Photo Credit: Gerald Lau

So you like it hot. That’s okay, everyone’s got their thing. It just so happens that yours is scorching heat, insane humidity and a laid-back tropical lifestyle. If you're looking to find your paradise, it isn’t anywhere near our planet’s poles.

Almost every country that lies along the equator has a stunning coast and enjoys a warm climate year-round. The cultures you’ll discover along the equator are diverse and vibrant, the perfect place to explore during the cold months in North America. There is a lot to see, do, and taste as long as you're ready to sweat...

Photo Credit: Daran Kandasamy

Ecuador

It’s only fitting that we start with the country named after the equator, Ecuador. This South American nation resides on the Pacific coast is between Peru and Columbia, and boasts an extremely diverse landscape comprised of Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the historically famous Galapagos Islands. Because the terrain is so diverse, there is a lot to do - hike the mountains, trek the jungle, scour wildlife, and explore the village markets. Hang out on any of the beaches along the western coast, or explore the Spanish Colonial center in the capital of Quito which is full of 17th century churches and monasteries.

Photo Credit: sandeepachetan.com travel photography

Brazil

Technically the equator only runs through the northern part of Brazil, but we're still counting it as an equatorial nation. Brazil is popular amongst travelers for a lot of reasons - the awesome beaches, bountiful sunshine, gorgeous coasts, the Amazon River and Amazon Jungle, to name a few. And Brazilians know how to party… the annual Carnival Festival in Rio de Janeiro is insanely raucous, with the day to day nightlife to match. Any trip to this vast country is sure to be an unforgettable, wild experience.

Photo Credit: Maria Cartas

Sao Tome

On the western coast of Africa in the Gulf Of Guinea is the small island of Sao Tome. This entire island is a gigantic shield volcano that rises up from the Atlantic floor, protruding out of the water. It sits along the “Cameroon line,” and although the volcano is still active, it won’t be causing any Pompeii-like scenarios any time soon. So rest easy tourists! You’ll find plenty of chocolate and coffee on the island (Sao Tome’s primary exports) as well as lots of palm products and seafood. Enjoy the easygoing way of the locals - let the leve leve (roughly translated as “take it easy”) lifestyle consume you and wander along miles and miles of coast or explore the vibrant jungles that blanket the volcano.

Photo Credit: Roberto Saltori

The Congos

There are two Congos in Africa: the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both are in Central Africa and gained independence from European colonialism in 1960. The Republic of the Congo is the smaller of the two is located closer to the ocean (although both have a limited section of Atlantic shore). They both feature extensive jungles full of rich biodiversity. The Congo even has rainforest reserves and habitats for gorillas, making it a spectacular destination for animal lovers and ecology enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Mac Qin

Maldives

This loose collection of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean is known around the world for its incredble lagoons and reefs. The tropical climate makes it the perfect place for travelers in search of relaxation, sunshine, and water. In the capital of Male, travelers will find a lively and extensive fish market with locals hocking fresh catches, restaurants and shops. Most everywhere else though, is quiet and laid back. Stay in one of the overwater beach huts or bungalows, go on a dive, take a yoga class, and relax in a hammock… be careful, though, you may never want to return.

Photo Credit: Marc-André Jung

Indonesia

This island nation is one of the most incredible destinations in all of Southeast Asia. There is more for a traveler to explore here than one could see in a lifetime: bright blue coastal waters, highly decorated temples, imposing volcanoes, elaborate mosques, warm sandy beaches, breathtaking lagoons, verdant rice patties, playful monkeys, and so much more. Every island you visit within Indonesia is different and special in its own way - but you can count on each one of them being relatively cheap and exasperatingly hot and humid. A trip to Indonesia might start short and end up becoming a lengthy island hopping adventure before you know it.

Photo Credit: Nick Hobgood

Kiribati

Continuing westward along the equator we come to a tiny island floating nearly alone in the middle of the great Pacific Ocean - Kiribati. This little nation is comprised of 33 coral atolls, most of which are uninhabited. The desertedness and isolation are ideal for serious fishermen, bird watchers and scuba divers. There are tons of wildlife both above and below the water around this coral island, so for serious animal enthusiasts and nature buffs, this is an exceptional and highly remote place to get away from it all.