With winter just around the corner, now is the time to plan a trip that will help break up all of those cold, dreary days. These sunny destinations are sure to lift your spirits while allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable vacation.
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Bali, Indonesia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Bali is fabulous anytime of the year, but from December through February is its low season, so not only can you enjoy the sunshine in the winter, but you can expect to find much better deals on accommodations. While this is the rainier period, the rain comes in short bursts, with more than enough sun for lounging on those striking white sand beaches. Plus, diving is outstanding in December and January, with the opportunity to view more than twice as many marine species in the coral reefs than even Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The waters here are teeming with gigantic mola-mola, striped wonderpus, and technicolor nudibranches.
The Canary Islands, Spain (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Canary Islands enjoy winter temperatures in the mid-70 degree range, and also boast more than 900 miles of spectacular coastline.You can say goodbye to the winter blues, soaking up the sunshine on the beach, unwinding by the sea as well as enjoying the chance to sip some of the unique wines indigenous to the region. You may even want to enjoy some island hopping with a sailing excursion – there are multiple options from day tours to overnight excursions, or you could just head out on your own by taking the inter-island ferry.
Cape Town, South Africa (Hotel Prices & Photos)
During the hottest months of the year, which are December, January and February in Cape Town, and throughout the Southern Hemisphere, this city moves outdoors. It’s the dry season, which means you’ll be able to enjoy those warm temperatures, long days and rain-free skies. Visit Boulder Beach for the chance to get up close to penguins in the wild, one of the few places in the world it’s possible, and while you’re there, take a refreshing dip in the water and enjoy a swim right alongside them. Be sure to venture up to Table Mountain for breathtaking views over the Cape, and head inland to experience this region’s increasingly popular wine country.
The Rock Islands, Palau (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Rock Islands, which were spotlighted in “Survivor Palau,” are ancient relics of coral reefs that make up 300 islands in the Southern Lagoon of Palau. Most are uninhabited and are renowned for their unusual shape and fine, powdery sand beaches, but even more so for their jewel-like turquoise-hued lagoons. The islands also host the famous Jellyfish Lake, where millions of golden jellyfish live, harmless to humans, and a number of other surprises, like the Milky Way which is a bay filled with white limestone known for rejuvenating the skin.
Aitutaki, Cook Islands (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Photographs just can’t capture the true magnificent beauty of Aitutaki, home to a brilliant azure lagoon filled with crystal clear, warm waters and renowned as one of the most stunning spots for snorkeling in the world. One Foot Island is an islet set inside the lagoon with a beach that’s been voted the best in all of Australia and the Pacific. And, this region also enjoys idyllic temperatures that hover around 80 degrees all year round.
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand (Hotel Prices & Photos)
New Zealand, of course, is in the Southern Hemisphere, so you’ll be able to take advantage of their summer season during our winter. The Marlborough Sounds are an ideal area to spend time in, situated on the north end of the South Island, they’re renowned for their scenic blend of bush-clad hills and tranquil bays. You’ll find more than 50 reserves here, with a wide range of recreational opportunities from swimming, boating and fishing to diving and kayaking on the water as well as hiking and mountain biking on land. Rent a kayak and explore the area’s picturesque waterways where you’re curious seals and dolphins are likely to approach, or embark on a scenic trek through native forests along the Queen Charlotte Track.
Baja California, Mexico (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While it’s unlikely to be hot, you’ll find plenty of sun and temperatures that are typically in the low 70s in Baja during the winter. This is a great time to enjoy those postcard-perfect beaches at the edge of the Pacific, and the Sea of Cortez, renowned for its remarkably clear, azure waters that are ideal for swimming, diving and snorkeling. There are mountains for hiking as well, and they’re filled with surprisingly lush greenery and waterfalls. Winter is also the time for baby sea turtle releases in Todos Santos, and close encounters with gray whales, known here as the “friendlies.”
Lord Howe Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
This spectacular island lies in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. It offers the chance to enjoy a destination that’s practically untouched by humans, with a tiny native population and only 400 tourists allowed to visit each year. The limit is in place to protect the jaw-dropping natural landscape of the island which is home to a beautiful crystal lagoon and coral reef.
Buenos Aires, Argentina (Hotel Prices & Photos)
With its wide, European-style boulevards, incredible cuisine and exciting nightlife, Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other – especially during the summer, which falls during North America’s winter. In this season the nightlife doesn’t stop until the sun comes up, every single night of the week. There is literally nonstop fun, and it’s not uncommon to run into an impromptu tango show right on the streets. Enjoy strolling the pedestrian areas too, lined with a host of wine bars, cafes and steakhouses that serve some of the world’s best chops.
Kauai (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Kauai is arguably the most romantic of all the Hawaiian Islands, home to more waterfalls than any other, as well as the brilliant gardens that gave it the nickname, “The Garden Isle.” Even in the coolest month of January, daytime highs average in the upper 70s, while lows dip to a pleasant 65 degrees. Enjoy outdoor adventures like snorkeling, swimming, sailing, kayaking and hiking, as well as glorious sunsets from beaches like Poipu with its luxurious sands making it an ideal place for tossing down a blanket and watching the sun go down over the ocean. Winter is also the perfect time for spotting humpback whales, so be sure to keep an eye out as you wait for the big show.