Our friends over at Soulstice Swim know the spots!
The Philippines (Palawan)
Beaches ( ✔), Lush Tropical isalnds ( ✔), Cristal clear water ( ✔)... Affordability ( ✔ ✔).
Palawan province is made up of 1,780 islands and islets, rocky coves, and sugar-white sandy beaches. As of September 2016, Palawan Island was rated the "Most Beautiful Island in the World" as voted by respective readers of rival travel publications Conde Nast Traveller and Travel + Leisure. To top it off El Nido, located at the northern tip of the island, was also currently rated the "Most Beautiful Beach in the World" by Conde Nast Traveller readers.
Bonus: The Philippines were a Spanish Colony so Spanish is their second language in many parts of the country. So brush up on your Spanish if learning Filipino seems daunting!
Best time to visit: March to early June (July and August is their rainy season).
Honduras (Roatán island)
Diving ( ✔), Beaches ( ✔), Crystal Clear water ( ✔) Rum ( ✔ ✔)
Located 65km into the Caribbean sea off the coast of Honduras, Roatán island is a secluded gem. Situated at the southern tip of the second biggest barrier reef in the world (The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef), Roatán offers some of the best and most affordable diving in the world. If you have been thinking of doing your PADI Open Water then this is the place to do it. Check out http://barefootdiversroatan.com for pricing and more info on dive sites.
It's not all about the diving though! Roatán has some incredible picture perfect beaches for those of you who want to post up under a palm tree with a chilled coconut.
Best time to visit: January - early April
The Bahamas (Exuma)
Beaches ( ✔ ✔ ), Crystal clear water ( ✔).
We know what your thinking..."really...the Bahamas?" and we say YES! Consisting of over 700 islands with picture perfect beaches and the infamous swimming pigs what's not to love. The Bahamas have been on the radar for a long time and for some reason have a stigma of being expensive, but think again. With the introduction of airBNB and some new direct flights from throughout North America you can now fly to the Bahamas for less than $400-500 CND. Currently there are over 80 airBNB rentals for 2-4 people for under $100.00 CND a night throughout the main island and Nassau.
Bonus: Go in the shoulder seasons (November and April) when prices are low and weather is still good. (Last year we found flights from Toronto - Exuma for $198.00 roundtrip).
Best time to visit: December - early April
Culture ( ✔), Surfing ( ✔), Affordability ( ✔)
Spend the morning walking through rolling tea fields and the afternoon surfing. Sri Lanka has plenty to offer from culinary wonders to spending the day riding an elephant. It is an eclectic mix of Indian and Asian cultures that will be a sensory over load for the most well travelled of travellers.
Fun fact: Sri Lanka produces on average 330 million kg of tea/year or 23% of the worlds total tea supply!
Bonus: Watch a rugby game with the locals
Best time to visit: The west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September. Sri Lanka's position close to the Equator means that temperatures remain fairly constant year-round.