Looking to ditch the cold weather this winter and travel somewhere you can spend long days in the sun in nothing but a bathing suit and your favorite sunscreen? You’re not alone. In December of 2022, 74 million people traveled by airplane, domestically and internationally.
Let’s make 2023 the best year for winter travel yet! You might not be sure exactly where you want to go, but you do know that you want warm weather, a drink in your hand, beach vacation. We’ve got you covered!
Here you will find a list of the top ten best beach spots for a little winter hiatus. Trust us; you’re not going to want to go home!
Why Should You Go on a Beach Vacation in the Winter?
White many people associate the beach with summertime, you might want to try thinking outside the box a little. Traveling to the beach in the winter is the bee’s knees, and here’s why:
- You can escape cold, snowy weather.
- You’ll appreciate the sun’s rays even more after having left that cold weather!
- It breaks up the cold, bleak winter.
- You can get a much-needed vitamin D fix.
- If you have kids, you know that those little cherubs are dying to get out of the house.
- You can get travel deals: winter is a popular time to travel, but if you avoid peak times like Christmas vacation and New Year’s, you may be able to score a great price.
- For your mental and physical health!
What Clothing Should You Pack on a Winter Beach Getaway?
The dilemma of what to pack for a winter beach vacation can be a tricky one. Of course, it depends on where you plan to go, but for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re going someplace with warm, pleasant weather. (We sure HOPE you are!).
For a beach vacation, try not to overpack. Here are what we consider the bare essentials in terms of clothing to pack:
- A flowy maxi dress that you can dress up or down
- A cocktail-length dress or skirt (if you plan on going out at night)
- A few of your favorite tank tops and t-shirts
- One pair of jeans
- One pair of linen pants
- A pair of athletic shorts and a pair of “on the town” shorts
- Socks, bras, and underwear
- A cute and cozy lounge outfit for the hotel/resort
- A lightweight robe (might seem overkill, but trust us!)
- Two bathing suits
- A cover-up
Accessories and shoes are up to you! This might seem like a minimalist list, but our hope is that you’re spending most of your time relaxing in a swimsuit, sipping pina coladas in the sunshine.
Top 10 Winter Beach Destinations
Without further ado, here are our top picks for winter beach destinations. We have made sure to include locations to fit every travel budget, with some in the United States and others a mere plane ride (or two) away. We hope you enjoy!
1. Cancun, Mexico
Starting off strong with a tried and true beach spot: Cancun. Now, hear us out; Cancun may sound a little basic or like it’s been done. However, this is one of the top destinations for those who want to experience all-inclusive resorts and white sand beaches without breaking the budget.
Cancun boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and its “Hotel Zone” is lined with resorts that offer direct access to those beaches. If you want to take in a little culture on your trip, you can check out the Mayan ruins nearby or snorkel in the Underwater Museum of Art.
You’ll find no shortage of water activities like jet skiing, diving, ATV tours, and even swimming with sharks! Cancun also has a bustling nightlife scene and many options for bars and restaurants. There’s truly something for everyone.
2. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is known for its breathtaking beaches with clear turquoise waters and soft white sand. Patong Beach, a famous and lively beach, offers an exciting atmosphere with a variety of weather sports, beachfront dining, and a bustling nightlife scene.
Kata Beach and Karon Beach are also popular choices, known for their absolutely GORGEOUS settings and relaxed ambiance. No matter what your vibe, Phuket has a beach for you!
Beyond the beach, Phuket has a rich cultural heritage influenced by not only its Thai but also its Chinese roots. Exploring Old Phuket Town allows you to discover well-preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture and vibrant street art. Phuket is also home to several stunning temples, such as Wat Chalong, the largest Buddhist temple on the island.
3. Miami, Florida
You’ve heard about Miami in rap songs and seen it in movies. In reality, Miami can be just as amazing as you’ve imagined!
Miami is renowned for its stunning beaches, a major draw for tourists. Of course, you’ve got the iconic South Beach and the more tranquil stretches of shoreline in Key Biscayne and Crandon Park Beach.
Once you’re finished working on your tan, you can enjoy a myriad of cultural experiences. Explore neighborhoods like Little Havana, where you can immerse yourself in Cuban culture (including the food, yay!). Indulge in the art scenes via world-class museums such as the Perez Art Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Perhaps most importantly, the nightlife of Miami cannot be beat! The city boasts an array of trendy bars, restaurants, rooftop lounges, and nightclubs that are sure to satisfy everyone in your party.
4. Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii is one of those places that everyone should visit at some point in their lives. You’ll find a perfect blend of natural beauty, a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, and a wide array of activities for all ages. Maui is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches: lively spots like Kaanapali Beach or more secluded, quiet, pristine havens like Wailea Beach.
