Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Bask on the Beaches of Barbados
With its pristine white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and gentle trade winds, Barbados is a sun-seeker's paradise. This easternmost island of the Caribbean oozes relaxation, making it the perfect place to soak up some vitamin D this winter.
The island's west coast boasts over a dozen stunning beaches, each with its own unique vibe. Pay a visit to Sandy Lane Beach for a taste of luxury. This beach fronts the famous Sandy Lane Hotel, a favorite of celebrities and royalty. Rent a beach chair or cabana and be pampered with attentive beach service. Stop by Mullins Beach to enjoy water sports, beach bars, and bustling crowds. Further up the coast, check out the rugged beauty of Bathsheba Beach, famous for its dramatic rock formations and pounding Atlantic surf.
No trip to Barbados is complete without spending a lazy day on the south coast. Head to Accra Beach, a popular spot with both tourists and locals. Here you'll find gentle waves, ample parking, beach chairs for rent, and vendors selling tasty local snacks. Nearby Carlisle Bay is excellent for swimming and snorkeling in calm, clear waters. Wrap up your beach-hopping adventure with a visit to Miami Beach, known for its festive atmosphere and delicious street food like fish cakes and coconut water.
In addition to beaches, Barbados offers many other ways to soak up the sunshine. Tee off at one of the island's world-class golf courses. Explore historic Bridgetown on a sunny walking tour. Sip rum punch by the pool at a luxury resort. Or charter a catamaran for a day of sailing, snorkeling, and swimming in secluded coves.
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- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Bask on the Beaches of Barbados
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Lounge in Laidback Los Cabos
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Island Bliss in the Bahamas
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Beach Bumming in Beautiful Belize
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Daydream in Dazzling Dubai
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Savor Endless Summer in Cape Town
- Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Sunkissed Shores of Spain's Canary Islands
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Lounge in Laidback Los Cabos
With its stunning desert landscapes, laidback vibe, and lively resort scene, Los Cabos is a sun-drenched escape perfect for some rest and relaxation this winter. Located at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos enjoys sunny, dry weather year-round - making it an idyllic spot for beach bums looking to unwind under the rays.
The main draw in Los Cabos is its beaches. The most famous beach is El Médano, with its gentle waves, golden sand, and views of El Arco - Cabo's iconic natural rock arch formation jutting out of the sea. Playa del Amor, or Lover's Beach, is beautiful tranquil cove only accessible by boat. The Sea of Cortez side offers beaches like the popular Playa Palmilla, with its calm waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling with sea lions, or just sunbathing to your heart's content.
While the beaches beckon relaxation, Los Cabos also offers plenty of activities for the adventurous-minded. Whale watching tours allow you to spot majestic humpbacks and other marine life. ATV tours take you bouncing through the desert landscapes. World-class sport fishing attracts anglers from all over hoping to reel in marlin and other trophy fish. Golfers can play at courses designed by legends like Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones II.
Of course, no trip to Los Cabos is complete without indulging in the dining and nightlife scene. Tantalize your taste buds at Baja Med-style restaurants blending local ingredients with modern techniques. Sip mezcal cocktails as you take in live music at bars like El Squid Roe. Dance the night away at hot spots like Mandala and Pink Kitty Nightclub. With new establishments opening all the time, Cabo's party never stops.
Los Cabos caters to all budgets - so whether you're looking for an all-inclusive beachfront resort, a moderately-priced hotel in the tourist corridor, or a charming B&B downtown, you'll find plenty of options for soaking up the sun in style.
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Island Bliss in the Bahamas
With over 700 islands and cays dotted throughout the vibrant blues of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas is a water lover's idea of paradise. This archipelago nation's proximity to the United States makes it easy for travelers to escape to its sun-drenched shores and experience island life in all its glory. From action-packed adventures to total relaxation, the Bahamas has something for every type of beach bum.
First up on the itinerary for most visitors is Nassau/Paradise Island. Situated on New Providence, this bustling capital city acts as the gateway to the Bahamas. Spend an afternoon wandering around downtown Nassau’s pastel-colored colonial buildings and shopping for souvenirs. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants serving up delicious local specialties like conch and tropical rum cocktails. Of course, you’ll also want to check out Paradise Island’s renowned white sand beaches like Cabbage Beach and lounge by the azure waters under the shade of a palm tree.
