Outdoor adventures and one-of-a-kind events around the globe for April travel
For a lot of folks, April is a month to stay home and regroup. Memories of winter vacations have faded, the kids are back in school and the college crowd is sharing selfies and nursing hangovers from recent spring break adventures. Travel agents might call this a “shoulder season,” which is a good thing for anyone who has the urge to go somewhere special. A shoulder season often means lower rates at prime properties, fewer crowds on beaches, table spaces at cafes, and milder pre-summer temperatures. Here are a dozen destinations where April is a great time to visit.
Bali is less than 600 miles from the equator, so there’s never really a “cool season.” Unless you head for the lakes. The northern highlands of this volcanic island include four alpine lakes that sit more than 4,000 feet above sea level. Trips to the lakes take in emerald-hued rice paddies and some of the island’s most iconic temples. The Ulun Danu Beratan temple complex overlooks the clear waters of Lake Bratan, which reflects the iconic profile of the 11-roofed shrine to the Hindu god Vishnu. Lake Bratan offers local restaurants, boat rides, and a botanical garden, while the shores of the lakes of Tamblingan and Tamblingan are favorites with hikers. April is a perfect time to visit, as it is the dry season, with almost no chance of a passing shower to dampen the scene.
Each year the Island of Hawaii hosts a week of traditional crafts, art, music, and hula known as the Merrie Monarch Festival. This event dates back to the 1800s when King David Kal’kaua celebrated his 50th birthday with a two-week party that revived ancestral hula traditions and sparked a newfound interest in traditional Hawaiian culture. Kal’kaua was not only a patron of traditional arts and culture, he was also a fun-loving character who earned the nickname “Merrie Monarch.” The festival now held in his honor in the town of Hilo includes parades, art shows, music, and performances by ho’opa’a chanters and ‘lapa dancers who compete for top honors. The 2023 festival takes place from April 9 to 15.
In-the-know travelers come to Grand Canaria in April to get ahead of the crowds and heat of summer. In addition to warm, sunny days and balmy nights, an early-season visit offers some tasty events. The cobblestone square of Flor de Guia is the setting for the annual cheese festival, which celebrates the island’s signature soft and creamy goat and sheep cheeses. A couple of years back, winemakers started getting in on the act as well, giving festival goers the perfect pairing for the celebration. April is also time for the island’s annual Valsequillo Strawberry Festival, offering live music, farm tours, cooking and dessert competition, and a chance to sample all manner of strawberry-based treats. Other mark-the-calendar events in April include the island’s lavish Semana Santa Easter processions and the historic reenactments and traditional costumes at Fiesta de los Aborigenes.
March and April are the driest months in Bohol, and that’s the best time to take in one of the island’s signature attractions. The area known as the Chocolate Hills are covered in grassy mounds shaped like giant chocolate drops. And the region’s resemblance to an oversized candy store becomes even more convincing when the grass dies in the dry season, leaving the hills covered in a carpet of brown. Bohol is known as the eco-adventure capital of the Philippines. In addition to more expected activities such as snorkeling, paddling, off-roading, and trekking to waterfalls, visitors can zipline superman-style across an entire river valley, swim in hidden underground caves, seek out the world’s smallest primate, or take an evening trip on a river where huge clouds of fireflies light the way.
Thais love a party, which is probably why they celebrate New Year’s three times. It starts with the global event on January one, then there’s the Chinese New Year a few weeks later. And when April 13 rolls around, it’s time for Songkran, Thai New Year’s national holiday. There’s a solemn element to the occasion, as it’s considered a time for spring cleaning of homes, monuments, and temples to remove bad luck. But it doesn’t take much for the washing to get out of hand, and in cities and villages across the country, Songkran becomes a three-day water fight in the streets. Most people welcome the cooling splash, as April is one of the hottest months of the year in the Kingdom of Smiles, and seasonal rains are still a few months away.
