Best Tropical Christmas
Canary Islands, Spain
With average daily December temperatures in the mid-70 degree range, along with more than 900 miles of spectacular coastline, the Canary Islands offer the perfect chance to soak in the sun and the sand over the holidays. Say goodbye to the winter blues by unwinding by the sea, sipping some of the unique wines indigenous to the region, or explore the islands’ soaring volcanoes. If you’re the adventurous type, consider spending the holiday sailing with Adventure Under Sail. Hop aboard the ship in San Juan de la Rambla, Tenerife for an eight night cruise on December 20 sailing to Santa Cruz de la Palma where fireworks, festivals and lots of fun in the sun are the order of the day.
Winter on Kauai is an exciting time. Not only will you enjoy a balmy, tropical Christmas, but the island offers a number of fun holiday events throughout the month of December, including the Festival of Lights, a lighted Christmas parade and Christmas hula concerts. This is also the season for whale watching, with majestic humpback whales migrating to the islands’ warm waters to mate and birth their young. The island also gets some incredible surf during the winter – a perfect spot for those that would love to go surfing on Christmas day. Of course, you can also just enjoy relaxing on the golden sands of Poipu Beach or viewing the numerous stunning waterfalls.
As one of the most picturesque islands Indonesia has to offer, Bali is very popular with travelers during the festive period. With its white sandy beaches and light blue waters, it’s the perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy a bit of winter sun.
It doesn’t get more exotic than the Caribbean, with St Kitts being one of the more popular areas to visit. The island throws two weeks of celebration, with carnivals and parades taking place every day in the build up to Christmas Day.
Pick a coast, any coast. That’s how it goes in Panama, a country blessed with two long coastlines, one Pacific, one Caribbean, of equal beauty and appeal, and many sand-fringed islands just offshore. In Panama, your beach options range from developed and comfortable to back-to-basics and off-the-grid.
Most fully appointed beach options are on the country’s Pacific coast about an hour-and-a-half outside Panama City, the stretch of beachfront that includes Gamboa and Coronado (also notable as it’s home to a big and fast-growing community of foreign retirees). Your best low-key beach getaway choices include San Blas off the country’s Caribbean coast and Pedasi, a charming little beach town on the coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula.
The Dominican Republic has been gaining momentum as a hot-spot beach destination and for good reason. This island nation offers many sure-to-please options for those looking to jet-off to warm weather and white-sand beaches this Christmas season.
The sand-fringed towns of Sosua and neighboring Cabarete on the island’s north coast in particular are beachfront utopias. There are no high-rise towers, no big crowds and no worries. Life here is all about enjoying what Mother Nature has created in this world-class coastal spot. Beaches are perfect for swimming, and inland are many trails for hiking and horse-back riding.
Although Thailand has become highly popular with gap-year travelers over recent years, it is still one of the most beautiful countries in the world. You can kick back on white beaches at a reasonably priced resort on one of Thailand’s many islands and not have to worry about preparing a Christmas dinner!
Possibly the most famous tropical place on earth, Bora Bora is as tropical as it gets. The ocean waters are brighter than you’ll find anywhere else and you can even sit outside your own thatched hut to enjoy an ice cold beer – truly making the perfect Christmas.
United Arab Emirates
Shopping enthusiasts may want to head to Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates to hit the massive Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping center by area, housing more than 1,000 stores, not including its two anchor department stores and more than 160 food and beverage sellers. You can also go ice skating, catch a movie, be mesmerized by the dazzling Dubai Fountains – a 900-foot-long pool where spurts of water dance amid colored lights, and visit the Dubai Aquarium. This complex sits at the heart of the mall and houses more than 33,000 underwater creatures in one of the world’s largest tanks. If Dubai’s a bit too much, head to the nearby island haven of Abu Dhabi, where you can kayak the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Key West, Florida
If you’re looking for something closer to home, you’ll find plenty of good cheer and warm temperatures in Key West at Christmas, along with beautifully-trimmed palm trees, multiple blocks of festive, decked-out boats along the historic waterfront and historic inns done up in holiday décor. This is an ideal destination for enjoying a Caribbean-feel without leaving the country, and you can still find plenty of holiday events throughout the month of December too. As this is the high season in the Keys, there are sure to be lots of others to celebrate with, but that just makes for an even higher-energy nightlife and a fun, festive Christmas atmosphere.
Christmas in Majorca is celebrated in a traditional style, and is quite a bit less commercial than many other places, with strong Mallorcan cultural ties and Catholic traditions. You’ll find an atmosphere of tradition throughout the city of Palma, where most of the festive activities taking place. Things kick off here with “The feast of the Immaculate Conception,” on December 8, a ceremony and performance of dance called los Seises, and celebrations continue with various special events through January 5 with Three Kings Night celebrated across Spain. If you’re looking for a quiet place to escape, Cala Deia is a picturesque beach that’s considered one of the island’s hidden gems, located just outside the village of Deia down a dusty road through olive groves. The strikingly clear waters and rocky cliffs that surround it offer the feel of quiet seclusion – and you might just have it all to yourself on Christmas Day.
Mexico offers numerous destinations within its borders that are perfect for a sunny Christmas. Enjoy swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea or take a dip in the soothing mineral-rich waters of cave cenotes across the Yucatan Peninsula, filled with fresh water that has been meticulously filtered by the earth, making them so clear and pure that you can see right through to the tiny fish frolicking in the plant life below. In the beautiful Colonial city of Puebla, you’ll find plenty of Mexican delights to feast on, including mole, a spicy chocolate sauce flavored with chili peppers, cinnamon and fruit. You can also watch Las Posados, the night processions which reenact the search of Mary and Joseph for shelter downtown and throughout the neighborhoods in Puebla.
Those that live in the Cayman Islands make up for a lack of Christmas snow with plenty of festive decorations, activities and events for the holidays as well as an especially warm Christmas spirit that pairs perfectly with the islands’ idyllic climate. The Caribbean nation even has its own Caribbean Santa, donning shorts and flip-flops rather than the standard attire. You can expect a tropical Christmas here, including entertainment throughout the islands’ hotels and resorts. If that’s not enough, take the Christmas Bus Tour of Lights which includes visiting the most decorated homes and a historic Mission House as well as a feast with traditional holiday fare like roast beef and Cassava Cake.
Warm weather and a beautiful Pacific coastline characterize Nicaragua, a land of lakes and volcanoes that is also notable as one of the most affordable destinations in the Americas.
Nicaragua’s most developed beach is at San Juan del Sur, once a jet-set stomping-grounds and making a comeback today. The small town that lines the crescent-shaped bay that shares its name is the definition of chill. Nothing much happens here…and nothing much matters here but the sun and the surf.
If you are looking to spend time on a tropical beach and soak up some culture this Christmas, then Goa is the place for you. India’s smallest state has a world heritage site, places of worship and some fantastic sandy shores.