Few things are more soul-quenching than a good girlfriends’ getaway — especially when the trip taps into your crew’s passions. The Caribbean’s postcard-perfect views and all-night parties are fun and all, but modern wayfarers want more from their travels: more thrilling adventure, richer culture, tastier food, and cooler digs. Fortunately, the beaches are growing up and offering a range of experiences worthy of your squad’s attention. Whether you’re looking for more of a yoga-and-chill type of vacay or you want to push your physical and mental boundaries, these five Caribbean wellness escapes rise to the challenge. It doesn’t hurt that the tropical settings are goldmines for Instagram pics either.
1. For Adventurous Dirt Sisters: Trusted outdoor brand REI launched women-only tours through Africa, the US, Europe, and other regions earlier this year, but to get active in the Caribbean, go for one of the original tours in Costa Rica ($2300 for six days) or Belize ($3400 for nine days). Local guides take you where the natives go for secret hikes, surf lessons, kayaking excursions, and other open-air sweat sessions in heavenly spots. The Belize Lighthouse Reef & Mayan Adventure ($3950 for nine days) is a good balance of action and relaxation. You’ll spend a few days swimming around one of the most stunning reefs on this side of the world, before heading inland to explore waterfalls and archaeological sites in the country’s Hidden Valley. (Photo via REI Adventures)
2. For Locavore Culture Seekers: The brand new UNICO 20˚87˚Hotel Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen flips the script on the all-inclusive hotel. You still won’t have to worry about racking up an unexpected bill or having to do too much planning, but the hotel’s unusual take on custom itineraries brings you beyond the predictable all-inclusive experience. Learn to cook Mayan fare one day, then trek among ancient ruins near Tulum the next. Or opt to go ziplining through the jungle in Cancun before settling in with a legit Mexican feast. There are also daily workout classes so you don’t have to miss a beat on your fitness plan, and five restaurants helmed by accomplished chefs. (Photo via UNICO 20˚87˚Hotel Riviera Maya)
3. For Bike-and-Beach Babes: While Aruba is known for its touristy vibe (the locals all speak five languages and chain hotels and restaurants abound), vacationers are starting to uncover the island’s rugged offerings. The northeast’s rocky shore, with its undeveloped terrains and moderate hills, is a playground for bikers. Arikok National Park has natural pools and caves, and Aruba’s diving and snorkeling sites are hard to beat. Rent a house like Casa Alistaire, which sleeps eight people in the residential Savaneta neighborhood. Then spend days kayaking through the nearby mangroves, learning to wakeboard from one of the hometown pros, off-roading in the northern side of the island with De Palm Tours, and snorkeling among shipwrecks and coral reefs off the coast with Red Sail Aruba. (Photo via De Palm Tours)
4. For the Laid-Back Spiritual Clan: Hotel Xixim on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is laid out following Mayan cosmology, so you’ll definitely feel a sense of alignment from the moment you step onto the property. The entire experience is built around the notion of conscious travel, so you’ll find eco-safaris, meditation and yoga classes, a juice therapy hut, and a high regard for the resort’s natural setting within the 146,000-acre protected Celestún Biosphere Reserve. (Photo via Hotel Xixim)
5. For the Barre-and-Brunch Set: The Bahamas hideaway The Other Side just unveiled new eco-luxe, oceanside canvas tents, designed as communal spaces for reading, drinking, eating, and playing. Sounds pretty good to us, and perfectly suited for a posse who enjoys the finer things in life without the fussy trappings. You won’t find too much written up on this hotel, or its sister property The Ocean View Club. The understatedly elegant boutique hotels, owned by a super-chic couple who inherited the property through family, is a favorite with the creative class for its guest-house feel (the husband cooks meals, bar works on the honor system, decor is collected, dogs run the grounds). Though there is a 24-hour boat ready to whisk you away to nearby buzzing Eleuthera, there’s a good chance you and your gals will never want to leave this bohemian haunt. (Photo via The Other Side)
Where are you and your girls traveling to next? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Featured photos via Getty)