Winter walking getaways

Four holiday spots with great trails and beaches

A warm southern holiday can be the best tonic for a dark and frigid winter. But the poolside lifestyle and daily happy-hour routine can quickly undo the efforts of a long-standing walking program. “Try to stay active on your vacation,” advises Kari Galasso, a personal trainer in Kingston, Ontario. “Exercising prevents you from feeling sluggish. And when you get home, you can get back into your regular exercise routine without feeling you’ve lost the gains you worked hard to achieve. It also lets you enjoy the special indulgences that holidays offer without feeling a bit of remorse,” she adds.

Here are four holiday spots that offer sunshine, warm temperatures and also make it easy to work walking into each day.

Conde Nast Traveler calls Peter Island one of the best places to stay in the world and one of the world’s top 20 islands. Just 1,900 kilometres southeast of Miami, the exotic flowering plants, breathtaking vistas and warm Caribbean breezes create a walker’s paradise. Outdoor exercisers can head to The Loop, an eight-kilometer trail that circles through exotic foliage and along a ridge that looks down on Reef Bay, White Bay and Drake’s Channel. A lookout that juts into the sea lets walkers view neighbouring islands Anegada, St. John and Norman Island in the distance. You can return to the lookout by car at dusk to watch the sunset and toast the end of a perfect day.

After enjoying walks on Maui’s beautiful beaches, drive 10,000 feet up and away from the resorts to Haleakala National Park, home to the world’s largest dormant volcano. The park features over 50 kilometers of well-marked trails that let walkers experience several ecosystems during one walk. From one- to 15-kilometres long, each trail presents stunning scenery including panoramic views of multi-coloured cinder cones, tradewind-exposed cliffs and ever-changing cloud forests.

The Grand Canyon has long been a source of fascination. Located in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, it offers walkers everything from 30-minute strolls and three-hour self-guided hikes to multi-day guide-lead backpacking adventures. Spectacular trails lead into the canyon, including the popular Bright Angel Trail which winds 13 kilometers down to Phantom Ranch, a lodge and campground on the canyon floor. Expect to see bighorn sheep, deer and spiny lizards on any walk through the 29-kilometre-wide canyon.

The seaside Spa Montage, in Laguna Beach, California, pampers its guests with rejuvenating spa services and boasts an impressive group exercise program that includes yoga, pilates, cycling and even dance bootcamp classes. When you’re ready for an invigorating outdoor workout, grab your water sandals and join one of their daily thalassic (meaning “pertaining to the sea”) walks. A fitness trainer leads you on a hike down to the beach where you can burn calories while taking in the ocean, sand and salty air. Part of the fun and challenge is walking through the shallow water to fully experience the sea. Each walk also includes meditation time by the ocean’s edge.