As temperatures begin dropping to the bitter single digits and heavy snows start falling, there’s nothing you want more than to feel the warmth of the sun on your face as you lie on a beach reading a book and listening to the waves lap up onto the shore.
Hawaii is one of the most popular beach destinations out there. It has near perfect weather year-round, with highs during the winter months averaging in the mid-80s, and more than enough islands and beaches worth visiting. The sand is clean, the water is clear and the water temperature is always warm, making Hawaiian beaches great for swimming, boogie boarding, snorkeling or catching rays in your lounge chair. Surfing is also a popular activity in Hawaii, especially between November and March if you’re an experienced surfer because the North Shore swells get really big. While the sands are black not white on Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island, it’s a great spot to visit for viewing the astonishing landscape and seeing endangered green sea turtles.
Recommended Beaches: Waikiki Beach on Oahu, North Shore on Oahu, Lanikai on Oahu, Ho’okipa Beach on Maui and Poipu Beach on Kauai
If you want to stay in the mainland of the U.S., look no further than Florida. The Sunshine State is the East Coast hot spot with more than 1,000 miles of coastline offering a range of diverse beaches, from family-friendly to party-concentrated ones. So grab your family, kick off your flip flops and build a sandcastle on Florida’s white sand beaches or go on a friends’ weekend getaway and party the day and night away with those who flock to Florida during the winter.
Recommended Beaches: Sanibel Island, Key West, South Beach, Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Miami Beach
Bora Bora is the picture-perfect romantic vacation. Enjoy the sparkling turquoise waters and vivid green palm trees as you and your significant other sit in your over water bungalow sipping on tropical drinks. November is an ideal winter month to visit since it’s right after the peak season and temperatures range from 70 to the mid-80s. This French Polynesian island might be small, but it overflows with beauty.
Recommended Beach: Matira Beach
There’s a reason several iconic movie scenes have been shot in the Bahamas–the beaches make the most gorgeous backdrops for Hollywood films. Serving well for Blockbuster hits like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Bahamas offers the perfect spot for your dream winter beach vacation. There are hundreds of islands spread out through the Bahamas. While the two prized islands are Grand Bahama and New Providence, any island you choose likely has warm waters, sandy shorelines and a pleasing atmosphere.
Recommended Beaches: Pink Sand Beach, Cabbage Beach, Sandyport Beach, Love Beach and Lucayan Beach
Turks and Caicos Islands
The beaches on the Turks and Caicos Islands are perfect for families with younger kids, as well as snorkelers, with their pristine blue waters and waves that seldom climb above a gentle ripple. The third-largest coral reef system in the world surrounds Turks and Caicos, which is why you can enjoy such calm and clear waters when you visit. Grab your binoculars and go bird watching or get your sunglasses and some sunscreen and walk the shore in search of conch shells. The sun and possibilities are endless on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Recommended Beaches: Grace Bay on Providenciale Island, Malcolm Beach on Providenciales Island, Long Bay Beach on Providenciales Island and Governor’s Beach on Grand Turk Island
Jamaica is home to miles of coastline, but it’s also home to great seaside bars, friendly locals and a colorful, yet mellow culture. What better winter beach destination could you ask for? There are popular waterfront jewels many tourists frequent, but don’t be afraid to break away from the tourist beaches and find your own little hidden azure paradise in Jamaica. Besides the beaches, the Jamaican specialties you should experience are live reggae music and spicy jerk stands.
Recommended Beaches: Doctor’s Cave Beach, Boston Bay Beach and Treasure Beach
Mexico has so many beach destinations within its borders it’s hard to decide which one to visit! Cancun has a reputation for being the go-to spring break destination, but its stunning beaches, shopping scene and other activities make it great for those of every age. Los Cabos has a few beaches for swimming, but sport fishing and whale watching are two other things many people do. Gray whale season in Los Cabos is between December and April so be on the lookout as you lounge in your beach chair. Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel (the finest diving area) are other parts of Mexico worth taking a beach vacation to.
Recommended Beaches: Tulum Ruins Beach, Playa del Carmen Beach, Palancar Beach and Medano Beach
Make St. Lucia your Caribbean beach destination to rid you of the wintertime depression. If swimming or water sports are on your itinerary, then check out the beaches on the western side of this island. The eastern side is beautiful and is a fun, scenic exploration by horse or in a jeep, but features choppier waters, so swimming isn’t the preferred activity. Make sure one thing you do is get out on a boat and take in the views from the water of the iconic Pitons, the pointy, emerald covered rock formations that provide a breathtaking skyline photographed by everyone who visits.
Recommended Beaches: Jalouise Beach, Reduit Beach and Anse Chastanet
The Cayman Islands are made up of three islands — Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Every beach is open to the public on the Cayman Islands so you have no limitations when you visit this exquisite Caribbean vacation spot. Spend your days sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing and more!
Recommended Beaches: Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, Cayman Kai on Grand Cayman and Sandy Point on Little Cayman
Nearly 20 expansive beaches fill this island, and each one is a public beach and easily accessible. Besides the hot sun and powdery white sand, take your pick from several wet ‘n wild Aruba activities, including tubing, water-skiing, parasailing and kite surfing. No matter what you end up doing, you’ll end up never wanting to leave this Caribbean island.
Recommended Beaches: Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, Arashi Beach and Boca Catalina
The winter months can be long, dreary and unbearable. But this year, they don’t have to be. Pack your swimsuit and sunglasses and travel to one of these popular winter beach destinations to chase away your wintertime blues.