It’s snowy, it’s windy, it’s miserable—or so your friends will tell you. You’ll be off playing in the warm sand and swimming in the serene ocean. Winter may be about frost and sleet, but you can leave that imagery far behind. You’ll take the sight of another tropical drink coming your way, thank you very much. When you’re ready to trade in storm umbrellas for those little colourful ones in your piña colada, here are the best beaches in the world for a winter retreat:
Key West, Florida, United States
Sultry nightclubs, overflowing drinks, and long stretches of soft sand make Key West a year-round travel destination. Prepare to run into other snow birds who are escaping bad weather back home. While you can certainly spend your time swimming and snorkelling, the real action is along Duval Street. This rambunctious avenue is ablaze with night clubs, bars, and a throng of visitors ready to party. Take in a few shots with your fellow travellers before dancing the night away and trying to remember how you got paint on your face and glow bands on your wrists come morning. For sober activities, don’t forget to pop into Ernest Hemingway’s old home or pick up some souvenirs along Mallory Square.
Average winter temperature: 24 Celsius; Average winter sea temperature: 22 Celsius
Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
If you want to see water clear as crystal, don’t miss Matira Beach in Bora Bora. The near glass-like ocean is world-renowned, and creates the perfect conditions for snorkelling and scuba diving. Spot fish like eagle rays, parrot fish, and dozens of other colourful marine life. It’s everything you could want on a tropical island, as the coconut trees and emerald hills give the beach a dual sense of intimacy and infinity. While the shoreline is coral-free and perfectly soft to walk on, during low tide you can wade over to the barrier reef. Note: Taxi fares go up after dark, but the western sunsets over the waves are well worth the view.
Average winter temperature: 27 Celsius; Average winter sea temperature: 26 Celsius
Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Australia, located in the Southern Hemisphere, celebrates its summer as the northern countries are piling on their winter parkas. If you’ve seen any of those New South Wales postcards with Santa surfing on the waves, Jolly St. Nick was probably at Bondi Beach. One of the most photographed beaches in Australia, this stretch of stand is immensely popular with surfers, sunbathers, and swimmers. Once you shake the sand off your shorts, you’re within a short distance of art galleries, concert venues, and local boutiques in city centre. If you’re looking to learn some new skills while in town, sign up for any number of surf schools. The gentle waves make it easy for any newbie to learn how to hang ten.
Average winter temperature: 23 Celsius; Average winter sea temperature: 22 Celsius
Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico
If you like a splash of history to go with your winter beach retreat, make a stop in Tulum, Mexico. This peaceful beach located along the Caribbean Sea is home to some of the most famous Mayan sites in the country. It was one of the last cities constructed by the Mayan people in the 13-15th centuries, and the ruins are still visible today. Check out the old stone architecture of El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. You can even explore a cenote, an underground cavern and river right below the city. After hot afternoons of sightseeing, jump into the sea. Swimming and snorkelling are favourites in the area, as the azure waters are clear enough to see butterfly fish, trumpet fish, moray eels, and eagle rays.
Average winter temperature: 24 Celsius; Average winter sea temperature: 23 Celsius
Who needs more snow? No one. Get that bikini ready, your sunscreen packed, and your stomach prepared for a range of tropical drinks to enjoy while spending time by the warm beach. Just remember to post a few pics to social media so your snowed-in friends will come join you.
Which winter beach retreat is your favourite?