Three reasons to escape winter – and where to go

This time of year can drag on, as the spirit of the holidays has worn off but the days are still short and dark. Why not take a break somewhere sunny and warm? Here are some good reasons to go, and unique places to check out beyond the typical all-inclusives.

  1. Soak up some sun. Not just good for a tan, sunlight gives us vitamin D, an essential vitamin that helps with bone maintenance and may even prevent certain cancers that Canadians are deprived of during the winter months. The sun is also great for serotonin, the feel-good chemical your brain needs to regulate mood.
  2. Get physically active. Jumping off the couch to hit the gym or run around the block isn’t too tempting when it’s below zero. Visiting a warmer destination can encourage you to move your body, which is great for your mental and physical health.
  3. Make it easier on your body. Cold weather can be hard for people with joint pain, arthritis, asthma and other health conditions. It also makes your heart and lungs work harder to regulate heat and increase blood pressure. Give your systems a break in the heat.

Want to get a taste of some off-the-beaten-path destinations? Here are some alternative hotspots:

Cartagena. Imagine a city with classic European flair — historic squares, cobblestone alleys and iconic buildings — but warmed by Caribbean weather and Colombian zest. Best explored by foot from walled town to the waterfront, you can also escape by boat to utopic islands where thatched-roof huts occupy quiet beaches.

Nassau. The capital of the Bahamas combines big-city thrills with an easy-going island vibe. On the island of New Providence, upscale resorts line divine beaches seconds away from fine-dining bistros and seafood shacks.

Saint Martin or Sint Maarten. This piece of paradise is partitioned between nations—France and the Netherlands. The French opt for the quiet, mountain-ringed beaches of the north, while the Dutch pick up the pace with a bustling, luxurious seaside to the south.

Turks and Caicos: Although there are 40 islands, many of the country’s resorts are on Providenciales. Try restaurants around Grace Bay Beach to taste local delicacies like fresh conch salad. Explore more islands like Grand Turk or paradisiac Parrot Cay.

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