Where to Get a (Much-Needed) Dose of Winter Sun

On the hunt for a solid hit of vitamin D? We’ve picked our top spots for a much-needed shot of sunshine, from a sleepy fishing port in southern Portugal to Morocco’s most under-the-radar medina.

There's something deliciously satisfying about catching some off-season rays. Skipping off to a sun-soaked spot as we wait for winter to segue into spring feels a bit like jumping through time; a fast-lane ticket to summer without the crowds, and a healthy dose of vitamin D for that covetable freshly bronzed look. So, we've drawn up a shortlist of the warmer destinations we've been dreaming about this winter - from a glorious Caribbean island to sun-baked desert dunes in Oman.

Five of the best destinations for a winter pick-me-up


Costa Rica

In search of a slow, peaceful, sun-dappled retreat? Life doesn't get much more laid-back than in Uvita, a tiny, ramshackle village around 16km south of Dominical. A honeypot for yogis and surfers, the neighbourhood's main drawcard is Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, a marine reserve known for its migrating pods of humpback whales, jungle-shrouded waterfalls and empty beaches. And, if you're ready to shake things up after your mindful break, be sure to bookmark Envision Festival - an annual knees-up at the end of February akin to a miniature Burning Man on the beach.

Sharqiya Sands


Spread out like golden honey between Muscat and Sur are the dunes of Sharqiya Sands -known locally as Wahiba Sands. This wind-beaten stretch of shape-shifting knolls, ochre sunsets and sizzling heat is one of the few places on Earth where a traditional nomadic existence still thrives, with Bedouins offering an authentic glimpse into their traditional way of life through homestays, camel tours and guided treks. Set up at Thousand Nights Camp, then head out to explore the terrain on either a walking tour, jeep safari or sand-biking adventure.

Anse La Ray

Saint Lucia

Lush, green and ripe for outdoor adventure, St Lucia beckons for a few days of cloudless, fitness-fuelled rest and relaxation: read, scampering up the Pitons (the island's most popular hiking trail) and back down again to open-air sanctuary Jade Mountain. Between sunbathing sessions, make tracks to Anse La Ray. Once a sleepy fishing port, the town is now on the cusp of island-wide dominance, thanks to its (soon-to-be) blossoming hotel, Airbnb and restaurant scene. The town's first boutique bolthole is set to open later this year. If you've still got time before poolside sundowners, stop by Valelse Sports Bar and Soup Kitchen for the island's finest jerk chicken, rice and peas, then nip next door to its brilliant bean-to-cup coffee shop - a first for the town.



If you're looking to unwind after the headiness of Marrakech's sense-awakening souks, journey north to Meknes, a city just south of Fez that's known for its imperial past and traditional spice market. As a Unesco World Heritage site, the old town has been impeccably preserved, so a day getting lost in the medina's endless warren of small streets is time well spent. Be sure to stop at Bab Mansour, a breathtaking monumental gate on the south side of the old city, and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, at the 17th-century sultan's former kasbah, before bedding down at boutique bolthole Château Roslane.



The Algarve's biggest fishing port, Olhão is best known for its whitewashed Moorish architecture and laid-back fish restaurants. Venture just beyond the harbour, however, and you'll reach the Ria Formosa Natural Park - a protected stretch of land sheltering a handful of teal-coloured lagoons, beautifully boggy swamps and marble-white beaches that shine bright with year-round sun. Back in town, make Praia Verde Boutique Hotel your base, and don't miss the Sunday-morning fish market for a window into unhurried life in Portugal's most southerly parts.

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