6 Winter Sun Holidays To Book Now
Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica
Average January Temperature: 34°C high; 23°C low
Travel Time From UK: 16 hours
Time difference: GMT -6 hours
For an idyllic getaway, book a holiday to the Gulf of Papagayo in the north of Costa Rica. Home to many of the island’s top resorts, the area is still rugged and untamed in parts, meaning you can stumble across secluded beaches, wade through mangroves, and see tropical flora and fauna in its natural glory. You’ll find two of the island’s most beautiful parks here – Santa Rosa National Park and Rincón de la Vieja National Park – both of which are worth exploring on a guided tour. Visitors can also enjoy snorkelling trips to see tropical fish and green sea turtles, relax on one of the peninsula’s 20 white-sand beaches, and rent kayaks or paddleboards to discover hidden coves and bays.
Where to Stay: El Mangroove
There is no shortage of top resorts in Papagayo, but El Mangroove is our pick. The décor pays homage to mother nature, from calming neutral colour schemes in the rooms to furniture made from locally sourced materials. With direct access to the beach, guests can enjoy an extensive selection of water sports, or relax at the on-site spa. There’s also a family-friendly pool with sun loungers and parasols, two restaurants serving Central American cuisine, and a variety of boho rooms and suites, including canopy suites hidden in the trees.
From £230 per night.
Average January Temperature: 24°C high; 15°C low
Travel Time From UK: 11 hours
Time difference: GMT -5 hours
Tulum is one of the most visited parts of Mexico, and for good reason: crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and a string of top hotels with a cool bohemian vibe. December to April is high season, but you’re guaranteed good weather and relaxed beach parties. Along the coastline, there’s excellent cave and cavern diving, while the breath-taking floating canal of Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an is just an hour away by car. Be sure to visit Tulum’s ancient ruins, which are over 900 years old, as well as the SFER IK contemporary art museum.
Where to Stay: BeTulum
Loved by travel insiders, BeTulum is a jungle retreat close to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Guests can stay in spacious wooden cabins and suites with plush furniture, boho-chic accents and stylish en-suites complete with rainfall showers. The hotel also has a wellness area with a yoga and meditation deck, and a spa offering body treatments and detox programmes.
From £462 per night.
San Diego, California
Average January Temperature: 19°C high; 11°C low
Travel Time From UK: 11 hours
Time difference: GMT -8 hours
For guaranteed sun during the winter months, few places in America hit the spot like southern California. An ideal time for a West Coast road trip, be sure to spend some time in laid-back San Diego. Whether you’re planning a family holiday or girls’ trip, there’s something for everyone, including world-famous attractions like the museums of Balboa Park and San Diego zoo, more than 60 beaches with excellent surfing waters, and a vibrant Downtown full of casual dining options and tasty street food. Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve is also worth a visit, as is the Children’s Pool cove, which is home to seals and sea lions.
Where to Stay: The Pearl Hotel
Set in the middle of Point Loma, The Pearl is a small 60s-style hotel with 23 rooms and suites built around a stylish oyster-shaped swimming pool. Guests can relax at the poolside cocktail bar, enjoy fresh dishes at Charles & Dinorah restaurant, and explore the local area – the hotel is only a short walk from swimming and surf beaches, and Downtown. Classic Pearl rooms are filled with a mixture of contemporary and vintage furniture, while Pearl Suites have outdoor terraces overlooking the pool and spacious living areas.
From £110 per night.
Average January Temperature: 32°C high; 24°C low
Travel Time From UK: 12 hours
Time difference: GMT +3 hours
Off the eastern coast of Africa, 20 miles from Tanzania, Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful places in the archipelago. Comprising more than 40 small islands, Zanzibar was made for island hopping. Unguja is where you’ll find the main holiday resorts, as well as rich culture and some of the most stunning beaches in Tanzania. Stunning white-sand beaches, thick mangrove swamps and vast rainforests are all within a short distance of each other – you can also go snorkelling in the coral reefs and see wild dolphins on a boat trip. Booking a safari is also a no brainer. Families Worldwide offer a 10-night trip package designed to show guests some of the most beautiful places off the beaten track, as well as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Highlands.
Where to Stay: Zuri Zanzibar
For a secluded holiday, head north to Nungwi and stay at the luxury beach resort, Zuri Zanzibar. The hotel has a selection of stunning bungalows, suites and villas – ideal for a family trip or romantic getaway. For a couple’s treat, book an Ocean Front Suite for a breath-taking view of the Indian Ocean. The suite has a generous living area, private terrace with an outdoor shower, and access to a private beach. For an ultra-luxury bucket-list trip, Singita is the place to go. Home to five luxury lodges and campsites in Tanzania, guests can stay in luxury lodgings in the wilderness. Plunge pools, fine dining and expert-led safaris make for an unforgettable trip.
Price available on request.
South Coast, Sri Lanka
Average January Temperature: 30°C high; 24°C low
Travel Time From UK: 10 hours
Time difference: GMT +5.5 hours
For a relatively small island, Sri Lanka has it all – Buddhist temples, ancient cities, colonial tea plantations, lush rainforest, cool hill stations, miles of palm-fringed beaches and incredible wildlife. Add to this the delicious food, the friendliest of people and gorgeous hotels, and there really is something to suit every budget. In January and February, make a beeline for the south coast for balmy temperatures and the best chance of all-day sunshine. A week or ten-day trip is best spent driving – or using the historic railway network – around Galle, Mirissa, Unawatuna and Weligama. Make time for a couple of nights in Yala National Park, too.
Where to Stay: Malabar Hill
Malabar Hill only opened its doors two months ago. This new luxury hotel is a short distance from the beaches of Mirissa and Weligama, set high on a hilltop with beautiful views of the surrounding jungle and coastline. Guests can choose to stay in one of 14 private villas, hidden in the jungle, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto private terraces with infinity pools. Guests can relax in an open-air restaurant, swim in the beautiful infinity pool, and enjoy local, fresh food at the restaurant, bar or terrace.
From £220 per night.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Average January Temperature: 20°C high; 13°C low
Travel Time From UK: 4 hours 15 minutes
Time difference: GMT +0 hours
The Canary Islands always offer up reliable winter sun, and Lanzarote has plenty of sunshine at this time of year. With a unique geology of 300 volcanoes, black-sand beaches and palm-filled valleys, the island is home to the kind of rugged features you won’t find anywhere else in the Canaries. The main holiday resorts are located along the south coast, as is Timanfaya National Park with its beautiful landscape. Whether you want to explore the terrain on a hiking holiday, or hit the beach at Playa Blanca, there’s something for everyone. If you do go, carve out time to discover hidden treasures at underwater , and enjoy live music at the eerily beautiful Cueva de los Verdes caves.
Where to Stay: Hotel Fariones
Hotel Fariones re-opened in 2020 and is one of the top hotels on the island. Set in the centre of Puerto del Carmen on the southeast coast, the hotel is surrounded by palm trees with direct access to the sandy beaches below. There are 213 rooms to choose from, many of which have panoramic views across the Atlantic, as well a rooftop pool where you can watch the sunset. The interiors are simple yet chic, with a touch of nautical flair throughout, and rooms have plenty of luxury touches, from a pillow menu to a complimentary minibar stocked with local treats.
From €163 per night.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice and entry requirements to each country before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.
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