The Best Warm Weather Escapes From The Gloom
The largest island of the Upper Keys and the first reachable by car, Key Largo is the perfect U.S. escape complete with beaches and views, sans passport. After a long day of snorkeling and exploring the Florida Reef (the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States), try the city’s killer seafood or walk along the beach around 5:30 — Key Largo is known for its epic sunsets.
Average December Temperature: High of 77, Low of 65
The second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is a sought-after destination for those looking to relax, unwind, and escape from dreary winter weather. It’s got no shortage of beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, which makes Maui a popular spot for all kinds of water sports.
Maui’s best surfing conditions are actually during wintertime (score), and for adventure seekers, the Road To Hana is a world famous route, best tackled by car, that boasts unblemished landscapes and towering waterfalls.
Average December Temperature: High of 82, Low of 65
From the beautiful palm-fringed beaches to the iconic Piton Mountains, Saint Lucia has everything you’d want in a warm weather escape. Home to volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, luxury resorts and fishing villages, the island’s exotic beauty is breathtaking. For an unforgettable afternoon, head to Saint Lucia’s interior rainforest where trails lead to waterfalls like the 15m-high Toraille, which pours over a cliff into a garden.
Average December Temperature: High of 84, Low of 68
Commonly referred to as MoBay, Montego Bay is the second largest city in the island nation of Jamaica. Though it’s a major cruise ship port, the island has numerous beach resorts and golf courses outside it’s touristy center. In the protected waters of Montego Bay Marine park, visitors can also go snorkeling and diving amongst the coral reefs.
For those looking to live in the lap of luxury, you can even stay in one of Montego Bay’s many all-inclusive luxury overwater bungalows. Talk about dreamy.
Average December Temperature: High of 83, Low of 73
Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, is only 90 miles off the Northwestern coast of Africa, and its capital, Las Palmas, boasts a stunning coastline that attracts beach lovers and history buffs alike. Las Palmas is full of charm, perfect for those looking for the best of city and shore for their winter getaway, and its gorgeous “old town” area was even declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990
Average December Temperature: High of 71, Low of 60
With miles and miles of glorious white-sand beaches, Aruba is the physical manifestation of the adage “fun in the sun.” A go-to for tourists fleeing brutal winter weather, this tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela has dozens of all-inclusive resorts and a compact, colorful capital city that’s extremely walkable.
Average December Temperature: High of 89, Low of 83
An abandoned Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its stunning panoramic views. Over a million tourists flock to Machu Picchu every year, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, December could be the perfect time to visit.
Though December is technically “wet season,” the rain is usually just a light drizzle for a few hours each day, so long as you pack your poncho (or trendy raincoat), December is a great time to experience these ruins sans crowds.
Average December Temperature: High of 80, Low of 58
Known for its gorgeous beaches, all-inclusive resorts and buzzing nightlife scene, Cancún is a Mexican city on the Yucatán Peninsula that borders the Caribbean Sea.
You can catch a glimpse of Mexico’s urban lifestyle by visiting the malls and markets in El Centro, Cancún’s traditional downtown area, or explore Zona Hotelera, packed with hotels, nightclubs, shops and restaurants.
Average December Temperature: High of 82, Low of 69
Synonymous with conch fritters and Key Lime pie, there’s more to Key West than its food (though it’s a major selling point to visitors). Full of historic charm, the tree lined streets of Old Town are packed with cozy cottages and Queen Anne mansions that offer a relaxing break from hectic city life.
For those looking for more of an upbeat scene, Key West’s rowdy Duval Street is a paradise for party goers with no shortage of bars boasting boozy slushies and restaurants slinging fried seafood.
Average December Temperature: High of 76, Low of 67
The capital of the Bahamas, Nassau is known for its sunny beaches, bustling Bay Street, and pastel-colored British colonial buildings. Cinema buffs can visit Nassau’s British Colonial Hotel where two James Bond movies were filmed, while thrill seekers can explore the island’s vivid coral reefs, ideal for diving and snorkeling.
Bonus: Paradise Island is just offshore, packed with luxury hotels and resorts like Atlantis, which is home to one of the world’s largest dolphin habitats in the world.
Average December Temperature: High of 79, Low of 64
If you’re looking for a vacation spot with just as much culture as shoreline, Buenos Aires could be your new go-to. Argentina’s largest city, Buenos Aires has gorgeous beaches, museums, historic sites, bustling markets and stunning plazas. With so much to do and surprises around every corner (like The Caminto, a street museum packed with colorful painted houses), there’s no shortage of sights to see.
Average December Temperature: High of 81, Low of 66
The easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is an affordable option for sun seekers, packed with lavish all-inclusive resorts and hotels. Punta Cana boasts massive stretches of beach and clear waters — a true ocean lover’s paradise. Popular activities abound, including zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, deep sea fishing and swimming with dolphins.
Not a big beach fan? Explore the magical lagoons of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park or play 18 holes at one of Punta Cana’s courses, as its one of the top golf destinations in the world.
Average December Temperature: High of 83, Low of 72
The Mamanuca Islands, a volcanic archipelago, are Fiji’s most popular group of islands, and for good reason. They’re home to some of Fiji’s most exclusive resorts, stunning white sand beaches, and perfect December temperatures. Fun fact: One of the islands was the inspiration for the Tom Hanks film Castaway.
Average December Temperature: High of 88, Low of 73
Bali is an island know as a prime winter escape for those seeking serious R&R. Take a break from your stressful morning commute and hectic work schedule to explore Bali’s serene beaches, rice fields, and stunning temples.
Into yoga? Check out some of the yoga-themed retreats that take place in Bali throughout the winter.
