I had so many beautiful suggestions for this collaborative post from my fellow bloggers that I had to split it in two. My second suggestion for where to escape winter is Chile. I have been there at the end of last year (I’m very excited to start a new series about South America very soon) and it was the perfect destination to get away from the cold and windy United Kingdom. I have spent the New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso, watching the most amazing fireworks display I have ever seen in my life. And what’s better then spending New Year’s day on the beach, at 35 degrees, getting to know the Pacific Ocean?
St Thomas – Erin Faherty
My favorite escape from the winter woes is St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is especially easy from the east coast of the United States and just a four-hour flight from NYC. The beaches on St. Thomas are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and Magen’s Bay is continuously recognized as one of the best beaches in the world. St. John is a ferry ride away where you can visit Trunk Bay and go to the many fun bars in town.
Back on St Thomas, Duffy’s Love Shack, a bar in a parking lot, is one of my favorite places in the world, but I wouldn’t recommend the lobster. The Caribbean sun is especially tough on skin that’s been covered up with down coats and hats, so make sure you wear more sunscreen than you think you need. Make sure you wake up for the sunrise at least one of the mornings you are there, or better yet, stay up until sunrise after a night out. A bonus of visiting the U.S.V.I. is that the islands themselves are one of the 59 U.S. National Parks, if you’re trying to visit all of them like I am.
Hawaii – Justine
If you’re looking to escape winter, then one of the best places to travel to is Hawaii. With the weather being warm all year around, it’s the perfect destination to relax, unwind and forget your winter blues (and the rain)!
Hawaii really does have something for everyone. If you’re into hiking, take a wander into the jungle-like landscapes or hike Mauna Kea mountain. If you’re an adventurer, consider getting close to active volcanoes in the Volcano National Park. If you’re a beach-goer … well, Hawaii has tons of white, sandy beaches just calling out for you to relax on them.
If you’re going to consider making Hawaii your next vacation spot, then my best advice would be to take advantage of the islands being so close together and make sure you see as much as you can in the time you have. There are so many wonders in Hawaii – from Buddhist temples, to volcano craters, to viewing the Milky Way with the naked eye. It really is a stunning country and a perfect spot to escape winter…
Seychelles – Cory Varga
When my best friend asked me how to escape winter this year, my answer was “You have to explore the Seychelles!”
With a year-round temperature of around 30 degrees, it’s easy to see why so many sun seekers pick the Seychelles as the perfect getaway. The Seychelles is an archipelago with a multitude of islands, each being a unique paradise. The Seychelles aren’t known just for their fantastic temperatures, but for their beaches, tropical trails and secluded, most romantic spots. The Seychelles is a honeymoon destination, where couples from all around the world come to celebrate their love, on some of the most pristine, white sandy beaches on the planet. Lined with lush vegetation and dotted with granite boulders, it’s difficult to resist taking your camera out to snap a picture of what I call the most photogenic archipelago I’ve ever seen.
Victoria is the smallest capital in the world, located on Mahe, and a wonderful place to get an introduction to the local cuisine, traditions and cultures. To better explore the Seychelles, I recommend sailing from island to island, as each bears a unique feature. Whilst Mahe is the best place for hikes, trails and local culture, La Digue is a chilled out place, with parties on the beach and laid back tourists and locals alike. Praslin was my favourite because it is home to Vallee de Mai, a UNESCO Heritage Site where you can enjoy a truly exotic nature walk and spot the elusive Black Parrot. For my winter escapade, I couldn’t imagine a better place to forget about the cold, than to spend yet another month exploring the beautiful Seychelles.
Jordan – Manon van Schagen
Jordan is a country that is familiar to some people and scares the hell out of others, simply because, well, it’s a country in the Middle East after all. So, that must be scary. Well, it is not. Jordan is a country that has so many things to offer, like Petra and Wadi Rum, but it is also a perfect country to escape the winter cold.
The country is usually warm all year long and while during summer it won’t be fun, with temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius being normal, winter will be a bit nicer. The area around the country’s capital, Amman, can even get quite chilly when December comes around since it’s located in the North of the country. However, if you go to the south, to Aqaba, you will definitely be able to enjoy the sunshine and temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius. But be aware that it will get a bit more chilly at night, as most places do when there’s a desert closeby.
