Is the winter weather getting you down? Then do what the geese do and head south to warmer climes. There are still plenty of destinations that have great weather this time of year and aren’t overrun by other sun seekers. You can avoid the crowds even more if you wait until late January or February to visit these great sun destinations.
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1. Georgetown, Guyana
Hot and humid Georgetown has a distinctly Caribbean feel, so it’s a good alternative to all those island destinations with their cruise-ship crowds. Most of the city’s charm comes from the wooden colonial buildings, markets and rum distillery. Just remember that too much rum can be a dangerous thing to do when travelling!
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2. Out Islands, Bahamas
As Frommer’s explains, the reefs around the Out Islands keep the big cruise ships – and the crowds – away. Only 14 of the islands, some of which boast pink sand beaches, are inhabited and they’ve escaped the ravages of the 2017 hurricane season.
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3. Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis
Nevis is the perfect destination is you’re looking for a tropical hideaway filled with character. In addition to the beaches, the island where Alexander Hamilton was born is home to plantation houses and a rich Afro-Caribbean culture. It also escaped Hurricane Irma relatively unscathed.
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4. Todos Santos, Mexico
Because Mexico is such a warm and cheap destination, some places like Los Cabos can become crowded. Todos Santos is only an hour or so away from Los Cabos but it’s an entirely different world. According to Trips to Discover, this artsy desert town is reminiscent of Taos, New Mexico a few decades back but unlike Taos, it also offers stunning beaches.
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5. Huatulco, Mexico
Huatulco boasts nine bays and 36 gorgeous beaches, some of which you can only reach by boat, along a rugged coastline in the state of Oaxaca. There’s an archaeological site and plenty of wildlife. In addition the waters here are crystal clear, making for great diving and snorkelling.
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6. Florianopolis, Brazil
The early part of the year is high season in Brazil as the country gears up for the Rio Carnival. However, as The Points Guy says, Florianopolis is a great option if you want a beachside city without Rio’s crowds or chaos. The island city is a surfing and paragliding hotspot but you’ll also find secluded beaches.
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7. Costa del Balsamo, El Salvador
As Lonely Planet says, El Salvador is for the adventurous. The country’s Costa del Balsamo is perfect if you’re looking for beachside communities where you can surf, gorge on fresh seafood and catch some rays on black sand beaches. You won’t be able to resist showing off your tan afterwards.
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8. El Bolson, Argentina
While just about everyone spends the Argentine summer in Bariloche, head to El Bolson. Here, according to Thrillist, you can become one with nature by hiking, biking, fly-fishing, rafting, horseback-riding and much more. It’s foodie heaven too and there’s a growing craft beer scene.
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9. Placencia, Belize
Price of Travel mentions Placencia as a great beach alternative to Belize’s popular Ambergris Cay. It’s cheaper and less crowded, has a spectacular beach and is close to attractions such as Garifuna villages and wildlife preserves and, if you’re interested in ancient places, there are Mayan ruins nearby too.
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10. Huacachina, Peru
Instead of joining the Inca Trail crowds, head into the desert and make your way to Huacachina, an oasis in both figurative and literal sense. The must-do thing here is to watch the sun set over the desert.
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11. Cabo de la Vela, Colombia
Colombia is one of the hottest new holiday destinations but it means cities like Cartagena can draw the crowds. Getting to the headland and fishing village of Cabo de la Vela involves a bit of a trek but, as Thrillist says, this means you’ll be one of only a handful of tourists enjoying the beach. The lobster here is fresh and abundant.
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12. Jericoacoara, Brazil
Windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing are just some of the activities offered in Jericoacoara, which is best reached by off-road vehicle. One of the main events here is to climb the giant sand dune just outside of town to watch the sunset.
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13. Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso's colourful architecture has made this port city a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can spend days just exploring the labyrinth of streets and alleys. Thrillist calls the city "bohemian", which is no surprise, considering that poets like Pablo Neruda had homes here. It’s also a cheap destination for a winter break.
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14. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Instead of navigating the summer crowds in Buenos Aires, hop on a ferry across the Rio de la Plata to what Thrillist calls "a world apart". Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay and its heritage buildings and cobblestone streets are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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In the early part of the year, Oman is much less crowded than nearby Dubai and the weather is mild and pleasant. The sea temperature is warm enough for diving and swimming and there’s a whole desert to explore. You’ll come back from your vacation a more productive person.
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16. Sao Tome and Principe
As Lonely Planet points out, what could be more adventurous than visiting a country none of your friends have even heard of? Just off the coast of Gabon, this island nation is one of Africa’s smallest and is great for jungle adventures, stand-up paddle-boarding and lazing on tropical beaches.
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The early months of the year are Zimbabwe’s rainy season, which means the safari crowds haven’t arrived yet. However, this also means that the rivers are in full flow, making for what Lonely Planet calls "legendary" whitewater opportunities, while Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular. The flight will be your biggest expense but with these tips, you can pay off your holiday debt in no time.
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18. Bocas del Toro, Panama
Trips to Discover lists Panama as a fantastic destination if you need a winter break and are in search of warmer weather. It’s one of the best and cheapest places to retire to. The archipelago of Bocas del Toro on the country’s Caribbean side is an especially good choice if you want to get away from it all.
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19. San Diego, California
The water might be a bit cold for swimming but San Diego’s beaches are still great for soaking up some sun during the winter months. There’s plenty to do in the city and, as Price of Travel points out, this is also the time of year when you can spot migrating whales. With all the amenities you might need right at your fingertips, you may want to stay longer and work from here.
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20. Caladesi Island, Florida
There are some lovely secret beach gems around the world and some are in very unexpected places. When everyone else heads to the Florida Keys, make your way to the state’s Gulf coast and tiny Caladesi Island. There are no cars or even hotels on the island but, as Price of Travel says, here you’ll find some of the best shelling on the Gulf of Mexico.