17 best holidays for winter sun, from snorkeling in Turkey to island-hopping in the Maldives
Raise a glass in South Africa
November highs 22°C
South Africa is also coming off the red list on Monday, and is the ideal place to celebrate the world reopening again with a trip that takes in world-class wineries and wildlife, both in the country’s nature reserves and along its Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.
British Airways Holidays offers several multi-centre trips, including a Cape Town, Winelands and whale watching itinerary that ends at Hermanus where southern right whales migrate until November. britishairways.com
Covid: negative PCR
December highs 20°C
Argentina and Chile will be removed from the red list on Monday, and their international borders will both be open by 1 November – just in time for the summer season in Patagonia. The region’s landscapes range from the golden grasses of the pampas to toothpaste-hued glaciers and the toothy peaks of Torres del Paine.
A 12-day Charito: Pure Patagonia trip costs from £2,805pp excluding flights, taking in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Chile’s vineyards and Lake District, Torres del Paine and El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park, journeylatinamerica.co.uk. Covid: full vaccination and negative PCR, plus day five PCR test (Argentina only
Snorkel the Aegean in Turkey
October highs 26°C
Snorkelling around the craggy coastline and secluded islands off Turkey’s turquoise coast from a traditional gulet boat is a Bodrum must-do (£23pp, boattripturkey.com). Afterwards, unwind with a traditional Ottoman hammam at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, where the spa offers soothing Turkish baths from £68. Restaurants, markets and a 4th-century amphitheatre are all within easy reach in Bodrum town, around half-an-hour away.
Seven nights’ B&B from £1,563pp including Heathrow flights departing 24 Oct, ba.com.
Covid: proof of vaccination or PCR (72 hours) or antigen test (48 hours). Under-12s exempt.
Surf in Morocco
November highs 25°C
Taghazout, north of Agadir, is popular with surfers, who flock to the fishing village’s sprawling, golden-sand beaches. Visitors will find an Atlantic coast hub of vegan restaurants, hip cafés and shops selling hand-woven carpets, where the surf culture extends to an epic clifftop skatepark.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Riu Palace Tikida Taghazout from £731pp with Gatwick flights departing 8 Nov and transfers, tui.co.uk. Covid: proof of vaccination or PCR test (72 hours). Under-11s exempt.
Learn to dive in Egypt
December highs 24°C
Calm waters make Egypt a top destination for novice divers, and Foreign Office travel advice has recently been lifted for visitors to much of the Red Sea coastline. The reefs and wrecks are home to colourful corals, fish and turtles. Above the surface, find palm-lined beaches, manicured gardens and an infinity pool at Reef Oasis Blue Bay Resort & Spa in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive from £805pp on 2 December including a Padi Open Water Diver course and transfers, travel.padi.com; Luton to Sharm El-Sheikh flights from £140pp, easyjet.com. Covid: PCR tests (72 hours) and proof of vaccination.
Christmas with Mickey in Orlando
December highs 23°C
Join the celebrations at Walt Disney World, Florida, for its 50th anniversary. The world’s largest themed resort opened the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge park just before lockdown, while Epcot is undergoing a revamp with new Ratatouille and Beauty and the Beast attractions open, and more to come, including a Guardians of the Galaxy reverse-launch coaster.
Seven nights’ self-catering in two-bed apartment at Lake Buena Vista Village Resort & Spa is £1,337pp based on two adults and two children under 11 sharing, including Manchester flights departing 21 Dec, virginholidays.com. Disney World’s 7 Day Ultimate Ticket from £415 per child and £435 per adult, attractiontickets.com. Covid: vaccinated visitors from UK to be let in some time in November. Unvaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds likely to be banned.
Score in Vegas
November highs 21°C
A $2bn stadium, nicknamed the Death Star, became the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders last year, offering visitors the chance to enjoy Sin City’s casinos, world-class restaurants and now American football at the Allegiant Stadium. New hotels include Circa and Virgin and a new three-station transportation system has opened beneath the Convention Centre, with autonomous Tesla cars.
Five nights’ room-only at Encore at Wynn, Las Vegas, from £1,140pp, including Heathrow flights departing 24 Nov, virginholidays.co.uk . Covid: See Orlando, above.
Hit the trail in St Lucia
December highs 29°C
Climb Grand Piton, the larger of St Lucia’s twin, verdant volcanic spires, before the cruise-ship crowds return to the island. The six-mile round trip, more forgiving in winter, is a journey through a tropical cloud forest with views over Piton Bay, Petit Piton and the rest of the island.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Royalton St Lucia in Smugglers Cove is £1,408pp including Gatwick flights departing 14 Dec and transfers, tui.co.uk. Covid: Pre-departure PCR (5 days) for all aged five and up. Non-vaccinated children aged five to 15 must stay at Covid-certified hotel or villa for first 14 days and may leave only on certified tours and excursions.