Sitting in the open waters of the Western Indian Ocean, Seychelles is bathed in lively northern trade winds from November through March, Then the southern trades kick in beginning in May. This leaves April as the month with the best chances of enjoying calm seas for swimming, snorkeling, and boating. It’s also the dry season, which means lower humidity and temperate nights. A favorite destination is the island of La Digue, where postcard-perfect beaches are framed in palms and lined with huge granite boulders. The shoreline known as Anse Source d’Argent often described as the most beautiful beach in the world. It’s home to the Kissing Rocks, likely named for the almost-touching nature of the formation — though the setting is undeniably romantic enough to elicit a smooch.
The Barbados fishing village of Oistins is famous for its Friday Night Fish Fry, which serves up a savory array of fresh catches against the backdrop of a lively street market that reverberates to the sounds of Calypso, Reggae, and traditional Barbados tuk band music. Each year during the Easter weekend, the party keeps going as Friday’s fest transforms into the annual Oistins Fish Festival. Known as the largest community festival on the island, this event adds even more food, music, and dancing, plus all manner of fun such as an Easter Bonnet competition, boat races, a fishcake eating contest, and a celebrity cook-off. The 2023 Oistins Fish Festival will take place from April 7th to 10th.
Cape Verde Islands
Beaches. That’s why you visit the Cape Verde Islands. This cluster of 10 volcanic islands set off Africa’s west coast offers plenty of sun and sand, and April sits squarely in the center of the dry season while also enjoying refreshing trade winds from the north that keep temperatures in the mid to high 70s. There are remote beaches for long walks, lively beaches lined with cafes and restaurants, surfing beaches, wind-swept strands that draw windsurfers and kiteboarders, and calm shores where clear waters invite swimmers and snorkelers. In recent years, the fishing village of Tarrafal has become a new favorite for snorkelers and swimmers, as it is located on the main island of Santiago but sits comfortably far away from the crowds.
Sunshine, blue water, and steady trade winds create the perfect formula for a yacht race, and that’s exactly what you get when you visit the Caribbean island of Antigua at the end of April. Billed as the Caribbean’s most prestigious regatta, Antigua Sailing Week attracts more than 100 yachts from the Americas and beyond for a series of around-the-buoy and around-the-island races. To keep things competitive, there are separate categories for everything from small open boats and casual live-aboard cruisers to sleek million-dollar speedsters, giving everyone a chance to get in on the action. After the sails are furled, the parties start, and it isn’t just the sailors who celebrate, as most events are open to spectators who watch from shore.
The waters of Palau’s southern lagoon are festooned with some 300 small limestone islands surrounded by sparkling waters that hold colorful coral formations. It’s a snorkeler’s and kayaker’s dream destination, and April is a great time to visit. While air and water temperatures remain fairly constant through the year, April sees a drop in winds that makes for easy paddling and glassy waters for snorkeling. The Rock Islands have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of their unique beauty. This area is also home to the famous Jellyfish Lake, which is an inland lagoon where swimmers can immerse in clear water to swim with thousands of non-stinging jellies.
Sometimes known as the “Accordion Olympics,” the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata is actually much more. Held each April in the Colombian city of Valledupar, this four-day event is a celebration of all things related to the folk music genre known as Vallenato. Top billing is given to the musical contests that lead to the crowning of Rey Vallenato — the king of accordions. Similar contests are held to determine top honors for guacharaca percussionists and songwriters. The long weekend also includes plenty of parades, dances, parties, and food. The festival draws competitors from across the region as well as Venezuela, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States, and more than 50,000 spectators. 2023 marks the 56th anniversary of the event’s founding, and it is dedicated to Luis Enrique Martinez, which is known as the king of Vallenato music.
Key West, Florida
While Key West is often thought of as a tropical destination, the truth is that winter months can get a bit chilly and breezy when cold fronts from the continent sweep across the islands. That’s all over by April – and as a bonus, the spring break crowds are back at school or work. This leaves visitors with plenty of personal space as they walk the historic streets of Old Key West. Temperatures typically peak in the mid-80s, while the humidity remains lower than during the muggy summer months. It’s also a great time to grab some shoulder season rates at hotels and enjoy wait-free dining at popular restaurants. For an extra bit of local color, plan your trip during the annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration for a week of parties, parades, and whimsical reenactments.