Who’s up for some winter sun destination inspiration?
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be allowed to travel enjoyably by then? And if not, well, we can dream, plan and store our travel bucket lists for 2021 can’t we?
– Fancy some winter sun in Morocco?
Let’s go with the first option for now though – and imagine ourselves tanning nicely on the beaches of some far off location come December. Rather than sweating in our gardens in this heat wave trying to ‘work from home’.
I thought I’d take a look at the best winter sun destinations I’ve experienced in the last seven years-ish of intense travel. Let’s see if I can whet your whistle for some epic travel this year. And don’t miss this checklist for setting out on a trip to make sure you have everything you need.
Short haul winter beach breaks
1. Menorca, Canary Islands, Spain
Last year I went to Mahon in Menorca in December. It was great but I really needed to have booked a car before I went to explore. Unfortunately I arrived late on Friday night and left on Tuesday morning and so none of the places were open to book.
– My balcony in Menorca, in December
I still had a lovely time looking round the Spanish island’s capital, Mahon though, without all the tourists of the summer season. I’d definitely recommend some Menorca winter sun action, but just be more prepared than me!
There are loads of beaches you can go to on the island, and it’s well known for having some of the best winter sun weather in Europe.
2. Tenerife, Balaeric Islands, Spain
In all my years of travel I’ve only actually ever spent one Christmas abroad, and that was in Tenerife, in 2019. My family all went over and rented an apartment in Radazul from 20th to 27th December. Such a great Christmas that year, in fact one of my favourites of all time.
Tenerife was a bit windy, especially up Mount Teide which we gave up on visiting when we were half way up and saw the mist. But the cities were nice and warm and I loved looking round the Christmas markets.
We managed to still find a traditional English Christmas dinner in the south of the island, but had the peace and quiet of the north. Every day was sunny and I nearly melted in the heat on Christmas Day on our balcony!
There are lots of opportunities for paddleboarding in winter here, too.
I went to Malta one December, about ten years ago now. I remember us going in the sea, and drinking cocktails in the sun. It’s one of the top spots for some short haul winter sun according to The Voyageurs Collection. In fact, they’ve given us some recommendations to make the most of the country / island.
“If you’re after some early Autumn sunshine on the beach but aren’t wanting to travel too far, Malta could be just the answer. Temperatures remain lovely and warm in Malta throughout September and October, and the end of the school summer holidays sees the flocks of tourists return home, so the island is left in peace to enjoy the Indian summer sun.
While there you could rent a boat for the day and head out to find hidden coves to explore that cannot be reached on foot, so you could spend the day on a completely secluded beach (definitely the best kind of social distancing). The crystal-clear Mediterranean waters means that Malta and its neighbouring island of Gozo (which can easily be reached by ferry) are fantastic for snorkelling and diving. Gozo is one of the top diving destinations in Europe, and the conditions are great for everyone from learners to advanced divers. The Blue Hole is a definite highlight – it is almost like a huge underwater cave so the scenery is incredible, and a brilliant variety of fish and other marine life can be found there. If you’d rather keep your head firmly above the water, kayaking is another great way to admire these azure waters and to see if you can spot any fish from above the surface.
If you’re someone who gets twitchy sitting on a beach for days on end and like to properly explore the destination you’re visiting, Malta’s capital Valletta, was European Cultural Capital in 2018, and this small city really packs a punch when it comes to culture, so you can spend your time away from the beach discovering the fascinating history of this walled city.”
Ok, this is the first one on the list I haven’t actually been to in winter. I visited Morocco in April (twice), when it was obviously scorchio. I didn’t want to miss it off though, as it regularly appears on top winter sun destination lists – thanks to the year-round sun.
Head to Marrakesh for some shopping and roof garden mint tea, to Agadir for the beaches and to Fez for the impressive food. If you have time, the Atlas Mountains in between are pretty outstanding. And if you want to visit the ‘Blue City’ – look up ‘Chefchaouen’.
Had SUCH a good holiday in Egypt with my mum. Granted it was the end of October, so not quite what I’d consider ‘winter sun’ but you only have to look at the usual temperatures to realise that the experience we had in October, is basically what you’ll have in December and January too.
If you like scuba diving, history and the ancient world, then a winter in Egypt could be the one for you. We stayed in Sharm el Sheikh, on a holiday that I won by getting my business card taken out of a bowl (amazing!).
Next time I go to Egypt I’d totally do one of those luxury cruises down The Nile though – they look lush!
