Looking to start 2021 with a cocktail on the beach? You’re in luck: there are plenty of places that are hot in January, with temperatures above 25°C, from Thailand to Cuba, Brazil to Australia.
Note: While most of these destinations are open for travel right now, we’ve included some that we hope will be open by January, so you can plan when restrictions ease. Always check local government guidelines before booking travel.
11 destinations that are hot in January
|Thailand||Koh Samui||26°C / 79°F|
|Curaçao||Willemstad||27°C / 80°F|
|Cuba||Varadero||25°C / 78°F|
|Dominica||Roseau||28°C / 83°F|
|Saint Barthélemy||Gustavia||26°C / 79°F|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||Kingstown||26°C / 79°F|
|Brazil||Rio de Janeiro||27°C / 80°F|
|Mexico||Tulum||29°C / 84°F|
|Australia||Gold Coast||25°C / 78°F|
|Bali||Ubud||28°C / 83°F|
|Mauritius||Port Louis||26°C / 79°F|
January destinations that are open now
These destinations are safe to travel to by plane right now, so you can start planning your January holiday.
1. Koh Samui, Thailand
Thailand’s second largest island is also the most famous, and not just because it’s hot in January (although that helps). Here you’ll find mountainous rainforests, palm-fringed beaches, cascading waterfalls and a vibrant local culture. Head to the northern coast, where the famous, 12m-tall golden Big Buddha statue cuts an impressive figure, and then round up the experience by visiting the ornate Buddhist temple of Wat Plai Laem (if you donate money for the temple you can feed the fish in the lake).
Then, it’s off to nature. With Koh Samui as your base you can explore the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park (pictured above), an archipelago of 42 islands. Or you can stick to the island itself and visit its picturesque Na Muang waterfalls that form a natural staircase, as well the secret Buddha Garden a farmer has created in a forest. Book a Jeep safari tour to help you explore the sights.
2. Willemstad, Curaçao
With temperatures averaging 30°C throughout the year, this Dutch Caribbean island is ideal for hot January holidays. It’s 35 beaches tempt you with their clear, blue waters while the rich marine life makes Curaçao a great destination for diving and snorkelling. Westpunt beach is particularly great for water sports.
But the island has much more to offer than beaches. The colourful, colonial architecture speaks of Curaçao’s past: a stroll across Queen Emma bridge, in the capital of Willemstad, will give you a perfect view of the pastel-fronted buildings across St. Anna Bay. And when you’re ready to immerse yourself in nature, head to Christoffelpark at the north-western end of the island. The national park is teeming with flora and fauna, among which the endangered Curacao White Tailed deer. There are eight hiking trails, one of which leads to the top of Christoffel mountain.
3. Varadero, Cuba
Cuba is so much more than just Hanava. Consider swapping the colourful capital for the stunning beach resort destination of Varadero, in the province of Matanzas. Also known as Playa Azul (blue beach), the beaches in Varadero are some of the best in the world, with some stretching 20km of white sand. There are several all-inclusive resort hotels in Varadero, so a warm January holiday is easy to plan.
When you’ve had enough of the endless beaches (if that’s possible) head to the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve for a unique history lesson. Within the reserve’s scrub forest, you’ll have the chance to visit Cueva de Ambrosio to look at ancient pictograms and Cueva de Musulmanes where human remains dating back over 2,500 years have been found.
4. Roseau, Dominica
The mountainous Caribbean island gets pretty hot in January, but that’s not the only reason you’ll love it. From coastal villages, woodland hills, lush rainforests and waterfalls, natural hot springs and magnificent mountains, Dominica will steal your heart. The best way to explore all of it? Hop on the Waitukubuli National Trail, a long distance hiking trail that’s unique in the Caribbean and covers the whole island, from Scotts Head in the south to Capuchin in the north.
