If you’re anything like me, the onset of autumn and the impending arrival of winter will have you trawling the internet looking for the best deals on holidays somewhere that the sun’s still shining and the weather is warm.
I’ve put together a list of suggestions of top winter sun destinations – some are closer to home than others.
Madeira is a great choice for a winter getaway in the sun if you don’t want to have to travel too far. This Portuguese island is situated off the coast of North Africa and is a real haven for outdoor lovers.
The main attractions here are the stunning mountainous scenery and the chance to walk along the island’s levadas – or irrigation channels. The winter is a great time to do this, as the weather isn’t too hot and it’s really pleasant for hiking. There’s plenty of sunshine, so you can still work on your tan while you’re walking.
I think Goa, India is the ultimate beach break destination and there’s no better time of the year to enjoy its golden sands, calm seas and excellent beachside restaurants than when the UK is cold, wet and grey.
For a lively break, head to one of north Goa’s top resorts, like Calangute, Baga or Anjuna. As well as outstanding beaches, these spots also have plenty of bars, restaurants and beach shacks, many of which are open well into the evening.
Head south to the likes of Palolem Beach for a more peaceful getaway in the Indian sun where the lapping of the waves on the shore and the sound of the breeze rustling the palm trees is all you’ll hear.
If I had the cash, this is where I’d be jetting off to this winter. The Maldives is one of the world’s top luxury holiday spots and with very good reason. The island nation in the Indian Ocean is home to a number of high-end resorts, pristine beaches and peaceful islands.
Aside from sunbathing, the main activities on offer here are snorkelling and scuba diving, which come highly recommended. The coral reefs in this part of the world are truly breathtaking with all manner of marine life thriving here. Sharks and manta rays are regularly seen off the coast of the Maldives, making this a truly outstanding place to explore the underwater world.
Canary Islands, Spain
Returning a little closer to home for my next suggestion, we come to the Canary Islands. Like Madeira, this archipelago is located off the north-west coast of Africa and there are several wonderful places to visit within the island chain.
Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are the four main isles and there’s something for every kind of traveller between them. On Lanzarote you have the spectacular volcanic landscapes of Timanfaya National Park, while in Fuerteventura there are peaceful coves and secluded bays that rarely get crowded.
Head to Gran Canaria’s Playa del Ingles resort for an active and lively break where you can have a go at a host of water sports by day and party by night. Finally, in Tenerife you can see Spain’s highest peak – the imposing Mount Teide – or visit the fantastic Loro Parque, which is a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium and parrot sanctuary.