Editor’s Note: Some of the information below may be out-of-date. The British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten/St. Martin were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Please visit caribbeantravelupdate.com for updates.
Looking for the best places to travel in November? We’ve got you covered. November is a great month to escape to the islands. If you’re traveling from the United States, time your trip before the Thanksgiving holiday to score deals on flights and hotel rooms.
You’ll find festivals celebrating everything from rum to lobster to coffee. Die-hard foodies have a chance to rub elbows with top chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Jose Andres, and Jean-Georges. For the pirate-obsessed, you can witness a buccaneer invasion. Be a spectator at one of the most intense sports in the world: rugby. Feast on conch. Plan a trip to a world-renown music festival, and stick around for a chance to see the Northern Lights. Read on for our picks for the best places to travel in November.
If your favorite book is Kitchen Confidential, you watch Top Chef religiously, and a meal at Le Bernardin in New York City is checked off your bucket list, then the Dorado Beach Culinary Getaway, should be on your calendar. Hosted by Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, this event offers the chance to meet Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Tim Love. Rub elbows with them at the opening cocktail reception, and attend an intimate chefs’ discussion to ask your burning questions. The weekend also includes wine and rum tastings, cooking demonstrations and an upscale beach barbecue, culminating with a collaborative dinner featuring a course from each chef. In your downtime, explore the 115-room resort’s 50-acre grounds, once a Rockefeller estate, or book a treatment at Spa Botánico.
The island-hopping Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival lands on Dutch St. Maarten’s Kim Sha Beach this year, with master classes, bartender contests (a.k.a. “cocktail wars”), and cooking demos. You can recover from the exertion of sampling fine rums by chilling on one of 37 just-as-fine beaches. Finish the day with a quick trip across the border (it’s just a welcome sign along the road) for a Paris-worthy dinner on the island’s French side.
November brings a one-two punch for the foodie faithful Down Under: Taste of Auckland lets you watch the city’s hottest chefs in action and sample their signature dishes. The Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic gets you up close and personal with local food producers and winemakers, as well as chefs. Think spring lamb and fresh-picked strawberries — remember, November is springtime here.
You can chill on Grand Cayman’s fab Seven Mile Beach or hang with the residents of Stingray City anytime. But only Pirates Week lets you channel your inner Jack Sparrow. The swashbuckling national festival kicks off when buccaneers invade from ships offshore. Spoiler alert: The governor is captured and — avast, me hearties — piracy rules. Pack your hoop earrings, tri-corner hat, and a belt to hold your sword. And bring the kids.
Hawaii's Big Island
Started in 1970, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival on is Hawaii’s oldest food festival and celebrates all things java. At the 10-day festival, meet farmers, millers, roasters and coffee pickers that contribute to the making Kona’s 200-year-old world-famous brew. Festivities include farm tours, art exhibits, live performances, coffee pairings and more.
What could be better than celebrating rum? Celebrating rum in the birthplace of rum, of course. Barbados has also been called the culinary capital of the Caribbean so it’s fitting they would host an event like the Barbados Food & Rum Festival. Celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges join local chefs for heated cook-offs, food-and-rum pairings, fine dining events and a beach party.
British Virgin Islands
Get off the beaten Virgin Islands path: Anegada is the least-visited of the BVIs, and its Lobster Festival, part of the BVI Food Fete, gives you a chance to explore it on a culinary safari. The route takes you from one end to the other, sampling what chefs do with the island’s famous crustacean. Hint: They don’t just boil and grill it; they also turn it into sliders, fritters, salads, ceviche, curries, and soups.
Perfect timing here for those who like their vacay sunny but not scorching. Beach season is waning (so are hotel prices), but temps are ideal for exploring, playing golf and tennis — and watching rugby. The World Rugby Classic is the island’s athletic event of the year. If Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon’s Invictus got you hooked on this fast-and-furious sport, this is your chance to see some of its greats playing live.
Turks & Caicos
On Provo’s Blue Hills beach, watch the pros try to set a new world record for conch knocking (getting the critter out of its shell) — part of the 12th annual Conch Festival, celebrating T&C’s most famous delicacy (pronounced “konk”). Then dig in and vote for the best chowder, salad, and other conchy delights. Conch-etitions allow both home-kitchen cooks and restaurant chefs to vie for bragging rights, and a mojito-making contest lubricates the fun.
The Iceland Airwaves music festival is an ideal time to experience the anything-goes spirit of Reykjavik. Aside from the main stage, the city hosts many free events in alternate venues. It’s also the start of the rainy season, but you can enjoy many of the country’s attractions, like hot springs, in any weather. Plus, November offers the chance to spot the Northern Lights.