Traditional Christmas weather isn’t for everyone. Not all of us want to roast chestnuts on the fire and make popcorn while the frightful weather outside rages away. But if you live somewhere that guarantees snow, rain, wind and freezing temperatures, the only option for festive warmth is to pack your bags and go on vacation and find some winter sunshine.
Here’s 15 perfect places for you to catch some Christmas Day rays:
Goa is famous as a place for beach parties, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but Christmas is meant to be a time for peace, so why not check out Agonda Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the area but is also usually less crowded, making it the perfect place to chill out and enjoy some Yuletide sunshine and relaxation. There’s plenty of activities nearby too, not to mention dolphin spotting boat trips.
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are an ideal place to go if you want a Christmas away from robins and reindeer and to see some more exotic creatures. At Tortuga Bay Beach, one of the most popular in the Islands, you’ll be able to see sea turtles, sea lions, pelicans, flamingos and lava gulls. With all that and stunning scenery, the only thing you’ll be missing is a partridge in a pear tree.
Cayo Ensenachos, Cuba
These are heady times for Cuba, now that friendly relations are breaking out with the USA at last, so why not celebrate the spirit of togetherness at Christmas by visiting a wonderfully quiet tropical paradise? Cayo Ensenachos is a tiny island that offers seclusion – it used to be a naturist beach! – and quiet fun on its two idyllic beaches, making it another perfect option for those looking to soak in the sun on Christmas Day without large crowds.
There’s more to life than lying on a beach, of course. You can catch some rays at Christmas while checking out “the world’s greatest open air museum” and getting a bit of history and culture in the ancient city of Thebes. Luxor is hot all year round, and even if December is one of the cooler months, you’ll still be in snowman-melting temperatures as you stroll around the monuments.
Another place where you can experience some culture and history is the old Portuguese colonial town of Paraty in Brazil, 140 miles south of Rio. With stunning architecture PLUS great beaches and jungles full of exotic wildlife, Paraty has a lot to offer for someone looking for something different for the holiday season. Its cobbled streets are also closed to traffic, making it a peaceful place for a stroll on Christmas morning.
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Of course, heading to a country where Christmas is in the height of summer is a safe bet and Kaikoura in New Zealand has a lot to offer, from walking in the rainforest mountains to going on whale-watching boat trips, swimming with seals, going bird-watching, hiking or engaging with the local Maori population to learn about their culture. Or you could stay at home, eat too much and watch reruns on TV?
Fregate Island Private, Seychelles
If you really want to – and can afford – some real privacy and luxury at Christmas, you can’t go far wrong with Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles. To give you an idea of what to expect, this is where Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston went on honeymoon, as well as Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (let’s assume their eventual splits had nothing to do with their honeymoon location). Absolutely stunning beaches with some real festive luxury, what more could you need?
Jade Mountain, St Lucia
Another costly-but-totally-worth-it option is Jade Mountain in St Lucia, which offers the chance to ignore the stresses of Christmas while getting a tan and seeing some spectacular scenery too. The hillside resort on the Anse Chastanet estate offers an incredible beach with views of the Piti and Gros Piton mountains as well as luxurious accommodation, snorkelling on coral reefs and homegrown produce. Just incredible and a fine way to treat yourself at Christmas.
Mogundula Private Island, Mozambique
If you’re REALLY looking for somewhere exclusive and private, Mogundula Private Island is about as close to owning your own bit of Paradise as most of us could dream. It’s beautiful private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, near Ibo Island in northern Mozambique and has two beaches, three villas, a lake, a forest and coral reefs, all for you to explore away from anyone else. You might get some tropical rain around Christmastime, but you’ll still get a tan and have amazing experiences to tell the frozen folks back home.
Heading to Africa is a good way to celebrate the holiday season with some sunshine, and Kenya’s Mombasa has Diani Beach on offer. A massive long stretch of sandy beach with a lagoon and reef, there’s lots to do here when you’re not opening presents, with a golf course, watersports and local wildlife (monkeys) to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to. There’s also the impressive Shimba Hills National Reserve to visit nearby.
What better way to spend a family Christmas than with a trip to Disney World? You can take advantage of the sunny weather to top up your tan while the kids get to experience all the magic of a Disney Christmas, when there are many seasonal events on top of all the usual rides, characters and sights. Of course, Florida offers lots of opportunities for hitting the beach too, making this a warm and wonderful place to spend your vacation.
Playas de Papagayo, Lanzarote
The Canary Islands have long been a favourite winter sun destination for Europeans, due to their local just off the coast of Morocco. Playas de Papagayo is at the southern tip of Lanzarote and has the best beach on the island as well as being in a protected national park. With crystal clear waters, tidal rock pools and the Los Ajaches mountains offering wonderful scenery, this is a great place to watch the sun go down on Christmas Eve after spending your day getting tanned instead of wrapping presents.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay in Providenciales is a 12 mile-long beach (ideal for Christmas morning runs, if you’re that kind of sadist) and both the beach and the island have often been named as the best places to go if you’re a fan of mind-blowing sandy beaches, beautiful waters and the kind of diving opportunities you normally only see the movies. If you want to lie under the swaying coconut trees sipping a cocktail and dreaming of a white Christmas (without actually wanting to be in one), this is the place to go.
Cala Deia, Majorca
Beaches aren’t all sandy, of course, and Cala Deia is a perfect example of how stunning a rocky one can be in the right location. Hardly a major tourist destination (it’s the polar opposite of the more famous and overdeveloped Magaluf), it’s found just outside a village called Deia on the west coast of the Spanish island of Majorca, surrounded by impressive rocky cliffs and olive groves. If you want a more intimate and low key sunny Christmas in a place where you’ll feel like one of the locals, this is worth a visit.
Yasawa Islands, Fiji
If you want your Christmas to have a Blue Lagoon feel to it, the Yasawa Islands are the place to go – that’s where some of the movie was filmed, on an island that’s now the Turtle Island Resort. There’s 90s islands in the Yasawas and some incredible beaches across the archipelago, and because this is still a developing area for tourism (land-based tourism was banned until 1987 by the Fijian authorities), it’s hardly been spoiled so far. Safe to say, you won’t need to pack a Christmas sweater…