With the festive season finished, the dreaded January blues have no doubt set in. But fear not - from short-haul sunshine to far-flung destinations, what better way to start the New Year than with some much-needed winter sun? With dark nights drawing in, a sunny, palm-fringed shore has never been more seductive. If you're wondering where's warm this January, here's our round-up of destinations with sure-fire sunshine to start the year off right.
Swap grey skies for blindingly blue waters and sugar-white sands with a trip to the postcard perfect island paradise of the Maldives. The Indian Ocean's most celebrated cluster of islands, its tropical temperatures hover between 24 to 35 degrees all year round and by January the dry season will be in full swing. Temptingly turquoise ocean offers every sea-based activity imaginable from snorkelling to diving, paddleboarding or even dining in one of the indulgent underwater restaurants.
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2. South Africa
Set against the cinematic backdrop of table mountain, Cape Town's spectacular scenery is awe-inspiring to behold. Iconic, white sand beaches strung out along the edge of a cool, cosmopolitan city backed by mist-clung mountain peaks. Here you'll find excellent art galleries, world-renowned restaurants, design savvy shops and artist exhibitions. Dazzling design villas dot the coast, combining city-chic and beachfront beauty in beautiful bayside bolt-holes - crescent curves of sand, a surf-strewn sea scattered with fine yachts against the brooding backdrop of Table Mountain. Just an hour outside of the city, swap urban landscapes for the vine-carpeted valleys of the Cape Winelands for a taste of South Africa’s finest Pinotage. January is one of the best months to visit and travellers from the UK can even escape the jetlag as they're in the same timezone.
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Whether you choose the tropical beaches of Koh Samui or the uber-luxe enclave of Phuket, Thailand's dry season in Spring makes for a reliable escape from the clutches of the European winter. In the Gulf islands to the north, the rains have abated and seas have stilled, making perfect conditions for diving and watersports and to enjoy temptingly tranquil beaches. Phuket's Andaman coast boasts a comfortable climate at this time of year too - the festive crowds that cluster over Christmas and New Year have dispersed, making for fine weather alongside a laid-back atmosphere that's welcomed by both travellers and locals alike.
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Mexico's colourful Caribbean coast is everything the northern hemisphere's winter is not - vibrant, exotic, enticing. Here the temperature hovers in the high 20's year round - expect effervescent waters, blindingly white sand beaches stretching from coast to coast, relics of Mayan Ruins and dappled cenotes - the stuff of daydreams.
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5. Costa Rica
Boasting warm weather and butter-soft beaches, this slice of central America fringed by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea lures travellers in search of both adventure and that elusive winter tan. The rain forests of tropical Costa Rica teem with treasures, from monkeys to jaguars, while off-shore dolphins and turtles jostle in the tumbling waves. With a year-round tropical climate, whether you're spending cosmopolitan afternoons in the national capital San José or climbing the mighty Irazú volcano – it’s a perfect getaway at any time of the year, but the dry months of December through April offer the most assured sunshine.