4 Beachfront Destinations Spiking in Popularity This Winter

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In a chilly winter, it’s not uncommon for travelers to flock to warm-weather destinations. For example, December was 2022’s most popular month for Canadian tourists to visit Hawaii, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s 2022 Annual Visitor Research Report.

It’s a similar story with Caribbean cruises. According to a spokesperson at Holland America, November through March are the most popular months for the cruise line. Clearly, winter beach vacations are appealing, and some beachfront destinations are especially popular this season — seeing higher interest in 2023 than in 2022.

Chase Travel, an online site that lets customers book trips using cash or points from Chase travel credit cards, analyzed its proprietary data to find the top destinations this winter. The data included Chase Travel bookings for air or lodging between Nov. 17, 2023, and Jan. 7, 2024, and found places with the biggest year-over-year increase from last year. Then, Chase looked at beachfront destinations. Here are the top four.

Noord, Aruba (105% YoY growth)

The living room of one of the 55 suites at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Noord, which means “north” in Dutch, covers the northern portion of Aruba and includes tourist epicenter Palm Beach, the Bubali Bird Sanctuary and Tierra del Sol Resort and Golf. History and culture buffs might visit the California Lighthouse and Alto Vista Chapel.

Luxury-minded travelers might stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, which is among the fanciest of the Marriott brands. The property just completed an extensive renovation and upgraded all 320 rooms and suites.

Miami Beach, Florida (80% YoY growth)

Miami’s South Beach. (Photo by Getty Images)

Miami Beach is hardly an underrated beach city, but the appeal goes beyond its white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

In April, Miami earned the title of Bon Appetit’s 2023 Food City of the Year. This winter, Miami is celebrating Miami Arts, Culture and Heritage Months. The event, which runs through Jan. 31, 2024, includes discount tickets to shows, free park and museum tours, and limited-run performances such as “Cuba Under the Stars,” an outdoor musical theater show at Bayfront Park.

Roatan, Honduras (76% YoY growth)

The Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort & Spa opened in October 2023. (Photo courtesy of IHG)

Roatan is part of a cluster of island archipelagos located off the northern coast of Honduras, surrounded by the largest barrier reef system in the Northern Hemisphere (and second in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef).

Perhaps one big reason why it’s spiking in popularity: Time Magazine placed Roatan on its World’s Greatest Places 2023 list, citing its appeal to backpackers and nature lovers.

But it’s appealing to the luxury traveler, too. Among the region’s newest additions is the Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort & Spa, which opened in October 2023 as a five-star, beachfront resort. For a hefty $50 daily resort fee, amenities include coffee, an evening social hour, sunblock, plus snorkel and kayak rentals. And like all Kimpton properties, there’s no pet fee.

West Palm Beach, Florida (57% YoY growth)

West Palm Beach got even more accessible in 2023 when Brightline, a privately funded passenger rail service, began offering high-speed rail service from Orlando. West Palm Beach is the first southbound stop from Orlando after the roughly two-hour ride. (Brightline service between Miami and West Palm Beach began back in 2018.)

If you’re seeking manatees, there’s no better time to head to West Palm Beach than in the winter. According to Manatee Lagoon, a free educational tourist destination, manatee season runs from Nov. 15 through March 31.

Tips to save on a winter beach vacation

Because winter is popular for beach vacations, it can also be one of the most expensive times to travel. These tips to save on a beach vacation can help:

Visit during shoulder season: Delaying your trip until the tail-end of winter can help you capitalize on the benefits of traveling during shoulder season. For example, Florida’s shoulder season is generally late February into early March, according to Visit Florida. During that time, the snowbirds will have had their fill of sun — but spring break crowds haven’t arrived.

An ocean view from a room at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, at Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach. (Photo by Sally French)

Avoid lodging on the beach: If you’re spending your time at the beach anyway, then booking an oceanview room might not be worth the additional cost.

For example, in Honolulu, you’ll usually find lower rates at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani versus the opulent Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach. The former is situated inland one block from Waikiki Beach, on the other side of the Moana Surfrider. Yet, the two sister properties in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio offer reciprocal benefits, including daily yoga on the Moana Surfrider’s beachfront Diamond Lawn overlooking Diamond Head. Sheraton guests can use many of the same amenities as Moana Surfrider guests (albeit at a lower price).

The $44-per-person breakfast buffet at The Veranda restaurant at the Moana Surfrider includes made-to-order omelettes, mochiko waffles, lilikoi pancakes and loco moco. It’s generally considered the best buffet on Waikiki. (Photo by Sally French)

The appeal of the Moana Surfrider is its elegant lobby and wraparound, beachfront porch. But you can listen to the live pianist in the evening even without being a hotel guest. And while the Moana Surfrider’s breakfast buffet on the restaurant’s veranda is popular, Sheraton guests can still charge it to their room.

Pack beach necessities: Complimentary sunscreen as a hotel benefit is the exception, not the norm. As long as you aren’t planning to travel with a carry-on only, pack sunscreen from home to avoid inflated gift shop prices.

It might also be worth bringing your own snorkeling set, as rental prices can exceed the cost of buying your own gear. Rentals can run more than $50 per day, but you can buy snorkel kits from retailers like Amazon for less than half that price.

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