November highs 24°C
The Canary Islands are in the spotlight with La Palma’s continued volcanic activity. To the east, however, Tenerife is a good bet for some vitamin D. Mount Teide is one of the world’s largest volcanoes – and last erupted in 1909 – offering scope for endless interesting hikes and stargazing from its observatory.
Seven nights’ B&B at Iberostar Selection Sabila on the Costa Adeje from £859pp, including Birmingham flights departing 29 Nov, luggage and transfers, jet2holidays.com. Covid: negative Naat, PCR, TMA, Lamp or Near test or proof of full vaccination.
Portugal country escape
October highs 23°C
Walking, swimming, cycling and soaking up rural life are how days play out at Herdade da Matinha country hotel, close to the Alentejo coast. With a hire car, you could explore the white-sand beaches near Comporta and the Rota Vicentina’s hiking and biking trails that trace the Atlantic south to the Algarve. Horse-riding and pottery are also on offer.
Doubles from €127 (£108) B&B in late October; British Airways offers flights from Heathrow to Lisbon with a week’s car hire for £251pp from 16 Oct, ba.com. Covid: lateral flow and/or proof of full vaccination.
Lanzarote villa holiday
November highs 23°C
Lanzarote’s southernmost resort, Playa Blanca, has plenty of sandy beaches and restaurants, as well as a ferry link to the white-sand dunes of Corralejo on neighbouring Fuerteventura (half-an-hour). Also nearby are Timanfaya National Park and the Janubio salt flats, as well as the green lagoon of El Golfo and the village of Yaiza.
Jet2Villas has a week at the three-bed Villas Puerto Rubicon from £579pp with flights from Newcastle on 28 Nov, luggage allowance and car hire, jet2holidays.com/villas. Covid: see Tenerife
Catch a wave in Cape Verde
December highs 27°C
Within six hours, holidaymakers can find themselves on white-sand beaches, in the surf or out on a boat looking for whales on this cluster of Atlantic islands. On Sal, the main beach stretches for 8km, while on Boa Vista, shape-shifting dunes give way to Praia Chaves’s golden sands and windsurfers favour Verandinha.
A week’s all-inclusive at Tui Blue Cabo Verde on Sal from £845pp with flights from Manchester on 4 Dec, tui.co.uk. Covid: pre-departure antigen or PCR (72 hours). No unvaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds. Under-12s exempt.
Spa resort in Cyprus
November highs 22°C
A former monastery near Polis and Miliou in the Paphos area is now a luxurious spa hotel. Ayii Anargyri harnesses the healing properties of sulphur-rich waters through marine, mud and hydro baths, and has crafted guest rooms from local stone. Surrounded by pine trees, the hotel is within easy reach of the west coast and its beaches.
Sunvil has week’s B&B at the hotel from £843pp with flights from Glasgow on 1 Nov and transfers, sunvil.co.uk. Covid: fully vaccinated arrivals must present a negative PCR test and take a further PCR on arrival.
Go wild in Sri Lanka
November highs 30°C
Wildlife, golden beaches, surfing, tea plantations, Buddhist sites and more await on the teardrop island, for which the Foreign Office has recently lifted its travel advice. The Experience Travel Group can tailor holidays, from a slow travel exploration to a wildlife-focused adventure.
Week-long villa holiday from £1,825pp excluding flights, experiencetravelgroup.com. Covid: pre-departure PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours) and full vaccination required. Unvaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds must quarantine and take test at Safe & Secure Certified Level 1 Hotel. Under-12s exempt.
November highs 30°C
From the red dunes of Wahiba Sands to the date palm plantations in the foothills of the Hajar mountains and historic forts, an adventure-packed trip to Oman can unwind on the golden shores that spill out from the capital Muscat.
Responsible Travel has an eight-day small-group trip that does all of the above, from £1,995pp departing 15 Nov excluding flights, responsibletravel.com. Covid: negative PCR test and proof of 30 days’ travel/health insurance.
Park and ride in Kenya
November highs 26C
With quarantine no longer required for UK arrivals, Kenya is back on the travel map. November is traditionally shoulder season, when prices are lower and crowds thinner, with baby animals on the ground in the Maasai Mara.
Somak Luxury Travel offers tailor-made itineraries, including a three-day safari in Tsavo East and West national parks (from £500pp) to spot elephants or buffalos, or a six-night camping safari in the Selenkay and Ol Kinyei Conservancies, somak.com. Covid: negative PCR test
Low-key island-hopping in the Maldives
January highs 30C
The trouble with a Maldives holiday? Deciding which island to stay on – so hop between two or three. Start by browsing the markets in the capital Male, then cross the crystal-clear water to Ukulhas among tropical fish and manta rays. After three nights on the island, move over to Dhigurah to spot whale sharks, help with a beach-clean and snorkel at night.
Trailfinders offers eight-day small group trip from £1,295pp B&B, excluding flights, for Jan departures, trailfinders.com. Covid: negative PCR test.
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