Top 10 Toasty Destinations to Beat the Winter Blahs
Take a pause from the chill and head to these warm and relaxing winter vacation hotspots, where the only white stuff is the sand under your feet.
1. Phuket, Thailand
Thailand’s most famous resort island, Phuket is located along the southern peninsula in the Andaman Sea. For years tourism has created hot spots along various beaches for water sports and nightlife, but there are still some places that hearken back to the island’s quieter days. Mai Khao Beach is long and lovely and just a short drive from other attractions on the island. Properties such as JW Marriott Resort & Spa have taken advantage of this to offer a real luxury getaway that combines the pristine beach experience with Thai hospitality and the culture’s trademark massage and spa techniques.
So tiny it barely shows up on the map, Saba is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Fewer than 25,000 travellers find it each year, and with a population just under 2,000 and an area of 13 square km, Saba feels like a private island. One of the most untouched isles of the Caribbean and volcanic in origin, Saba appears as though it rises from the turquoise seas. Check into a private villa with an ocean view, go on guided eco-tours during the day, and dine on fresh local lobster in the evening.
3. Ubud, Bali
Yes, Bali has beaches, nightlife, and water sports, but don’t overlook the treasure of its interior. Tucked among verdant landscaped characterized by photogenic rice terraces is the town of Ubud and its surrounding villages. Art studios are abundant and travellers come for yoga retreats to experience Bali’s mystical side. Relish in some serious pampering at a world-class spa such as The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah.
4. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Fernando de Noronha is an idyllic archipelago of 21 islets 354 km off the coast of Brazil. Here one can find three of the finest, least touched beaches in Brazil. Action seekers will enjoy the marvelous snorkeling and diving, while the quiet escapists will find peace and tranquility far from the bustling beaches of more developed regions. Book a five-star pousada, a boutique hotel with a private bungalow and an outdoor Jacuzzi to enjoy the sunset.
5. St. Lucia
One of the most mountainous islands in the Caribbean, St Lucia is often a port of call for cruise ships. But go deeper and you will find a wide variety of luxury resorts and private villas that can make St. Lucia seem undiscovered, from the pristine beaches up to the lush tangle of foliage on the slopes. Visit a drive-in volcano and go birding in the rain forest. Historical sites include the British Fort Rodney and colonial plantation houses. Diving is exceptional, and the local culture and the people are lovely. For perhaps the most beautiful angle on the island, find a room with a view of the green twin peaks, the Pitons near Soufriere.
6. Aqaba, Jordan
The historical site of Petra is often the calling card of this Middle Eastern destination. But there’s so much more to Jordan than that. Visit a spa and bathe in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea. Go on a camel safari or hike among the fascinating rock formations of Wadi Rum. And if you want a more beach-oriented vacation, head south to the shores of the Red Sea at Aqaba. The waters teem with sea life, much of which cannot be found elsewhere on the planet, and the remarkable coral reefs attract divers and snorkelers alike.
7. Palm Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St Vincent and the Grenadines are made up of 32 islands strung out amid the tranquil waters of the Caribbean. With so many islets you are bound to find your perfect tropical escape. Palm Island is an excellent option if you are looking for your own private island. Hike along nature trails, lounge on one of the island’s five secluded beaches, or get out on a private yacht for a tour of the surrounding seas and drink champagne at sunset. Snorkel, swim with turtles, have a beach barbecue. It’s like winter never came this year.
8. South Africa
How about a safari for your next vacation? The wildlife in Africa is one of the continent’s greatest assets, and South Africa combines the nature experience with a first-rate wine destination. Spend some time at a vineyard stay and then follow the Big Five across the fields. This is an adventure of a lifetime, but it doesn’t mean roughing it. After stalking lions all day, retire to your luxury tent. Find one with a Jacuzzi and gourmet meals around the pool and you will never look at camping the same way again.
Fine beaches. Check. Fine dining. Check. Spa treatments. Check. Even some great golfing. Check. Anguilla lies east of the Virgin Islands, the northernmost of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. It has a strong sense of culture, its cuisine showing Caribbean, African, Spanish, French and English influences. It is a marvelous place to go sailing as well. Did we mention the beaches are fabulous?
10. Bora Bora, Tahiti
If you are looking for a place on the water, this tropical island in French Polynesia has taken the concept to a whole other level – literally! The first over-the-water bungalows started appearing about 30 years ago and have been gracing postcards and screensavers ever since. At the center of Bora Bora is an extinct volcano. Surrounding it are placid lagoons sheltered from the sea beyond by a barrier reef. Dive with manta rays and snorkel along the reefs. With consistently nice tropical temperatures throughout the year, this scene is the antithesis of Old Man Winter.