If you’ve ever spent March Break in a popular locale like Miami, you probably know that it doesn’t exactly feel like “getting away.” At least not when your beach towel is overlapping with someone you barely know and you have to wait 20 minutes just to get yourself a drink at the bar. It’s a similar scene at popular ski resorts, where you’re elbowing each other in lift lines, then watching your every turn so you don’t collide on the mountain. It’s anything but relaxing, and can sometimes make you wish you just stayed home. But don’t skip the slopes or beaches just yet—these under-the-radar destinations can bring you the knee-deep powder of Whistler and turquoise waters of Cancun without the crowds.
Key Largo, Florida
If you’ve heard anything about Miami’s infamous March Break celebrations, you might be tempted to forfeit the Sunshine State altogether. But the Florida Keys, a coral cay archipelago off the tip of Florida, is much more laid-back. Key Largo is the most northerly island of the Keys and is only an hour’s drive from Miami, but it feels like a world away. The island is flanked by Everglades National Park—a prime destination for kayakers and birders—and is known as the “dive capital of the world,” so a vacation here is as much about reconnecting with nature as it is about sipping cocktails.
Big White, British Columbia
Big White is a lot more warm and friendly than its name might suggest. It’s also an excellent alternative to internationally recognized resorts like Whistler and Banff, which are receiving an especially high amount of tourists this year due to the weak Canadian dollar. You can find Big White in British Columbia’s southern interior, between the Monashee Mountains and Okanagan Valley. It’s the province’s third largest resort and has an average annual snowfall of more than 700 cm. Plus, if your legs need a break from skiing through all that light, dry powder the region is known for, you’re only 60 kilometres from the city of Kelowna, and a whole lot of wine.
Cancun is known for its beauty, but it’s also known for being crowded with resorts and cruise ship daytrippers. That’s why we’re suggesting Tulum—a more peaceful Mexican place just a two hour’s drive away. But you won’t just find fewer crowds here. Tulum’s powdery white sands and jade green waters are lined with quiet jungles and Mayan ruins that date back to the 13th century. As the only Mayan city built on the coast, Tulum is truly a unique destination, mixing crumbling limestone walls with dramatic seaside cliffs and stunning beaches. It’s also home to some excellent cave and cavern diving, which is a great way to break up your beach days.
If your idea of an ideal vacation is somewhere between gambling in Vegas and slashing powder on the West Coast, then head to Heavenly. The resort sits on the Nevada-California border and has nearly 5,000 acres of skiable terrain—that’s more than any other Lake Tahoe resort. It also has a huge collection of casinos and nightclubs in the village below. With a mid-mountain lodge staffing DJs and go-go dancers, and casinos dealing 24-hours a day, it’s après ski like you’ve never seen it before. Not into the nightlife? Even better. The party scene ensures a late start for most skiers, making it easier than ever to beat them onto the mountain for first tracks.
Fakarava, French Polynesia
Known for its striking blue lagoons and over-the-water bungalows, French Polynesia is the height of luxury. And though you’ve probably heard of Tahiti and Bora Bora, what about Fakarava? Next to the other islands, it feels extremely low-key and remote. Of course giving up crowds might mean you have to give up a little luxury too. Accommodations on this island aren’t quite as opulent, but can provide a more culturally rich experience. You can stay with a local family or at Fakarava’s only hotel, the White Sand Beach Resort. While there, you can cycle around the small village and even visit active pearl farms. But, Fakarava is really known for its diving. In the legendary South Pass, you can expect to see a great hammerhead, manta rays, dolphins, and huge swaths of grey sharks on a single tank.
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