Canadians flock to sunny southern destinations every winter, in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, but the destruction Hurricane Irma has left may pose a problem for tourists looking forward to their usual warm-weather holiday.
The hardest hit regions — Florida, St. Maarten, Cuba, and Turks and Caicos among them — can typically welcome millions of Canadian visitors every year. But with power outages raging on across these popular destinations, and severe damages to public property as well as private hotels and resorts, it’s likely that most people will be seeking out alternative winter vacations this year.
WATCH BELOW: Travel tips: Winter getaway options
“Unfortunately, all of the countries and cities hit by the hurricane rely heavily on the tourism industry,” Rishi Modi, a travel deal finder and founder of Next Departure Inc., tells Global News. “Some places have already reopened, but many will stay closed until November. If you’re looking for a trip after that, they’ll be offering some low prices to attract back some of the tourists.”
For those who want to book now or who are just looking for a change of pace, consider these alternate destinations for your winter getaway.
Los Cabos, Mexico
The temperate and dry climate (no humidity to frizz up your hair!) of Los Cabos makes it a great alternative to more popular destinations like the Mayan Riviera, says Sarah Gavin, a family travel expert with Expedia.
“This is a great opportunity for Canadians to explore the Pacific coast of Mexico. There’s more desert here, which gives it a different flavour than your standard beach destination,” she says. “It’s also very affordable. A family of four can save well over $1,000 if they book their flight and hotel together. It’s also very safe.”
“A lot of time, people fail to look at beach destinations in Europe. In particular, Croatia has great travel deals on now,” she says.
Although the temperatures aren’t as searing as what you’d find in Mexico or the Caribbean, southern Spain and Greece both boast highs in the mid to high teens in January through March. As of April, the temperatures are usually firmly in the 20s and there’s a lot of sunshine.
Seville, located in the Andalucia region of Spain, is considered Europe’s warmest city and as of March, the daily highs are around 22 C, while Crete, Greece’s largest island, boasts highs of 17 C.
“As someone who watches flights all day, I’ve seen some pretty incredible deals for Costa Rica,” Modi says.
READ MORE: Here’s the best time to book your holiday travel
The Central American destination is a great spot for families looking for a varied vacation that offers more than just long stretches of beach. Adventure activities include visiting the rain forest, hiking up volcanoes, zip lining and rafting. Of course, if you’re just in search of a relaxing beach vacation, Costa Rica delivers with stretches of sand that run along both the Caribbean and the Pacific.
This Dutch Caribbean island located in South America boasts a European vibe along with long stretches of white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
He also says that it’s among the safest of the Caribbean destinations, so it’s easy to rent a car and explore the island on your own.
It may seem dangerous to take to the waters when the weather systems are iffy, but a cruise can actually be an ideal way to explore the Caribbean.
READ MORE: Hurricane Irma: What we know about the devastation caused by the monster storm
“Even during hurricane season the Caribbean is a good destination,” Gavin says. “The navigation systems on the ships are so sophisticated now that if they detect unsafe weather, it’s easy to redirect. It’s a great way to explore a number of islands and have a terrific vacation without being bothered by the weather.”
Cruise lines can range from the ultra luxurious to more affordable, family friendly options that are just as comfortable.
“It’s a great way to travel with multi-generational family members, too, because there are so many activities on board for all ages.”