At this time of year, it’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home. Totally depressing. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’ve been fantasising about sun-drenched holiday spots and a dose of much-needed vitamin D.
When there’s zero sunshine after many months of dreary, wet, gloomy weather, I simply crave the summer weather. Don’t you?
To help, I’ve put together this handy little list of my top 10 holiday winter destinations around the world, including some you can reach in as little as five hours, yet still experience temperatures of 19℃ and above.
1. Sri Lanka
If you’re seeking a cultural winter holiday, nothing beats Sri Lanka’s ancient temples and forts, world-famous tea plantations and palm-lined fishing beaches. Did you know that the country is one of the largest tea exporters in the world? If you’re anything like me, there’s probably a lot about the country that you don’t know. Here are some more interesting little Sri Lanka facts: this is where a delicious tipple called arrack comes from. Arrack is a traditional Sri Lankan spirit made by fermenting rice, coconuts, fruits and sugar canes – believe me, it’s really delicious.
While you’re here, be sure to check out the elephants in their natural habitat, at Minneriya National Park. Or clamber to the top of Sigiriya Rock and check out the ancient fortresses. It’s the perfect opportunity for a selfie.
2. Cape Verde
Each of Cape Verde’s islands offers something different. For bars, head to Sao Vincente. For beaches, Boa Vista is your best bet, while nature lovers simply must visit Santo Antao, which is home to lush landscapes. Santiago is the perfect island for culture-vultures, and is home to a wealth of architecture.
Cape Verdean weather rarely drops below 20℃ at any time of year. Hours of sunshine? Between five and nine. Bliss!
This dreamy island boasts idyllic spa retreats, full-moon parties where the only dress code is flip flops, plus hidden coves and deep-green jungles. The balmy weather, refreshing breeze, lively waves and lush greens will make you forget it’s gloomy back in the UK.
Bali’s rainy season is between October and February, but even then, the rain won’t last any more than a couple of hours. Dig out your shorts and bikinis from your wardrobe, because Bali’s beaches are pretty special.
Arguably one of the most culture-rich, intriguing and picturesque countries you’ll ever see, Vietnam is a must-visit winter sun destination. You’ll taste some of the world’s best food in Ho Chi Minh City, and the beaches in Vietnam are just wow. You’ll uncover some seriously untouched beauty here, too. Be sure to hop on a boat and explore its smaller islands and dramatic bays.
And there are few better ways to soak up the beach scene in Vietnam than with fresh seafood and an ice-cold beer as you watch the waves.
Fuerteventura’s gentle breezes and sherbet-sand beaches are beckoning. The island is aptly-named ‘good wind’, and believe me, it’s a haven for water sports like windsurfing. What’s more, it’s on the same latitude as Florida and Mexico…but a lot kinder on the wallet.
With its breathtaking scenery, golf and dreamy beaches, this Canary Island promises year-round sunshine. Being less mountainous than the other Canary Islands, it means there are fewer rain-generating clouds. The result? More sunshine. It’s a win, win.
Home to rustic-chic beach shacks, white sand and a deep-turquoise sea, the islands of Thailand are what dreams are made of. There are oodles of islands to pick from, and whichever one you choose, you’ll feel as carefree as a castaway.
For some serious relaxation, head to Koh Lanta, or Koh Samui, which is laden with super-spas. For true beach bums, Koh Lipe is where it’s at, while Koh Phangan is where the parties are. The only difficult choice is deciding which of the islands is for you.
Mexico serves up a magical mix of history and culture. Explore its ancient temples, make like a mermaid (or merman) with a dip in its green ceynotes, or subterranean pools, and lounge on the beach in Tulum. There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture in Merida, or in a charming hacienda on the Mayan Riviera.
Fancy a spot of surfing and adventure? Head to the sleepy fishing town of Sayulita, on the edge of the rainforest, where there’s always lots going on. The prime time to do this country is during the UK’s gloomiest months.
Granted, the eastern Mediterranean Sea around Cyprus might be cold, but the island sees more than enough sunshine to satisfy us Brits all year long. There’s more than enough rays to soak up, even in the coldest months. March is a great month to go if you don’t want the crowds, and you’ll also get to witness the island’s flowers start to bloom.
The best thing? Cyprus is only a few hours away by plane from the UK. It has everything you could possibly want, from Byzantine churches to sea turtles and exotic birds.
9. South Africa
Don’t be put off by the 10-hour flight to South Africa, because it’s on the same time zone as the UK – meaning zero jet lag.
Discover jaw-dropping scenery, beautiful beaches, top-notch wines and extraordinary food in Cape Town. If you’re a beach buff, you’ll be wowed by the magnificent beaches in the Garden Route. Or why not take a road trip through the Western Cape? For dramatic seas and a sensational coastal areas, head to the less-explored Overberg Coast.
Year-round sunshine. Check. White-sand beaches. Check. Surfing. Check. Jungle treks. Check. Hawaii has it all – six islands, each offering something different, where you’ll be welcomed with a warm smile.
While Oahu is lively, Maui is captivating. And while Kauai is ideal for unwinding, Hawaii Island is perfect for thrill-seekers. Holidaymakers come here to experience the luau feasts and lei tradition of greeting guests with garlands. You’ll love the laid-back way of life here.
I hope the above 10 places have inspired you. They’re well worth checking out for that glorious sunshine you desperately need. (Okay, maybe not “need” but definitely “want”).