Not too bad if it’s -10 back home right? That’s exactly what I thought. It gets better. Impossible? Well, what if I told you that Aqaba is located at the Gulf of Aqaba which later flows into the Red sea. And that equals perfect diving spots. So assuming you’re booking a flight ticket right now, there are some final things to say here. Have a blast, eat mansaf (a local dish), visit Petra and don’t step on the coral.
Sydney – Jess Mizzi
What better way to escape the winter blues than by heading straight to summer! That’s what is in store when you head south across the equator to sunny Sydney. Spend your days on the beach and the balmy evenings soaking up the festival atmosphere.
Australia is famous for its stunning coastline and Sydney certainly has its fair share! To the east of the city you can hit the golden sand of Bondi Beach. From there it is a beautiful walk around the sandstone cliff tops to nearby Bronte. Feel like heading north? The cheapest harbour cruise around is the Manly Ferry. Departing from Circular Quay you will have spectacular views from the Harbour Bridge to the Opera House. In Manly you can shop til you drop on the Corso, rent a bike and ride up to North Head, grab a surf board and hit the waves or snorkel in the marine reserve around Shelley Beach.
Summer is time to party for Sydneysiders. The festive season kicks off with Christmas, shows the world how to party for New Years and follows it up with Australia Day on January 26th. There are fireworks galore and plenty of places to soak up the atmosphere. My top picks are with a glass of wine overlooking the Opera House and Bridge at Opera Bar (http://operabar.com.au ) and by the water at Darling Harbour.
The best way to really appreciate the beauty of Sydney in summer is to get up high. You can hit up a rooftop bar like the Glenmore (http://theglenmore.com.au ) in the Rocks, go to the top of Sydney Tower (https://www.sydneytowereye.com.au ), climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge (http://bridgeclimb.com) or my favourite, take a scenic flight in a seaplane (http://sydneybyseaplane.com )!
Andros Island, Bahamas – Natalie Vereen-Davis
One of the Out Islands and the largest of the 700 islands in the Bahamas, Andros is an unspoiled and nearly unknown gem. With only 6,000 residents spread out across the island, there’s little chance to running into large tour groups like you would on the more populous Grand Bahama Island or New Providence. There are miles of deserted beach and crystal clear waters for snorkeling or scuba diving. Head to the northernmost tip of Andros to look for the original Captain Morgan’s treasure at Morgan’s Bluff, or visit Red Bays, the village that the world forgot for over 100 years. Near Fresh Creek, you should take a tour of the Androsia Fabric Factory, where you can learn about the local art of batiking and buy some of the colorful designs. Scattered throughout the island are blue holes, which are perfect for an afternoon swim; Church’s is a popular spot, and, at a 1/2 mile wide, is one of the biggest. Don’t forget to spend a leisurely evening eating some freshly caught conch at a local restaurant!
As with the rest of the Bahamas, the forecast in Andros is typically sunny with an average yearly temperature of 76F (24.9C). To get there, you’ll need to grab a seat on a plane from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or take a ferry from Nassau.
Tenerife – Anja
Photo taken by Bojan Bokic
If you need to escape the winter, you should definitely do that in Tenerife – quickly you will realize it will be one of the best decisions you ever made. Not just that it is always sunny (there is a reason it is called “the island of forever spring”), but it is one very budget-friendly destination.
Low-cost airlines like Ryanair fly to this Canary Island a couple of times a day, and you can find some great deals (for example, we flew from Brussels to Tenerife South airport for just 30 euros) and lodging is affordable too (our amazing apartment in 4 star hotel Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club was 250 euros for 7 nights).
And there are so many things to see and do in Tenerife – you cannot afford not to see volcano Teide, still very much active (latest eruption occurred in 1909); visit the capital city of the island – Santa Cruz – and while there, do visit Auditoro de Tenerife (Opera House), the port, enjoy the view at Torres de Santa Cruz, twin towers (the tallest in Spain), walk through the Parque Garcia Sanabria… If you enjoy water games (and who doesn’t?!?), visit the Siam Park and if you want to explore the world around you, visit Loro Parque – majority of the hotels offer discount tickets for both parks. Southern part of the island is warmer, while the waves on the north side are significantly stronger and this side of the island is typically main traction for surfers (lodging on the north side is also more affordable). The most popular destination for tourists is Playa de ls Americas, with very urban feels and busy nightlife. Majority of beaches have black sand (as this is a volcanic island), and majority of tourists favor Playa de las Teresitas – a beach with gold sand (brought in from Sahara). There is a reason why Tenerife is low cost paradise – everything there is way cheaper than what we’re used to! Breakfast is anywhere between 2 to 5 Euro, and most restaurants offer bundle options for 3 meals at the price of 7 to 9 Euro. Coffee and soft drinks can be purchased for 1-2 Euro, and beer prices range from 1-3 Euro.
