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Relax & rejuvenate

Top 5 winter sun destinations

Clive Wedderburn October 10, 2014

You’re not a coat and scarf kind-a person. You do not like to wrap up warm and get cosy by the fireside. You like to linger in flip-flops for as long as is humanly possible. You have a pashmina and that’s about as covered up as you get. Yet sooner or later you’re going to have to face the fact that after the clocks go back, the north wind blows and it’s all downhill from there. So let’s frame a simple question. Where’s hot? Right now, where can you catch some rays? Where are the best winter sun destinations? Here are five top sun-spots to salivate over and some tips to keep you trip-happy.

1. St Lucia, The Caribbean

Picture perfect
What’s it good for: Diving and snorkelling and romantic scenery
What to take: An underwater camera
 
If beauty is of any importance to you, then St Lucia kicks sand in the face of all other islands. Look at the picture – is there a better looking island in the world? However, beauty is only skin deep, but luckily St Lucia has substance to back up all that style.  Orchids abound in this paradise playground. For those in search of a romantic setting, cascading waterfalls and volcanic peaks add to the mystique. This is everyone’s fantasy winter sun destination. With more coral reefs than you could shake a clown fish at, Marigot Bay will simply take your breath away, while the grim winter months back home fade like the passing of a bad dream. Now, who’s ready for a snorkel?
 

 2. Mauritius, Indian Ocean

Can trees be this red?
 
What’s it good for: Three words; beach, beach and beach
What to take: A top notch holiday book to keep you engrossed on your sun lounger – on the beach at all times 
 
So what’s so special about Mauritius, apart from addictive Creole music, a booming rum industry, a peaceful multi-religious demographic and the finest particles of sand in the Indian Ocean? I mean, really, apart from golf courses that make golfers believe they’ve died and gone to heaven, manicured resorts hidden within tropical coves and subliminal spa’s to send you into raptures - what exactly has Mauritius got to offer? Well, it’s also fabulous for family winter sun holidays, possessing child friendly shorelines and kids clubs that stay open late. So while you sip cocktails under a parasol, you rest assured knowing that your children are being thoroughly entertained. Oh and did we mention the beach! That’s where you’ll be eating delicious Mauritian cuisine, distracted by the hip-wiggling rhythms of the sega band.  Later on you and your family can watch the sparks from your beach bonfire crackle away into the starry night sky. Now, who’s ready to hit the beach?
 

3. Koh Phangan, Thailand

Seconds?
What’s it good for: Eating, chilling and being massaged to within an inch of your life
What to take: Your appetite. There are some fine eateries on Koh Phangan 
 
Everything you desire from an island destination: peace and tranquillity, happy locals, exceptional food and a fascinating culture where massage is a necessity not a luxury. Koh Phangan’s days as a hippy-hangout are numbered, but as we already know, so many top tourist spots were once havens of the hirsute. One thing is entirely undisputed: Koh Phangan is a beautiful island with constant all-year round temperatures and an all-year round attitude to entertainment. This makes it a popular winter sun destination where quiet beaches exist in harmony with magical moonlit parties. And always the green shallows of the Gulf of Thailand are a pleasure to behold. Now, who’s ready for a red curry? 
 

4. Cancun, Mexico

Where it all happens
 
What’s it good for: Shopping and Dancing
What to take: A hangover cure
 
After you've topped up your tan all day in your tropical paradise, what happens when the sun goes down? If you like to party through the night and recover in the morning on the beach – Cancun is your new spiritual home. Cancun is a winter sun destination world famous for its bars and nightclubs. Make a bee-line for Coco Bongo (trust us – you won’t regret it). The day afterwards treat yourself to a mellow cruise or some leisurely shopping. Then retreat to the white sand beaches of the glitzy hotel zone to enjoy the seafood on offer. And if seafood’s not to your liking there’s always a tasty taco or two to fall back on. Then rinse and repeat. Now, who’s ready for another margarita? 
 

5. Goa, India

Fish curry?
 
What’s it good for: Rejuvenation
What to take: A sarong ... de rigueur for all Goans
 
Why Goa? Because you’re different and you’re curious and adore all things Eastern and you deeply believe that there is more to life than the pursuit of riches. But mainly because your signature dish back home is Goan Fish Curry. Winter Sun Destinations don’t come more exotic than this, but what really makes this tiny region truly attractive to the sun-seeker is the soulful combination of Portuguese and western Indian attitudes, the mellow vibe of the locals and the beautiful palm fronds that bow down to the waves of the Arabian Sea. Goa is laid back and lush, spiritual and scented with bougainvillea and most importantly hot all year round. Now, who’s ready for an elephant ride?