With the long, cold, winter months looming ahead, many of us may dream of escaping to a sun-soaked tropical beach. Now that international travel is opening up again, there’s no reason why these dreams can’t become a reality – and having a lazy beach getaway to look forward to can make the dark days of winter seem infinitely brighter.

But where are the best places to seek sun this winter? From the far-flung shores of Southern India to parts of North Africa that are just a few hours away, here are our top beach destinations to escape to this winter.

1. Hawaii

Hawaii has become synonymous with paradise and it’s not difficult to see why… With its sugary white beaches, cobalt blue waters, colourful coral reefs, and dramatic volcanoes, this beautiful island enjoys a warm and consistent climate throughout the year.

The island of Oahu is the heart of Hawaii, home to its capital city Honolulu as well as popular spots like Waikiki Beach and the North Shore, where you can swim, sunbathe, and surf to your heart’s content.

Alternatively, you might prefer to head to the sweeping, crescent-shaped Hulopoe Beach on the smaller island of Maui, which is regularly voted the most beautiful beach in the US.

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2. Mexico

While Mexico’s land borders are currently closed, it’s still open to air visitors, meaning travellers from the UK can take full advantage of the beauty and culture of this wonderful country.

With balmy temperatures throughout the year, Mexico has long been a popular destination for a winter break – yet with more than 6,200 miles of sandy coastline to explore, choosing which beachside destination to visit can be tricky.

The state of Quintana Roo, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, is easily the most popular region for a beach holiday. Here you can visit Mayan ruins in Tulum, enjoy a taste of luxury in Cancún, and visit the tiny tropical island of Isla Mujeres.

However, to avoid the crowds, you might want to head to the small coastal town of Mazunte in Oaxaca, where you can kick back on three beaches—Mermejita,  San Agustinillo, and Rinconcito —and enjoy a sense of peace you won’t find in more touristy spots.

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3. Canary Islands

If you’re not up for a long-haul flight, Spain’s Canary Islands might be a wise choice for a winter escape. There are frequent flights to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma from all over the UK, with the average flight time clocking in at just over four hours. Each island offers something different, and if you’re looking to enjoy some R&R on a beach, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

In Tenerife, you’ll find some of the best beaches in the Granaries, including Playa de la Tejita, near El Médano on the East coast, and Playa de las Teresitas, which is close to the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

In Fuerteventura, you can relax on soft rolling sand dunes, and in Gran Canaria, you can unwind on both black lava beaches as well as golden yellow sand. If you’re keen to enjoy a spot of beachside yoga or treat yourself to a massage while sunbathing, you’ll definitely find that here.

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4. St.Lucia

When thinking about tropical beach holidays, the Caribbean is one of the first places that usually springs to mind. And no wonder, because this magnificent part of the world boasts some of the most magnificent beaches.

Home to the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas (to name just a few), deciding where to go in the Caribbean can feel like an overwhelming task.

St. Lucia has become increasingly popular in recent years, though it remains quieter and more unassuming than many other Caribbean islands. If you’re looking for a luxurious beach break, you’ll certainly find that here… but you’ll also find plenty of culture, history and adventure.

The horseshoe-shaped beach of Rodney Bay in the North makes a great base, and in the South, Soufrière is home to secret beaches, historic plantations, and the breathtaking beauty of the volcanic, jungle-swathed Pitons.

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5. South Africa

If you struggle with jet lag but don’t mind a longer flight time, South Africa might be the ideal holiday destination for you this winter. The flight may take 12 hours, but thanks to the shared timezone, jet lag is a non-issue.

Though it may be best known for its exciting wildlife and dramatic landscape than for its beaches, South Africa has a coastline that spans more than 1,500 miles, and its powdery, white-sand beaches are lapped by two oceans.

Head to Cape Town to take advantage of its wide range of hotels, beaches and resorts – and if you’re into wine tasting, you’ll be able to do plenty of that here too.

