Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Escape the Cold in Cancun
As winter descends across much of North America, the alluring shores of Cancun beckon with sunny skies and warm waters. This classic Mexican beach destination offers an all-inclusive escape from frost and flurries for travelers seeking fun and sun.
With an average high temperature of 82°F (28°C) in December, Cancun boasts pleasant weather perfect for lounging on sugar-sand beaches and swimming in the clear Caribbean Sea. The white sand and turquoise waters of destinations like Playa Delfines and Playa Las Perlas are postcard-worthy backdrops for your winter getaway.
Beyond the beaches, Cancun offers world-class resorts and entertainment. All-inclusive resorts like Le Blanc Spa Resort pamper guests with luxury accommodations, gourmet cuisine, and spa treatments. Large-scale resorts like Moon Palace offer activity-filled vacations with amenities ranging from wave pools to kids' camps.
No trip to Cancun is complete without experiencing the vibrant nightlife. The hotel zone comes alive after dark with neon-lit nightclubs and open-air bars with live music and dancing. From casual open-air spots like Mandala Beach Club to glitzy megaclubs like The City, the party goes late into the night.
Nearby, the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum offer a dose of history and culture to balance days of revelry. Visitors can explore El Castillo, take a dip in dramatic cliffside cenotes, and learn about the storied Mayan civilization that once dominated the Yucatan.
Travelers seeking an escape from the bitter cold of winter rave about Cancun. Comments like "I absolutely loved soaking up the sunshine in Cancun while it was freezing back home!" and "Cancun was the perfect warm weather getaway when I desperately needed a break from winter" are common.
What else is in this post?
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Escape the Cold in Cancun
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Soak Up the Sun in Hawaii
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Warm Up in Jamaica
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Head Down Under to Australia
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Island Life in the Caribbean
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Palm Trees and Paradise in Costa Rica
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Chase Winter Away in Florida
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Beautiful Beaches in Mexico
- Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Enjoy Endless Summer in Southern California
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Soak Up the Sun in Hawaii
Aloha! Jet off to Hawaii this December for a warm winter vacation filled with sunshine, beaches and island adventures. With daily highs in the 70s and 80s, the islands provide a tropical reprieve from frigid temps and snowstorms.
Oahu, home to Waikiki Beach and Honolulu, delivers iconic Hawaiian experiences. Laze on Waikiki's famous golden sand, take a surfing lesson and learn to hang ten, then explore Pearl Harbor's emotional history. Hike up to Manoa Falls or the pillbox bunkers tucked into the Ko'olau mountains before digging into poke, shave ice and plate lunches in buzzy Honolulu.
See lava flowing on Hawaii's Big Island and take in its rugged volcanic landscapes. Trek across lava fields, watch the orange molten rock cascade into the sea, then soak in the volcanically-heated pools of the Kapoho Tide Pools. Stargaze atop Mauna Kea, visit coffee and chocolate farms, and snorkel at gorgeous beaches like Hapuna.
Maui seduces with stunning scenery like the Road to Hana, Haleakala Crater, and golden Kapalua Bay. Drive the winding cliffside Hana Highway, stopping to ooh and ahh at bamboo forests, jungle waterfalls, and the Seven Sacred Pools. Watch the sunrise at 10,000-foot Haleakala Crater before snorkeling with sea turtles in Kapalua Bay's clear waters.
Kauai envelops you in exotic jungle beauty with sights like Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, and Wailua Falls. Explore the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," then cruise past the Na Pali Coast's emerald sea cliffs on a catamaraman or helicopter. Hike to the spectacular 400-foot Wailua Falls then kayak down the winding Wailua River through rainforests straight out of Jurassic Park.
The Aloha spirit comes alive on the Hawaiian islands in December. Locals welcome visitors with flower leis and warm smiles. The pace of life slows down, inviting you to unwind. Savor poke bowls on sandy beaches, try learning the ukulele, go snorkeling with sea turtles - embrace the island vibe.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Warm Up in Jamaica
Feel the island rhythm calling this December with a trip to Jamaica. Average highs of 85°F (29°C) make Jamaica an alluring escape from winter's grasp. Sun-drenched days flow into lively nights filled with reggae beats, jerk chicken smoke, and Appleton Rum cocktails. The island’s infectious energy and warm hospitality heat up any frigid December.
Montego Bay draws travelers with its stretches of sugary sand lined with resorts and nightlife. Doctor’s Cave Beach offers turquoise waters and water sports galore. Brave the exhilarating Pelican Bar, a rustic wooden shack built on stilts a mile offshore, reachable only by boat. When the sun sets, follow the pulsating bass to open-air clubs and beach sound systems like Pier 1.
Negril’s Seven Mile Beach impresses with its uninterrupted length of powdery white sand and calm, translucent waters. Relax or people watch from your lounge chair before heading to Rick's Cafe for live reggae as the sun sinks below the horizon. Later, neon signs beckon visitors to late-night beach bars pumping with dancehall rhythms.
Inland, envelop yourself in the lush jungle terrain of the Blue Mountains. Hike through mist-veiled forests and peer down at Kingston from lofty lookouts. Local guides share the history and ecology of this unspoiled region over cups of Blue Mountain coffee.
Beyond the beaches and mountains, Jamaica immerses you in its unique culture. Learn the nuances of making authentic jerk chicken at Boston Bay. Tour Bob Marley's former home, now the Bob Marley Museum, in Kingston. Take a food tour of local jerk shacks, rum bars, and patty shops, interacting with proud locals along the way.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Head Down Under to Australia
While much of the Northern Hemisphere is bundling up for winter, Australia basks in warm temperatures perfect for exploring the Land Down Under. With highs in the 70s and 80s, cities like Sydney and barrier reefs like the Great Barrier Reef beckon to cold-weather travelers.
Sydney dazzles in December, displaying its exuberant personality against a backdrop of cloudless blue skies. ferry over to Manly for a quintessential Aussie beach day complete with surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Wander through the Royal Botanic Garden and marvel at how everything is blooming when your hometown is frozen. See koalas and kangaroos at the Taronga Zoo before watching the sunset behind the Opera House's dramatic sails. When night falls, sample Australian wines at a trendy Surry Hills restaurant before listening to live music at one of the city's vibrant venues.
Up the coast, dive into the turquoise waters and kaleidoscopic coral of the Great Barrier Reef. Base yourself in sunny Cairns, gateway to the reef and Daintree Rainforest. Snorkel straight from the beach or take a day trip to outer reef sites where the corals stretch as far as you can see. Spot green sea turtles, giant clams, clown fish, and reef sharks as you drift weightlessly over this aquatic wonderland. At night, sign up for a stargazing tour and marvel at the Milky Way's cosmic swirls.
In the Red Center, stand in awe before the immense red monolith of Uluru, spiritual heart of the Outback. Watch the first rays of dawn set the rock aglow in fiery oranges and reds. Learn about its deep spiritual significance to Aboriginal groups on indigenous-led tours and savor the profound stillness of this elemental place. Nearby, hike through the rust-hued gorges of Kata Tjuta before riding camels through sunset-painted desert landscapes.
Perth, often overlooked, deserves more attention with its beautiful beaches and laidback vibe. Take the ferry to Rottnest Island and cycle past secluded coves and bays perfect for snorkeling. Catch some waves at Trigg Beach or Cottesloe Beach, wallet-friendly alternatives to Bondi and Manly. Spend a day exploring nearby Swan Valley wine region's vineyards, breweries, cafes, and artisan shops. At night, stroll the Elizabeth Quay boardwalk under the glow of city lights reflecting on the Swan River.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Island Life in the Caribbean
The Caribbean casts its spell in December, inviting cold dwellers to partake in island living. Temps in the 80s combined with cooling trade winds keep you blissfully warm but not too hot. The laidback vibes, rum cocktails, and turquoise waters work their magic, soothing away the stresses of home. Visitors find themselves slipping into the local "no problem, man" mindset in no time.
Jamaica pulsates with reggae beats and lush mountain scenery, but the ABC islands whisper "come relax." Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao sit just off Venezuela's coast, basking under near-perfect conditions.
Aruba excels at offering high-quality resorts without attitude or astronomical prices. The island's southwestern coast entices with turquoise waters and powder-fine beaches, especially Eagle Beach. Here, you'll find fewer peddlers than the hotel-packed Palm Beach. Luxury resorts like the Hyatt Regency sit alongside reasonably-priced spots like the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.
Inland, Arikok National Park's cactus-dotted landscape feels worlds away. Rugged limestone hills, hidden caves, and windswept vistas await at this underrated protected area. Don't miss the Natural Pool, a pocket of translucent sea water tucked into the rocks.
While Aruba draws more visitors, quieter Bonaire whispers, "Remember your zen." With few resorts outside Kralendijk, Bonaire stays blissfully undeveloped. Come here to dive, snorkel, kayak and unwind amid raw natural beauty.
Nearly the whole coastline falls within protected marine parks. Just offshore, reefs teem with sea turtles, rays, and fish of every hue. No wonder Bonaire gets consistently ranked among the Caribbean's top dive sites. The easy shore access makes it ideal for snorkelers too.
On land, Washington Slagbaai National Park offers the island's only mountainous terrain. Hikers traverse paths cutting through cactus forests and salt pans where flamingos resides. Observation towers provide panoramic vistas of this unique landscape.
Finally Curaçao, with its Dutch colonial architecture in Willemstad and 30+ beaches, strikes a nice balance. While more developed than Bonaire, Curaçao retains a laidback charm. The old town's candy-colored buildings along the Sint Anna Bay waterfront present that iconic picture-postcard view.
There's plenty of natural splendor too like the pristine casual restaurants of Knip Beach, perfect for whiling away a beach day. West of Willemstad, Christoffel National Park's shrublands and limestone terraces offer hiking away from the resort scene.
Clear waters around Curaçao make for world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities similar to Bonaire. Sea turtles are a common sight while eagle rays and nurse sharks lurk further offshore. Several beaches provide easy-access snorkeling too.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Palm Trees and Paradise in Costa Rica
With an average high of 86°F (30°C) in December, Costa Rica lives up to its reputation for perpetually pleasant weather. The Central American nation spoils visitors with simmering sunshine filtered through swaying palms along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
Vivid blue waters lap at the white sand beaches stretching below lush green jungle foliage in settings recalling Eden. Open-air cafes stir the languid tropical air with the aroma of strong coffee. In the interior, volcanoes slumber amid cloud-shrouded rainforests teeming with exotic creatures.
This inviting climate and topography fuels a palpable pura vida vibe - the nation's signature "pure life" attitude treasuring life's simple pleasures. The warm, welcoming spirit of Costa Rica proves as revitalizing as the sunshine most visitors seek.
Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula exemplifies Costa Rica's laidback beach town appeal. Surfers flock here to harness the powerful waves, but a beginner break also beckons novice riders. Even non-surfers appreciate watching the pros carve and cut atop the perfectly peeling barrels.
Between surf sessions, beachgoers bliss out beneath the shade of palms or meander down the main street's cafes and shops. Cervezas, ceviches, and tacos fuel languid days that fade into glowing sunsets.
Nearby, Playa Conchal dazzles with finely crushed seashells blanketing soft sands in pastel hues. Forego the usual beach reads; the "sand" itself proves mesmerizing enough. Dazzling shades of pink, lavender, and butterscotch swirl underfoot all the way to the shoreline.
Inland, burbling hot springs like the Rio Celeste and Tenorio Volcano National Park promise blissful soaks for weary bodies. "Seeing the neon blue waters of Rio Celeste was like finding a precious gem hidden in the jungle," one visitor raved after hiking through verdant rainforest to these ethereal pools.
