When most of us in Colorado think about the beach, we think of Mexico. Not because it's the greatest place on earth, but because it's close, convenient and cheap. (It's also an excellent place to conduct an experiment on the effects of eating fish tacos off the street every meal for a fortnight.)
The Caribbean, meanwhile, is the gem on the far side of the Gulf of Mexico -- the east side -- stretching from Puerto Rico all the way south to Venezuela. I grew up on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and lived on a sailboat my first two years there, so I got to know the Caribbean well before eventually landing in Breckenridge. The area remains, in my opinion, one of the planet's most extraordinary places.
The Caribbean island chain includes land owned by the U.S. as well as a variety of European countries, in addition to sovereign nations borne of self-sufficiency and peace. Its beaches are almost absurdly idyllic, like a postcard brought to life with margaritas for all. Most of the islands offer the ambitious mudseason adventure seeker a huge range of options, from stunning hikes up 60-degree mountainsides to rainforest mountain-biking trails to empty, hidden surf breaks on top of kaleidoscopic coral reefs.
The key to maximizing your time in the Caribbean is to explore an island's nooks and crannies. Every time I go home to St. John I make an effort to find something new, be it a trail, view or swath of sand I never knew existed. The same rewards exist on every island; get away from the well-marked spots and you'll feel like you've discovered buried treasure.
All of that said, no island is perfect -- groceries cost more, hurricanes strike, sunburns hurt like hell and the wet season can be dreary. But if you can't see paradise through rain drops, you need to change your lens.
-- Devon O'Neil
Colorado mountain travellers can experience the thrill of the Caribbean the same way they do the ski resorts. The RockResort experience you may find at the Arrabelle or One Ski Hill Place is mimicked in the RockResorts of the coast: Half Moon in Jamaica -- is all just as luxurious as the properties in the mountains but without the snow.