Ready to plan your next getaway? For the best time to enjoy the snow of New Zealand, the green of Alaska and the food of Martinique, follow these trip recommendations from ISLANDS research editor Ashley Knaus. And for the latest deals to islands around the world, visit our extensive Travel Specials page.
Why Here - Snowy adventure. Towns like Queenstown and Wanaka, which have six ski fields (and wineries) close by, offer some of the world's best skiing in the Southern Alps.
When to Go - August. Combine a lack of trees, little development on the slopes, the highest mountain range in Australasia, and the best month for snow -- and you have a skier's paradise. Skiing South Island's Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone is a must. And be sure to make time for icy outdoor festivals like the Winter Games.
What to Budget - $6,500 to $8,500 (two people, five nights). Fly Qantas for a 13-hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, North Island (AKL), then on to South Island's largest airport, Christchurch International Airport (CHC). From there, getting around New Zealand is very easy, with planes, trains and ferries conveniently scheduled and accessible. newzealand.com
Why Here - Emerald green. Think Alaska is all snow and cold? Kodiak Island has a rainforest and -- by Alaskan standards -- has mild spring temperatures in the mid-60s.
When to Go - June. Catch the beautiful transition as a short spring blooms into savored summer. Grab your bucket for berry-picking season, with salmonberries, blueberries and elderberries just starting to ripen. Around the same time, salmon begin to swim upstream -- first sockeye, then humpies, then coho. No need to fear high-season tourist crowds, since just 12,000 travelers visit the island per year. But gray whales and humpbacks are seemingly everywhere during this time. And for terrific bear sightings, visit the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers two-thirds of the island and is home to some 3,000 Kodiak brown bears.
What to Budget - $4,000 to $5,000 (two people, five nights). Fly on Alaska Airlines to Anchorage (ANC) and then on to Kodiak Island Airport (ADQ). Wilderness lodges offer environmentally friendly ways to experience the raw island, and most include kayak rental and fishing equipment for catching halibut and salmon. kodiak.org
Why Here - Food. France's culinary prowess reaches more than 4,000 miles southwest to its Caribbean counterpart, Martinique. The year-round weather here is much more pleasant than in Paris. With cooling les alizés (trade winds), Martinique's mean temperature is 79, and there's only about a 5-degree average difference between summer and winter.
When to Go - May. Martinique has just two seasons: dry season (December to June) and rainy season (July to November). Fertile volcanic soil yields delicious avocados, eggplants, citrus, cassava, sweet potatoes and more. To showcase these flavors, May brings Sainte-Marie Culinary Week, during which local chefs showcase island staples such as fruit á pain (breadfruit) and christophines (chayote) as they compete, share secrets and improve island cooking methods. Attend cooking demonstrations, tastings and parades -- you may even score a taste of the famous foie gras with papaya from legendary Martinican chef Jean-Charles Brédas.*
What to Budget - $2,500 to $4,000 (two people, five nights). Fly on American Eagle from San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU), to Martinique's Le Lamentin Airport in Fort-de-France (FDF). Pad your budget for great food. martinique.org
*Editor's note: After this issue went to press, Martinique experienced labor strikes. Check with your travel agent for the latest information.