The British climate means natural Vitamin D is harder to come by at the start of the year. For the price of a plane ticket, here’s where to find some sunshine – plus plenty of good food and R&R along the way.
Cancún is Mexico’s choice for partying, luxury resorts, azure waters and bleach-white sands – the type you rarely see outside holiday brochures. Oh, and an underwater art museum. ‘Luxury’ is certainly the operative word for the dining options here too – there’s Japanese seafood on the waterfront at Tora; Mediterranean fine dining at Fantino; and award-winning modern Mexican dishes at Le Chique. For something more relaxed, head to La Destileria for tacos and tequila overlooking the lagoon.
Almost every year in recent memory, Bangkok was named the most visited city in the world. Why? It has a cuisine among the richest, and a thriving nightlife culture, while popularity among backpackers means it’s used to looking after travellers on a tight budget. Dining options include Sra Bua’s Thai-inspired haute cuisine; top notch Japanese-Korean cuisine Akira Back; and traditional Thai dishes in elegant surroundings at Thara Thong. Diners with a head for heights can enjoy dinner with a view at Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar, Thailand’s highest restaurant.
Welcome to the Rainbow State. Here they have active volcanoes, all the ways to put your feet up, but also some of the best hiking known to man. Here, poke is not a mere ‘food trend’, it’s a local favourite, as Hawaii natives will tell you. Pay a visit to Merriman’s (Honololu) for farm-to-table Hawaiian cuisine or Lahaina Gill for the best New American cooking in Maui. For fresh fish and ocean views, there’s Mama’s Fish House, a family-run restaurant on Maui’s north shore.
Florida Keys is a 125-mile long archipelago off the Florida coast, where the waters are ripe for fishing, watersports, and sealife-spotting. If you’re visiting Key West, grab a table at Seven Fish for locally caught fish dishes like their house specialty, Thai curry snapper. Seafood (grouper, blue crab, swordfish) is also a must-order at Café Marquesa, but Latitudes on the aptly-named Sunset Key has the better views. Otherwise, try Nine One Five for excellent seafood but also meatier options like filet au poivre and pappardelle with kobe beef Bolognese.
Haiti’s neighbour, with numerous national parks for a small country, is certainly proud of its nature. Santo Domingo, the capital, has lots of history (clue: pirates), while a Brit can consider it hot all year round. And – this being the Caribbean – expect beaches, beaches, and yet more beautiful beaches. Dining-wise, Bahata Rosa is the place to be, with a stunning terrace on Punta Cana village’s main drag. La Yola, down the road, is influenced by the waters it overlooks, as are the beach dinners at Jellyfish. Over in Santo Domingo is La Cassina, a popular Mediterranean restaurant and club, and Bottega Fratelli, an Italian joint that’s been family-run for three generations and counting.
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This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.