It’s around this time of year that we start feeling really Vitamin-D deprived: it’s rainy, it’s chilly and our next sunny holiday isn’t for another several months.
This year, we’re not going to hate the cold and dream of sunny beaches: we’re going to go ahead and book a holiday. And we’ll be savvy about it. We’ll seek out the best package deals, voucher codes and Black Friday savings, so our holiday dream can be as bargain-friendly and guilt-free as possible.
From Mauritius to Thailand, these are the destinations the whole family can enjoy. Warning: they will absolutely inspire you to post envy-inducing photos of yourself sipping Mai Tais on the beach as your kids frolic in the sand in front of you, grinning from ear to ear. Sorry, not sorry.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
With a flight time of around four hours, the Canaries are a popular winter sun destination for those travelling from the UK. They’re especially popular with those who have young children and are craving winter sun without a plane trip that takes them halfway around the world.
Lanzarote is a particular favourite with parents because it ticks every box: glorious beaches, pool-equipped hotels, colourful art (see César Manrique) and a thermometer notched firmly above 16 degrees C – even in the winter months. Not to mention nature at its most majestic.
It’s not all lounging around (unless you want it to be): there’s plenty to discover when it comes to natural wonders. A couple of must-sees for families? Walk on volcanic soil at Timanfaya National Park, and enjoy exploring the lava caves at Jameos del Agua.
Not only is Malta’s climate Mediterranean, Maltese hospitality is too, so you can expect a family-friendly welcome when you arrive with your children in tow.
If you’ve got older kids, they may enjoy soaking up the culture in the fortified capital port city of Valletta. In addition to wandering through historical palaces and learning about Malta’s interesting, complicated history, don’t miss the new national art gallery, Muza, which opened recently.
Or, just book at beach break at Melliena Bay, where you and the kids can swim, snorkel, play in the sand and lounge. Bonus: it’s only three hours away.
Mauritius, roughly 1,200 miles from Africa’s East Coast in the Indian Ocean, is the stuff wanderlust is made of: white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and idyllic nature-scapes with exotic flora and fauna, and a rich history of sugar plantations and rum-making.
You know the friend who always comes back from winter hols three shades more golden and looking 10 years younger? That’s the friend who went to Mauritius. She took the kids and still managed to relax, thanks to near-constant sunshine, a diet rich in glow-boosting foods like mango and lychee and daily activities like dolphin-and-dodo-spotting and snorkelling at Blue Bay Beach.
Kids will love the Curious Corner of Chamarel, a museum with optical illusions and upside-down rooms. And don’t miss hanging around with all of the incredible wildlife, like the giant tortoises at the François Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve.
When it comes to bang for your buck, Thailand has it all.
Glorious weather, amazing food, incredible culture, and plenty to tempt active family travellers (national parks, jungle treks, water sports at the many beaches) or more contemplative ones (religious and cultural landmarks, unspoilt tropical beaches, animal sanctuaries).
December to March is when the sun shines and it rarely rains, so that’s the time to visit.
Elephant sightings and tea plantation tours. Tuk tuk rides and tasty meals (fish ambul thiyal, yum). Palm-fringed beaches and sacred temples (don’t miss the Natha Devale or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic).
Sri Lanka is truly a dream winter sun destination. The best part? You don’t have to bankrupt yourself to book a getaway there. The dry winter months also offer up a steady dose of 30 degree sunshine. Every, single, day.
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