Gambia regularly tops the best winter sun destinations, thanks to the fact it’s 29-34 year round, and December is dry season.
I went in December a few years ago and can remember nothing but heat. You can find out more about what I got up to in the Gambia here.
Ok, not been, ever, but Jordan is my DREAM.
I was totally going to go this year, and still hope to go by the end of the year, but it all depends on… y’know. THE VIRUS. I really want to join a trip going from north to south by bike, but we shall see.
It’s not quite winter sun in December in Jordan but it’s definitely warmer than in England and it’s known as the perfect time of year for sightseeing, if you want to see the impressive Petra and ancient sites.
I want to float in the Dead Sea, visit Amman and stay out in a tent in Wadi Rum. Is that too much to ask WORLD?
Long haul winter beach breaks
8. Jeju Island, South Korea
First up, bit of an unusual one – how about Jeju Island in South Korea?
I’ve recently published a post on spending winter in Jeju here – I think it’s a great place to enjoy at the end of the year. With amazing beaches, cool cafes and loads of museums, it’s a great place to go when the weather isn’t to be relied on.
Over 75% of my trip was sunshine and I was scorching, and the rest… rain. BUT, it did make it all the more atmospheric, and I didn’t mind. Check out my video of Jeju below to see what kind of weather you’ll be facing on Jeju Island in winter.
Watch my video on my Jeju Island road trip
9. Goa and Mumbai, India
Visit the likes of Goa and Mumbai for some winter sun and you’ll be treated to 21C to 33C temperatures. Scorchio!
Mmm the thought of some fish curry at a Goa beach bar is sounding pretty good to me right now!
I’d recommend spending three weeks in India, and following this itinerary I did. I had a great time and I just want the same for you. Despite India being so big, you can still cover a lot of ground in three weeks, and enjoy some ‘unique’ experiences too.
10. Anywhere, Thailand
Oh the classic. Can’t go talking about winter sun destinations and not mention Thailand. I went between Christmas and New Year once, for like 5 days (crazy!), to Phuket, and it was scorching!
So weird when you come from the cold of England and step off the plane in a sunny place, ready for that Pad Thai.
Another year I went to Chiang Mai in February and again, hawt. Guaranteed weather in Thailand in winter – that’s why it’s just so popular. I’d recommend spending about two weeks here, minimum, and going island hopping. There’s so much to see that I definitely think I need a third visit sometime soon!
11. Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Oh my love, Vietnam. The first Asian country I went to and it will always have a special place in my heart. So much so, in fact, that after going in that August, I went again in February a few years ago – to cycle the length of it.
While the north was pretty rainy and the weather stopped me going hiking in Sapa, the south was hot sun. I went over to the island of Phu Quoc and boiled for the week – it was fab. If you’re after some winter sun, I can definitely vouch for Vietnam.
12. Florida, USA
I’m lucky enough to have been to Florida about five times now – including twice in December and once in January. And I can confirm, it’s hot. The sun is out every day and I can’t actually remember an instance of rain. Scorching sun throughout.
There’s a reason so many Americans go to Florida in winter (known as snowbirds) – it’s because it’s absolutely fantastic in the winter months. Whether you fancy doing a road trip from Miami to Key West, staying in Miami for a food tour, exploring Martin Country or cruising up the Emerald Coast – there are some great holidays to enjoy in Florida.
13. Caye Caulker, Belize
I spent two weeks of December 2015 in Belize, and although there were a few tropical rain storms, generally, it was gorgeous sun. You only need to look at some of my Belize photos to see how great the weather was for most of the time.
I went scuba diving, snorkelling, ate bargain lobster and drank Belikin Beers by the sea for a fortnight – absolute dreams!
14. Barbados, Caribbean
And then finally for our long haul winter sun destinations – my personal recommendation would be Barbados.
I went in February just before I moved to Southsea – it was the last place I went on my nomadic life. I had a BRILLIANT time, seriously. I wasn’t sure about going by myself, but I always look back on that as one of my favourite trips ever.
Watch my video on how to spend a week in Barbados: contains RUM
I think most of the people I met thought I was mad going to Barbados by myself – such a couples location – but I made friends on the rum boat, road tripped round the island, and loved making my way round the island’s restaurants.
Watch my video above to see what else I got up to on a week in Barbados.
Winter is a great time to go on holiday. You should check out the great festivals in January too, see if you can time them together!