When the novelty of winter—cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, the holidays—wears out, the last thing you want to do is stick around for more gray and gloom. When that’s the case, it’s time to escape to somewhere warm and balmy, be it the Caribbean, French Polynesia, or even Europe. Below, 10 of our favorite tropical vacation spots guaranteed to cure all winter woes.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Expensive it may be, but Bora Bora promises a luxurious vacation to remember. For an elegant treat, check into the Le Meridien, where you’ll be spoiled by iconic overwater bungalows, meals at Bora Bora’s first sushi joint, and hiking—with views to match—on Otemanu Mount. (Kids will love the daily turtle feeding, too.)
Off the resort, the 18-mile island’s most popular beach is Matira, which is backed by a lush tropical landscape and has a seafloor that’s sandy and soft. Its Instagrammable sunsets are best enjoyed while having a drink from one of the beachside bars.
For obvious reasons, Fiji is a great choice if you’re looking for some winter sun.
Of the archipelago’s 330 islands, only a third are inhabited; we suggest skipping more popular Mamanuca and Viti Levu and heading off the tourist path to the Yasawas, which feel more remote than other places in Fiji: tourists weren’t even allowed on these islands until 1987, and they still remain largely unspoiled by visitors (think flash-packing and mostly locally run accommodations versus big resorts).
You won’t miss leaving the Internet behind while visiting natural wonders such as the stunning Sawa-I-Lau caves and surrounding turquoise seas, where you can kayak out to spot resident manta rays.
Vietnam’s beaches don’t get quite the attention like Thailand’s do, but those who are in on the secret know that just means there are miles of gorgeous sands unspoiled by tower-block hotels.
Although the mainland has plenty of coastline to explore, consider a trip out to Phu Quoc Island, and explore the night market as well as Phu Quoc’s national park—home to great hornbills, dugongs, and old-growth mangrove forests.
Bai Truong, also known as Long Beach, is on the west coast of the island and also worth a stop to swim in its crystal-clear waters, sail, drink coconut juice, or relax with a beachside massage.
Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands are a big hit with Brits escaping their own winter, but don’t let the hordes of revelers put you off—there’s plenty of peace and quiet to be found.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife, part of the western group of islands, each has secluded areas to escape to. Both beach bums and water sports enthusiasts love Tenerife’s isolated La Tejita beach, near the Montaña Roja Nature Reserve, because of its ever-present winds and big swaths of sand.
For even more action, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the lively capital port city, with Spanish architecture and engaging museums like the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, which contains a permanent exhibition on Óscar Domínguez, a Spanish Surrealist painter in line with Dalí and Miró.
Time your visit right and you might even experience Carnival, which takes place in early February and is second in size and scope only to Rio de Janeiro.
Although a fair few of Thailand’s most famous beaches have become overrun with tourists (and sometimes quite a bit of seediness), there’s still off-the-radar shoreline to sun on: Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, and Koh Lipe are three of our favorites. Crowds tend to congregate on the eastern side of Koh Samui because of the area’s proximity to the international airport, so we suggest heading north to Bo Phu, a fishing village with beautiful wooden houses.
South of overrun Krabi Town, Koh Lanta has nearly 17 miles of beaches popular for snorkeling; head to Mu Ko Lanta National Park to explore networks of caves and mangroves.
Hoping to go more remote? Koh Lipe, in the Andaman Sea, has become known as the “Maldives of Thailand”—its turquoise water and sky are interrupted only by white sand. Head straight to Sunrise Beach, which is beautiful both at sunrise and sunset.
If you’d prefer to stay in the U.S., the Hawaiian Islands are a great place to go to hide away from the gray, cold stretches of winter. On the north side of Kauai, you can take in mountain vistas while floating in the blue waters of the 15-mile-long Nā Pali Coast, accessible by either an 11-mile trail or boat (we love going with a tour like the Nā Pali Coast Kauai Snorkel and Sail).
Consider a visit to Hanalei Town, a surf hub full of secluded beaches and an earthy, bohemian vibe. While you’re up north, seek out Anini Beach, which is one of the island’s safest to swim in during the winter and is home to some excellent snorkeling—keep an eye out for humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s state fish.
Moorea, French Polynesia
With its untrammeled beaches and lush volcanic mountain landscapes, Moorea, just 11 miles northwest of Tahiti, remains one of the most beautiful yet still under-the-radar islands in French Polynesia.
Because there’s no main city, visits here are all about spending as much time in nature: head to the beach (Temae, a bay with turquoise waters, is one of the loveliest); take a guided hike into the lush Pass of the Three Coconuts; or paddle over surrounding coral reefs on a glass-bottomed kayak.
Be sure to grab lunch at A L’Heure du Sud, a food truck that serves great home-cooked proteins like tuna belly over salad and fish burgers.
Verdant terraced rice fields, ancient temples, perfect beaches—it’s no wonder why Bali is called the “Land of the Gods.” Bohemian-chic Ubud is a gateway to experiencing the island’s culture, whether that’s taking a yoga class (Ubud Yoga House is excellent) or visiting museums like the Agung Rai Museum of Art, where you can see 19th-century Javanese and classical Kamasan paintings as well as traditional Legong dance performances.
For even deeper immersion, personal butlers at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve can arrange everything from nature hikes to planting rice paddy seedlings to sessions with local healers.
Is the beach calling? While Kuta is one of Bali’s most well-known beach areas, it can be too much of a party town for guests who want a more calming holiday. Instead, head to Bukit peninsula, on Bali’s southernmost point, which is home to plenty of scenic sands including the iconic Balangan.
Sanur is also a great day trip from Ubud: its beach is one of the more relaxed on Bali, and its charming downtown is full of art galleries, cafés, and cute spots to grab an island-fresh dinner—that is, if you aren’t already planning on filling up at the Pasar Sindhu Night Market.
This article was published through a partnership with Jetsetter magazine. Read the original story: 10 Tropical Vacations That Will Cure Your Winter Woes by Krystin Arneson, a regular contributor to Jetsetter.
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