February Beach Travel Guide

Beautiful Caribbean Beach in Tulum, Mexico
Beautiful Caribbean Beach in Tulum, Mexico (iStockphoto)

Carnival in Trinidad
There are Carnivals and then there is Trinidad's version. A five-day explosion of cultural extravaganza, dominated by vibrant costumes, calypso, and dance—all reflecting this island's African heritage and Caribbean spirit—have led many to call this the world's best Carnival. Walk the neighborhoods in the weeks leading up to parades to hear band after band rehearsing in the sweet night air. It may all seem like a friendly pod of co-revelers but it is fierce competition—for best band, best dance, most elaborate costume—that drives this party machine. Your role? Submit to the mood and become part of the celebration.

Wind Sports in Aruba
Reliable wind returns to Aruba in February, and with it come the wind-sport enthusiasts. Expect breezes in the 18- to 25-knot range, excellent off-road touring on the island's rustic east side and cold beers wherever you see a bar. You could get some rain, especially early in the month, but it's a welcome respite on the typically arid island. Pack a cooler, head out to the fully stocked windsurf center at Fisherman's Huts, and if we don't hear from you in a month we'll come on down to join the fun.

Florida Keys, FL
The holidays are gone, spring break is still a month off, and you've got an entire string of limestone islets to explore with a lot less competition: Bonefish the flats of Islamorada, dive the spoke-and-groove-filled reef of John Pennekamp State Park, and tour the still-funky streets of Key West (and sip a cocktail with real live locals!) before watching that legendary sunset flash into the sea. When you get home, don't let the secret out!

Carnival in Guadeloupe
With Carnival officially on the calendar for February one might think the rest of the month would be subdued. One would, of course, be wrong. The anticipation and revelry build beginning in January, especially on weekends, culminating in a supremely lively five-day fete. The top parades include those in Pointe-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre, but the costumed dancing, music making, and overt merriment sweeps the entire cheerful French island.

Saint Martin's French Side
Yet another island that knows how to throw a Carnival, Saint Martin warms up early in February with pre-Carnival costumes displays and "jump-ups," all leading up to a ten-day blowout to end the month. This isn't quite the coup de gras-they do that in April on the island's Dutch side-but it's still a colorful fiesta, capped by the crowning of a Carnival Queen, parades, and omnipresent live music.

Tulum, Mexico
With a higher percentage of clear days in February than most of the rest of the Caribbean, Tulum becomes an ideal spot for photographing Mayan ruins, snorkeling the teeming near-shore reef, and lazing about on the beach. If all that sun becomes too much, head into the jungle of Coba for more ruins or find a cenote (clear, blue pools often hundreds of feet deep) and put some soothing cool water between you and the solar rays.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Let’s get the qualifiers out of the way: This is a popular beach, which means some crowding, and vendors do work the area. Now, why it made our list anyway: One of Costa Rica’s most seductive water views, with the spires of Manuel Antonio National Park jutting from the sea a couple hundred yards away, and the silky water lapping at a stretch of sand backed by shading palm trees. The once-and-present backpackers’ haven has opened up to all comers. Despite this, you won’t soon forget the inspiring views.

Published: 19 Jan 2007 | Last Updated: 12 Feb 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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