Recently, we've written about snowboarding tutorials, top mountains and other topics. But what if you can't stand the snow? Well, you're in good company as there are many people who live in cold climates and migrate south toward warmer areas in the winter. These people are called snowbirds and a common destination to escape winter weather is Florida. However, there are some of you who might want to visit an international destination. Luckily, there are many affordable, exotic and warm locations to visit. Some top snowbird destinations include Costa Rica, Belize, Thailand and Malaysia.
Costa Rica, or the rich coast in Spanish, is a central american country that has become a tourist hot spot. In 2016, the amount of tourists visiting the country increased by 12% up to 2.9 million visitors. With this growth, Costa Rica must offer some activities and sightseeing, right? Costa Rica is known for its premier waves, volcanoes, coffee plantations, natural parks, and more! One of it's most popular tourist destinations is a town called Tamarindo, located on the Guanacaste Peninsula in the northwest. Tamarindo has some of the countries best waves including witches rock, ollies point and Playa Negra. Tamarindo has been called "Tamagringo" due to it's large expat community.
Tamarindo's world class waves consist of beach breaks, reef breaks, point breaks and surfers of all levels will find their peak. Since the water temperature averages 77-81 degrees Fahrenheit year round, there's no need for wetsuits. Also, Costa Rica has two main seasons with dry season occurring over the winter months and wet season during the summer. The weather in Costa Rica during the dry season is roughly the same as the water averaging from high 70's to low 80's. Little rainfall and ideal temperatures make Costa Rica a great snowbird destination, especially during December and January. Lastly, Costa Rica is very accessible for Americans, with major cities like Houston,TX offering 4 hour direct flights!
Like Costa Rica, Belize is another great and accessible destination in Central America. Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, is a small country located south of Mexico, on the Caribbean sea. Since it used to be a British Colony, Belize's official language is English, with Spanish being widely spoken. This removes possible language barriers and the average temperatures during the winter ranges from the low 70's to the low 80's. Belize isn't as well known as Costa Rica, making it possible to enjoy pristine beaches without hordes of people.
Belize has many fun activities including Mayan ruins, tropical rain forest and cave tours, zoos and world class diving. Since Belize is on the Caribbean sea, it isn't known as a surfing destination, but instead a diving destination. In fact, Ambergris Island is Belize's largest island and is protected by the 2nd largest coral reef in the world! Adventurous divers can even go to shark alley and swim with nurse sharks along with manta rays! Land based explorers can find many Mayan ruins, including the country's largest Maya city, Caracol. Caracol is still an active excavation site, meaning that there are plenty of undiscovered Maya artifacts waiting to be revealed. Also, visitors can have epic views of the Chiquibul forest reserve from these ruins. If you see these epic views, just be sure to wear quality sunglasses to avoid tropical sunburns.
Lastly, Belize is very accessible from the United States with 4 hour non stop flights from Chicago and 2 hour flights from Texas.
Central America has many top snowbird destinations, but what about more exotic places? For those of you willing to travel longer and see exotic cultures, Southeast Asia might be a good fit. Malaysia is included in the top snowbird destinations because it's known for large metropolises, warm beaches, and lush jungles. Penang is an island located just off the coast and was called the Pearl of the Orient by Victorians. Penang has many activities from world class snorkeling at Palau Paylar Park, visiting Buddhist Temples like the Dharmikaram Burmese shrine and seeing tropical spice gardens.
Malaysia isn't as convenient as Central America which can be a blessing for some and a curse for others. Most flights are 20 hours long, which includes at least one stop from most major American cities. Therefore, South East Asia is a better trip for those with extra time, instead of a few days. However, Malaysia's weather is nice during the winter with lows ranging from the low 70's to highs in the upper 80's. Also, Malaysia's east and west coasts have their own unique seasons. For example, the east coast's wet season runs from November through February which is the west coasts dry season. On the flip side, the west's coasts rainy season is from April to October, which is the east coast's dry season.
Like Malaysia, Thailand is located in south east Asia and takes a healthy amount of airline miles to see. Like Malaysia, it's hard to get a non stop flight from the US, with many flights lasting approximately 20 hours with a stop included. This long journey shouldn't deter you as there are many fun things to see and do such as visiting Buddhist temples, interacting with wildlife (think elephant rides), visiting world class beaches along with raging at full moon parties.
Beach at Pattaya
Thailand is a very diverse country, with Pattaya being one of it's premier tourist destinations. Pattaya is located on the eastern coast of Thailand and offers golf, scenic coral reefs, and 24 hour night clubs. Pattaya has transformed itself from a sleepy fishing destination into a tourist hot spot with high rise hotels. The best time to visit this top snowbird destination is between April and November, when there is little rain. Coincidentally, the water visibility is best during this season, making it a great time to scuba dive and snorkel.
Winter can be an opportunity to enjoy the snow, or an excuse to escape to a warm destination. Snowbirds escape frigid winter days at various warm climate areas around the globe. Some may be tempted to stay in the United States, but there are many interesting and unique international snowbird destinations. Four top snowbird destinations outside of the US include Costa Rica, Belize, Malaysia, and Thailand.
What are some other top snowbird destinations abroad? Please tell us below!