On South Africa’s east coast, the city of Durban is home to The Golden Mile, a popular and beautiful stretch of coastline that joins the tantalisingly blue Indian Ocean. And of course, if you’re interested in wildlife, and have always dreamed of seeing lions in their natural habitat, this is the beach holiday that can make it a reality.

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6. Thailand

Thailand has long been a favourite with Brits seeking winter sun. And with its high quality of service, magnificent beaches, excellent weather, and mouth-watering food, today it’s just as popular as it’s ever been. With two gloriously long coastlines, as well as more than 1,400 tropical islands to explore, the only problem might be deciding which part of Thailand you want to escape to…

For those seeking luxury, the island of Koh Samui is a good choice, and there are dozens of excellent beachside resorts and spas you can relax in. If you’re looking to spend lots of time in the water, the calm waters of Koh Lipe are ideal for snorkelling – or perhaps you’d prefer diving with whale sharks off Koh Tao, or leaping from the sea cliffs of Krabi?

The beauty of Thailand is its diversity, and whatever type of beach break you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here.

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7. India

It might not be as popular a choice as Thailand for a winter break. But India is an ideal destination for kicking back on the beach, and enjoying some delicious food, and fascinating culture. Though Goa is probably the Indian region most-recognised for winter sun, it’s certainly not the only stretch of stunning shoreline here.

Gokarna is a small beach town in the Southwestern state of Karnataka, and it offers azure waters, sandy beaches, and a captivating dose of culture and spiritualism.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, the Tarkarli region in the western state of Maharashtra has gorgeous beaches, quiet waters, and vibrant towns.

And of course, you have the obvious choice too: the former Portuguese colony of Goa, which is packed with enthralling history, palm-fringed beaches, bustling villages, and luxury resorts.

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8. Florida

Thanks to its warm winter climate, Florida is a great choice for a winter escape. The beaches here enjoy an enviable location in the Gulf of Mexico, and there’s a wide variety of accommodation – from luxurious beach resorts to classy villas and apartments.

If you’d like to enjoy a side of city-living on your beach break – as well as the chance to spot dolphins and marvel at fiery sunsets – Florida might be the destination for you.

Clearwater Beach, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, provides all the sun, sea and sand you could want – and with more than 35 small-scale breweries around the city, it’s also perfect if you love trying new craft beers!

Alternatively, you could head to the Florida Keys: a chain of tropical islands off Florida’s south coast where you can enjoy plenty of swimming, snorkelling, and diving.

Other popular beachside destinations include St Petersburg, Naples, Marco Island, and Captiva Island.

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9. Morocco

Though it’s considered the gateway to Africa, Morocco is less than a four-hour flight from London, and travel to Marrakech and Agadir remains inexpensive. While flights have currently been paused, the country looks set to open its doors again this winter.

With spectacular architecture, luxurious riads, vibrant markets, and modern beach resorts, Morocco combines North African culture with European influences, and a winter break is a great way to explore this unique country.

If you’re looking to enjoy some winter sun and beach relaxation but want to enjoy plenty of culture too, Morocco is ideal. You can explore the breathtaking Atlas Mountains, enjoy sleeping under the stars in the desert, wander through bustling souks – but still enjoy plenty of time on your sunlounger.

Family-friendly Agadir is Morocco’s most popular resort town. Though Mirleft is also a great choice for travellers who want to get active, and the coastal city of Essaouira is ideal for history buffs.

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Final thoughts…

Jetting off to relax under the sun becomes especially tempting in the cold winter months. And now that international travel is becoming a reality again, you may be thinking of treating yourself to a winter holiday this year.

Whether you want to enjoy an action-packed holiday, with plenty of chances for adventure and wildlife spotting, or would prefer to spend long, lazy days relaxing on the sand – there’s a beach holiday for everyone. And with some locations less than a four-hour flight away, the good news is that you don’t have to spend hours travelling to enjoy a tropical winter escape.

Are you hoping to get some winter sun this year? Or are you tempted to visit any of our suggested destinations? We’d love to hear about your holiday plans for the winter! Leave us a comment below, or join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum.

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