Many regions around the world have shrugged off the last vestiges of winter and are primed to welcome the arrival of spring with a variety of festivals and seasonal events. Generally, temperaments and moods improve with the warmer weather, and sun worshipers pack their sunblock and swimming suits and flock in droves to the warmer regions of the world to say goodbye to winter. May is often considered the unofficial harbinger of summer and in that spirit, here are some of the best places to “high-tail” it to in the month of May 2018.
Tropical getaway in the Caribbean
A longtime favourite tropical get-away, the Caribbean encompasses 28 different island nations and is comprised of more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. The population is diverse and eclectic. and Caribbean people are a blend of African, American Indian, European, and, in some cases, Asian influences. The month of May is especially popular for holidays in the Caribbean, with beautifully warm and dry weather throughout the month. In the southern regions, you can expect temperatures to average around 27°C/80°F.
May is a great month to be in the Caribbean if you’re a fan of live music as the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival takes place 6-13 May with concerts on picturesque Pigeon Island. Alternatively, head to the Bahamas for the Soul Beach Music Festival taking place 24-29 May, which is jam-packed with beach parties, comedy nights and world-class entertainment. The Caribbean is chock full of possibilities and you can arrange a tour to swim with mantas, shark dive, or go zip-lining, ballooning or hiking. Other popular islands this time of year to consider include Jamaica, Aruba, Barbados, Granada, and Grand Cayman Islands with its premier diving sites, or you can head to the Bermuda International Film Festival on May 31st.
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Let the “good times roll” in New Orleans
One of the most unique cities in the United States; New Orleans, Louisiana, is a fabulous place to visit in the month of May. Temperatures reach a high of 28°C/82°F during the day and dip to a mild 20°C/68°F in the evenings. World renowned as the birthplace of jazz, it is highly regarded for its regional spicy southern cuisine, Creole and Cajun cultural heritage, and its connection to voodoo and the occult. Visitors flock to the city for its annual Mardi Gras celebration and the French Quarter is a draw year round with its quaint shops and boutiques, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Be sure to visit Bourbon Street and Canal Street, do some shopping at the French Market and treat yourself to a perfect cup of coffee and a beignet at Café Du Monde. Take an Old New Orleans Rum Distillery tour, a cooking class, a bayou swamp tour or make time for a day trip to visit the beautiful antebellum architecture and plantation homes found outside of the city. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival takes place 3-6 May and culminates with a “tri-centennial” fireworks show on the evening of the 6th at the riverfront. There is also a “Mambo” crawfish festival scheduled for the 12th, and the highly anticipated New Orleans Wine and Food Experience takes place 25-27 May.
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Make your own “fiesta” in Mexico
Mexico comes alive in May with a bevy of celebrations and festivals nationwide. Boasting more than 10,000 km of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, it is a beach lover’s paradise and home to diverse climates, delectable cuisine, and unique archaeology. In addition to the beaches, the varied landscape includes mountains, deserts, and jungles. Most of the country has a tropical climate with high temperatures all year round, especially if you plan to visit the popular Yucatán Peninsula, where you’ll find famous resorts like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The weather stays nice and warm in the evenings, and you are not likely to experience much rainfall.
Mother’s Day is always celebrated on May 10th in Mexico, regardless of the day of the week, and a vacation in Mexico may be the optimal way to celebrate in style. The Sacred Mayan Journey takes place 20-21 May and recreates the pilgrimage of the ancient Maya to worship the Goddess lxChel, while daring canoeists in pre-hispanic style vessels race from Xcaret Park to Cozumel. Food lovers may enjoy the Morelia en Boca Gastronomy Festival which kicks off 20-22 May in Morelia, Michoacán with a focus on the traditional cuisine of the state of Michoacán, Mexican wine, and avant-garde cuisine. If beach destinations are more your style, head to Baja California 28-29 May for the Rosarito Art Fest, where more than 100 artists will be in attendance along with musical performances, and gastronomical delights.
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Get back to nature in Belize
May is a great month to visit the South American paradise of Belize, and many resorts, hotels, and tour operators offer discounts on accommodations and on all-inclusive vacation packages this time of year. The weather is exceptional, with temperatures averaging 28°C/82°F most days and with occasional showers in the morning and thunderstorm at night. There are a number of top events you do want to miss when you visit, and two of these are the Crooked Tree Cashew Festival and the Chocolate Festival taking place in the middle of the month. Belize is a nature lover’s haven, and you can go to the Blue Hole and the Belize Barrier Reef for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boat touring. Belize also has mangrove coastlines and atolls that are perfect for kayaking. If you enjoy hiking and trekking, there are mountains to the west, rainforests in the lowlands, and Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich and Cahal Pech in Western Belize.
