Excellent Beach Destinations

(ARA) - This is the time of year when the winter blues are setting in for many outside the Sun Belt, which always means big business for winter beach destinations. It’s usually not hard to spot those who’ve been sun-starved all winter, as they may be getting off airplanes in places like Boston, Detroit or Chicago in shorts when arriving home to February temperatures in the teens.

The question is where are beachgoers headed during the winter months? It’s no surprise the most popular domestic winter beach destinations are in Florida, California and Hawaii. After all, they offer the most coast line, a warm climate and post card images of sunshine, palm trees and ocean waters. Internationally, the same can be said for Mexico.

These locales annually boast many of the top beach destinations. However as travel levels rise and lodging construction continues, many are also aggressively marketing their destinations, and riding the wave of tourism to lure more travelers to what are already historically popular beach cities. As a result, there’s been continued growth in many top spots.

In fact, online travel agency Orbitz recently set out for the sandy beaches to determine which winter beach destinations are the fastest growing.

Topping the Orbitz list domestically is Maui, HI, which edged out a handful of popular beach cities in Florida, as the fastest growing winter beach destination. Hawaii’s Big Island also landed the third-ranked vacation spot in Kailua-Kona, which continues to rise in popularity.

Florida landed five of the top 10 on the list, which measured percentage growth in hotel bookings from late December through the end of February over a three-year period to compile its Index. The most popular Florida beaches include Daytona Beach, which is number two, as well as Key West, Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Sarasota and Fort Myers.

California beaches in San Diego and Santa Monica were also in the top 10, as was historic Charleston, SC.

In Mexico, Cozumel continues to be among its most popular beaches and now it also has the distinction of being its fastest growing internationally, Orbitz says. At number one, Cozumel was one of six Mexican beach destinations to make the list; the others included Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen (number two) as well as Cancun, Acapulco, Ixtapa and Mazatlan. Negril, Jamaica, Rio de Janeiro, Aruba and Bermuda rounded out the international top 10.

When planning a beach vacation, there are a myriad of options and some destinations are better than others depending on your needs and interests. For example, some are better for families, romance or a getaway with friends. Some tips to keep in mind when planning a winter beach getaway:

* Book a vacation package and book online. Combining air and hotel is a great way to save on trip costs. Online booking can also help you save.

* Be flexible with travel dates. Traveling at off-peak times will enable you to avoid some of the crowds and find better rates.

* Plan and book early. Generally, the further in advance you can book, the better your chances of finding a good deal.

* It’s never too late! While it’s always advisable to plan ahead and book early, it’s never too late to get away. If you’re still anxious to go but haven’t booked yet, keep your eye out for last-minute specials and you might be surprised by what you find.

* If flying out of a cold weather climate, take the earliest flight possible. Your chances of incurring a delay are much greater late in the day.

* If you can, leave the laptop and PDA behind. It’s much easier to unwind with sand between your toes if you leave your work at home.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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