Venturing out to the Out Islands promises island adventures galore. Grand Bahama Island boasts activities like swimming with dolphins, scuba diving shipwrecks, and bonefishing in turquoise flats. Eco-lovers flock to the remote island of Andros to experience its expansive wetlands and the world’s third longest barrier reef. Sea kayaking through crystal clear waters, spotting iguanas, and stargazing on secluded beaches are just a few ways to experience the natural wonders on the island of Exuma.
Speaking of secluded, rumor has it the Exumas hideaway of Staniel Cay was once a pirate retreat and inspired the mythical Isle of Pines in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Today, this island paradise mostly flies under the tourist radar and offers the perfect escape for those looking to disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature. Spend your days snorkeling the Thunderball Grotto (named after the James Bond movie filmed there), hand-feeding swimming pigs, and exploring sea caves in a kayak under the glow of bioluminescence at night.
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Beach Bumming in Beautiful Belize
With miles of pristine shoreline fringed by the Western Caribbean's emerald waters and the world's second largest barrier reef offshore, Belize serves up a beach bum's bounty of aquatic adventures, seaside relaxation, and barefoot luxury.
The most popular launching point for experiencing Belize's beach bliss is Ambergris Caye. San Pedro town on the southern end of the caye boasts a funky vibe with thatched roof bars, seafood shacks, and boutique hotels right on the water. Opt to stay in the laidback North Island zone and you can swap beach bar-hopping for solitude as you swing in a hammock strung between palms listening to the rhythmic lull of waves lapping the shore.
A highlight is experiencing Belize's famous Blue Hole either by diving its cerulean depths or gazing down at it from above in a small plane. Snorkelers and divers can also access part of the world's second largest barrier reef right from the beach at Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The shallow, crystal clear waters offer views of intricate corals, marine life like nurse sharks and stingrays, and even shipwrecks to explore.
Water sports abound with options like kayaking through island dotted mangroves, deep sea fishing for sport fish like wahoo, wakeboarding, and kitesurfing over the waves. South of San Pedro, the mainland beach town of Placencia offers more beach bum pursuits like sailing down the coast, whale shark spotting, or simply meandering the long sandy peninsula from end to end.
In between adventures, beach time means snoozing in a swaying hammock beneath the palms, enjoying beachfront happy hours as the sun sinks into the sea in a splash of orange and pink hues, and digging your toes into velvety soft sand as gentle waves tickle your feet. The island's tropical climate means warm and sunny weather ideal for the beach pretty much year-round.
While you can certainly opt for an all-inclusive beach resort experience, don't miss the charm and value found at smaller locally-owned accommodations. Think chic beachfront cabañas with oceanside terraces, boutique hotels with beach cabanas and infinity pools, or even glamping in deluxe tents right on the sand. Your hardest decision will be which hammock or chaise lounge to choose for your next nap in the sunshine.
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Daydream in Dazzling Dubai
While Dubai is better known for its grandiose skyscrapers and mega malls, the city also boasts nearly 50 miles of immaculate coastline. Visitors can bask on pristine beaches and soak up the iconic skyline views. Kite Beach attracts watersports enthusiasts with its shallow water and constant breezes. At JBR Beach, beachgoers can go for a dip, enjoy a seaside meal, or stroll down The Beach boardwalk lined with cafes and retail.
For ultimate luxury, Jumeirah Beach beckons. This strip is home to the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel as well as other lavish beach resorts. Relax in a private beach cabana stocked with refreshments. Treat yourself to a beachfront massage inside an air-conditioned tent. Enjoy water sports like flyboarding, wakeboarding and windsurfing. Many resorts also offer complimentary access to their expansive pool complexes for day visitors.
Beyond the beaches, Dubai still dazzles. Shop for gold jewelry at the sprawling Gold Souk. Take an abra ferry across the creek for just a couple dirhams. Watch the dancing Dubai Fountains perform while dining al fresco along the lake. Experience an adrenaline rush on ski slopes inside Mall of the Emirates or racing down the desert dunes in a 4x4. As the sun sets, Dhow Cruise Dinner attendees can gaze at Dubai’s sparkling city lights. The Dubai Frame's panoramic views encapsulate the city’s past and future.
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Savor Endless Summer in Cape Town
With its Mediterranean climate and endless stretches of white sand beaches backed by rugged mountains, Cape Town truly feels like an endless summer. Located on the southwestern tip of South Africa, this vibrant port city enjoys a mild year-round climate that entices sun worshippers from around the globe.
