Check out our recommendations for what to do, where to go and what to eat in some of Cayman’s favorite overseas destinations this February.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
CULTURE Wander oak-lined Dorp Street, soaking up the Cape Dutch architecture of its historic mansions. Wine routes radiate from this elegant city like the spokes of a wheel, so hire a car or bicycle and head out to sample the region’s delicious vintages against a stunning mountain backdrop.
COCKTAILS Bars and cafes spill out onto the streets in the Church Street area, and one of the favored spots for trendy locals is Wijnhuis. You’ll find local craft beers on tap and a list of over 500 wines to work through.
DINING Settle onto the veranda for a languid lunch at Clos Malverne Restaurant. Overlooking Devon Valley, this fine dining venue offers a sensational wine and ice-cream pairing menu, as well as beautifully presented international cuisine.
SHOPPING Uncle Samie’s Shop is a real institution, a quirky little store selling everything from confectionary to clothing. Market Street’s iThemba (which means “hope” in the Xhosa language) works with local charities to source traditional craft items, meaning your souvenir purchases of ceramics, toys, beadwork and more help to support the community.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH Around 148 producers from the Winelands come together for the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, February 23-25 – one of the largest wine varietal tastings in the world. The festivities kick off with a vibrant parade of tractors and trucks carrying local bands and farm workers. Then get stuck into tasting the region’s vinicultural delights.
Easter Island, Chile
CULTURE There’s one major reason (or 900 if you count them individually) people visit this remote speck of land in the Pacific – those enigmatic moai statues. Also known as the Easter Island Heads, the giant, monolithic carvings are scattered around the UNESCO-listed Rapa Nui National Park.
COCKTAILS There are several small bars and restaurants lining Atamu Tekena (the main street). Popular pub Topatangi stays open through the wee hours and entertains with a live Rapa Nui dance show. For sunset cocktails, draw up a chair on the terrace at Hani Hani.
DINING Easter Island’s fresh seafood is to die for – gorge on oysters, ceviche and ocean views at Te Moana, or see what the daily catch is on La Kaleta’s chalkboard menu.
SHOPPING Head to Mercado Artesenal to load up on handicrafts by local artisans, a favorite being the moai statuettes carved from stone or wood. High quality clothing and jewelry – such as Polynesian-print textiles, carved bone earrings and woven fiber bags – can also be found at Tamure Rapa Nui, a small shop on Atamu Tekena.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH During the first two weeks of February, two indigenous clans come together for an exhilarating celebration of Polynesian culture. The island buzzes with centuries-old contests, including a grueling triathlon, bareback horse races, body painting and the exhilarating Haka Pei, which sees a dozen male contestants speeding downhill luge-style on a makeshift sled made from banana tree trunks.
CULTURE Located 400km north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is considered one of the best spots for seeing the Northern Lights. With the sun barely rising at this time of year, you can also experience whale safaris, husky sledging and fjord cruises under a milky twilight. Tromsø Museum reveals the science behind the aurora borealis, and don’t miss a soak in the floating hot tubs aboard the ship-turned-spa, Vulkana.
COCKTAILS Tromsø prides itself on having more pubs per capita than any other Norwegian town. The best mixologists operate at Gründer, serving creative and sophisticated cocktails while live DJs provide a killer soundtrack. If you prefer a simple brew, Ølhallen boats 67 local beers from various Norwegian microbreweries.
DINING Keep out the cold with some hearty Norwegian cuisine at Emma’s Upstairs, designed to echo a traditional kitchen à la grandma. Or you can head upstairs for a more formal meal at Emma’s Drømmekjøkken, where specialties include lutefisk (stockfish), blueberry-marinated halibut, ox tenderloin and king crab.
SHOPPING You can pick up a piece of gorgeous glassware from Blåst, the world’s northernmost glass blowing studio, or scour for retro design finds in the workshops of Smørtorget. Meanwhile, city-center mall Nerstranda is Tromsø’s unrivaled fashion center and has plenty of major brands to tempt trend-conscious shopper.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH Appreciate modernist masterpiece, the Arctic Cathedral, in all its ethereal beauty by attending one of this month’s Northern Lights concerts. Norwegian folk music, classical orchestras or choral singing fills the elegant interior, in a series of candlelit performances from February 8 – March 11. A spine-tingling experience.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
CULTURE Though many travelers use this port town only as a jumping off point for exploring the Gulf of Nicoya, the historical center is worthy of a stopover, with its grand Catholic Church (the porthole windows nod to the city’s maritime heritage) and art-filled La Casa de la Cultura. Further afield, lush national parks – such as Santa Rosa and Palo Verde – beckon with rainforest-clad volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and pristine waterfalls.
COCKTAILS It’s all about casual beach bars along the lush Puntarenas coastline, where you should sample the national drink, Guaro Sour, which marries fresh limes with a sugar cane spirit-based spirit. Isla Coco’s and Banana Beach are two spots where you’ll want to linger.
DINING As a major fishing port, you can expect mightily good seafood for supper. Order the daily catch simply grilled with butter and garlic at waterfront spot Casa Almendro, being sure to leave space for the creamy coconut and caramel dessert, flan de coco.
SHOPPING Don’t leave town without a bag of the wonderfully rich, aromatic Costa Rican coffee – you’ll find vendors all over town.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH Wild pachanga music and Latin beats fill the air for the annual Puntarenas Carnival (Feb. 8-18), with festivities including a beauty pageant and horse parade. Later in the month, yogis, surfers and eco-warriors descend on the beachy jungle of Uvita for Envision Festival (Feb. 22-25), a four-day “conscious community” that coincides with the Mayan New Year.
CULTURE This student city does a fine line in green public spaces. Moerenuma Park is an intriguing blend of neat geometric peaks, modernist sculptures and broad lawns spanning 400 acres. Sapporo’s best museum is open-air, too: The Historic Village of Hokkaido lets you walk among buildings from Sapporo’s founding days, complete with horse-drawn trolley.
COCKTAILS As well as enjoying a world-famous Sapporo brew at the Beer Museum, you should head to the iconic Bar Yamazaki, where the 94-year-old bartender is as much of a draw as the sophisticated low-lit surroundings, classic cocktails and extensive whisky collection.
DINING Sapporo takes ramen seriously: a whole street is dedicated to vendors of the miso-based noodle dish. Another must for foodies is a fresh sushi breakfast in the Maruka Centre fish market.
SHOPPING Most of the shopping here revolves around large modern malls, such as Stellar Place, which has over 200 stores (mainly fashion) and international brands. If you’re after something more uniquely Japanese, Naritasan Antique Market is the place to hunt for a vintage kimono or hand-painted pottery.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sphynx and the Statue of Liberty – these are just a handful of the iconic sights sculpted out of snow and ice at The Sapporo Snow Festival (until February 12). What started in 1950 with a bunch of local students elevating their snowman-making game now attracts more than two million visitors to frosty Odori Park.