Thanks to the island’s many active volcanoes, there are several hot springs and volcanic water pools and lakes around. The Boiling Lake, in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, entices with its steamy waters. But if you’re looking for the experience of a lifetime, head to the Champagne Reef. The bubbles in the water stem from volcanic thermal springs on the ocean floor, making you feel like you’re swimming in champagne. Champagne Reef is also great for diving, featuring anything from coral reefs to the remains of the 17th-century Spanish shipwreck. Dive Dominica can help you organize underwater adventures.
5. Saint Barthélemy
Missing the French riviera? The small island of St. Barts, as the locals call it, is the French West Indies’ equivalent, with soaring January temperatures to boot. With the capital Gustavia as your base, you can explore French Caribbean culture at its finest: think colorful wooden houses with red roofs, a 17th-century fort, a lively harbour and streets filled with high-end restaurants and chic boutique shops. Pay a visit to Ligne St. Bart, the island’s official cosmetic line where you’ll find products made from local plants, fruits and flowers.
St. Barts is also home to white-sand beaches: 14 of them to be exact. On your radar should be Anse de Grand Cul de Sac, a great beach for watersports; the Baie de St-Jean, for its French Riviera vibes and beach-side bistrots; and of course Anse des Flamands, for its palm trees. The sand at Anse Marigot may not be white, but its coconut grove will make your visit to this protected spot very worthwhile.
6. Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The main island of St. Vincent and its surrounding 35 islands in the southern Caribbean are a lesser-known destination, which makes them an even better fit for a hot January holiday. The main island of St. Vincent is home to the capital, Kingstown, where you can stroll on cobblestone streets and contemplate colonial architecture. St. Vincent is volcanic, so the beaches here have a stunning black sand. Try Indian Bay Beach on the south coast, Argyle Beach in the south, and Mt. Young Beach at Black Point (one of the longest stretches of sand in the islands).
We would be remiss if we didn’t urge you to explore some of the other surrounding islands though. Especially the reef-lined Bequia Island, where you can visit the pretty-as-a-picture Princess Margaret Beach and learn more about the island’s maritime history at the Bequia Maritime Museum. Don’t forget to take in the panoramic views of the bay from Fort Hamilton. Another must in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? The Tobago Cays archipelago. The five islands comprising it may be small, but their coral reefs, clear waters and sandy shores will make a big impression.
Dreamy, hot January destinations that we hope will open soon
These places aren’t currently open to travel from the UK, but with the travel corridors list changing all the time, we hope they’ll be bookable for January.
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s metropolitan city is definitely one for the bucket list. Hopefully you’ll soon be able to stroll the shores of Copacabana and Ipanema and have your breath taken away by the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. Until then, you can explore Rio de Janeiro virtually from the comfort of your home.
8. Tulum, Mexico
Tulum might be hot in January, but it’s also undeniably cool. Located on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, Tulum combines ancient Maya ruins (pictured aboe), white sandy beaches and top notch hospitality. Plus, it’s one of the safest places to visit in Mexico.
9. Gold Coast, Australia
Is the Gold Coast one of the best places to visit in Australia? We think so. The metropolitan region south of Brisbane combines long sandy beaches, hiking trails and theme parks like the Warner Bros. Movie World.
10. Ubud, Bali
Mindfulness, sustainable design using bamboo and terraced rice paddies dotted with Hindu temples… Ubud is one of those places where you may visit for a January holiday and decide to stay all year long. Pay a visit to the intricately carved Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) and to the Sacred Monkey Forest sanctuary that 1,049 long-tailed monkeys call home.
The mountainous Indian Ocean island is a great destination for surfing (try Le Morne for its spectacular waves), going on wildlife photo safaris and gathering rare shells in beaches such as La Cuvette. Not a bad way to start the year.
Hot in January: FAQs
The first thing you need to be aware of is that the local government guidelines may change between booking and boarding the plane. Keep an eye on our interactive global map to find out whose borders are open and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
January is officially the beginning of dry season in the Caribbean, so it’s no coincidence we’ve recommended so many Caribbean destinations. You can expect temperatures of around 26°C in the Caribbean in January, which is cooler than other months, but pretty warm by British standards.
Spain’s Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco. Temperatures average at 20°C, so it’s a great destination for when the borders reopen.