Deck the Halls at the Beach on Christmas: 16 Sunny Places for Your Winter Holiday

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Let’s be real- after a long and chaotic year and the onset of a cold and long winter, is there anything that sounds better than relaxing at a warm and sunny beach on Christmas? The only problem? There’s so many awesome beaches to choose from in our big beautiful world! 

Not to worry- if you’re looking to escape the winter blues for one last hurrah of the year, we got you covered. Here’s 16 of the best places on the planet to celebrate Christmas on the beach.

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man and woman standing in ocean in Oahu Hawaii looking at sunrise on the horizon
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While many folks associate Christmas with family and friends reuniting, winter wonderlands, and overloading on carbs, it’s also an excellent time to step away from the hustle and bustle and just slow down and relax. Who wants to bring in the New Year as a big ball of stress?

 So instead of worrying about cooking an enormous meal for your family or what the hell you’re supposed to buy your Uncle Gary for the holidays, pack your swimming trunks or bikini, whip out those sunnies, and have a stress-free holiday at the beach instead. 

Woman walking along Ka’a’wa Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

Best Places to Enjoy a Beach on Christmas

1. Oahu, Hawaii

While all of the Hawaiian Islands are excellent destinations for a winter getaway, the best option to spend Christmas is Oahu- it’s generally the least busy island in December and offers the most Christmas activities. 

Many of the holiday festivities are located in Honolulu, the largest city in Hawaii and its capital. For example, the annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade showcases Hawaii’s maritime culture, with a hearty dash of garland, Christmas lights, and even a bit of hula thrown in. The Chinatown Winter Walk is another unique event that celebrates Honolulu’s diverse melting pot of cultures- during the walk, more than 40 vendors across the neighborhood deck out their storefronts in their most festive decor, competing to see who can truly deck their halls the hardest. 

Woman walking in the water at Kailua Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

Of course, besides Christmas activities, there’s plenty to keep you busy on the island. For example, you have to carve out some time to enjoy some of the best beaches on Oahu, like Lanikai Beach, which is frequently voted one of the best beaches on the planet! Drag yourself out of bed to watch sunrise here- I promise you won’t be disappointed!

After your beach time, consider exploring any of the incredible hikes on Oahu, like Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail, where you’ll hike along the spine of the Koʻolau Mountain range or the Ehukai Pillbox Hike, where you will climb up to two bunkers used in World War II, overlooking the island’s iconic North Shore. 

Woman hiking along the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail in Oahu, Hawaii

Speaking of the North Shore, December is one of the best times of the year to watch professional surfers take on the island’s famed big waves. While the choppy water unfortunately means that you may not be able to enjoy some of the best snorkeling in Oahu, I think it’s a fair trade to, instead, see some of the world’s best surfers taking on waves of 30 feet- or more!

Oahu may be a trek from the mainland, but it’s pretty easy to get to, with direct flights to Honolulu from a whopping 14 countries around the globe.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Oahu during your trip, Honolulu is an excellent basecamp for your island explorations. Consider a stay at Prince Waikiki, which has an epic infinity pool overlooking the harbor.

2. The Maldives

If you’re thinking of spending your Christmas on a white powdered beach, listening to the sound of waves, and reading a book, there’s no better place than the Maldives. 

Over-the-water bungalows in Maldives

The Maldives are remote islands, located in the Indian Ocean. With incredible weather year round (but best in the winter!), this collection of tropical islands offers you complete relaxation on your trip. 

Most travelers arrive on the island of Malé, where Velana International Airport is located, and you’ll take either a boat or a water plane to reach your final destination: some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches.

There are so many options for places to stay here, there’s really only one question you need to ask yourself: how much can you afford to spend? While the most bougie over-the-water bungalows can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars a night, there are still some awesome affordable water villas in the Maldives

For example, the Gangehi Island Resort and Spa has its own sand bar, diving school, and open air yoga studio. But let’s be real- you’re not actually going to be leaving your over-the-water bungalow, right?

If even a cheaper over-the-water bungalow isn’t in your budget, another option is to head to someplace more affordable like Maafushi, which, despite its price point, is still one of the best islands in the Maldives. That being said, you may not get quite the same level of dreaminess as the swanky resort islands. 

Outside of the fancy resorts, the Maldives is a strictly Muslim country, so you won’t be able to strut around in your bikini or sip pina coladas by the pool (alcohol is strictly prohibited outside of the swanky resorts in the country). But your accommodations will be up to four to five times less expensive, soooo…. decisions, decisions.

