Banish the January blues with a red-carpet escape to these sunny island paradises. From lazing in a hammock in the South Pacific to strolling along the sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean, here are five wow-factor winter destinations worth leaving the northern hemisphere for.
1. For winter sun with a (luxury) castaway experience: Vahine Island Resort & Spa, French Polynesia
Conjure up a fantasy island in your head and Vahine Island Resort & Spa will come pretty close. This miniature islet (or “motu”) is as out-of-this-world perfect as you can get. Groves of coconut trees are fringed by pristine white sand. Thatched bungalows perch on stilts above a blue lagoon. And the distant hulk of Bora Bora rises on the horizon.
Spend days lazing in your hammock, or wade into the shallows, snorkel in hand. This is one of the best ways to see Vahine Island’s tropical life up close, and the staff can also take you on a nature tour or out on the water in a traditional Polynesian canoe. When it’s time to wind down, land at nearby Miki Miki motu for a massage. Then savour the flavours of the South Pacific – coconut, vanilla, honey, fresh seafood – in the hotel’s intimate restaurant.
2. For winter sun in the clouds: The Liming, Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
When it comes to catching winter rays, The Liming, on the southern Caribbean island of Bequia (pronounced ‘Bek-way’), is hard to beat. Taking its inspiration from a local expression meaning ‘the art of doing nothing,’ this boutique hideaway positively encourages you to embrace relaxed island living.
Its southern Caribbean setting means year-round views of a blue sea and sky. Breathe it all in from your private infinity pool or hot tub. Stroll through the hotel’s beautiful gardens before lunching on fresh lobster. If you want a change of scene, climb to Mount Peggy, Bequia’s highest peak, and see why it’s been dubbed ‘the island in the clouds.’ Or swap your private villa for the colourful houses and lively markets of Port Elizabeth.
3. For winter sun with a wetsuit: Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
If you’re someone who finds crystal-clear waters irresistible, combine winter sun with world-class scuba diving at Harbour Village Beach Club. Set along a stretch of golden sand, this luxury Dutch Caribbean retreat is home to a five-star diving centre, complete with private instructors and a full concierge dive service. Explore offshore wrecks and beautiful coral reefs before dining on the jetty as the sun sets.
4. For winter sun with a slice of nautical history: The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua
Romance. Adventure. Contemporary luxury. Experience it all at The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua. A haven for lovers of the land and sea, this charming Colonial-style hideaway makes for the perfect winter sun getaway.
Complete with a spa, flood-lit tennis courts and an organic garden, The Inn blends tranquillity with a strong sense of the island’s heritage. Wake up in an elegant four-poster bed. Take your holiday read to a hammock in the garden. Feel the wind in your hair on a sailboat, or wander round English Harbour or Nelson’s Dockyard, only a short water taxi ride away. And if you don’t want to venture beyond the hotel grounds, simply sit back on your private veranda to enjoy the view of the yachts bobbing in the bay.
5. For winter sun in UNESCO protected waters: Milaidhoo Island, Maldives
Beachfront doesn’t quite do the villas on Milaidhoo Island justice. With both land and over-the-water options, each with individual infinity pools, this is a toes-in-the-sand at all times destination. Water is the word of the day here, with a gourmet restaurant floating in three Dhoni sailing boats, an exclusive spa with an over-water yoga pavilion, and endless wooden walkways stretching over the protected waters of Baa Atoll – a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Best enjoyed barefoot, there are countless ways to experience the island’s natural beauty. Try stand-up paddle boarding, or snorkelling in Hannifaru Bay; if you are here between June and October you might just witness one of the largest gatherings of Manta Rays. For an immersion in Maldivian life, you can spend time catching tuna with the local fishermen or crafting traditional Dhoni boats. Whether you’re in or out of the water, soak up the ocean views from a swing chair on your private sundeck or your outdoor tropical tub.