Had enough of winter already? It feels like we’ve seen some especially wintry weather and chilly temperatures this season – but we like to look on the bright side. If you just can’t take any more gloom, it’s the perfect excuse to get away and book yourself a bit of winter sun. Swap the storms, sleet and short days for sun, sea and sand with our picks for winter sun this year.
Mainland Africa’s smallest country is developing a big reputation as an outstanding winter holiday destination. That’s in no small part thanks to the Gambia’s stunning coastline and exceptional weather from November to May. But if a near-guarantee of sunshine, average temperatures around 30°C and perfect palm-fringed beaches don’t quite do it for you, you can add in an impressive list of wildlife too.
You can see more than 500 species of bird here – many of them in Bijilo Forest Park, which just happens to be on the coast neighbouring some of the country’s best beaches, with plenty of hotels in Serrekunda nearby (the country’s second-largest town after nearby capital Banjul). Baobab Holiday Resort is a budget hotel next to Bijilo National Forest. You can also find five-star resorts dotted around the coast of Serrekunda, such as Kairaba Beach Hotel on Kololi beach, ideal for a relaxing break by the sea.
Sun, sea and sand not enough Ss for you? Throw shopping into the mix while you’re at it. Dubai’s reputation for glitz and grandeur is well-deserved and it’s not for everyone, but if you’re ok with a little brashness then the emirate really is worth a visit. If you can appreciate the beauty in the best-and-biggest style of modern architecture here then Dubai’s cityscape is genuinely stunning, and you can’t fault the weather during our winter months, when temperatures are comfortably hot here. For an affordable hotel near the beach and malls, try the area around Jumeirah public beach, where you can find four-stars like the ibis Styles Dubai Jumeira and the Novotel World Trade Centre.
You know you can’t go far wrong with the Caribbean. With pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine this time of year, it’s a reliable go-to for winter sun, and we love it. If you want the stereotypical Caribbean experience – beaches, rum and reggae – you can get it here. But the Spice Island’s central highlands also give you a little more beyond the beach, with spectacular waterfalls and colourful wildlife, including hawks, frogs and armadillos, in Grand Etang National Park. Havenheights apartments are in the capital of St George’s, making a handy base for visiting the park. But if it’s all about the beach then head to Grand Anse – the island’s number one beach. Coyaba Beach Resort is right on Grand Anse.
It’s not quite an up-and-coming destination – it’s a couple of years since Isla Holbox was first tipped as ‘the new Tulum’ – but this little Mexican island off the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula has all the sun-drenched beauty and gorgeous white beaches of the Riviera Maya’s most popular resorts with fewer crowds. The island is almost car-free (making golf carts and mopeds popular), with shallow waters, quiet beaches and a blissfully laidback Caribbean feel. You can book yourself a stay right on the beach and go all-out with a boutique splurge somewhere like Casa Las Tortugas Petit Beach Hotel & Spa or save your holiday budget for the pina coladas with one of the more basic hotels on Isla Holbox like Hotel Arena.
Yep, Tenerife. Now, there are two ways to approach this…
One: you know what you’re going to get. The southwest of the island is unashamedly tourist central; embrace it and just enjoy the fact that you can enjoy temperatures into the 20s on the beach. That popularity does come with its advantages too – you can find accommodation for most budgets. Among the hotels in Las Americas you’ll find everything from basic apartments and studios, like the ones at Sunclub Paraíso del Sol, to full-on five-star luxury resorts like Europa Villa Cortes.
Two: head inland and leave all your preconceptions about Tenerife on the coast. This place is also great for an active outdoor holiday in the sun – it’s an ideal base for a winter training camp if you’re super sporty, but away from the beaches the island is largely mountainous, with some genuinely gorgeous landscapes a world away from Las Americas that also make for fantastic wildlife spotting. That makes it a truly outstanding place for hiking and just enjoying the outdoors with some much-needed sunshine. The trails make it a top mountain biking destination. Find out our top tips for great hotels for mountain bikers on Tenerife.
Where would you like to go for some winter sun in 2018?