January blues? A little low on Vitamin D? Over the cold and digging a little sunshine before spring comes around? You’re not alone! Whether you’re looking for a hot spot to spend Christmas and New Year, or just somewhere to find the sun after months of cloud and cold, we all need a winter sun destination. The best thing to do is a book a plane ticket and fly away somewhere hot, sunny, and exotic. For all the hottest destinations and the best beaches, here’s my list of the best places for winter sun.
Cancún is a beautiful holiday destination no matter what time of year, but winter is extra special. Although it’s also Mexico’s coolest time of year, Cancún sees temperatures of around 30°C even in the height of winter. There’s little rainfall and all the glory of the sun, making its Caribbean coast one of the best places for winter sun. Slather on the sun cream and bask in the hot sun on a white sandy beach before cooling off in the turquoise ocean. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants, bars, and nightclubs for all tastes. All-inclusive hotels are in abundance if you fancy blissful relaxation. Culture is on your doorstep here too. Head to the nearby Riviera Maya for ancient Mayan pyramids like Chichén Itzá and Coba. The cenotes in this area are perfect for swimming and an experience not to be missed.
Belize’s sheer beauty and incredible winter temperatures make it one of the best places for winter sun. Perfect for visiting between December and April, its average winter temperatures are once again around 30°C. During this time, you’re least likely to encounter rain making it a wonderful time to explore. A former British colony, it’s first language is English, and its less frequented by tourists than its neighbours Mexico and Guatemala. The attractions to see in Belize are endless. There are plenty of Mayan ruins to explore, and the diversity here is second to none. Belize’s many national parks and its very own Barrier Reef make for some incredible sights. Whether you prefer hikes through the jungle or relaxing on the gorgeous Caribbean coastline, it’s perfect for you. Be sure to check out the cayes and islands before coming home to one of the hip eco-tourism hotels.
Florida receives around seven hours of sunshine a day throughout winter. With temperatures in their mid-twenties even in the coolest of months elsewhere, it’s one of the best places for winter sun. With a reputation as one of the best party cities in the world, you can expect to find great nightlife. Revellers flood to Miami for its cocktails and clubbing all year round. If you’d prefer to relax in one of the best places for winter sun, the beaches are equally as blissful. There’s also plenty to do for families. Perhaps you fancy trying your hand at learning to sail, windsurfing, or snorkelling at Biscayne reef. Relax under the palm trees on Miami’s iconic South Beach, and wander along Ocean Drive. Visitors can now dine in Gianni Versace’s house, Casa Casuarina, along the Drive. Collins Avenue is packed with chic restaurants and bars, so you won’t struggle to find places.
Just under a five hour flight away, Marrakesh is a true winter hotspot. On the tip of Africa, Marrakesh boasts temperatures upwards of 20°C during the colder months. If you choose to travel in December, you can go Christmas shopping in the souks to pick up exotic treats like teas and spices. Not only are riads and hotels much cheaper over the winter season, but it’s generally much quieter. Whether you fancy heading to the top of the Atlas Mountains and their snowy peaks, or in the bustling medina of Marrakesh, there’s something for anyone. Explore the many mosques, palaces, and gardens in Ville Nouvelle, like the Agdal or Majorelle. Discover the Katoubia Mosque, a Moorish design that dates back to the twelfth century, and an iconic image of the city. Head to Djemaa el-Fna for excellent local street food. Here, you’ll also come across a large square where fortunetellers and musicians congregate to entertain the crowds.
With a tropical desert climate, you can rightly expect great weather in Dubai, no matter what time of year. From October to February, temperatures are a balmy average of 25°C, making it one of the best places for winter sun. The second largest of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai brings together eastern and western culture in a glamorous blend. As well as sunshine, you’ll find luxurious shopping, and some of the world’s most impressive architecture. The most famous of these iconic buildings are the Burj Al Arab, the sail-shaped hotel on Jumeirah beach, and the Burj Khalifa. The latter is the world’s tallest building, so definitely worth visiting for incomparable views. Visit the man-made islands of Atlantis, The Palm, which is an impressive palm leaf-shaped resort with a water park. Don’t miss the souks of Dubai Creek, the city’s historical fishing village. Here, you can pick up gold, spices, and textiles. The nightlife is equally as excellent, with world-class restaurants and a plethora of beach and nightclubs.
Follow the celebrities and make for the sun in Barbados in the winter months. The perfect time to go is after the hurricane season in November, when visitors are treated to ten hours of sunshine a day. Temperatures typically stretch to the high twenties throughout the year. Head to the west coast of this Caribbean gem for the luxurious resorts, where you can simply lie back and relax in all-inclusive comfort. Here, you’ll also discover golf courses, cliffside hiking, and calm ocean for watersports. For a little more culture on the island, Bridgetown boasts beautiful colonial buildings. Head back to the island’s Commonwealth roots by participating in a little cricket before afternoon tea. You can also take a cruise to the nearby coral reefs for some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling among turtles and wildlife. One of the highlights must be a trip to the Mount Gay Rum distillery for a tour, before snacking on local foods like flying fish and macaroni pie. Top it all off with a night dancing at St Lawrence Gap, where you’ll find nightclubs, reggae clubs, and discos.
The Caribbean’s largest island, Cuba enjoys a subtropical climate that benefits from just two seasons – wet and dry. Despite the difference, the temperature stays roughly the same throughout the year, at a balmy 25°C. Rather conveniently also, the winter months are contained within the island’s dry season. It’s therefore one of the best places for winter sun. Explore the country’s white sandy beaches and pass the tobacco fields, from which its iconic cigars are produced. The capital, Havana, is one of the world’s most colourful cities. This is thanks to its rows of pastel coloured houses, Spanish colonial architecture, and 1950s cars. Experience the culture with salsa in dance clubs like the Tropicana, and explore Ernest Hemingway’s former home. If you fancy pure relaxation, head to Varadero or Cayos de Cuba for the luxurious beachfront resorts and watersports like diving and snorkelling.
Koh Samui, Thailand
The sun always shines in Koh Samui. Well, almost! The weather in Koh Samui has three seasons: dry, hot, and rainy. As Thailand lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, the climate is typically warm and humid throughout the year. Temperatures in the winter stick average around 27°C, and between December and April is said to be the optimum time to visit. The second largest of the Thai islands, Koh Samui is famous for its palm fringed beaches, rainforest, and indulgent resorts. Relax among the coconut groves by going to a luxurious spa for a few days of bliss. Head to Wat Phra Yai Temple across the causeway to see the impressive golden Big Buddha. The beaches, of course, are a main attraction, and Chaweng and Lamai on the east coast are truly beautiful. Around them, you’ll discover party towns with bustling bars and nightclubs. The north side of Koh Samui has some slightly more relaxed beaches like peaceful Maenam Beach. Here are also stylish restaurants and independent hotels for after your sunbathing sessions.
That’s my list of the best places for winter sun. Where are you planning on spending the winter? Do you prefer the sun or the snow?