As December approaches, most places in the northern hemisphere are experiencing wintery weather. For some, the cold is bone biting and an escape to the tropics is a top priority. The good news is, there are plenty of places where this time of year means sunshine and liberating warmth. These eleven really set the bar for perfect winter escape destinations.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Isla Holbox is located off the coast of Cancun. This small island is a tropical gem and one that hasn’t been spoiled yet by mass tourism. There are colorful seafood shacks, thousands of flamingos, pristine, uncrowded lagoons and beaches, and beautiful mangrove forests. The main mode of transportation on the island is a golf cart. The weather and crystal clear Caribbean Sea is pleasantly warm and the shores are dusted in sheet white sand.
Anywhere in Costa Rica
The weather in Costa Rica in December is absolutely perfect. At this point, the rainy season has recently ended, so everything, especially in Guanacaste, is still vibrant green but the air is dry and the humidity has dropped. The beginning of December is less crowded than the days closer to Christmas and New Years, but with a little planning ahead, you can find a great vacation rental and spend your holiday exploring this tropical utopia.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Just south of Costa Rica on the Caribbean side is the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro is made up of four main islands. The islands are close enough to each other that you can hop around via water taxi with ease. This quaint and colorful island chain is a dreamy destination for your winter escape. The water is crystal clear and warm, there are great restaurants, bars, and accommodations; there’s incredible wildlife and biodiversity, plenty of activities and tours to embark upon, and a vibrant and inviting local culture. It is also relatively inexpensive too. December is part of the high season though, so make sure you plan ahead.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Visiting the Galapagos Islands is an experience of a lifetime. There are few places on earth that compare to this majestic archipelago. December marks the shift between the cool and dry season and the wet and humid season, and for this reason it is considered to be one of the best months to visit. It is also when the giant tortoises hatch, the baby albatross start fledging, and the green sea turtles and land and marine iguanas start mating rituals. Many plants begin to bloom in December too.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Tortola is the largest island in the BVI’s. It is characterized by pristine white sand beaches, translucent turquoise water, luxury resorts and villas, historical landmarks, museums, and distilleries, and the famous Bomba Shack full moon party. If you’re looking for a tropical vacation that will truly make everyone left in the snow jealous, this it is. Tortola is as picturesque as you can possibly image. Fishing, wind surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing are the most popular daytime activities.
Barbados is a charming island in the West Indies off the coast of Venezuela. The island is only 166 square miles, which makes exploring the entire island pretty easy. Make sure you get a GPS with your rental car though, as the roadways are very confusing and it is easy to get lost. The good news is, the people of Barbados are incredibly friendly. There are tons of fabulous restaurants, rum and fish shacks, shopping, water sports, and beautiful waterfronts to explore in Barbados. Dining at the Oistine’s fish fry is an absolute must too!
Curaçao is an electric and vibrant little island that has a lot to it. Between the colorful Dutch-inspired architecture, piercing white sand beaches, electric blue ocean, beautiful natural landmarks, parks, caves, coral reefs, exotic wildlife,and gardens; and the happening nightlife, extraordinary gastronomic options, luxurious accommodations, and shopping, Curaçao really has everything you could possible want in a tropical winter vacation.
The Seychelles Islands are a cluster of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. This exotic archipelago is host to a wide assortment of extraordinary accommodations, world-class restaurants, a number of festivals and cultural events, pristine coral reefs, immaculate beaches, rainforests, and spectacular fishing, diving, and sailing conditions. The weather is always warm in the Seychelles! December is one of the hottest months, so if you are really looking to thaw out, this is your spot.
Bora Bora is a tiny island in the alluring South Pacific that is just a bit northwest of Tahiti. Bora Bora is a dream destination, especially for a romantic trip. This gorgeous island is famous for its over-water bungalows, calm translucent waters, year round warm tropical climate, and amazing ability to inspire total relaxation and a constant state of bliss. Snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, kite surfing, and shark and ray diving are all popular activities when you aren’t blissed out in your glass-bottom floor bungalow.
The Exumas are part of the Bahamas and start just 35 miles southeast of Nassau. This chain of 365 islands and cays is divided up into three main groups: Little Exuma, Great Exuma, and The Exuma Cays. Little and Great Exumas are very laid-back, while The Exuma Cays host the vacation homes of the rich and famous, as well as luxurious resorts and high end rental condos. Between the three main groups, there is something for every budget and vacation style. Regardless of which island you stay on, the beaches are pristine, uncrowded, and the white sand meets the most beautiful turquoise water that you will have ever seen. Don’t forget to check out Major’s Spot Cay in the Little Exumas, which is home to the world-famous swimming pigs.
The Florida Keys, U.S.A.
The Florida Keys has long been a winter bird’s escape from the frigid sub-zero temperatures of the north. This long island chain stretches all the way from Key Largo down to the famous Mallory Square in Key West, which is the most southern tip of the United States. Fishing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, wind surfing, boating, sand bar lounging, tiki bar drinking, and fresh seafood feasting are all popular activities down in the islands. There are charming boutique hotels, luxury resorts, vacations house rentals, and everything in between for every budget. The weather is typically dry and sunny in December.