Jenn Cox, a Montreal-based freelance journalist, writes about the Caribbean’s top travel destinations for 2014, including Honduras, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Dominican Republic:
With visitor traffic growing rapidly this year, the Caribbean continues to be the number one destination of choice for international travelers and will remain the world’s most popular hotspot in 2014.
Honduras and the Birding Boom: Declared the “toucan capital of the world” by The Lodge at Pico Bonito’s head naturalist, James Adams, Honduras is a natural paradise on the brink of discovery and is expected to gain ground on other popular eco-destinations in the coming year. According to statistics derived from a Birding Trends survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service, birding ranks as the 15th most popular and the fastest growing outdoor recreational activity in the United States. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that 40 percent of birders are willing to travel to discover new bird watching opportunities. Situated on 400 acres of tropical wilderness in the country’s second largest national park, the Lodge at Pico Bonito is a dream destination for nature enthusiasts of all kinds, particularly those with an interest in birding. Offering guests access to a multi-story canopy observation tower and naturalist guides, over 400 species of birds have already been spotted on site.
The Rich Culture and Archaeological Wonders of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula: One thing is clear – travel to Mexico is still as hot as ever, particularly to such regions as the Yucatan Peninsula. [. . .] Perfectly situated on an unparalleled stretch of private white sand Caribbean beach only a short distance from Mexico’s most enchanting archaeological sites, Hotel Esencia, once the private retreat of an Italian Duchess, is the region’s top boutique hotel. [. . .] Witness some of Mexico’s most jaw dropping ruins on trips to nearby Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Uxmal among many more.
Dominican Republic’s Emerging Hot Spots: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ciudad Colonial, the colonial city of Santo Domingo will experience an increase in leisure and business travelers next year – particularly with recent growth in the city’s global banking and film industries. “The completion of the Coral highway in November 2013 will link a vast number of tourists to one of the new world’s densest cultural heritage sites, The Ciudad Colonial,” says Marc Dalet, General Manager of Las Casas del XVI. “A new initiative by the Ministry of Tourism will convert a significant part of the colonial city into pedestrian only, which will enhance the traveler’s experience. This action by the government has prompted a significant increase in private investment in restaurants, bars, shops and local excursions. These two factors combined will result in a definite increase in travel to old Santo Domingo -making it the Caribbean’s newest hot spot.” [. . .]
The Samana Peninsula, a Secluded Undiscovered Hideaway: This longtime undiscovered hideaway of the French is as authentic a Caribbean destination as they come. Spectacular beaches stretch for miles with no developments in site, as mountain ranges provide the perfect backdrop to a landscape teaming with natural wonders.
Sustainable Tourism on the Secluded Southwestern Coast: For eco-conscious travelers, there is no region of the Dominican Republic more captivating than the Sierra Barahuco mountain range of the Southwestern coast. While the region is quite a distance from the island’s bustling tourist enclaves, it offers an ecological immersion unlike any other with sustainable boutique hotels leading the trend in green luxury. [. . .] Area excursions include opportunities to tour nearby national parks within the Jaragua, Bahoruco and Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, experience an organic coffee plantation, visit the Casa de Tarzán (Tarzan’s House), Las Aguilas Bay, Oviedo Lagoon and Lake Enriquillo, or explore caves with ancient tribal art.