The best places in the world to soak up the winter sun

Throw away your umbrella and winter woollies, and relax under the sun on a secluded paradise island surrounded by blue sea and white beaches

The beautiful Resorts in the many atolls that constitute the Maldives are worth the trip.

The beautiful Resorts in the many atolls that constitute the Maldives are worth the trip.

 

1. Maldives
Who doesn’t like the sound of a secluded paradise island surrounded by blue sea and white beaches? The resorts in the many atolls of this Indian Ocean destination are neither cheap nor easily accessible but are certainly worth the trip. Pick an island resort with a house reef for all-day snorkelling.
Where to stay The Lux North Male Atoll resort offers a new family creativity programme, with an in-villa cinema plus art classes or a photography workshop. This five-night package is €7,600 for a family of four.
Get there Turkish Airlines has return flights from Dublin to Malé via Istanbul from €728. Shilpa Ganatra

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico

2. Puerto Rico
As it has largely recovered from Hurricane Maria, two years ago, this is an opportune time to explore Puerto Rico, where three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays await, along with natural wonders such as rock pools, bat caves and the only tropical rainforest in the United States (technically speaking). With low rainfall and balmy temperatures, December to March is exactly the right time to visit.
Where to stay The boutique Hotel El Convento is in the charming capital of Old San Juan but comes with access its beach club. Plus, there’s complimentary wine and cheese. Doubles from €173.
Get there Aer Lingus flies from Dublin and Cork to San Juan via the US east coast from €631 return. SG

Cape Verde
Cape Verde

3. Cape Verde
This archipelago, 600km from the east African coast, is anomalous in many ways. The main island of Sal, the same size as south Dublin, contains vast stretches of arid desertscapes and watery wonders, such as Buracona Lagoon, whose waters shine neon blue in the morning. This is a fly’n’flop destination – expect high-20s temperatures in November and December.
Where to stay Hilton Cabo Verde Sal is a five-star beachfront resort a few minutes’ walk from Santa Maria. Doubles from €270.
Get there TAP Portugal has return flights from Dublin to Sal from €273. SG

Abama Beach in Tenerife: Golden sands and inviting water.
Abama Beach in Tenerife: Golden sands and inviting water

4. Tenerife, Spain
For minimum hassle and maximum sun, it’s hard to beat this Canary island, where temperatures hit 20 degrees in December. In addition to the lazy allure of its beaches and its challenging mountainous activities, there has been a recent surge in paragliding, thanks to consistently good flying conditions.
Where to stay Go high-brow at the Ritz-Carlton Abama, with three Michelin stars over its two restaurants. The three-night Vitamin D Booster package, designed for sun-deprived winter visitors, costs €1,575 per couple, including dinner and activities.
Get there Ryanair has return flights from Dublin and Cork to Tenerife from €92. SG

5. Nerja, Spain
This seaside town is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Its seafront promenade, Balcón de Europa, has unparalleled views of the Mediterranean, while the excellent food-and-wine scene and walkability of the town make it an easy and enjoyable getaway.
Where to stay Hotel Balcón de Europa is a great four-star resort with a pool, exclusive access to the beach, and rooms from €130.
Get there Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to Malaga from €101 return. Private transfers to Nerja cost €63 each way. Jo Linehan

6. Cannes, France
The French Riviera is home to some of the best-loved Gallic towns and cities. Soak up the opulence of Monte Carlo, or unwind in the tranquility of St Paul de Vence. Whatever vibe you desire, you’ll find it along the southern French coast. Base yourself in Cannes and take it from there.
Where to stay Close to the Rue d’Antibes shopping district and within walking distance of the city’s most beautiful beaches, the four-star Renoir hotel has everything you need for a Riviera-perfect stay. Doubles from €102.
Get there British Airways fly to Cannes from Dublin for €211 return. JL

Gozo in a Malta is a haven of tranquility.
Gozo in a Malta is a haven of tranquility.

7. Gozo, Malta
Described by locals as “the way Malta used to be”, the Maltese island of Gozo is surrounded by clear azure waters with untouched beaches. The capital city of Victoria’s medieval citadel and fortified walls make for picturesque exploring.
Where to stay The Calypso Hotel has rooms for €191 per person B&B. Alternatively, book a package with Sunway Holidays, including flights, accommodation and transfers, from €285 for four nights.
Get there Ryanair flies from Dublin to Luqa, on the main island of Malta, from €61 return. The ferry to Gozo costs €12. JL

8. Gran Canaria, Spain
There’s much on offer in Gran Canaria, from hiking and dolphin watching to shopping and people watching. From the Maspalomas Dunes to sunset cruises, a winter stay will be fun and sun-filled.
Where to stay Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia is a colonial-style luxury hotel in Las Palmas. Doubles from €614 per night.
Get there Fly from Dublin with Ryanair or Aer Lingus from €118 return. JL

9. Agadir, Morocco
With temperatures reaching upwards of 25 degrees in the winter months, this coastal destination could be a dream escape for those in need of an active holiday. Kayak, surf and hike in the nearby mountains, or explore the traditional Berber villages.
Where to stay The all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Tikida has everything you need for a fuss-free family holiday. A four-night stay starts from €845.
Get there Fly from Dublin with Air Arabia Maroc from €144 return. JL

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