So, you want to get away from the commonplace, but are worried about costs or dangers? How about visiting the usual tourist spots, with a twist? The fact is that most people vacation at places during prime season and stick to the tourist path.
Going to tourist areas during off or shoulder seasons has many advantages. First is price. Remember, an empty hotel room is a loss to the owner. During off seasons, rooms are often a bargain. Restaurants and stores may also have off-season specials. Another advantage is that you are more likely to get a true local experience. Locals tend to be friendlier during these times as they are not rushing to serve a tourist mass and have time to talk and meet visitors on a personal level. Communities often take on a whole different personality during off-season. During off-season, a different range of activities may exist. Sure, you can't ski at a ski resort during the summer, but it may offer some great hiking, river rafting, or mountain biking. Surprisingly, those Caribbean islands are not overly hot during the summer. You can enjoy the beach without a crowd and at bargain prices.
Another trick is to look for the dates of festivals. Enjoying a local festival can offer an entirely different experience. During a festival a quiet beach resort may erupt in an ongoing party or provide a new cultural experience. That Caribbean resort town may become far more exotic when the locals gather for a festival. Many islands celebrate Junkanoo with incredible costume parades. Oaxaca, Mexico has a radish festival and The Day of The Dead is celebrated through much of Mexico with goulish displays and candies.
Finally, try getting away from the tourist areas. People go to resort areas and seem to forget that a location may have more to offer. You can go to Puerto Rico and spend your time on the Condado at the resort hotels or you can explore other, less visited, parts of the island. Puerto Rico has an assortment of little fishing villages and mountain towns, as well as a rain forest. Many people go to the Dominican Republic and stay in a resort, but Santa Domingo is a fascinating city, one of the oldest in the Americas.
Try doing a little research and you may find that a tired beach resort or ski area can take on a whole different personality and offer a whole new adventure.