Hawaii is known for its incredible waterfalls and lush rainforests; trust us, you’re gonna want to bring your hiking boots and take a few waterfall hikes. Head to Haleakala National Park to see the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala volcano…truly a surreal experience! If hiking and volcanoes aren’t your jam, you can also explore the marine life and coral reefs while snorkeling in Molokini Crater.
Of course, you will find plenty of time for relaxation and wellness in Maui’s serene ambiance. Treat yourself to a spa day or a yoga session with the ocean in the background. Make sure to bring your comfiest loungey robe!
Seychelles is a beautiful island off the western coast of Africa. It offers a true tropical paradise with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush landscapes. There are a few things you should know before you go.
First of all, island hopping is a thing! Because Seychelles is an archipelago comprised of 115 islands, one of the top tourist activities is to hop from island to island, taking in the sights. The marine life is also dynamic and enrapturing. Many resorts offer snorkeling tours, but you can also go solo.
One thing you absolutely cannot miss if you go to Seychelles is a sampling of the local cuisine, which features fresh seafood, local spices, and tropical fruits. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try one of the local specialties, such as fish curry or grilled octopus. Yum!
6. Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia, is the perfect beach destination for a winter getaway. Why, you may ask?
Well, December marks the beginning of the summer season in Australia, so in a location like Sydney, you’re bound to experience 80-90 degree days, warm breezes, and ideal beach weather. Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach are two of the most popular beach spots.
Australia is generally known for its unique wildlife and landscapes, as well as many outdoor activities you can indulge in. The Blue Mountains national park is home to stunning waterfalls and beautiful hiking trails and is only a short drive from the city.
Sydney is a cosmopolitan city with diverse culture, food, and entertainment. The nightlife is poppin’, but there’s more to do than just go to clubs and bars. You’ll find waterfront shopping, dining, art galleries, and live music venues. This is the perfect place to go if you want a mix of city and beach vacations.
7. San Diego, California
San Diego is blessed with a long coastline of Southern Cali’s most stunning beaches. From Mission Beach to Pacific Beach to the very family-friendly Coronado Beach, you’re bound to find the perfect spot to suit your needs. Not to mention, the weather is pretty much always perfect!
This locale is an absolute mecca for surfers, so if that’s your thing, you definitely want to come here! If you’re bringing the kids, check out the San Diego Zoo, one of the world's most famous and largest zoos, or Sea World, where you can interact with marine life. There are also gardens, museums, and the historic neighborhood of Old Town San Diego, known as the birthplace of California.
While you’re there, you will want to take in one of San Diego’s famous sunsets. This place is known for its breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, and it’s a sight you’ll never forget. After a long day on the beach, throw on your favorite lounge set, and get cozy on a picnic blanket with someone you love.
8. South Padre Island, Texas
Another great spot, if you don’t want to leave the United States, is South Padre Island in the great state of Texas. This is a good location if you want a full-on beach vacation on a budget. If “Texas” isn’t your idea of a beach getaway, think again!
In South Padre Island, you will find beautiful beaches full of soft, golden sand along the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches stretch for miles, and you will be hard-pressed to find a nicer beach for your budget. This is a water sports enthusiast’s haven, so get ready for some boating and jet skiing!
Check out the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, the Gravity Park amusement park, and the Laguna Madre Nature trail for other activities. Make sure to bring a cute sun hat because even in winter, the Texas sun can be strong!
9. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for a few things: its stunning beaches, its lush rainforest environment, and the world’s largest (and only) sloth orphanage. Okay, maybe you didn’t know about the sloth orphanage, but you do now, and you may just fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of adorable sloth videos.
Some of the best beach towns in Costa Rica are Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, and Puerto Viejo. Costa Rica has all sorts of accommodations to fit different budgets and preferences, from high-end resorts and hotels to eco-lodges and vacation rentals.
While in Costa Rica, you should take advantage of all the great outdoor activities. Zip lining is particularly popular, but you can also try rock climbing, paddle boarding, and other fun!
10. The Maldives
The Maldives is most famous for its overwater bungalows, which we can almost guarantee you’ve seen while scrolling through Instagram. You’ll find the most beautiful beaches and turquoise-blue waters that are simply to die for.
The Maldives is a virtual playground for water sports enthusiasts. Snorkeling is a must, as the waters are chock full of manta rays, vibrant-colored fish, and sometimes even sharks. You can explore underwater shipwrecks and coral reefs if you're a scuba diver.
While the Maldives are certainly not a budget vacation, it is possible to travel there without making your millions first! While the overwater bungalows are the way to go, there actually are other options, most notably vacation rental homes. The Maldives are definitely a bucket list location, so if you can, go all out!
We all need a little respite from the cold winter weather, and what better way to escape the winter blues than to go on a nice beach vacation? No matter what location you choose, you’re bound to find something that works for you and your crew.
Grab your swimsuit and your sunscreen, and have some fun. Bon voyage!