Where to go for long-haul winter sun this year

With the world now opening up around us, it’s once more possible to visit exotic climes for your dose of Vitamin D. This is a great time to visit many further-flung destinations, with guaranteed warmth and sometimes fewer crowds and better prices.

Book some winter sun now and you’ll avoid the avoid the January blues of home, get your New Year off to a positive start, and give yourself something to look forward to – because summer 2022 seems a long time away, especially if you didn’t manage to get away this summer and are struggling with shorter days, colder temperatures and less time outdoors.

Dubai

No matter how many times you come back, there’s always something new to see and do in this ever-evolving city with its compelling mix of beaches, shopping malls, theme-parks and desert adventures. This winter is finally time to experience Expo 2020 Dubai, the world’s largest cultural gathering, taking place over 182 thought-provoking days between now and 31 March 2022. Under the banner ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, its sub-themes are sustainability, opportunity and mobility and it includes thrilling events and exploratory experiences fascinating for adults and kids alike. Winter is the perfect season to explore Dubai, with the typical daily high in January 24ºC making it mild enough to enjoy all the outdoor attractions in comfort but warm enough to swim in the sea.

Florida

The southeasternmost US state with its Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico beaches lures holidaymakers with its year-round sunshine but is cooler at this time of year and also has fewer crowds for much of the winter. There’s nowhere quite like Orlando for families –and 2022 is extra-special due to the 50th birthday celebrations in store at Walt Disney World Resort, where new rides and performances include Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and Disney Kitetails. Universal Orlando Resort also has the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster, The Bourne Stuntacular and the new Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites. But of course there’s much more to the state than theme parks, from the Kennedy Space Center to the Everglades National Park with its hiking, canoeing and alligator-farm airboat rides and the iconic Florida Keys.

Riviera Maya

The Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula brings together all the fun of large, often all-inclusive resorts with amazing natural attractions ranging from dazzling white-sand beaches to cenotes (underwater sinkholes and caves perfect for a refreshing dip) and no less than the world’s second-largest barrier reef with its fabulous snorkelling and diving opportunities. And then there’s the culture – those world-famous Mayan ruins – to marvel at. Those with a penchant for a less busy holiday can bliss out in Tulum with its many yoga retreats, its beautifully preserved ancient Mayan port city and its proximity to the Parque Nacional Tulum with its mangroves and more cenotes to discover.

Cape Town

With only a two-hour time difference from the UK, this port city on South Africa’s southwest coast is ideal for some winter warmth without jet-lag. Time your visit to include New Year’s Eve and you’ll be privy to one of the country’s best celebrations, including spectacular fireworks either against the iconic background of Table Mountain or viewed from the top of it. The UK winter is the perfect time to visit South Africa, with hot, sunny days (mid 20°Cs to 30°C or sometimes more) with clear skies and long hours of daylight.  Highlights of any visit are riding the slowly rotating cable cars up to Table Mountain, the living museum of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned, and Boulders Beach with its colony of African penguins.

Antigua

This island-paradise of pink- and white-sand beaches has just celebrated its 40th anniversary of independence and now offers even more luxurious resorts than ever before, whether your taste is boutique or something larger and splashier. With 150 blissful kilometres of coastline, Antigua is rich in aquatic adventures – think deep-sea and reef fishing, scuba-diving, snorkelling, learning to sail, kayaking through mangroves, water- skiing, kite-surfing, boat cruises and even swimming near stingrays. But there’s also plenty of fun away from the water: zip-lining through the rainforest, hiking and walking tours, cycling, horse-riding, taking island safaris or helicopter rides, bird-watching, and learning to paint or cook regional dishes with island experts.

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