Escape the chill in these warm-weather destinations.
Sure, the winter months have their perks – skiing, sledding, snowman building, and of course the holidays. But the cold! Oh, the cold. It digs deep under your skin, straight to your bones, chilling everything from your toes to your chattering teeth. Fortunately, several year-round, warm-weather destinations can offer a much-needed respite from the frigid air.
From island getaways to sizzling cities, here are 10 of the best warm places to visit this winter.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
With direct flights from several U.S. cities (including New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami), getting to the Central American nation of Belize is easier than you think. The country's interior is filled with lush, verdant landscapes home to monkeys and even a few rare jaguars, but the real star is the coast. To experience the white-sand beaches at their best, make your way to Ambergris Caye. Belize's largest island is known for its water sports, including diving and snorkeling around the nearby Belize Barrier Reef. For a luxe visit, book a few nights at Alaia Belize, which not only provides easy access to the beach, but also has a swimming pool suspended six stories above the main access corridor, with portholes in the bottom that offer aerial views of the property.
Though winter in CDMX won't have the tropical heat you might expect from Mexico — temperatures tend to top out in the low 70s this time of year — it still provides a balmy alternative to snowy U.S. locales. The capital is flush with cultural attractions, including first-rate museums (like the stunning Museo Frida Kahlo), incredible shopping at both high-end stores and local markets, and some of the best restaurants in the world (we're looking at you, Pujol). Make Las Alcobas your home base. The luxury hotel offers lavish guest rooms and a tranquil spa in which to relax after a day of urban exploration.
Key West, Florida
Key West is a true delight in the winter months, as the average high temperature never really falls below 75 degrees. It's the perfect place for fruity cocktails on the sand, sunset strolls down lively shopping streets, and slice after slice of tangy Key lime pie. Make the most of your time here by booking a stay at the historic Casa Marina Key West, which recently underwent an extensive renovation. Through the hotel, you can book local food tours, golf outings, and sailboat cruises, or you can simply sit by the pool and soak in the Florida Keys sun.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Though more than a hundred islands comprise French Polynesia, just a handful (think Bora Bora and Moorea) get most of the attention. If you prefer somewhere a little less crowded, try the quiet, sparsely developed atoll of Rangiroa. Located about an hour's flight from Tahiti, it has pristine beaches and a massive lagoon brimming with sea life. Book the Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa, which boasts stunning overwater bungalows and villas with private plunge pools.
Panama is another destination with splendid coastlines, but its interior shouldn't be overlooked, especially for a winter vacation. Temperatures in the country's highlands sit in the 60s and 70s year round, creating ideal conditions for outdoor adventures. Visitor-favorite activities here include bird-watching and, for more adventurous types, criss-crossing the verdant mountains via the famous hanging bridges of Boquete. The region also has a stellar coffee scene worth exploring. Book a stay at The Haven, an adults-only wellness hotel that'll help you get on a coffee tour as soon as you land.
If you're seeking an African safari this winter without the crowds of a classic destination like Kenya, try the less-traveled terrain of Namibia. This nation on Africa's southwest coast offers seclusion, otherworldly landscapes, and near-guaranteed warm weather. It's also the perfect place to see animals like lions, elephants, leopards, and rhinos in their natural environment. There are several outfitters in the area, but Natural Selection is top-notch. It has numerous camps to choose from, including the famed Shipwreck Lodge on the Skeleton Coast.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you want to mix some time under the sun with some cultural enrichment, look no further than San Juan. The capital of Puerto Rico has long stretches of white-sand beaches, plus historical attractions like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Visitors will also find lots of delicious spots to eat (make reservations at Cocina Abierta). In San Juan, it's best to go boutique, so check into the O:LV Fifty Five hotel, which features a rooftop bar and pool offering the best views in town.
When the first cold snap hits, book your flight to Dubai. This desert oasis offers not just warm weather but a mind-boggling array of things to do, from swimming in the Persian Gulf to shopping at some of the world's most luxurious stores and dining at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. (Don't forget to visit the tallest building in the world while you're here, via an elevator that travels at an ear-popping 30 feet per second.) Try Atlantis, The Palm for your overnight stays — it's a veritable playground for those looking to indulge in the finer things in life.
Winter happens to be the best time to visit Bangkok. The weather is balmy year-round thanks to Thailand's tropical location, but the winter months offer slightly more comfortable temperatures, with highs rarely exceeding 90 degrees.
To get the most out of this massive city, it's best to book a lengthy visit or get a guide — there are tons of tour options on sites like Airbnb Experiences that focus on food, culture, and photography. Don't miss out on the city's canals, either, which you can tour on a long-tail boat. Make your home base the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, a long-running honoree in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards.
Sometimes, you just need to get away and not think about a single thing. And that's exactly what you can do in the Bahamas, an island chain that's just a three-hour flight from New York City. There are a number of beautiful destinations to see here, and many of the archipelago's inhabited islands are home to all-inclusive resorts that are ideal for families, couples, and even solo travelers.
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