Sitting, staring out of the window dreaming of white sand against bright blue skies? Yeah, us too. But wait, those beaches are not a figment of your imagination – and it’s entirely possible to escape the dreary British weather for one of those exotic, sandy hotspots with long, sun-drenched days. Here’s where to find your tropical heaven this winter.
1. Costa Rica
As luck would have it, the UK’s winter coincides with Costa Rica‘s peak summer months and as the rainy season bids farewell in November, you’ll find this Jurassic-Park-like setting lush and green in January. With the Pacific Sea on the east coast and the Caribbean on the west, the beaches are a world away than at home and you’ll be spoilt for choice. To see the best of what Costa Rica has to offer, visit Manuel Antonio National Park, which shows off the rainforest alongside glistening white beaches. Plus, if you’re an avid wildlife watcher, you’ll often find iguanas and squirrel monkeys on the beach.
For long, undisturbed white sands try Nosara Beach, a tropical paradise home to abundant marine life, tide pools and gentle rolling waves, calm enough for beginner surfers. For a slightly buzzier vibe, head to Playa Guiones, which can be explored on foot or by bicycle and where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and hotels for a leisurely bite, before you escape back to the relatively undiscovered Nosara.Search flights to Costa Rica Search hotels in Nosara Beach
2. Cape Verde
This collection of islands has it all; situated off the east coast of Africa, it’s a reasonable six-hour flight from the UK. If you’re thinking of island hopping while you’re there, stop by the cultural music hub of São Vicente and then hop along to Boa Vista for unrivalled beaches – Santa Monica Beach is an impressive 9km long. Once you’ve topped up your tan, jump over to the island of Sal, and head into the warm water for a scuba dive day trip. You’ll have a good chance of spotting Humpback whales between February and March and whatever time of year you visit, you’ll see the beauty of the coral reef and rugged volcanic landscape alongside shoals of tropical fish and stingrays for days.Search flights to Cape Verde Search hotels in Cape Verde
With temperatures hitting the high 20s, January to May is the time to visit Mozambique. And with over 2,000km of Indian Ocean coastline, there are endless beaches to choose from. Fly into Inhambane (which translates as Land of Good People) and drive over to Tofo, the scuba diving hotspot. There are four diving schools to choose from here and more than enough sea to share; you’ll see Manta rays and white sharks aplenty so charge up the Go Pro pronto. Once you’ve worked up an appetite under the water, make sure you unwind on dry land at Fatima’s Nest, a series of simple thatched wooden shacks and huts along the beach serving traditional fresh fish dishes and Mozambican beer.Search flights to Mozambique Search hotels in Inhambane
Mexico really hits the nail on the head with the white-sand-blue-sea vibe we’re all craving of at this time of year. Towering over the turquoise sea, the iconic Tulum ruins should be top of your hit list, and as the only Mayan settlement to sit right on the beach, you wouldn’t have to travel far to get your history fix. Beat the crowds and get to the ruins as they open at 8am, then spend the rest of the day relaxing on Tulum Beach. Or if you’re feeling super keen, arrive early to watch the sun rise over paradise.
Just a half an hour drive north along the coast and you’ll find Yal-ku Lagoon, an underwater jungle of tropical fish and the occasional turtle, protected from rough seas. You could spend hours discovering the shallow pools and warm water before venturing further out to where the lagoon meets the sea for the chance to spot larger sea creatures. Finish the day with a coconut (or cocktail) in hand for that all-important holiday snap.Search flights to Mexico Search hotels in Tulum
If all else fails, the land down under is guaranteed to give you warm winter sun and glorious beaches. Often voted as Australian’s best, Whitehaven Beach has soft, unblemished white sand, clear seas and views that are like no other. You can only find this beauty by boat (or if you’re feeling lavish, by helicopter or sea plane) with day trips leaving from Airlie Beach. And if you’ve got more time on your hands, take a week-long catamaran around the Whitsunday Islands.
Further north lies a lesser-known island that’s equally enticing. Take the ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island and stay with the koalas at Bungalow Bay. From there hire a 4×4 and drive around this tiny island and stop off at each beach you pass. Arthur Bay and Horseshoe Bay are particularly spectacular, plus more often than not you’ll get the beach to yourself – win win!Search flights to Australia Search hotels in Airlie Beach
Want to find your own dream beach?