Some of us sit down to “turkey and trimmings” on Thanksgiving Day. Others choose roast pig, duck, chicken, or similar dishes. But there’s one thing that appeals to those with a refined taste for a more cosmopolitan and adventurous Thanksgiving Day: traveling to faraway and exotic lands where the cold wintry chills of northerly regions will not burrow between flesh and bone.
Among the most prized locales to visit during the Thanksgiving holiday are the Bahamas; the Dominican Republic; and Tulum, Mexico. Unlike many other Thanksgiving destinations, these islands experience warm breezes throughout the entirety of the year, even at night. And since they are rich in both history and culture, there is much on these islands that will lure in the more cultivated among us.
So add the grand touch of perfection to your Thanksgiving plans. Explore what these islands are all about – and why they make such enviable Thanksgiving destinations.
Thanksgiving in Tulum
Jutting out of the warm, seething waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum is located on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula and is the scene of numerous Mayan ruins. Actually, the history of Tulum is pretty interesting.
Before Christopher Columbus sailed out into the wild blue ocean, the Mayans had built a site at Tulum, named Zama. Interestingly enough, “Tulum” in Yucatan Mayan means “fence” or “wall,” suggesting that it was well-known for its fortifications. Not surprisingly, then archaeologists have uncovered extensive walls that protected the place from invaders.
Run the clock forward to 1518, and the first Europeans see Tulum for the first time. The centuries passed, and in the 1900s restoration efforts took place, and the beaches were made more available – and pleasant – to visitors.
Now then, why is Tulum an attractive place for indulging in the plenitudes of edibles that is a hallmark of Thanksgiving? It’s simple, really: the thought of centuries-old Mayan ruins; warm, sunny weather and clear skies, even at this time of year; and the salty breeze blowing across the turquoise waters captivates the imaginations of wanderlusts everywhere.
Herewith: some tips for an exquisite Thanksgiving experience in Tulum.
· Where to Stay. There are a number of options when it comes to places to stay at Tulum. Of course, a nice casita could be rented – but there are plenty of hotels, too. Luxuriant hotels can be easily had. The Hotel Pasada 06 is one of the more popular hotels in Tulum since it is full of the cultural spirit of the Mayan civilization of long ago. The Hotel Teetotum (which is also a restaurant) is another well-known hotel in Tulum, and certainly worthy of your consideration.
· What to Do. There is much to do in Tulum, and this locale’s throwback to Mayan times is sure to satisfy the explorer within you. For a taste of the past, visit the Tulum Ruins or drop by Chichen Itza. Or climb to the top of Coba, an ancient Mayan city that rises steeply into the sky.
You might also want to revel in the delights of the Sian Ka’an biosphere, a natural wonder filled with tropical flora, forests, marshes, and a milieu of dolphins and birds and crocodiles and monkeys.
There’s more to do, too. Many visitors to Tulum enjoy cenotes (which are, essentially, gorgeous sink holes) and use zip lines to traverse them. It’s undeniable: at Tulum, there will be too many wondrous things to do that you might want to take a second Thanksgiving Day vacation here.
Thanksgiving in the Dominican Republic
Nestled within the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is home to tropical breezes, starry skies, and unbelievably beauteous scenery and landscape. But there is far more to the island than natural lusciousness; its golf courses, for example, are world-renowned, and are part of the reason why the Dominican Republic is the most visited region in the Caribbean. Little wonder that many have made it their favorite destination for an exclusive Thanksgiving experience.
· Where to Stay. One of the most exhilaratingly thrilling hotels to stay at is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. With “rooms worth tweeting about,” breathtaking ocean views, refreshing pools, and an all-star casino and nightlife, there’s little reason not to stay at the Hard Rock. It is widely considered the best and most opulent hotel around.
There are other hotels, of course, too – such as the Dreams La Romana and the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort – that are worth considering.
· What to Do. From golfing on the Dominican Republic’s lovely greens to walking along the Calle de las Damas of the Zona Colonial – and breathing in the charming atmosphere of the city – there is a nearly endless list of possible things to do on a last-minute Thanksgiving trip to the Dominican Republic. The natural explorer will be quite fond of the “Dominican Alps,” a lovely mountain range that arches across the spine of the island. Waterfalls, streams, valleys, and pure mountain air infusing meadows with a delicious scent are all part of this enchanting wonderland.
On a more metropolitan note, there are a wide variety of casinos to visit, including the aforementioned Hard Rock Casino. The beaches of the Dominican Republic are resplendent, too, so drop by Puerto Plata to dip your toes in the glittering ocean water.
Thanksgiving in the Bahamas
Lying off the Florida coast, the Bahamas are a cluster of islands well-known as a destination for the affluent and prestigious. Steeped in history, the islands have the recognition of bearing witness to Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World. In 1718, the Bahamas became part of the British Empire and saw the Duke of Windsor acting as governor from 1940 to 1945, and the islands are now an independent Commonwealth.
Because of the proximity to the continental United States – and because of the warm, sultry weather; the constant influx of celebrities and performers; and the sparkling blue water – the Bahamas are an attractive Thanksgiving destination. After all, it’s “better in the Bahamas.”
· Where to Stay. With a wide range of magnificent hotels in the Bahamas, there is no lack of accommodations for the well-to-do traveler. Space does not permit a full overview of all the hotels in the Bahamas that would appeal to the cosmopolitan individual. However, a few will be mentioned. There is the One and Only Ocean Club, which faces a shoreline of pristine splendor and beauty. It is much more than a hotel, with first-rate golf and tennis, exquisite spas, and many more accommodations.
Then there’s the Pink Sands Resort, which rests near the famous pink sand beach of Harbour Island. This resort is composed of 25 exclusive, private cottages with large rooms. The romantic vibe is undeniable here, and the vibrant tropical flora here presents the perfect backdrop for a very special Thanksgiving getaway.
Finally, there’s the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Harbour, which features beachfront suites, restaurants, and yachting activities – sure to appeal to the nautical ones among us.
· What to Do. Any list of activities and “things to do” in the Bahamas would be incomplete, but here are a few such attractions you might find fascinating for your last-minute Thanksgiving vacation to the islands.
You will, for instance, love Castaway Cay – that exclusive Disney island set in the middle of the sparkling Caribbean waters. Only reachable by Disney’s line of cruise ships, Castaway Cay itself features numerous attractions, including some that are adult-only.
The Ocean Club Golf Course is a must-visit for all golf bon vivants. This breathtaking golf course is quite expansive – encompassing several shimmering lakes and lush patches of green.
One of the world’s most beautiful aquariums can be had at the Marine Habitat in Atlantis. As soon as you step inside this aquarium – after walking past thunderous waterfalls cascading down ornately designed architectural wonders – you will behold a myriad of beautiful, colorful creatures of the sea. Truth be told, you will feel as if you are underwater yourself – so immersive is the experience at this world-class aquarium.