Tropical vacation ideas are as wide as the geographical band on either side of the equator that wraps completely around the globe. This band extends from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, and contains a surprising variety of experiences and ecosystems. Many people feel that the best places to go on a tropical vacation are where the weather is always balmy and palm trees wave in the breezes over sun-drenched beaches. But you might be surprised to learn that the highest ski resort in the world (Chacaltaya in Bolivia at 17,388 feet above sea level) is located in the Tropics. Sadly, the glacier that made skiing from this dizzying height possible melted completely away by 2009, but you can still climb to the summit for spectacular views of Lake Titicaca from above the clouds. The best skiing on the continent is found in Chile south of the Tropic of Cancer from about Santiago and further south.
Other surprising tropical vacation ideas in South America include trekking along the Inca Trail to the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu and climbing adventures all over the Andes Mountains in other parts of Peru and Bolivia, as well as Ecuador. Macchu Pichu tours can be combined with a tropical island vacation idea that takes you cruising through the Galapagos Islands. These islands made famous by Charles Darwin contain an extraordinary diversity of unique wildlife, and provide opportunities for snorkeling with marine iguanas, giant sea turtles, and penguins.
The best places to go on a tropical vacation for thrilling wildlife safaris can also include snow-capped mountains. This is East Africa, where you will find the highest (Kilimanjaro in Tanzania) and second highest (Mount Kenya) mountains on the continent. A tropical island vacation idea in this region might include a stay at one of the beach resorts of Tanzania’s Zanzibar where you will find some of the best scuba diving in the world. It is possible to enjoy a wildlife safari in the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, trek to the summit of one or both mountains, and end on Zanzibar—all in the same trip. A bit further out in the Indian Ocean are the idyllic Seychelles Islands, known for its luxurious resorts.
It is, of course, a tropical island vacation idea that appeals to most travelers, and these are scattered across the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Asia and India, throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, into the Pacific Ocean and the Hawaiian Islands, and throughout the Caribbean south of Cuba. Each island has its own unique character, atmosphere, and attractions, so the best places to go on a tropical vacation for islands really depends on your interests. In Borneo, you can trek into the rainforests in search of the rare and endangered orangutan or laze on magnificent beaches in Bali. Hit the casinos on Aruba or the Bahamas, or enjoy Carnival partying in Jamaica.
Other tropical vacation ideas include visiting the temples and ancient sites of Southeast Asia, from the incredible ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the gleaming golden spires of the Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok. Do some shopping in the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai in India or snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of northern Australia. See and be seen on the famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro or cruise into the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil.