Nothing beats escaping the cold to a sunny, soul-warming location. This winter, leave the frost behind and plan your sunshine getaway.
From sandy relaxation on a glistening beach to cultural immersion at a Pacific luau, here are six enticing winter destinations with something for everyone.
1. Historical treasures in Santorini, Greece
The white-washed villages perched above Santorini’s black and red beaches provide all the sun you’ve been missing. Santorini first-timers will enjoy staying in accommodation on the Caldera edge, where you can wake up to views of the shimmering sea. When the sun gets to be too much, dive into the clear blue waters and relax on the sandy shores.
History lovers can scour the many archaeological sites dating back thousands of years. The Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, for instance, was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1613BC, but you can visit the archaeological dig and admire the exquisite ancient wall paintings.
Insider tip: Get the most out of Santorini’s world-famous sunsets by viewing them from a carefully chosen location. Witness the dramatic explosions of colour from the Monastery of Profitis Ilias, Skaros Rock or Santo Wines Winery.
2. Family fun in Fiji
Are the kids ready to ditch their winter boots? Take the family to Fiji where you can soak up the sun at a family resort, such as Castaway Island. Spend the golden days paddle boarding in the lagoon or exploring the dappled walking trails. Adults can seek solitude at the “Malua” resort pool while families splash and swim at the “Nuku Marau” family facility.
Before you arrive, why not teach the kids to say “Bula”, the national greeting, which literally means “life.” People use it to say hello, goodbye and welcome, and it’s even appropriate to say it after someone sneezes. Embrace the Fijian warmth and kindness, and say it with gusto!
Insider tip: If you venture off to the villages, dress conservatively - covered shoulders and knees for women, and long pants for men.
3. High adventure in Yosemite, California
Burn some of that pent-up winter energy by hiking through one of the USA’s loveliest national parks. Spectacular mountain vistas will reward your climbs. Feel the spray of dramatic waterfalls, and channel your inner Ansel Adams, the world-class photographer who showed the world the beauties of Yosemite.
Fill your Yosemite days with hiking the legendary Half Dome, backpacking through the High Sierra, pedalling the trails on a full-moon bike ride and stargazing atop the towering Glacier Point.
Insider tip: Avoid the traffic and parking hassles of Yosemite by taking the public YARTS bus, which you can catch from one of the gateway communities: El Portal, Fishcamp, Mariposa and Midpines.
4. Beachy relaxation in the Maldives
If work has consumed your life and clouded your vision, clear your head on the pristine beaches of the Maldives. With over a thousand tranquil islands in the country, you can find the solitude you crave. It’s the perfect place to pause, reflect and renew your energy.
Keep in mind, however, that adventure-lovers will find exploits aplenty; you can ride the waves, join a snorkelling excursion or explore the Indian-influenced Maldivian cuisine.
Insider tip: Help to preserve the Maldive’s rich beauty by using sunscreens that don’t harm the delicate coral reefs. This and other sustainable travel habits can help protect Earth’s treasures.
5. Cultural immersion in colourful Hawaii
Oahu’s top attraction, the Polynesian Cultural Center, sends you through time and space, allowing you to experience six different island nations.
Learn how to hula in the Hawaiian Village, feast on an “all you can eat” Polynesian buffet at the ultimate luau experience, and don’t miss the parade of canoes!
Insider tip: Download the free app for notifications of showtimes and events, and book your tickets for evening shows well in advance. Note that the Polynesian Cultural Center is closed on Sundays.
6. A foodie’s dream in Kyoto, Japan
The heart of traditional Japan, Kyoto offers the old country as you’ve imagined it. Think quaint wooden houses, geishas in kimonos, bamboo forests, golden temples and mouth-watering feasts delivered on lacquered plates. And when it comes to dining, Kyoto is a foodie’s dream.
Traditional Kyoto cuisine stars local foods like octopus, rice, azuki beans and sweet potatoes. Find mouth-watering offerings made fresh by street food vendors, including Taiyaki, a delicious fish-shaped snack filled with red beans, and Wagashi, a plant-based confectionary.
Insider tip: If you need internet on the go on your travels around Japan, pre-order a data-only SIM card online for collection at the airport.
Whether you choose to hula in Oahu or lounge in the Maldives, one of these six winter escapes is waiting to warm you up and re-energise your soul.
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