Winter Sun Destinations: The Ultimate Hotlist

Winter Sun Destinations: The Ultimate Hotlist

the days get increasingly colder, it’s time to start planning
your next vitamin D fix. From beaches to the rainforest via
colourful city streets, these are the places to keep summer

Read on for our ultimate winter sun hotlist


Suiting both thrill-seeking travellers to laid-back sun
worshippers, Kenya has it all. Test your mettle climbing Mount
Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, or head to Maasai
Mara National Reserve to try and spot the Big Five. Reward your
adventure travels with a trip to Unesco World Heritage Site Lamu,
where dhow boats bob along the shore and donkeys plod along cobbled
alleys in the oldest Swahili settlements in East Africa.


Many travel to Mauritius for crystal clear waters and powdery
beaches, but there’s more to this country than paddling and
sunbathing. Hike up Le Morne Brabant, a mountain in southern
Mauritius which rewards eager trekkers with sparkling waterfalls
and views across the island. Explore quiet fishing villages and
visit colonial plantation houses, or take a boat offshore to go
snorkelling among vibrant coral and colourful fish.


Warm temperatures and a booming cultural scene make Israel a top
hit for some winter sun. Head to Tel Aviv, where artisan boutiques,
sprawling street art and Unesco-protected architecture draw in
culture-hungry travellers. Spend mornings lazing on the beach
before wandering along the Rothschild Boulevard to reach Neve
Tzedek – one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the White City –
filled with bauhaus buildings and charming cafés. After a cup of
Israeli coffee, stroll through Florentin’s colourful streets, where
dynamic graffiti has earned it a reputation as the “Brooklyn” of
Tel Aviv.

Costa Rica

From rainforests to towns,
Costa Rica
is as varied as it is vibrant. Nestled between
Panama and Nicaragua with both an Atlantic and Caribbean coastline,
travellers visit in search of pura vida or “the good life”. Famous
for their positive attitude, laid-back locals and a relaxed
atmosphere offer a soul-nourishing getaway full of surfing and
sloths (the national animal).


You already know about
and Phuket,
and probably ended up at a full moon party at some point in your
misspent youth. Instead, head up north where you’ll be surrounded
by misty mountains and remote villages, while Chiang Mai has become
a hub of contemporary art and design. Of course, you’ve got to hit
the beach – we’ve found
five Thai islands that no one knows about


Morocco’s unabating popularity is testimony to the exquisite
architecture of its cities, expansive desert landscapes, rugged
mountains and windswept coastline. If you’ve already been to
will give you a fresh perspective on the country,
while the streets, arches and doorways of Tangier,
Essaouira and Fez
will give you Instagram material for days.
Check out where and what to eat with chef John Gregory Smith’s

insider guide

Canary Islands


Located just off Africa’s west coast, the Canary
are another destination which are throwing off their
somewhat trashy image, offering a sunny mosaic of sandy beaches,
volcanic landscapes, premium surf spots and local wine. Relaxation
feels imperative upon arrival, and it’s not hard to find somewhere
to do just that. From Tenerife to La Gomera, these islands are
having a renaissance and offer the perfect place to soak up some
winter (and summer) sun.


With apricot-hued cliffs giving way to a green-blue ocean full
of pristine coral and the imposing Al Hajar Mountains in the
distance, Oman is a far cry from flashy neighbouring Dubai.

is a city rich in old-world charms, while the coast is
full of secret bays that can only be accessed by boat. Head to the

Musandam Peninsula
, known as “the Maldives of the Middle East”,
where a tropical-esque beach is juxtaposed with lively harbours
which buzz with jovial bartering.


From the thriving capital of Hanoi to the modern metropolis of
Ho Chi Minh, the remote caves of Ninh Binh and the unspoilt beaches
of Con Dao, Vietnam
is a country of contradictions which are hard to grasp without
visiting. The country’s dynamism is apparent throughout, with a
local culture full of life wherever you g0. Say “good morning
Vietnam” with this
vibrant photo journal

Sri Lanka

‘s unhindered views and endless coastline have made it one
of the most popular long-haul destinations in recent years. Temples
jostle for space with jungles in Sigiriya, while
tea plantations
and crashing waterfalls make up the scenery in
mountainous Ella. Head to the coast to spot whales in Mirissa, surf
in Argugam Bay and visit the traditional fishing village of

The Gambia

Affectionately referred to as Africa’s “smiling coast”, The
Gambia exudes hospitality and warmth. Get lost among the heady
scents of hectic street markets (Albert Market in the heart of
Banjul is a must) then explore the golden beaches of Nginki-Nganka
or Fajara and spot crocodiles and hippos at Abuko Nature



Said to be India’s happiest and most liberal state, Kerala
has a history of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. Revel in
the sheer enormity and symmetry of the spice towers in the
Mattancherry quarter, explore the vast network of lakes, lagoons
and canals that spread far and wide, or simply bask in the magic of
Kerala’s friendly folk.


The sparse population of the island has kept its ecosystem in
perfect equilibrium, with the island’s blue skies, leafy palms and
aquamarine seascapes filling desktop backgrounds worldwide. Popular
among honeymooners, this is a destination for those who want to
spend a week or two on a sun lounger, book in one hand, cocktail in
the other.

New Zealand

Whether it’s a
road trip
South Island
or a wander through arty Auckland, New Zealand is
ripe for exploration. From helicopter rides over the Puketi Forest
and quad biking along 90 Mile Beach, pampering in Lake Taupo and
trekking up Te Mata Mountain – with plenty of wine tasting in
between – it’s not hard to understand the reverence laid-back Kiwis
have for their country.