Soaking in the volcano-fed hot springs similarly reinvigorates and rejuvenates spent souls. As the sun sets behind the jungle canopy, you'll surrender to the warm waters, feeling your stress and worries float away downstream.
Visitors seeking more adrenaline than these placid places provide can get their fix courtesy of Costa Rica's rushing rivers. White water rafting courses like the Pacuare River traverse rapids with names like "Cimarron del Infierno” (Hell's Canyon) for a reason.
Yet a sense of security tempers the thrill thanks to strict safety standards and experienced guides. One customer called rafting the Pacuare "absolutely awesome," saying the stunning scenery mixed with exciting rapids made it a "must-do" Costa Rica experience.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Chase Winter Away in Florida
Basking on the sun-drenched sands of Florida provides the perfect antidote for dreary, frigid December days up north. The Sunshine State lives up to its nickname in winter, with pleasantly warm weather ideal for escaping the cold. Average highs of 75-80°F (24-27°C) have snowbirds flocking south for the season. Visitors speak glowingly of Florida’s warm hospitality and seaside beauty.
Clearwater Beach dazzles with its sugar-white sand and calm Gulf waters in hues rivaling the Caribbean. Days fly by lounging beneath umbrellas, taking leisurely strolls along the shore, and watching spectacular sunsets over the sea. Offshore, unspoiled Honeymoon Island offers more secluded beach vibes with nature trails through fragrant citrus groves and mangroves.
On the Atlantic Coast, Vero Beach lures travelers wanting to avoid the crowds of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Quaint seaside cottages and retro motels line the aptly named Treasure Coast. Beachcombers treasure hunt for seashells along expansive sands with lovely aquamarine waters. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge provides a serene escape into nature to kayak amidst mangroves and observe abundant birdlife.
Beyond beaches, visitors revel in Florida’s balmy weather for pursuing outdoor adventures. Hit the links on world-class golf courses like Sawgrass and Doral. Explore the untamed beauty of the Everglades via airboat or canoe. Cast a line for giant tarpon fish near the coastal islands of Boca Grande and Pine Island Sound. Feel the rush of manatee and dolphin encounters in crystal springs and rivers.
Walt Disney World also shines in December, dazzling families with holiday festivities. Cinderella’s Castle glistens with over 200,000 LED lights during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party spectacular. Guests gasp at the magical “Frozen”-themed displays artfully sculpted from two million pounds of ice. Cheery holiday music fills the air as toy soldiers march down Main Street decked out for the season. Mickey and Minnie don their red and green best to spread Yuletide joy at this most magical time of year.
Beyond theme parks, Florida impresses foodies with its fresh seafood, Cuban flavors, and Southern charm. Unwind at cozy waterfront restaurants serving up the day’s catch with tropical cocktails. Savor Cuban sandwiches layered with juicy roast pork, ham, and melty Swiss cheese. Indulge your sweet tooth with creamy key lime pie - the official state dessert. Much of the action centers around outdoor patios and terraces - the perfect places to soak up the sunshine and warmth.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Beautiful Beaches in Mexico
Mexico seduces sun-seekers with thousands of miles of spectacular coastline. Visitors find it easy to while away days stretched out on soft white sands lapped by temperate turquoise waters. Relaxation comes naturally when cocooned in a seaside cabana beneath swaying palms. Mexico's beach towns excel at delivering laidback vacation vibes accompanied by authentic culture and mouthwatering cuisine.
"I was blown away by the raw natural beauty of the beaches along the Baja Peninsula," one traveler remarked after exploring destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos. Protected coves nestled between rocky points provide picture-perfect backdrops. Out on the Pacific Ocean, massive breaks draw surfers eager to ride towering swells. Whale watching cruises sail by December through March during the annual migration.
