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5 Tropical Destinations That Are Only a Short Flight Away from Philly

By Jacqueline Cucco | February 25, 2016 | Lifestyle

This on and off again winter weather is leaving us seriously confused—get yourself out of the seasonal slump with a quick trip to these five nearby destinations, so you can say goodbye to the nasty weather and say hello to paradise.

1. Turks and Caicos Islands

Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

Where to Stay: The stylish Gansevoort Turks & Caicos resort on the island's famous Grace Bay beach is definitely the place to see and be seen. You can bet that your stay will be anything but ordinary, thanks to the hotel's oversized rooms, breathtaking views, and a gorgeous infinity pool to take a quick dip or lounge around. Grace Bay Beach, 888-844-5986
What to Do: Picture powder-white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters that are characteristic to the area. With a quick four-hour flight from Philadelphia, this tiny island will instantly transport you to a better place, and have you forgetting about the dreary weather back home. We suggest getting adventurous by parasailing for aerial views of the island, horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, or just hanging out beachside with drinks in hand. Keep an eye out for glimpses of magnificent humpback whales, since it's right in the middle of whale-watching season (from February through April).
Where to Eat: If you're looking to glam up your evening for dinner, try Coco Bistro (Providenciales, 649-946-5369), where you'll be greeted with lush palm trees and fine dining cuisine. For a fun and more casual option complete with live music and local food vendors, we love stopping by the island's Thursday Fish Fry event in Providenciales, which attracts crowds with its lively and authentic Caribbean appeal.

2. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Rosewood Mayakoba

Where to Stay: The Rosewood Mayakoba is nestled between the jungle and the ocean, so you'll have the best of both worlds.The journey begins as you're escorted to your room on a charming boat ride through the water canals. The lush surroundings open up to this sophisticated and breathtaking resort that seems to be floating on the water. Relish in all their on-site amenities and offerings including their popular tequila bar, three pools, a beachfront infinity pool, and an adults-only pool for those looking for peace and quiet. KM 298 Solidaridad, +52 984 875 8000
What to Do: Romance, adventure, and glamour awaits you after a short four-hour flight from Philly right to Playa Del Carmen. Live out all your tropical fantasies in this charming seaside village on the Riviera Maya. Dare to get out of your comfort zone, and snorkel in the cenotes and caves, or take a day trip to explore the nearby ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Where to Eat: Indulge in fabulous views overlooking Fifth Avenue at La Casa Del Agua (con calle 2, Calle Quinta Avenida, +52 984 803 0232), where decadent dishes like seafood risotto (topped with shrimps, mussels, and fish) and cochinita pibil ravioli (ravioli served with black bean sauce and onions) await. Afterward, you can stroll the cobblestone streets and peruse the outdoor cafes and snack vendors who line the streets for a romantic ending to your evening.

3. Saint Lucia

Jade Mountain St. Lucia

Where to Stay: Jade Mountain, a five-star property that sits on the side of a cliff above the coastline, offers all the dramatic views of the Gros and Petite Pitons. Here, you can really up the romance factor by booking a room with a private pool. You'll have the opportunity to enjoy it in privacy, and will make you feel like you're floating above the island. Soufriere, 800-223-1108
What to Do: If you've been itching to travel to Honolulu but dread the 13-hour flight, Saint Lucia is the Caribbean cousin of Hawaii. You'll be able to indulge in glorious scenes of the island's lush greenery, volcanic mountains, and a dazzling array of activities. Ideal for nature lovers, there are plenty of hikes where you can glimpse sweeping views, an underwater marine park where you can go scuba diving, and crystal clear waters perfect for kayaking.
Where to Eat: If you’re looking for an escape to paradise, Rainforest Hideaway is built over the water and is only accessible by boat. Here, you can opt for a tasting menu or pick and choose the dishes of your choice that all feature Caribbean flavors and ingredients for a truly authentic meal. Sample dishes include everything from lump crab cake and scallops to coconut-crusted lionfish. Marigot Bay, 758-451-4485 or 758-286-0511

4. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Half Moon Jamaica

Where to Stay: Half Moon, a RockResort is a spectacular home-away-from-home with everything you're looking for: warm hospitality, private beaches, and amazing views. Since they're no strangers to hosting famous clientele, you're guaranteed to be treated like a star. Plus, it’s only a short ride from Sangster International Airport, so it's an easy commute from the plane to the hotel. Rose Hall, Montego Bay, 888-830-5974
What to Do: Get in the island spirit in Jamaica, where there's something for everyone. Whether you want to relax with rum punch or let loose in the Caribbean sun, it's easy to hop on a short four-hour flight and land right in the heart of reggae music and jerk chicken. Spend an hour or two touring the haunted Rose Hall estate, or take a day trip to Ocho Rios, where you can climb the waterfalls at Dunn’s River Falls or go bobsledding through the forest. Major James Bond fans can check out James Bond Beach and author Ian Fleming's Goldeneye bungalow—now turned into a resort—where Fleming wrote many of his successful books.
Where to Eat: Treat your loved one to an intimate meal at Marguerite's Seafood (Gloucester Ave., Montego Bay, 876-952-4777), where you can dine on fresh fish with a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea. But if you're truly hoping to experience the island like a local, stop by Scotchies (876-953-8041), a casual spot that offers some of the best jerk chicken in all of Montego Bay.

5. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Hotel

Where to Stay: Slow down time at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, a prime oceanfront resort located right on the famous Seven Mile Beach. Unwind with light bites and a cocktail or two at Bar Jack, or indulge in a much-needed massage at the hotel's La Prairie Spa to kick off your vacation. Seven Mile Beach, 345-943-9000
What to Do: After an easy four-hour flight, step off the plane and feel the welcome embrace of sunshine, soothing breezes, and wonderful hospitality. Don't forget that this is also a place where you can swim with stingrays, hold a turtle at Cayman Turtle Farm, or be your own captain and sail the sparkling teal Caribbean waters.
Where to Eat: Eat like royalty at Blue (Seven Mile Beach, 345-943-9000), which is located inside The Ritz-Carlton and helmed by celebrity chef Eric Ripert. Offering decadent seafood creations and impressive tasting menus, this is a meal worth the splurge. However, those craving jerk can head straight to Chester’s Fish Fry, a great place to dig into some authentic island cuisine. Don't worry, the jerk seasoning here isn’t as spicy as it is in Jamaica, so you can have all you want without worrying.