Oaxaca – Maja Martinez
When you think of spending your holidays in Mexico, tropical beaches, sun and margaritas first come to mind. But today, I want to you to meet Oaxaca de Juarez, a colorful colonial town in federal state of Oaxaca. Located in the south of the country and with day temperatures around 20°C during the winter, Oaxaca offers a perfect winter escape to anyone looking for a city vacation.
Oaxaca is known as a Mexican state with the richest indigenous culture, a state where mezcal is produced and a state with the best food in the whole country! Choose Oaxaca de Juarez as your base while exploring this fantastic city and its interesting surroundings.
If exploring pyramids is on your bucket list, head to Monte Alban, historical complex just 20 minutes out of the city. You can visit a mezcal factory and try as many as you can (special recommendations goes to delicious “cremas de mezcal”, my favorite is the apple one), buy unique local souvenirs called alebrijes or even learn how to make them.
If you are a fan of Mexican cuisine, Oaxaca is a perfect place to attend a cooking class. Try all seven kinds of mole, taste traditional tlayudas and grab few grasshoppers for a snack if you feel brave. Oaxaca has it all; even if you desire to spend some days on the beach – the coast is only 6 hours away.
Koh Lanta, Thailand – Taiss Nowrouzi
Not only can you escape winter when visiting Koh Lanta, Thailand, but you can escape the crowds as well. This is an island that can really make you feel like a castaway but in a good way.
While most visitors to Thailand are familiar with and may even choose to vacation in Phuket or Koh Phi Phi, they wouldn’t be on our list of recommended places to have a relaxing and warm holiday. Koh Lanta offers far more in the way of natural beauty as well as a peaceful ambiance that’s sure to get you feeling loose and refreshed.
Located on the Southwest coast of Thailand in the Krabi Province, Koh Lanta provides visitors with some beautiful beaches lined by the Andaman Sea that are typically quiet and uncongested, even at the peak of the tourist season. Finding secluded accommodations is an easy task with the abundance of budget to luxury hotels. However, those that want the extra feeling of isolation should look for places down at the southern-most tip, near the Mu Ko Lanta National Park.
With a plethora of activities ranging from, sunbathing, swimming in infinite pools, hiking, and visiting caves and waterfalls, the only thing that can possibly keep you from getting active is that mojito in your hand as you lounge on the beach. But seriously, though, one can get some genuine tranquility on this island.
Be sure to take advantage of the snorkeling tours offered here if you get a chance. The snorkeling is top notch, and you can find great tour operators at very reasonable prices. Depending on which tour you choose, you can enjoy a fast-boat to Koh Rok, snorkel at a few enchanting locations, and enjoy a delicious Thai Lunch followed by some fun in the sun on an uninhabited island!
Bonaire – Carol Guttery
What are your high priorities for a winter escape? If you want warm water, warm weather and water sports, then Bonaire is for you.
Bonaire is located in the Caribbean Dutch Antilles and is part of the island chain which also includes Aruba and Curaçao (the ABCs). The island has a very healthy reef and rocky shoreline which makes it perfect for shore diving and snorkeling. And the windy eastern side of the island is a great spot for windsurfing.
Any vacation is a good vacation if you are lucky enough to spot an endangered species and you can do that in Bonaire. They have a population of both green and hawksbill turtles that are easily spotted from one of the forty snorkel spots on the island.
They do have beaches there and you can lay around on them if you wish. But Bonaire is best done as an active vacation. Because the reef is so easily accessible from shore, you can do two dives or snorkels per day and still have time for land based sightseeing. The island is small and it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to get anywhere from the main town of Kralendijk. You can explore Bonaire’s colonial past, visit the donkey sanctuary, taste some locally distilled spirits and go kayaking in the mangroves.
Then get back to your hotel, grab a cold beer and sit down to watch the sunset.
Which destination is your favorite winter escape?