The winter holiday season is officially upon us, and we dare say that getting away during the cooler months can be even more satisfying than during peak season. Just as Jack Frost starts to chill our bones, there’s nothing better than the thought of a pool day, cocktail in one hand, paperback in the other. During your summertime sojourns, there’s always the possibility that your friends back home experience better weather than you do. Thankfully, there’s next to no chance of that happening during a dreary winter in the northern hemisphere, so it’s time to dig out the suitcase and passport and start planning your next trip.
If you’re just itching to set sail to sunnier climes, we’ve got you covered. Here are some top tips, activities and destinations that will give you everything you need to know to switch up your snowy vistas for tropical seascapes.
Temperatures in the Bahamas stay in the high twenties from November through March so it’s the perfect place for some winter sun. It’s best to check weather reports if you plan on going in November because officially that’s the tail end of the hurricane season.
There are over 700 Bahamian islands spread over 470,000 square kilometres of ocean space. This makes the archipelago practically built for boating. Borrowaboat offers a selection of catamarans and yachts to charter – with or without captains, crew, and deckhands – for a Caribbean experience like no other.
The southern hemisphere is a safe bet for yuletide warmth since their summers occur during our winters and South Africa has some beautiful regions to enjoy. Cape Town and Durban have you covered for fantastic beaches, with the latter also boasting the wildlife and hiking opportunities of the Drakensberg Mountains if you’re feeling more active.
The country’s fauna is a big draw for many holidaymakers but the conditions for safari during the ‘summer months’ (theirs) can sometimes not be ideal. Instead opt to visit the world-famous winelands in February. The coastal Constantia region of Cape Town is renowned for their Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grape varieties. Those travelling from the UK will enjoy a time difference of only a couple of hours so there’s minimal jet lag to contend with – compared to more antipodean destinations.
A fascinating region of India with Portuguese influence and a style all of its own. Between December and February, Goan nights are a cool 21ºC and days, a balmy 28ºC.
Fall in love with the authentic cuisine – like nothing you’ve tried outside of the country – and immerse yourself in the cultural history before taking to the beaches and enjoying the temperate Arabian Sea. Goa Carnival Festival occurs in late February where costumed dancing troupes and masked revellers explode onto the streets in a shock of colour and music.
The best time of year to visit Thailand is the cool and dry season between November and April. But don’t be fooled, temperatures still consistently reach the mid-thirties and these months are considered the country’s peak season.
Conditions for snorkelling and diving on the western coast are at their best during this time. The idyllic coral reefs around Ko Lanta are a welcome retreat away from the hedonistic partying of the more raucous Thai islands.
Morocco offers a unique mix of North African and European history and is an increasingly popular spot for tourists in the festive season. Morocco gets sun all year round but it’s one of the cooler countries on this list so pack accordingly.
The country boasts hundreds of kilometres of coastline from Casablanca and the capital Rabat on the Atlantic side to the more sheltered Mediterranean shores of Tangier and Nador. Boutique hotels and plush resorts are ample, and the cooler temperatures make December hiking much more pleasant.
Tips for your winter retreat
Packing for warm weather can be a challenge when the temperature outside is approaching zero – it’s difficult to get in the right headspace. Don’t forget the sunscreen, beachwear and sunglasses, and insect repellent too if your chosen destination is tropical.
By the same token, finding summer outfits out of season is not always easy. Thankfully, anything last minute you need to pick up can usually be found online and you might even find some discounts, too.
Travelling during a period where traditionally you might be visiting family, it’s a good idea to clear your calendar and inform all your nearest and dearest that they’ll be in receipt of a postcard this year instead of a call-in person.
Keep your heating ticking over. The last thing you want is to return to a domestic catastrophe so don’t let the pipes freeze while you’re away. Set your boiler or furnace to come on at a low temperature daily to ensure things stay running smoothly and have a friendly neighbour pop in intermittently to check on the place.
You’re not the only one that has chased the sun on their mind at this time of year so book your trip – flights and accommodation – early so as not to be disappointed.
Winter holidays can take a bit more time to prepare for, but the rewards are plenty. You’ll be pleased as punch coming back sun kissed and carefree to your envious group of friends.
Photo by Jonny Clow on Unsplash