Over on the Caribbean side, the Riviera Maya beckons to beach lovers and divers alike. Stretching south from Cancun past Tulum, this coast impresses visitors with its talcum powder sands and excellent reef systems. Remote areas like the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve deliver the peace and seclusion that many seek in paradise.
Further south, Belize borders Mexico along the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, though English is the official language. Here undeveloped islands like Ambergris Caye present quintessential Caribbean vibes minus the crowds. San Pedro provides a lively home base with bars, restaurants, and dive shops to plan excursions to the spectacular Belize Barrier Reef. Hol Chan Marine Reserve offers access to rich reefs right from the shore.
The tranquil island of Isla Mujeres sits just 8 miles across the bay from Cancun but feels worlds apart. People praise its authentic old Mexico ambiance devoid of high-rise resorts. Golf carts putter around the quiet streets while snorkelers explore reefs easily reached from shore. Watching the sunset at Punta Sur, the southernmost point, makes for lasting memories.
Further south, Cozumel draws divers eager to explore offshore reef walls and swim through coral gardens patrolled by green moray eels. It’s one of the few places in the world where people can experience drift dives, suspended weightlessly over these vibrant underwater landscapes. For non-divers, secluded beaches like Punta Morena tantalize with powdery sand and excellent snorkeling from shore.
No list of Mexico's top beaches is complete without Acapulco. Cliff divers famously leap from rugged cliffs 136 feet down into swirling tides - a tradition since 1934. When the sun sets, the nightlife heats up with glitzy bars and nightclubs. Visitors also praise the outdoor entertainment scene, whether dining al fresco or strolling the lively boardwalk.
Chase the Sun: 10 Warm and Welcoming Destinations to Visit this December - Enjoy Endless Summer in Southern California
Southern California woos winter-weary travelers with its seemingly endless summer. While much of the country bundles up against frigid temps, SoCal basks in sunshine and warmth from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
"Visiting Southern California in December was like entering an alternate sunny reality," shares James, a Seattle resident. "Back home it was dark, rainy, and cold. But within hours I stepped off the plane into 75°F sunshine and palm trees swaying in the breeze - pure magic."
It's true - the SoCal sun shines practically year-round thanks to temperate coastal conditions. Daily highs average a delightful 72°F in December, perfect for lounging at legendary beaches and pursuing outdoor adventures.
Surfers flock to Swami's in Encinitas to catch the area's exceptional waves, but beginners also appreciate the smaller breaks at nearby Cardiff State Beach. Further south, La Jolla allures with its cliff-lined coves holding swaying garlands of jewel-toned sea anemones. Sunbathers praise the spacious sands and family-friendly vibe.
"I loved watching the sunset while nestled in the golden cliffs surrounding La Jolla Cove," said Julie, who visited from Seattle. "Seeing seals and sea lions appearing as the skies turned pink felt so serene and special."
Beyond the shore, visitors bask in SoCal's balmy weather while hiking desert oases, peaks, and coastlines. Joshua Tree National Park mesmerizes with its otherworldly landscape of craggy boulders and spiny yuccas. Meander through palm oases before retiring to stargaze in some of the world’s darkest night skies.
In Los Angeles, challenge yourself summiting the dusty switchbacks leading up to the Hollywood sign. Revel in 360° views spanning downtown to Santa Monica after accomplishing this iconic trek. For more rugged terrain, venture into the Santa Monica Mountains where trails like Solstice Canyon transport you through canyons, waterfalls, and ruins.
Further north, Channel Islands National Park provides an escape into nature via kayak, paddleboard, or boat. Paddling along Santa Cruz Island's craggy cliffs and sea caves resonates deeply. Keep eyes peeled for dolphins, seals, and migrating whales during your aquatic explorations.
At day’s end, uncover SoCal's creative spirit and farm-to-fork dining scene. Wonder at the Getty Center's hilltop modernist architecture before descending into Santa Monica's buzzing bars and eateries. From Venice's hip cafes to Laguna Beach's artsy cottages, discover the distinct personalities of each coastal community.