“Cape Town spoiled me with its incredible weather,” said Sara S., a blogger based in London. “I visited in the middle of winter and still got to soak up sunshine and blue skies on Camps Bay Beach. The dramatic views of the ocean with the Twelve Apostles mountain range as a backdrop took my breath away.”
You can divide your time in Cape Town between urban exploring and outdoor adventure. Start by admiring panoramic views of the city, Table Mountain, and surrounding landscapes from the top of Table Mountain or Lion’s Head. Wander through the Company’s Garden, an oasis of colorful flora and shaded pathways. Check out the lively Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, gateway to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Then head to the beaches to experience Cape Town’s coastal vibe. Clifton Beaches 1 through 4 offer something for everyone with activities like surfing, volleyball, and scuba diving. Blouberg Beach is the ideal spot to capture iconic photos of Table Mountain from across the bay. Surfers flock to Muizenberg Beach to ride waves year-round. Beach goers recommend arriving early to secure parking at these popular beaches.
Venture further down the peninsula to bask in the tranquility of False Bay. Simon’s Town charms with its naval history and penguin colonies. Soak up the surf town vibes of Kommetjie. Marvel at the turquoise waters of Kalk Bay. Peter D. said, “I could have spent all day bodyboarding and boogie boarding in the waves at Kalk Bay Beach. The festive boardwalk atmosphere with live music spilling out of seaside restaurants made for an unforgettable beach day.”
Nearby Cape Point offers more natural splendor at the southwestern most tip of the Cape Peninsula. This nature reserve wows visitors with its rugged cliffs, scenic walking trails, endangered fynbos, and breathtaking views where two oceans meet. Cape Point even offers an open air pool perched dramatically on the edge of the sea cliff for the ultimate swim with a view.
Cape Town’s Mediterranean temperatures hovering around 70°F means prime beach weather year-round. Consistently sunny skies also make it ideal for water sports like stand-up paddleboarding, kitesurfing, and snorkeling with seals. Of course, beach time isn’t complete without sampling local specialties like spicy boerewors sausage, Cape Malay curries, and South Africa’s famed wines.
Sun, Sand, Surf: Dreamy Destinations to Soak up the Rays this Winter - Sunkissed Shores of Spain's Canary Islands
With their volcanic landscapes, subtropical climate, and Atlantic coastlines, Spain’s sun-drenched Canary Islands exude a tropical allure unlike anywhere else in Europe. This archipelago located 60 miles off Morocco’s coast includes islands like Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura.
Emma S. of The Travel Scribes fondly recalls her Canary Islands escapade: “As a pale redhead, I'm always chasing sunshine. I found my happy place on Fuerteventura’s Corralejo Beach sunbathing for hours on end without burning thanks to the gentle breeze. The fine white sand squeaked under my toes as I took a refreshing dip in the sparkling turquoise waters. Later, we hiked volcanic landscapes and were rewarded with sweeping views of the rugged coastline.”
The largest Canary Island of Tenerife lures travelers with its diversity. Lounge on golden sands beside the resort town of Playa de Las Americas. Take the cable car up to Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hike through the bizarre lunar landscape of Parque Nacional del Teide. Swim in the natural volcanic rock pools at Playa de Benijo. Watch whales and dolphins play offshore on a cruise from the charming harbor town Puerto de la Cruz.
Meanwhile, Gran Canaria serves up sweeping dunes and oasis-like palm groves in the Maspalomas region beloved by beach bums and surfers alike. This island’s beaches come in different hues like the white sands of Playa del Inglés, the black volcanic sand of Playa de Mogán, and the golden shores of Playa de Güigüi. Inland hiking trails through Gran Canaria’s mountains and gorges reveal views as stunning as the coast.
Daniel H. describes his experience on Fuerteventura: “We rented a car and drove along the west coast stopping at remote beaches we had all to ourselves. The sand was so white it hurt your eyes in the bright sunshine. The wind whipped up steep waves, creating the most amazing conditions for kitesurfing. Further inland, we hiked trails cutting through rocky canyons and volcanic ridges. Our Canary Islands escape delivered the perfect combo of beaches, nature, and sunshine.”
Lanzarote also charms with its mix of beaches and volcanoes. Visit the surreal Fire Mountains of Timanfaya National Park covered in solidified lava swept into waves and twists. Experience the island’s contemporary art side in the capital Arrecife and on show at the Atlantico Museum overlooking the ocean. Choose from family-friendly beaches like Papagayo and the less crowded coves of Playa Blanca lined with seaside cafes.