Isla Mujeres, Mexico (Photo: Joaquin Posada/Getty)

Sun Destinations for a Winter Escape

By Jennifer Allford

Dreaming about a winter vacation? Many destinations across the globe are open for business, welcoming visitors to their shores. Here are two beach destinations to consider when you’re tired of the snow.

On the outskirts of Cancun, Playa Mujeres offers beautiful beaches, culinary delights and plenty of activities, including golf courses and archaeological sites to explore. Mexico is open to air travellers with few restrictions—and with direct flights from Alberta, it’s easy to get to. The sandy headland is a laid-back alternative to shopping- and nightlife-saturated Cancun. The Caribbean Sea lies to one side of Playa Mujeres’s seven-kilometre-long strip; the other side is a wetlands wildlife preserve. “It’s quite nice: a bit newer, and with more high-end resorts,” says Terry Vander Linden, manager of product marketing for AMA Travel. “And you can still enjoy Cancun’s amenities, if you want, and take day trips to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá or Coba.”

The pandemic has meant delays for many services, including Canadian passport applications and renewals. If you need a new or renewed passport, allow at least two months prior to your planned departure date for the paperwork to be processed.

Whether you want to check out Dunn’s River Falls, Mystic Mountain adventure park or Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica delivers. The Caribbean nation has established a “resilient corridor” of accommodations, attractions and tour operators that are equipped to safely welcome visitors. “It’s a beautiful island with a lot to see and do,” says Courtenay Cooper, an AMA Travel counsellor in Calgary. But off-resort attractions are spread out, so proper planning is a must. Discuss your interests and make arrangements with a travel agent to ensure you stay on the part of the island that’s going to give you the best experience—be it family-friendly Ocho Rios or luxurious Montego Bay.