Average December Temperature: High of 81, Low of 73
Into scuba diving or snorkeling? Byron Bay, a coastal town in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales, is calling your name. This area is also known for bountiful wildlife (think koalas, whales, and kangaroos) and neighboring subcontinental rainforests.
Average December Temperature: High of 79, Low of 64
Arguably the most beautiful group of islands in all of Southeast Asia, The Phi Phi Islands are only a short speedboat away from Phuket, Thailand. If you want clear skies, calm waters, and decreased humidity, the best time to visit these islands is November through mid-January, which is fine by us.
A must-see? Viking Cave, a stunning limestone grotto filled with paintings, located at the bottom of a cliff on Koh Phi Phi Leh island.
Average December Temperature: High of 88, Low of 73
If the fact that Rihanna hails from Barbados isn’t enough to pique your interest, the island’s dreamy pink sand beaches and cerulean waters will definitely sell you on visiting. Seeing varying parts of the island is very manageable, as its only 34 miles long and 23 miles wide.
If you’re a cocktail lover, Barbados is also lauded as the birthplace of rum and boasts several distilleries and rum factories. Don’t miss the West Indies Rum Distillery, where several rums are manufactured, including Malibu.
Average December Temperature: High of 83, Low of 75
A peninsula on South Africa’s southwest coast, both of Cape Town’s shorelines boast impressive beaches and sensational views. If the beach isn’t your thing, take a few hours to hike up Table Mountain, a flat-top mountain that looks out over Cape Town.
December is actually the best time of year to visit the city, with comfortable temperatures, minimal rain and an average of 11 hours of sunshine per day. Moral of the story? Don’t forget to pack your shades.
Average December Temperature: High of 77, Low of 68
If you’re looking for an unforgettable, exotic winter destination, Myanmar should be on your list. The country’s glorious (very) warm weather is a major draw, as is the ancient city of Bagan in central Myanmar, home to more than 2,000 Buddhist monuments. Hop on a hot air balloon for sweeping views of the breathtaking Bagan Archaeological Area.
Average December Temperature: High of 93, Low of 83
Lauded as the best “undiscovered” beach town in Brazil, Trancoso is a secret we can’t keep quiet about. A former fishing village, this laid-back beach town is the perfect place for a private vacay, as confirmed by visitors like Kate Moss, Beyonce, and Naomi Campbell.
Average December Temperature: High of 85, Low of 70
It’s summertime from December through February in Perth — aka the ideal time to visit. With minimal rainfall and temps at an all time high, Perth’s many beaches (Trigg, North, Scarborough, Cottesloe, the list goes on) are dreamy escapes from winter weather.
Perth’s stellar wine scene is also sure to excite even the most imperturbable wino. Located about 25 miles from the city center, Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region with 40 vineyards, and dozens of cellars open for visitors and tastings. We’ll cheers to that.
Average December Temperature: High of 83, Low of 61
An island nation located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is best known for its beaches, coral reefs, lagoons, waterfalls, hiking trails, and forests. A nature-lovers drea, Mauritius is also home to The Seven Colored Earths, a unique geological formation that attracts tourists and geology buffs alike.
Average December Temperature: High of 77, Low of 73
Antigua has so much scenic, clear blue shoreline that you could hit up a different beach every day. But if you do muster enough strength to tear yourself away from the relaxing sand & surf, the candy-colored architecture and bustling markets of St. John’s, Antigua’s capital city, are also worth exploring.
Average December Temperature: High of 84, Low of 75
With very little rain and daily highs in the mid 70s, though it’s technically the city’s winter, December through February is still a great time to visit Miami. A city with a whole lot of personality, from artsy Wynwood to sizzling South Beach, there’s something for everyone in each of Miami’s eclectic neighborhoods.
Average December Temperature: High of 78, Low of 63
If out of this world beaches are your thing, Mozambique is one place to add to your bucket list. This South African country has some of the most pristine shores on the planet primed for sailing, snorkeling, and whale watching.
Average December Temperature: High of 95, Low of 75
A small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora is known for its luxurious overwater bungalows, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and epic scuba diving. A popular destination for celebrity honeymoons, this is one seriously romantic island.
Average December Temperature: High of 85, Low of 73
With scorching temperatures from April to October, winter (November to March) is the ideal time to visit Dubai. You’ll still get sunny skies and perfect beach weather, but without the triple-digit temps and hair-wrecking humidity.
A true shoppers paradise, take some time to explore Dubai’s traditional bazaars and souks, then get your cardio in while traversing Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center in the world.
Average December Temperature: High of 79, Low of 59
Made up of more than 1,000 islands, of which only 200 are inhabited, there’s endless exploration to be done in the Maldives. Known for its extensive reefs, blue lagoons, and gorgeous white-sand beaches, it seems almost impossible to have a bad vacay here.
Average December Temperature: High of 86, Low of 77
Kauai is nicknamed “Garden Island,” and often viewed as the most scenic on the Hawaiian archipelago. Serving as a backdrop for many blockbuster films (think Avatar and The Descendants), Kauai’s stunning climate is packed with vast rainforests, awe-inspiring mountain tops, and dramatic cliffs. If there’s one thing you won’t want to forget when you pack for Kauai, it’s your camera.
Average December Temperature: High of 79, Low of 68
Palm Desert, located in the heart of the Coachella Valley, is home to stunning, sweeping mountain views, legendary concerts, award-winning golf, and scenic hikes. It boasts a great balance between athletic, outdoorsy attractions, like the challenging Bump and Grind trail, and relaxed shopping and dining along El Paseo drive.
Note: Because of the desert climate, temperatures can drop 30 degrees or more at night, so pack some sweaters and pants for dinner or nighttime activities.
Average December Temperature: High of 72, Low of 43
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