The beginning of winter comes with so many celebrations, the change in weather hardly seems to matter. Once the holidays pass and the resolutions fade, the frigid air, icy sidewalks, and graying snow lose any appeal they once had. It’s enough to make you want to hibernate. While you could certainly hide away under a pile of blankets at home, we think taking a vacation is a better idea.
Any warm location would be a good choice, but you’ve probably hit the same spot a number of times in previous years. For a real escape, try heading somewhere tropical. These six rainforest destinations will make you forget all about winter’s chill.
1. Costa Rica
Tom Brady had the right idea when he took his family on a trip to Costa Rica. They spent a fair bit of time on the beach, but the interior is also pretty impressive. Though Costa Rica’s area only accounts for .03% of the earth’s total surface, this country contains 5% of the planet’s biodiversity thanks in part to the lush rainforests. Anyone who’s never been before should take in the views from a zip line.
If flying through the forest on a cord is a little on the extreme side for you, try one of the many hikes. The hanging bridges in Arenal are particularly impressive, winding through 250 acres of rainforest. Bird watching here is also spectacular, so check out these suggestions from Frommer’s. Since the dry season lasts from December through April, Costa Rica is ideal for a winter vacation.
This Central American country sits right alongside other vacation hot spots, but it never seems to make anyone’s list of places to visit. It’s pretty silly when you compare expenses in Costa Rica with Nicaragua because the latter is practically on sale. It also tends to draw less tourists, making Nicaragua a great choice for those who prefer to stay away from crowds.
Head to either the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve in the southeast portion of the country or the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve to the north. Both showcase an impressive variety of plants and animals. And make sure to set aside time for volcano boarding. You will get very dirty, and you will have so much fun.
The Amazon rainforest is pretty extensive, covering an area twice the size of India. Though most associate this famous forest with Brazil, much of it falls in Peru. According to Mother Nature Network, Peru is probably the better destination for those interested in seeing some wildlife, especially monkeys. Consider a tour to get the full experience. Pantiacolla offers packages ranging from one to nine days.
All that time in the wilderness will probably leave you feeling a bit peckish, so make sure to explore Peru’s culinary offerings. Serious Eats recommended going for ceviche, guinea pig, and potatoes smothered with a spicy cheese sauce.
Though Thailand features plenty of lush forests, Khao Yai National Park and Khao Sok National Park are two of your best bets. Khao Yai is particularly great for wildlife watching, but both parks offer plenty of opportunities to hike and camp. For a unique lodging experience, book a stay in one of the floating tents in Cheow Larn Lake. You can also ride an elephant, rappel down waterfalls, or go kayaking.
5. Yakushima, Japan
Though this destination is technically subtropical, we doubt you’ll mind the distinction. Those who don’t like things too hot may actually prefer the milder climate in Yakushima, which typically runs in the low to upper 50s during the winter. It’s also quite wet, but it’s a great place for hiking and seeing wildlife as long as you bring the proper gear.
All of that moisture feeds the famous forests, which boast cedar trees that are more than 2,000 years old. Since the island is mostly mountains, it’s a fantastic vacation for those who love to hike. The Guardian also recommended checking out the natural hot springs and digging into some fresh seafood.
6. Kauai, Hawaii
Nicknamed The Garden Isle for the vast amount of greenery, Kauai is the perfect vacation for nature lovers. Mount Waialeale, located in the center of the island, ranks as one of the wettest places on earth with an average annual rainfall of about 450 inches. Though you have plenty of options to hike through the rainforests, traveling by ATV is also pretty fun. Kipu Ranch Adventures offers a number of different tours that are each at least a few hours long.
No trip to Kauia would be complete without a trip to Lappert’s Hawaii for ice cream, so plan at least one outing. This institution offers plenty of flavors, but those in the know go for Kauai Pie. It’s a blend of Kona coffee ice cream, macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, fudge, and crunchy cake pieces that you’ll sorely miss when you leave.