Escape the Winter Cold at These 7 Caribbean Hotspots with Direct Flights from NYC

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We’re officially at that point in winter when the weather is making you question everything about living in this great city. But then you remember that one of the best things about residing in the Tri-State area is the access to dip out of town, especially when the temperatures take a dip themselves. Each of these warm-weather destinations is a quick flight from NYC and has lots going on in terms of stunning hotels, gorgeous beaches, fun things to do, and delicious things to eat. Most importantly, they’re exceptionally warm this time of year. Here, seven Caribbean destinations with direct flights from NYC.

The 8 Best Places to Travel in February

1. Jamaica

  • Flight Time from NYC: 4 hours
  • Why We Recommend It: Great nightlife, beautiful golf courses, mesmerizing waterfalls, and cannabis tours for those interested
  • Where to Stay: Tryall Club (inquire for rates), Condo in Montego Bay (from $190/night), Bridal Suite (from $350/night)

Montego Bay, better known by locals as MoBay, is famous for its thriving nightlife—especially on the Hip Strip, where dozens of bars and clubs can be found blasting reggae hits and serving cold drinks into the wee hours of the morning. But the feel-good vibes don’t stop there. MoBay is also home to exotic natural wonders like the enigmatic caves of Green Grotto, unparalleled experiences like bamboo rafting on the pristine waters of Martha Brae, and authentic Jamaican seafood, like Pachie’s escovitch fish in Sandy Bay. If you visit during winter, you can become acquainted with the rich African-Caribbean culture by partying at Bob Marley Week in Kingston or joining February’s island-wide celebration of Reggae Month. For the ultimate tropical getaway, the Tryall Club boasts a sumptuous assembly of picturesque villas and a newly renovated Beach Club, complete with a zero-entry, heated infinity pool, full-service bar, and lounge area.

2. Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a buzzing cultural gem at the heart of the lush Riviera Maya. Here, you’ll find miles of pristine beaches with the Great Mayan Reef lurking just off the coast, lively bars and trendy boutiques intersecting with authentic taquerias and art galleries on Quinta Avenida, and some genuinely unique eateries like Alux, where you can sip on cocktails in a vast underground cave that harbors live bats. Make sure to visit mid-February when the city comes alive with colorful Carnival celebrations, with Black Eyed Peas headlining the event in 2023. We recommend splurging on Casa de la Playa for luxe oceanfront suites or going for the more affordable Hotel Xcaret with unlimited access to Grupo Xcaret parks and Xcaret Xailing's ferries from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

3. Puerto Rico

Discover the idyllic Caribbean isle of Puerto Rico, where Spanish, African, and Indigenous influences merge to create a one-of-a-kind "Island of Enchantment" brimming with culture, tropical fun, laid-back bars, and verdant rainforests. Winter is a great time to visit for the comfortable climate, sparse tourists, and eclectic events like the colorful Festival del Frío (Festival of the Cold) and the Puerto Rico International Food & Wine Festival. Head to the cozy La Casita Blanca for delicious authentic cuisine, including mouthwatering tres leches cake. When it’s time to turn in, we recommend Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve for its suite-style accommodations and luxury pools, including Puerto Rico’s largest lagoon-style pool.

4. Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is considered the crown jewel of the Caribbean coast for its stunning tropical scenery, breathtaking medieval architecture and charm. Winter is a great time to take advantage of the city’s moderate temperatures by wandering through the cobblestone streets of Old Town or by exploring the crystal-clear waters of the nearby Rosario Islands. Cartagena is full of amazing fine-dining and authentic street food options like Arepa de Huevo (a Cartagena staple for its famous breakfast arepas) and Restaurante 1621, which serves magnifique French cuisine in a 400-year-old dining room. Book your stay at Ermita for its richly-designed beachfront suites, elegant rooftop pool, and an onsite restaurant that offers a sumptuous menu of mouthwatering Middle Eastern dishes. Cartagena is also home to one of the world’s best bars, Alquímico.

5. St. Lucia

With its powdery white-sand beaches, majestic Pitons, and lush Soufriere peak (where you can indulge in steaming mud baths at the world’s only drive-in volcano), St. Lucia is the epitome of a tropical paradise, particularly exciting for canoodling couples. Wander through long rainforest stretches and spot exotic species like the rare Jacquot parrot, or immerse yourself in the local gastronomic culture at The Coal Pot, where you can try authentic St. Lucia Creole dishes like callaloo soup and spicy stuffed crab. There’s no shortage of unique and romantic things to do on this spellbinding island, especially if you stay at Hotel Chocolat—a blissful getaway that subtly blends into the surrounding rainforest and comprises 25 private eco-lodges, an open-air restaurant, bar, and spa with tasty cacao-infused offerings ranging from cocktails to cuisine. Jade Mountain (with its helicopter pad and stargazing deck) is also a good pick for those seeking luxury with a dramatic flair.

6. Turks & Caicos

Turks and Caicos offer thrillseekers a world-class array of aquatic and terrestrial adventures. From snorkeling with majestic sea turtles and baby sharks to wandering through prehistoric caves and historical ruins – often dotted with adorable baby fruit bats – the archipelago nation is a truly underrated Caribbean gem. Mid-March is a great time to visit for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl and easy weather. Find lavish oceanfront accommodations at the private Rock House hotel in Providenciales, conveniently located at the base of a stunning limestone cliff next to three snorkel hotspots. You’ll love the onsite Vita Restaurant for its unique Italian-Caribbean Pool & Beach Menu with inventive “Brain Freezer” cocktails like the Drunken Lobster (a refreshing pina colada mixed with mango, strawberry and dark rum). Another restaurant on the island, Indigo, is steps from Grace Bay, one of the island’s best beaches and uses unique cooking methods and the freshest ingredients.

7. St. Martin

  • Flight Time from NYC: 4 hours
  • Why We Recommend It: Epic sunsets from Grand Case Beach, great cuisine, SXM Music Festival (March 8 to 12)
  • Where to Stay: The Morgan (from $316/night), Grand Case Beach Club (from $380/night), Condo in St. Martin (from $220/night)

Locally dubbed “The Friendly Island,” St. Martin is an enchanting Caribbean destination split between two countries that have peacefully co-existed since 1648 — but that’s not the only reason for its cute nickname. The laidback tropical paradise, though teeming with European cosmopolitan flair (just check out the colorful boutiques lining Front Street), will feel just as familiar and inviting as your hometown. With its friendly locals, exciting attractions ranging from panoramic rainforest ziplining to local shipwreck diving, and a plethora of winter events, including Carnival celebrations, the island offers non-stop fun. Plus, its gastronomy game is strong, with over 120 cultures of people dishing out authentic plates like Sicilian pasta at Sale N Pepe and prosciutto navettes at La Sucriere. Our resort pick is The Morgan for its chic, contemporary suites, luxury spa, and a beach-style infinity pool that gives uninterrupted views of the Caribbean coast.

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Dan Koday is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years experience creating content for your favorite websites, print publications and brands. As a native to the NYC...