- Even in the winter months, there are destinations around the world to enjoy lounging on a beach chair.
- According to Priceline’s Work-Life Balance Report, 29% of Americans have regrets about how they used their paid time off in 2018. Squeezing in even a short trip during cold, gloomy winter months is a way to use paid time off wisely.
- Some places, like Mexico and the Caribbean islands, are a short flight away from the US. Others are even closer than you might think – it’s actually faster to fly from Los Angeles to Tahiti than it is to mainland Europe, for instance.
- Aside from escaping the winter chill, visiting these destinations during winter can give you the benefit of experiencing exciting cultural events that only happen this time of year or off-season discounts.
As we get deeper into the winter months, it is hard to stop dreaming about a warm getaway.
Taking vacations matter for your health, according to CNN Travel, and it’s an easy way to help reduce stress. Escaping to somewhere warm and sunny may be just what you need during the cold winter months.
An added bonus of traveling to these destinations in the winter? Some may have special events which only occur during certain times of the year, or they may be less busy than other times of the year.
Whether you’re ready to pack up and travel halfway around the world or you only have a weekend, here are some places around the world to put your feet in the sand this winter.
Experience a quintessential California winter in Laguna Beach.
Southern Californians are spoiled when it comes to winter weather – temperatures often hover in the low 60s and it’s not unusual to walk around and see people in sweaters and flip-flops.
In 2017, US News recommended it as a top California beach city to visit, and it’s easy to understand why. Laguna Beach has a plethora of cozy eateries, art galleries, and quirky boutiques, not to mention endless views of the Pacific and breathtaking sunsets.
Especially for those on the west coast of the US, Tahiti is closer than you think.
It only takes eight hours on a nonstop flight from California to end up in paradise. Tahiti is a phenomenal beach destination of French Polynesia, made up of a string of 118 islands in the middle of crystalline waters.
It was voted one of the best places to go in 2019 according to Conde Nast Traveler, so now is the perfect time to check it out for yourself.
The ultimate way to beat the winter blues? Head to Aruba, whose nickname is “One Happy Island.”
With year-round nearly perfect weather (think 80s and sunny pretty much any month), this Caribbean island is a natural choice for a winter vacation.
In winter, you’ll also get to experience Aruba Carnival. From massive parades to insane partying, it’s a cultural event worth experiencing.
St. Barths is a great destination.
In September of 2017, Hurricane Irma left St. Barths badly damaged. But hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars have begun to reopen after renovations, and the island’s undeniable energy is back.
“Flying in from St. Maarten over the choppy Caribbean last month, I saw St. Barths today looking tranquil, its red roofs restored, the island turning green again,” according to John Mariani, contributor at Forbes.
Some places are still in the process of renovations, and getting to the island requires booking a shuttle flight such as Tradewinds from a nearby destination like San Juan, Puerto Rico or Antigua.
Additionally, tourism is a large source of income on the Caribbean islands, so it is important to continue to visit, especially after a hurricane, as long as you’re respectful to those who live there.
Riviera Maya, Mexico is a short flight away for those in the US.
Christie Hudson of Expedia North America told INSIDER that their data shows January and February are actually some of the cheapest months of the year to travel. In fact, airfare is more than 30% cheaper than average in January for Riviera Maya.
What’s more, a flight from New York to this Mexican destination averages only four hours, making it the ideal getaway for those who are possibly time-pressed and planning a last-minute beach vacation.
“Winter is the most popular time to visit Mexico, and there are many good reasons to visit this time of year as opposed to during other seasons. Besides being the perfect time to seek the south of the border sunshine and warmth, you can also witness unique holiday celebrations and see some natural phenomena that you might miss other times of the year,” according to TripSavvy.
Another easily accessible gem in Mexico is San José del Cabo, and in the winter you’ll have the opportunity to witness some unique happenings.
“The well-known Mexican escape has it all: new hotels, an exciting locavore food scene, and plenty of adventures on the water,” according to AFAR.
Cultural events like Carnival and art walks happen during the wintertime as well. Weekend fests like the Relish the Heritage food, wine, and music festival celebrate the traditional flavors of the region. Hosted at JW Marriott Los Cabos Resort & Spa, the annual event features wine tastings, mezcal samplings, and tasting menus, plus live music.
Mother Nature is another great reason to visit. From November to April you’ll have the chance to witness gray and humpback whale migrations. USA Today even named this area one of the top 10 places wildlife vacations for animal lovers for this very reason – not to mention the dolphins, sea lions, and whale sharks.
Dreaming of Fiji? Plan a trip for February, when flights typically cost less.
Christie at Expedia confirmed with INSIDER that airfare is nearly 30% cheaper than average in February for Fiji.
Temperatures hover in the 80s year-round, making it comfortable and you can feel good about staying there, as many hotels focus on sustainability and embracing the native culture. Even more, from Los Angeles and San Francisco flights take about 10 to 11 hours – so it’s easier to travel to than most people think.
