10 winter sun destinations
Playa Del Inglés, Gran CanariaAverage top winter temperature: 24C
The Canaries are your closest- and often cheapest – bet for guaranteed heat in winter and if nightlife is high on your list of priorities, Playa Del Inglés is ideal. Not such a concentration of 18-30 type groups on endless pub crawls as in the summer but it is still buzzing - especially in the liveliest of its several commercial centres, the Kasbah – jam-packed with clubs and bars. When you’re not rocking the Kasbah, the beaches are decent spots for soaking up the sun.
Corralejo, FuerteventuraAverage top winter temperature: 22C
A more chilled Canary Island, but with beaches to rival the Carribean, is Fuerteventura. Corralejo’s progression from fishing village to popular holiday resort hasn’t meant it’s lost its original charm and atmosphere; its main street holds most of its shops, bars and restaurants and leads down through the music square and on to the harbour, looking across the other side of town and the breathtaking sand dunes, which are a protected nature reserve and spread for miles along the east coast.
Cancun, MexicoAverage top winter temperature: 28C
There’s a reason baddies always plan to run away to Mexico once they’ve executed their evil plot; with temperatures rarely dropping below the 20s you could easily live out your days drinking Margaritas under a palm tree on white sandy beaches by bathtub-warm clear blue seas. Mexico’s most beautiful beach is Cancun, which also boasts a happening nightlife, whether it’s a strobe-lit nightclub or a dimly-lit cigar bar you’re after.
Hurghada, EgyptAverage top winter temperature: 24C
If sun, sea, sand and nightlife are more up your street than historical ruins then a better Egyptian destination is Hurghada on the Red Sea. Only in the last ten years has it transformed from a quiet fishing village to a consummate holiday destination but it’s caught up quickly. Lively bars and clubs? Glorious beach? Watersports? Check, check, check. Beach activities range from windsurfing and sailing by day to the Ministry of Sound beach party at night.
Goa, IndiaAverage top winter temperature: 32C
The influence of colonial rule is apparent in this solitary Portuguese outpost, from its charming, crumbling architecture to the East-meets-West cuisine. If you want to spend your holiday lounging on the beach you could do a lot worse than Goa’s swaying palms, white sands and sparkling waters. Or if you want to venture out, its scenery includes vanilla-scented spice plantation, bird-filled riverbanks and centuries-old cathedrals.
Gambia, AfricaAverage top winter temperature: 32C
Its location midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator gives Gambia uninterrupted sunshine, with almost no rainfall from November to June, making winter months peak season. That doesn’t mean overcrowding though – it just means bars and restaurants are in full swing. Beaches are lush and plentiful but it would be a shame to go all the way to Africa and not experience the culture – excursions include safaris and local tours.
Ocho Rios, JamaicaAverage top winter temperature: 27C
The beaches are every bit as luscious as you’d expect from the Caribbean’s most laid-back island, and there’s plenty to do in this former fishing town besides sunbathe and drink rum to a reggae soundtrack. Most popular is Dunns River Falls - a 600-foot long series of cascading waterfalls that you can climb like a sort of staircase. Fans of 007 are in for a treat – Ocho Rios is home to James Bond Beach, where Sean Connery made his debut in ‘Dr No’, as well as Golden Eye villa, where Ian Fleming wrote the novels.
Nile cruise, EgyptAverage top winter temperature: 26C
There’s so much historical sightseeing to be had, from the Sphinx to The Valley of the Kings, and you’ll get far more ground covered with a cruise than if you stay in a hotel. But with temperatures well over-taking the 40C mark during summer months, unless you explore at the crack of dawn you’ll be too hot and bothered to care about the architectural merits of the pyramids. Winter is hot, sunny and bearable.
Dominican RepublicAverage top winter temperature: 26C
Arguably the best Caribbean destination for all-encompassing, all-inclusive resorts. There’s little to explore by foot beyond your hotel, but if you hire a car it’s worth taking a day to drive out to Playa Limón. Although the beaches are awesome in Punta Cana, this two-mile, isolated beach lined with coconut trees is something else. Because it’s a little out of the way it’s not unlikely you’ll have the spot to yourself and it’s such a scenic journey that it’s worth the trip.
MauritiusAverage top winter temperature: 34C
When someone says the words ‘paradise’, the picture that pops involuntarily into your head probably looks exactly like this. A volcanic island of lagoons and palm-fringed beaches in the Indian Ocean, but with more activities to entertain you than on most tropical islands; from trekking, mountain climbing and fishing to golf resorts, luxury spas and a horse racing track. To name but a few. Not that you have to do any of them if you’d rather just lie on perfect white sand, next to the perfect turquoise sea.