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Escape to exotic Rio de Janeiro
If a soulful and vibrant “city that never sleeps” is what you’re looking for on your next vacation, then Rio de Janeiro, Brazil may be calling your name. Rio never fails to impress with its modern aesthetics, historic sites, sparkling beaches, and greenbelts. May is generally warm, humid and damp, with daytime temperatures averaging 26°C/78°F.
Be sure to explore the coast on the iconic beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema while making time to take in the museums, art galleries, and parks. Next, make the pilgrimage to Maracanã Stadium or book a Tijuca rainforest tour. A trip to Corcovado Mountain to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer and revile in the awe-inspiring city views is also not to be missed. There are not a lot of festivals happening in May, but you can immerse yourself in the local culture by heading to the neighborhood of Lapa. They block off the streets for use by pedestrians from Friday to Sunday, and you can experience the “Carioca lifestyle” at these impromptu street parties that feature local musicians, street food, and drinks while managing to get some free samba lessons on the spot.
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The adventure of a life awaits in Lima
Lima is a bustling metropolis and the capital city of Peru in South America. Located on the arid Pacific coast, it has a mild desert climate without extremes of hot or cold weather. The weather in May is characterized by dry days, virtually no rain, and daily temperatures of 20°C/67°F with nights about 17ᵒC /67ᵒF. Lima has a rich colonial past and is home to several museums such as the Museo Larco with its pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, which are both worth checking out. Other places of interest include the San Francisco Monastery, the Plaza de Armas and the 16th-century cathedral in the heart of old Lima Centro. Many tourists enjoy the Palacio de Gobierno, which is the official home of Peru’s President, and make a trip to the Huaca Pucllana, which is a large adobe brick pyramid located in Miraflores. The 2018 Lima Marathon will take place on May 20th with an expected 42k runners from around the world taking part this year. The Corpus Christi is another highly anticipated event scheduled for 31 May that will honor the Eucharist with religious parades and festivities taking place throughout the city.
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Join the non-stop party in Cancun
Located in Mexico on the Caribbean coast, Cancun has a tropical climate with hot weather all year round. Travel in May is ideal, and you can expect high temperatures that average 33°C/91°F with it cooling to around 22°C/71°F at night. Keep in mind that Cancun is a favorite spot for spring breakers who usually descend on the city en masse near the end of the month. Memorial Day weekend is a good time to make travel plans as the Cancun Jazz Festival takes place at the same time and showcases live performances of jazz musicians from all across the globe. Don’t forget that Cinco de Mayo takes place on May 5th, and Cancun basks in the revelry of tequila themed parties that are tailor-made to appeal to tourists. A more low key and local celebration is the Feast of San Isidro which takes place on May 15th and honors the harvest, field animals, and the farmers. A visit to one of the eco-parks such as Xcaret, Xplor, Xenotes, and Xoximilco are popular as you can swim in grottos and cenotes (natural sinkholes) and learn the history of native Mexicans. Ancient ruins and temples are another highlight of any trip to Cancun, and the Mayan ruins of Tulum and the ancient pyramid of Chichen Itza are both worth seeing by making a day trip or booking a tour.
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Discover the old world charm of Puerto Vallarta
Situated on the west coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is a beach resort city on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas in Jalisco state. Daily temperatures in May average 26°C/78°F, but can often rise to 33°C/91°F and above during the hottest parts of the day. Known for its beaches, fashionable boutiques, water sports and nightlife, Puerto Vallarta has quaint cobblestone streets and is home to the ornate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church. Make your way to the trendy and vibrant El Malecón, which is a beachside promenade with contemporary art sculptures, bars, and restaurants. There are a lot of events happening in May, including Fiestas de Mayo which is celebrated throughout the month with games, attractions, exhibits, scrumptious regional food and drinks. Restaurant Week takes place 15-30 May, and the month is also the beginning of “Sea Turtle Preservation” season, and you can easily book an eco-tour and witness sea turtles laying eggs and the march of the baby turtles to the sea.
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Melissa is a passionate foodie, travel writer, and editor working in media internationally and in the USA. She has lived in Bangkok since 2004 and has a background in the travel industry. Melissa’s writing has been published globally in many prestigious online and print magazines for over a decade. Her motto for life is “You cannot live or love well if you have not wined and dined well!”