The beaches of Mozambique are breathtaking.
Thanks to improved infrastructure and a new suspension bridge called the Maputo-Catembe Bridge, getting to the southern area of Mozambique has become considerably faster.
The journey from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and its surrounding destinations used to take about six hours; now, it requires less than two.
The coastal region southeast of Maputo includes the country’s most southern national park. In this area, visitors can witness a wildlife haven, home to turtles, sharks, dolphins, and over 300 bird species.
January is the hottest month for the area with highs in the mid-80s. From December to March, though, you’ll be treated to hot weather and occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
If you want to stay close to the US, then escape the cold and take a plane or boat to Bimini in the Bahamas.
Bimini is the closest Bahamian island to the US, according to the islands of the Bahamas tourism site.
Just 50 miles from South Florida, the island was previously only accessible by private yacht, seaplane, or charter flight. Now, you can get to Bimini on a short two-hour ferry ride or 30-minute flight from Miami.
Because the area falls in the hurricane belt, winter is the best time to visit, according to US News. Take advantage of world-class snorkeling, clear waters, and a rich marine life.
Experience a different part of Portugal on Porto Santo Island.
“No doubt Lisbon and Porto get all the buzz, but there’s plenty more to Portugal. The Madeira Islands, an archipelago 750 miles southwest of Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean, has ancient volcanic cliffs that rise dramatically from the sea and dominate the landscape,” according to Reader’s Digest.
The publication named Madeira one of the top under-the-radar places to visit in 2019.
With an average temperature of 70 degrees, you can experience a side of Europe that often gets overlooked. Porto Santo (located close to the better-known Madeira) is a dry crescent with a 6-mile beach along its central bay.
It’s a superb place to enjoy beach life, even in winter, so expect no undertow, quaint beach-side cafes, and local wines.
Miami Beach has cultural and culinary events you won’t want to miss this winter.
Art Basel, the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, the Winter Party Festival, the Winter Music Conference – there’s no end to some of the exciting things to experience in Miami Beach from December to March. Combined with a tropical climate, Latin-influenced culture, and a dynamic culinary scene, it’s a great winter destination for those who want to stay within the US.
Although winter marks the height of the tourist season for Miami, it’s possible to find last-minute deals and specials even on popular weekends. Plus, you can fly into either Miami or Fort Lauderdale, making it easier to plan a trip that fits your budget.
Jordan has some gorgeous beaches.
The summer season is usually busy with tourists and the sun can be blazing hot. In the winter months, though, you’ll encounter fewer visitors and more manageable (albeit still warm) temperatures.
“Traditionally, Petra and Wadi Rum – Jordan’s best-known tourist sites – are visited as part of an Amman-based itinerary, although it takes half a day to drive from the capital and an overnight stay close to the ruins. But from Aqaba, the two sites are no more than 90 minutes north, making the city an alternative base to explore the region, one that offers azure seas in place of Amman’s urban sprawl,” according to The New York Times.
Head down under to the stunning Australian getaway of Rottnest Island.
Only 11 miles offshore from Perth, Western Australia’s capital, travelers will love this spot surrounded by the cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean. A car-free, bike-friendly island with a vibrant coral reef and plenty of historic shipwrecks to explore, this is the spot to switch up a boring winter routine and head somewhere truly unexpected.
Referred to as Rotto, the island is a protected nature reserve home to the quokka (a small wallaby-like marsupial) and white sand beaches.
Winter in Hawaii is a one-of-a-kind experience. Molokai is the island to visit to escape the crowds, though.
Hawaii’s fifth largest island offers whale watching and big waves for the wintertime. Since tourists frequent islands like Oahu or Maui, Molokai offers a more secluded experience in a US state that many travel to during chillier months.
“You won’t find resort-studded shores teeming with beach bars and surf schools, as is common on other islands, nor is there an abundance of clear, calm water for snorkeling. But don’t be surprised if you have the beach all to yourself (that means no lifeguards, either)-a rare luxury that sets Molokai apart,” according to The Hawaiian Islands Tourism Authority.
A must-see is Papohaku Beach Park, one of the largest white-sand beaches in all of Hawaii. You’ll be treated to distant views of Leahi (Diamond Head) on Oahu and plenty of room to spread out and relax.
In Brazil, check out Jericoacoara, a toasty warm destination.
When you’ve had your fill of cold weather and snow, the hot beaches of Jericoacoara, Brazil can be a great option. December through February are the hottest months there.
“The beach of Jericoacoara is part of the National Park and is decorated by magnificent coconut trees, cliffs, and lagoons among the huge sand dunes. Very famous for its beauty, the beaches of Jericoacoara are also sought after by those who love to sail and practice kite and windsurfing,” according to The Rio Times.
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