Great Affordable Destinations
The fact is we’ve had a rough winter. And now it’s time to take off the edge with a vacay that appeases the fun-lover and culture vulture in us but doesn’t dare break the bank. We’re looking for good value for our money—the kind that turns a quick getaway into a lifetime of memories, complete with do-able flights and luxe accommodations. To help us along with the planning, we spoke with BlackAtlas.com editor Venita Griffin who shared her insider tips for great destinations that not only offer fun and adventure but also pack in a bit of Black culture for the times we’re looking to take in more than just the sights.
Perfect for: A group getaway, especially if you’re the type that loves destination music festivals. Culture: Perhaps best known by Caribbean music lovers for it’s annual Caribana festival (August), which brings Black folk from all over the world, Toronto is a vibrant and thoroughly eclectic modern city. “If you’re a lover of island music and it doesn’t matter which island it represents, you’ll find it at Caribana,” says Black Atlas editor Venita Griffin. But even if it’s not Caribana, there’s still plenty of rhythms and sites to experience in one of the world’s most diverse cities. Deals: Through June 2010, aavacations.com. is offering a weekend getaway to Toronto (air and accommodation included) for $425.
Key West, Florida
Perfect for: An inexpensive getaway with lots of adventure. Culture: South Florida is one of the hottest affordable destinations around, as voted by travelers at Travelocity. Added to that, the team at Black Atlas recently discovered Higgs Beach, a historic African Burial Ground off the coast of Key West. You’ll love the historic charm of this small town that’s a hop away from the Bahamas but won’t cost you as much. “It’s a short plane ride from Miami and you get the feeling you’ve left the country even though you haven’t,” says Griffin. Deals: Book a two-night stay at any of the local hotels and get free airfare through FLA–KEYS.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Perfect for: An island retreat. Culture: Also known as Mobay, Montego Bay is an easy trip to pull together and it’s affordable says Griffin. Firmly rooted in it’s African heritage, Mobay is considered the tourism capital of Jamaica. You’ll love the quaint shops and all the watersports available. Deals: Flights to Montego Bay start at $382, roundtrip.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Perfect for: “A girlfriend’s weekend or a family vacation,” says Griffin. Culture: Besides the colorful culture and scenery, there’s a masking carnival in July that celebrates African history, Griffin tells us. Loiza, a small town on the island was founded by freed African slaves, and is best known as a hub for Black Puerto Rican culture and music. Deals: Flights to San Juan start at $298, roundtrip. Through December, book a third night at the Marriott San Juan Resort and Stellaris Casino and get the fourth for free.
Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
Perfect for: A lover of culture Culture: Known as “the African capital of Brazil,” the population of Bahia is 90% Black, making it the place with the largest Black population outside of the continent. It’s also steeped in Roman Catholic traditions and churches, giving it it’s other moniker, the “Black Rome.” Everywhere you turn Bahia celebrates it’s Afro-Brazilian culture, and hosts one of the most renowned carnivals around. “It rivals anything you’ve ever seen,” says Griffin. Deals: American Airlines offers flights to Salvador da Bahia from $1056, roundtrip. The price tag may not be as affordable, but it is Brazil after all.
Mexico City, Mexico
Perfect for: A cosmopolitan getaway Culture: Mexico City is considered the Venice of Latin America. “Mexico City is huge and sophisticated,” says Griffin. Here the ancient and the modern collide right in front of your eyes, like an Aztec pyramid that sits in the heart of the city. You’ll love the vibrant outdoor culture, with plenty of flea markets, bistros and parks. For a bit of history, it’s here that two African American athletes performed the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. Deals: Flights to Mexico City start at $530, roundtrip.
St Thomas, V.I.
Perfect for: Taking in some shopping and culture. Culture: No sales tax, no passport necessary and no need to put your phone on roaming are just some of the perks that make St. Thomas that much more enticing. There’s also plenty of African history on the island—it was once home to one of the busiest slave markets. The Cathedral Church of All Saints was built to celebrate the end of slavery. It is also the site of the Black Boaters Summit (August), an annual gathering of “non sailors, non swimmers, couples, singles, and families.” Deals: Flights start at $387 via American Airlines. Bookit.com has slashed prices to the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa from $445 to $165 per night.