Need a vacation before spring turns to summer? These four last-chance getaway ideas make the most of the shoulder season to optimize your holiday enjoyment.
Caribbean calm in Cuba
With relations thawing between the United States and Cuba, it’s only a matter of time before more and more tourists arrive on Cuba’s shores, prompting increased demand and development. Book now, before the onslaught, and explore the white-sand beaches of Cayo Coco and Varadero, the historic buildings and vibrant culture of Havana, or the diverse flora and fauna around Cayo Santa Maria, part of the more than 300,000-hectare Buenavista Biosphere Reserve, recognized by UNESCO for its natural and cultural heritage.
Sugar shack odyssey in Quebec
For the maple sap to flow, temperatures need to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night (ideally from 5 to -5°C). In Quebec, which produces roughly 90 per cent of Canada’s syrup, the season tends to peak in mid-March, but some 400 cabanes à sucre stay open through late April and offer such things as horse-drawn wagon rides and hearty traditional foods like pea soup, baked beans and tire d’érable—hot maple taffy cooled on snow and rolled onto a stick.
Sun worshipping in Mexico
If warm weather and great package deals are part of your vacation-planning mantra, then Mexico in spring (before hurricane season starts in mid May) might be right up your alley. April marks the end of the dry season in Mexico’s Riviera Maya and often boasts warmer temperatures than earlier in the year—with more deals to be had. Divers should check out the Ultimate Dive Experience from the Allegro Cozumel Resort, which includes an in-room wetsuit-drying rack, one daily one-tank boat dive and equipment storage. Theme park fans will love the Occidental Grand Xcaret’s Ultimate Xcaret Xperience, with unlimited access to the nature, adventure and cultural activities of Xcaret Park.
Spring skiing in Banff National Park
Powder hounds in search of one last ski trip should head to Sunshine Village in Banff National Park, which boasts the longest non-glacial ski season in the country, with the slopes open until May 18. Just 90 minutes from Calgary and 15 minutes from the town of Banff, Sunshine gets up to nine metres of snow a year, and its 12 lifts service 107 named runs across more than 3,300 acres of terrain. Broaden your experience with a snowshoe and fondue tour or a weekend yoga and ski retreat, running April 10 to 12 and May 8 to 10.
Snapshots of Central Cuba: Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara
Explore Central Cuba's historic towns, where time stands still. Drink in a rustic, open-air courtyard bar with locals in Trinidad, dine in a 1900s mansion-turned-restaurant in Cienfuegos and visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara.