Now that winter getaways and spring break vacations have come and gone, Oyster.com is taking a second to look back on the year's most popular spots (so far). Spoiler: after digging into their data, they've found that predictably – most of them were sunny, sandy locales. Take a look at the top 10 most popular travel destinations of 2016.
Read the original story, The 10 Most Popular Travel Destinations of 2016 (So Far), by Lara Grant, on Oyster.com.
The Yucatan Peninsula
In somewhat unsurprising news, the top travel destination so far this year is the Yucatan Peninsula, located in the southeast region of Mexico. It's home to several hot-spot cities that include Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen, and which appeal to all types of travelers – spring breakers, honeymooners, and families with children. Of course this area of Mexico is known for gorgeous white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, but it's also widely visited for the Mayan ruins in Tulum and Chichen Itza. So if you're looking for a tried-and-true getaway, the Yucatan Peninsula is a safe bet.
Coming in at number two is the Dominican Republic, located in the Caribbean just west of Puerto Rico. So why is it so popular? It has a stunning natural landscape, year-round warm weather, six international airports, and dozens of affordable all-inclusive resorts. But it's not all good – the food can be downright awful, English is not as widely spoken as in other nearby islands, and prostitution (which is legal) is very visible. Still, it has a rich, colonial history and friendly locals, and it's the world capital of merengue. We recommend checking out the seriously breathtaking beaches of Punta Cana, or the lush setting in Samana.
With rugged cliffs, delicious jerk chicken, and live reggae performances (plus iconic beautiful beaches), it's no wonder Jamaica continuously makes the list of top travel destinations each year. Its high crime and prevalent drug culture does deter some travelers, but those who make it to areas like Montego Bay and Negril are rewarded with warm locals, attentive service, and plenty of water activities. Whether you're looking for an intimate getaway, chic boutique stay, or budget-friendly hotel, Jamaica has it all.
Bachelor/bachelorette groups and gambling enthusiasts have long held Las Vegas as their favorite travel spot, but over the years it's gained momentum with foodies, families, and entertainment lovers as well. Now, not only can visitors play poker all night or head to risqué shows, but they can also dine at some of the best restaurants in the country and then see world-famous performers such as Elton John and Britney Spears. And despite the lack of open container laws (meaning you can booze in the street) and prevalence of scantily-clad women, there are still many family-friendly activities – Cirque Du Soleil shows, New York New York's roller coaster, and Madame Tussauds wax museum, to name a few. Plus, with so many hotel options, rates are extremely reasonable.
A prime destination for honeymooners and families, Hawaii easily has some of the most beautiful public beaches in the world. The local Hawaiian culture is a prominent part of the vacation experience – nighttime luaus, torch-lighting ceremonies, hula dancing, and ukulele performers are prevalent. It's also a haven for the activity-minded traveler, as they can surf, snorkel, hike, and more. Whether staying in tourist-heavy Waikiki, or the more rugged Kauai, tourists can find a slice of paradise on the six main islands.
East Caribbean Islands
When weather is cold, it's pretty much guaranteed that the winter-weary will follow the birds and head south. The Caribbean's peak season is during the months of December to April, but the warm beach weather can be enjoyed throughout the year. The islands making up the East Caribbean – including Guadeloupe, St. Lucia,Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua, and St. Martin – have been the most popular so far in 2016 (aside from the aforementioned Dominican Republic and Jamaica). They all deliver gorgeous sandy beaches in a tropical setting, but as there are still many differences among them, it's best to do some research (on Oyster.com!) to see which would make the perfect vacation destination for you.
New York City
The Big Apple is home to over eight million people, and sees an additional 50 million tourists every year. Why? It has it all – Broadway shows, Michelin-starred dining, a thriving music and art scene, a wealth of history, and world-class museums, to name just a few reasons. Yes, it's also expensive and noisy, but many (ourselves included) believe the pros far outweigh the cons. So for travelers who are eager to see the Statue of Liberty in person, party among celebrities, or see an upcoming band in Brooklyn, they'll be among good (crowded) company if vacationing in NYC.
Whether it’s the sandy beaches, hot nightclubs, or delicious Cuban food that brings you down, Miami delivers. It's still best known for its trendy South Beach scene and neon-lit Art Deco buildings, but with Celebrity-helmed restaurants and renowned art galleries, it's also much more. Plus, depending on where you slumber, it can be a great spot for bachelorette parties, romantic honeymoons, or even family getaways. For those looking to see and be seen, head to South Beach; travelers with children should look at Sunny Isles; while couples who want a relaxed atmosphere still near the popular spots may like Miami Beach. Just don't forget sunscreen.
Baja California Sur
There are several cities that make up the Baja California Sur region in Mexico, but a large majority of travelers to that area will have spent time in Cabo San Lucas. Although on complete opposite ends, Cabo has a similar vibe to Cancun – it's party-centric and "Americanized," yet it also has amazing beaches and a plethora of water activities. Not only that, it's home to the famous rock formation at Land's End, high-end shops, and historic sites. So while we're sure a ton of this year's tourists have been rowdy college kids, many will have been well-heeled travelers making use of the area's luxury hotels.
A quick 50 miles off the southern coast of Florida, the Bahamas are easily accessible for Americans by plane or ferry. Most travelers to the Bahamas have gone to one of two places: Atlantis – or not Atlantis. The former is located on Paradise Island and composed of six sections, including Atlantis Royal Towers, and has a wealth of pools, restaurants, bars, and outdoor activities, plus a casino and dolphin habitat. But for visitors sans kids who don't love the megaresort vibe, there are also plenty of romantic properties within the Bahamas.