Often overlooked by travellers descending on Vietnam and
‘s thriving local life is very much present in its
architecture, food and people. The strength of the Indian and
Thai-influenced Khmer culture – combined with remote jungles,
millennia-old temples and islands that give Thailand a run for its
money – make Cambodia one of the most sensorily invigorating
countries in southeast Asia.


There is a bit of Brazil for everyone. Live out castaway
fantasies in dreamy Trancoso,
feel the beat in Rio, wander
‘s streets or head to the tropical gardens of
. Wherever you decide to go, make sure at least one of

these exceptional hotels
is on your list.


United States

America’s west coast is not just home to Hollywood, the Golden
Gate Bridge and more cable cars than you can count. The Sierra
Nevada Mountains, Mojave Desert and bohemian Joshua
are the places you should really be visiting on a trip to
Cali. If you need more reasons to escape the sprawling metropolis,
there’s Santa
with its perpetually blue sky and the desert town

Palm Spring,
which has sunshine 350 days a year.

South Africa

The recent opening of Zeitz
in Cape
has brought yet another dimension to a country that
already had beaches,
, mountains, cities and wine lands. South Africa’s
infectious energy is palpable all over; pack it all in with a
stop tour
of the country – but
check out our photo journal
, an important reminder of the
poverty still experienced by many.

This image is on holiday


With year-round sunshine and a thriving cultural scene, Senegal
has become a popular destination among adventurous creative types.
, colourful rustic buildings line the unpaved streets that
lead down to hidden beaches and waterfront restaurants, while in
northern Saint Louis you’ll find French architecture reflecting the
country’s colonial heritage.


Despite the proliferation of Cuban cars and cigars – both
quintessential reminders of the pre-revolution era – there is
nothing outdated about Cuba, and it’s lack of development will
always be charming. To guarantee a memorable trip, indulge in the
lively bars and restaurants that line
‘s maze-like streets, or visit
, the land of chocolate, coconuts and 29 melodically
named rivers that you can follow down through jungle-covered

St Lucia

An unadulterated Caribbean paradise, much of
St Lucia
is covered in treacherous mountains, thick rainforest
and pastel-coloured towns. Visit the southwest coast to see the
Piton volcanoes heroically rising out of the ocean and don’t miss
the the street-food markets, for the freshest seafood and stacks of
exotic fruit.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde is another destination enjoying a resurgence.
Comprised of 10 very different volcanic islands, we think we’ve
found our favourite in Boavista.
While at first glances it appears a barren, dusty land, swathes of
soft, beyond the Mars-like surface, swathes of white sand are
kissed by a mint-hued ocean, an abundance of wildlife live among
the wind-battered vegetation and friendly locals emanate laid-back
spirit that suffuses the soul.


With over 7,000 islands and year-round sunshine, the Philippines
should be on your list – though it’s best to avoid the large cities
given the current political situation. From
Pamalican’s eco resorts
to the Banaue’s rice terraces (the
oldest in the world) and world-class diving in Malapascua (one of
the only places to spot thresher sharks) the southeast Asian
destination offers a varied escape for those after a little more
than just a beach.

This image is on holiday


Floating in the Dead Sea might be high up on your otherwise
Petra-dominant agenda, but make sure to make room for Amman on your
Jordan trip. Al-Balad or “downtown” has gained quite a reputation
for its chilled out vibe and artistic flair. Walk its narrow
alleyways to discover the souks, mosques and coffeehouses you won’t
see listed on your standard travel guide. Another under-the-radar
spot to add to your itinerary, is Jabal El Weibdeh. Slightly more
obvious, but no less worthwhile, Wadi Rum is a great spot for
camping – and the stargazing here leans towards the


United States

After the madness of Art Basel has ebbed away, head for North
Beach and lap up the best of this beachside city. Hotel hop between


and Soho Beach House and when you’ve had your fill of
flash beachside living, venture to Wynwood for a flavour of Miami’s
most creative (and rapidly expanding) district. If you’ve days to
spend, make the trip out to the Everglades for some gator gawking
and on the drive back stop for the best strawberry milkshake of
your life (to put it mildly) at Knaus Berry Farm. Once you’re back
in the city, bed down in Brickell
in Downtown before your outbound flight.


is abound with stories and secrets. One of nature’s finest
playgrounds, explore the sprawling mezcal fields of Oaxaca
(the country’s foodie state) and the abandoned beaches of Puerto
Escondido via bottomless lakes and verdant jungles. A country that
blends old with new, its chaotic
harmoniously sits among areas of great tranquility.
Forget Cancun, Cabo and perhaps even Tulum;
Todo Santos
are the places to visit, and
this design hideaway
is one of our favourite hotels in the


Steeped in ancient heritage, Cyprus is far more than the naff
beach parties and cheap package holidays that it has become known
for. Central to Cypriot culture, local food awaits around every
corner, with delicately balanced flavours a testimony to
generations of recipe perfecting. Cyprus’s (often remote) beaches
are home to a plethora of flora, fauna, while the Troodos Mountains
bring a side serving of adventure.


Far from Africa’s
big-game reserves
, Mozambique’s unique and extensive Indian
Ocean coastline is rich in marine life and has the beaches to
match. Head to the unspoilt
for world-class surfing, unparalleled views and locals
keen to make you feel at home. Further south, the Bazaruto
Archipelago (known as “paradise island”) is all the white sand,
azure water clichés rolled into one – but the honeymooning brigade
don’t seem to have descended just yet.

Discover More
Eight of the Best Winter Sun Destinations from New York