Winter is creeping up, or, depending on where you live, has been here for some time. If the annual depression is setting, it might be time to trade the snow boots for some flip flops and recharge your batteries with a coconut in one hand, a good novel in another, and a beer in the other.
I’ve put together some of my favourite destinations that are hot year-round to get your travel juices flowing. I hope you enjoy reading it only slightly less than I enjoyed visiting each place individually.
Calm waters. Beach beers. Wild Sea turtles. And 50 scrambling tourists drowning each other to get a glimpse. Sound like paradise? It is.
There is heaps to do in Barbados, or there’s very little, depending on how you like to vacation. I spent a day on Carlisle Bay – just out of Bridgetown at a beach club called the Boatyard. For $20 a day we got to sit on their deck chairs, play with their water slides/swing, use their snorkel equipment, and of course the bar is just a few sandy steps away.
Indonesia is South East Asia’s hidden gem but I have a feeling that in the next few years it is going to see an explosion of tourism as people realise the wonders that abound across the archipelago. Every Australian knows about Bali, and nearby Nusa and Gili islands are also becoming more popular.
Nearby Labuanbajo, home of the famous Komodo National Park is spectacular and was a particular highlight for me. Bintan Island is remote and a fun escape. And although I haven’t made it out there yet, Raja Ampat looks absolutely incredible.
If you’re looking to escape the cold north and you’re keen to get out of your hemisphere, why not keep coming all the way to Australia? Queensland, in particular, is especially hot and you could spend weeks grazing the coast. But special mention must go to the Whitsunday Islands, just off the coast of Proserpine and Airlie Beach.
The Whitsundays is home to Australia’s number 1 beach, Whitehaven. Whitehaven is 7 kilometres long ending at Hill Inlet, the iconic river with the sandy swirls viewed best at mid tide, where the water dunes are part-filled by the income or outgoing tide.
St Thomas, British Virgin Isles
St Thomas is the home of the banana daiquiri and they certainly do not let you forget it! Buy one at Mountain Top where Captain George Soule invented the recipe. Enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the Caribbean while enjoying one of their most delicious drinks.
Afterwards, Magens Bay is a must stop for a swim and people watch. I wouldn’t say this beach is quintessential Caribbean, but it is nonetheless beautiful. The horseshoe type beach feels much more enclosed than beaches exposed to the sea and the surrounding trees ensure there is plenty of shade for those that seek it.
There are so many individual islands in the Virgin Islands, too, that are well worth exploring and all major ones are well-connected by ferry. You could genuinely spend a few weeks island hopping in this region alone.
Recently devastated by Hurricane Irma, St Maarten is incredibly unique in that even though it is a tiny island, it is split into two countries (or overseas territories): Saint Martin (French) and Sint Maarten (Dutch).
When they get back on their feet (which I sincerely hope is soon), there’s enough to keep you entertained for a few days with water sports on Orient Beach, local eating in Grand Case, exploring historic Fort Louis in Marigot, and of course Maho Beach, famous for the jumbos that come into land metres from the little beach.
Part of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria bills itself as its own little continent. And it’s easy to see why. With rugged mountains not all that far from the beach, you could hike a mountain in the morning and come back for a surf before dinner.
Gran Canaria is equal parts sun soaking beaches, adventure seeking activities, and cultural exploration with something for everyone on such a diverse island.
It might take some effort getting there from Australia, but from greater Europe it’s a simple dolphin ride down I’m pretty sure.
Watch the highlights of my last visit to the Caribbean in the below video:
Fiji is popular for Australians, but it should not be overlooked as a real escape from the northern winter either. Tourism is the major industry in Fiji and resorts dot the coast right around the island. You’ll most likely find yourself around Denarau near Nadi airport, but it is most certainly not the only option.
I actually stayed at a resort halfway between Nadi and Suva and when I wasn’t lazing on the beach I was kayaking, playing golf, cycling through puddles, or zip lining through a forest.
A surprising inclusion in this list? Perhaps. But I was in Houston for Christmas 2016 and I kid you not, I wore shorts. I’ll grant you that it was unseasonably warm, but the potential is there, and I guarantee it will be warmer than Vancouver.
Texas is a beautiful state with friendly southern accents, plentiful bar-b-cue, cowboys, rolling hills, and more bar-b-cue than you can poke a stick at. (Yes, bar-b-cue gets two mentions). Man, I want to go back for more bar-b-cue.
Located in the middle of the Pacific, on the other side of the international dateline (from Australia), the Cook Islands are just about the last people to experience time in any given day. I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in this paradise, split evenly between humble Aitutaki and the comparably metropolitan Raratonga.
Raratonga is small enough to loop in a bus in just over an hour. There are jungles to explore on quad bike, shows to experience some of the local culture, luxury resorts with day spas and SO much delicious seafood.
Aitutaki will bore you if you hate snorkelling in clear ocean water, reading in hammocks, stand up paddle boarding in the naturally protected reef, and feeding fish by hand. Aitutaki is paradise in every sense of the word.
You will either love Jamaica, or it will frustrate the living hell out of you. It is in every sense a very beautiful country with more lovely beaches, rum, jerk chicken, and sweet old Mary Jane. But if you stay in tourist hotspot such as Negril like we did, it is difficult and expensive to leave the resort area and you become an easy target for local hawkers. However, it is home to the absolute best sunset I’ve seen in my life, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
What’s your favourite place to escape the cold? Let me know in the comments below!
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