the more reason to kick back and relax with a rum cocktail (or two) on the beach. Whether you opt for an inclusive resort or a full-on adventure through this island, sipping some rum, savoring jerk and other spicy flavors, and dancing the night away are a must. You’re also bound to fall in love with this country’s beaches and flavors just as much as the people.
46.91% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $775 $1 CAD = 5.71 GTQ Closest airport: La Aurora International Airport
Antigua is already stunning – dotted with colorful, colonial buildings. But the three beautiful, and looming, volcanoes that surround her remind you of the incredibly lush country you’re in. While in this city, which is arguably the heart of Guatemala, you must indulge in street food like grilled corn (elotes), stare in awe at the city’s churches, and taste chocolate like the Mayans did. The best part of visiting this colorful, cultural UNESCO World Heritage city is that it is significantly cheaper to travel to than it was last year.
36% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $502 $1 CAD = 2,234 COP Closest airport: El Dorado International
Now that Colombia is starting to ditch it’s bad reputation, the city of Bogota is seeing a serious transformation. If you’re looking for great weather but a totally unique destination, this city will enchant you with colonial structures and cosmopolitan culture.
Sip world renowned coffee, indulge in the gastronomic delights, and stroll the La Candelaria and Unshaken neighborhoods. Cerro de Monserrate, Plaza de Bolivar, and the museo del Oro and Botero are also musts while visiting Bogota. Plus, the fact that travel and lodging costs are down 36% from last year, alongside a great exchange rate, means you can take your time and treat yourself while exploring this budding city.
29.68% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $737 $1 CAD = 11.94 ARG Closest airport: Ministro Pistarini International aka Ezeiza International
Endearingly called the ‘Paris’ of South America, Buenos Aires is a beautifully complex web of European-styled buildings, oversaturated murals, famous cuts of meat, and a throbbing nightlife. Anyone who has been will tell you it lures you in with a vague sense of familiarity while managing to surprise you at every corner.
While in Buenos Aires there are a few local musts, like: take a Tango class or watch a show, enjoy a late stake dinner then slurp down some mate (seriously caffeinated tea) and hit the disco. You should also visit sights like Casa Rosada, neighborhoods like El Caminito in La Boca, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and browse the Mercado de San Telmo.
Buenos Aires is a bucket list city, and now that it’s early 30% cheaper to travel to you should seriously consider it as your winter holiday. This city is bound to warm both your skin, and soul.
21.5% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $570 $1 CAD = 11.94 ARG Closest airport: San Juan Airport
Wine lovers already know this Argentine city – but everybody who visits is bound to fall in love with it, too. Of course, it’s location right next to the vineyards is perfect for sommeliers (amateur or not). But this city’s old, bustling center with bubbling fountains and aqueducts has charm all it’s own. It’s now over 20 percent cheaper to get to this stunning city, so you’ve got plenty of extra funds to bring home a few bottles (or crates) of world-class wine back home with you. While here you should also stroll Parque Provincial Aconcagua, climb City Hall for panoramic views, and tour the various cathedrals and museums. Overall, though, you’ll probably just enjoy kicking back and relaxing in the warm, summer and mountainous climate that Mendoza has to offer.
16% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $197 $1 CAD = 2.55 PEN Closest airport: Jorge Chávez International
Situated on the arid Pacific coast, this world-city will leave you in awe of it’s views, old center and metropolitan people. Like most South American cities, Lima is colorful – but she’s also a complicated web of ancient pre-colonial buildings alongside towering high rises.
While here, you should explore Museo de la Nación, a national treasure holding many of Peru’s artifacts from their ancient civilization. You should also browse budding modern art galleries, taste the cuisine of their world-renowned culinary revolution, and sit back and enjoy a cocktail while listening to live music on a warm night. Lima is buzzing with innovation and old-world charm – and there’s no better time to go than now, when it’s 16% cheaper than it was last year. Plus, the exchange rate is pretty good compared to other major South American Cities – so you’re going to get a pretty good bang for your buck here.
17.7% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $307 $1 CAD = 504 CLP Closest airport: Santiago International
If you’re looking for a sprawling metropolis that boasts hot days and cool nights – this Chilean city is for you. There’s old architecture juxtaposed against tall towers, parks for picnics, and plenty of bars for slurping down a cool drink on a hot, summer’s day.
In Santiago you must visit the Mercado Central, Patio Bellavista for food and souvenirs, and Cerro San Cristobal for a jaw-dropping view of this city. Because you’re saving 17% on travel expenses you’ll also have plenty of funds to visit the city’s incredible museums. There’s everything from contemporary art at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo to historical museum like Museo Historico Nacional.
5% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $74 $1 CAD = 17 HNL Closest airport: Juan Manuel Gálvez International
This idyllic island has thick jungles, white sand beaches, turquoise waters and is surrounded by the world’s second largest coral reef. So if you’re looking to dive while on holiday, or maybe you want to learn, Roatan is the place to be. For a more laid back and relaxed winter holiday, stick to the eastern part of the island. But if you want a bit more activity, fine dining, and nightlife, head to the west. This island boasts boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts – so it’s perfect for any type of traveler. Savings isn’t huge, but it’s enough to justify a sure to be incredible trip to this island.
21% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $262 $1 CAD = 22.17 NIO Closest airport: Corn Island International Airport or Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport
This stunning Nica island is situated off of the eastern coast, right in the caribbean sea. If you want a winter-sun holiday that is all about unplugging from everyday life, this island is going to give you just that. For one, there’s little electricity on the island (thus, little wifi). Plus, the stunning beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters will distract you from all that technological nonsense.
You get major bang for your buck here in Nicaragua – so you have plenty of cash to splurge on a spa day, or a totally relaxing beach yoga class. In between all that rejuvenation you should also snorkel the coast, visit the hidden beaches behind Casa Iguana, head to the south to visit the farms, and be sure to get to the lighthouse.
18% cheaper than last year Average savings per person: $262 $1 CAD = .76 PAB Closest airport: Panama City International
Overlooking the famed Panama canal and the stunning Pacific Ocean, Panama City is a clashing beauty of old meets new. Of course, there’s a famed colonial neighborhood but there’s also glassy and glossy high-rises that give the city an undeniable cosmopolitan feel. Plus, with winter comes lots of sun, calm water and perfect sailing conditions. And, the the pristine empty beaches and 387 nearby islands won’t disappoint.
This time of year the average temperature hovers around 29 degrees – so it’s perfect for wandering the streets. When you get a bit warm though, duck into a museum like: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo. If you’re lucky enough to visit Panama City you should also stand in awe of the Panama Viejo ruins, the gorgeous Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción or the Casa Alarcón.