Lounge chairs on a beach at the Maldives

In addition to lying on a beach and forgetting all your cares in the world, you can enjoy everything that you can do in any other tropical paradise- scuba diving, paddle boarding, or renting some jet skis. One of the best things to do is just snorkel directly off the beach and admire the country’s gorgeous coral reefs, teeming with wildlife. In fact, the Maldives are one of the best places in the world to swim with manta rays!

Recommended by Cristina of Honest Travel Stories

 3. Bacalar, Mexico

Okay, want something a bit closer to home (and, like, lightyears more affordable) than the Maldives? Bacalar, frequently referred to as the “Maldives of Mexico”, is actually the only place on this list that isn’t directly along the coastline. Nonetheless, it’s home to some of the most stunning water on the planet, thanks to its Lagoon of Seven Colors, where you can spend your Christmas swimming or paddle boarding through Bacalar’s warm, turquoise water.

Woman overlooking Bacalar Lagoon at sunrise in Bacalar, Mexico

Bacalar is located about four hours south of Cancun, in the Yucatan peninsula. You can either rent a car or take a bus or private transport from the Cancun International Airport to this sleepy little town just north of the Belizean border.

The route to Bacalar passes through some other cool destinations in the Yucatan, like Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So if you have time, take your time getting to Bacalar so that you can explore some of the beaches of Playa del Carmen and the ruins and cenotes near Tulum.

Once you arrive, there’s plenty of things to do in Bacalar– for example, if you’ve got beaches on your mind, head to one of the town’s balnearios (or beach clubs), like Balneario Cocolitas or Balneario Ejidal Mágico Bacalar, which offer access to the lagoon and small restaurants to relax in the shade when you need a break from the sun.

Alternatively, you can get out on that incredible water by booking a boat tour in Bacalar that will take you to some of the most stunning spots in the lagoon to swim, snorkel, and take in the views.

Los Rapidos is also a not-to-be-missed activity while you’re in Bacalar- essentially, it’s a beach club positioned along a narrow section of the lagoon, creating a kind of natural lazy river. You walk down a wooden boardwalk from the club’s main building upstream, jump in the lagoon, and let the current carry you gently downstream. It’s SO much fun- my husband, Justin, and I spent hours here, just playing in the water.

While there’s plenty to do out on the water during the day, I’d also recommend trying to snag one of the hotels directly on the lagoon, which frequently have docks you can just dive right off, like El Búho Lagoon Bacalar. When my husband and I recently stayed here, I opted to save, like, $10 a night to stay inland and regretted it our entire stay.

Los Rapidos in Bacalar, Mexico

For celebrating Christmas itself, Mexico is largely Christian, so you’ll have no problem finding churches to attend mass or other activities to take in the holiday cheer. For example, it’s not unusual to see candlelit processions, cheerful singers bellowing Spanish carols, and fireworks to cap off the day.

4. Tahiti, French Polynesia

If you’re looking for a warm Christmas getaway, consider vacationing on Tahiti, French Polynesia’s largest island. While the island is famously remote, it’s not challenging to get to, with the Fa’a’ā International Airport offering direct flights from over 40 countries around the world. 

Aerial shot of palm trees on a beach at Tahiti

Once you’re here, you’ll be able to soak up the sun- the island experiences average temperatures of a balmy 77° F in December. 

Plus, there are lots of things to do around the island! For example, if you are looking to do something budget-friendly or to simply immerse yourself with Tahiti’s lush landscape, consider hiking to the country’s tallest waterfall, Fautaua Waterfall. Just make sure that you packed the essential items for Tahiti, like sunscreen and, most importantly, some SERIOUS bug spray. The island is known to have lots of pesky little blood suckers, so you’ll want to be well-equipped!

While many travelers view the island of Tahiti as a quick stopover before hopping over to French Polynesia’s more exclusive islands, like Bora Bora, the island itself nevertheless has some incredible beaches to offer.

In fact, it’s world-renowned for its epic surfing, so whether you want to sit back and relax or catch some crunchy waves, you’ll have plenty of ways to enjoy its beautiful beaches. Plus, while most of the over-the-water bungalows are found on the more expensive islands, you can still find a few accommodations that offer them on Tahiti itself, like at the swanky InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa.

Dancers in a cultural show in Tahiti, French Polynesia

If you’re ready to drag yourself away from your over-the-water bungalow and lean into the holiday spirit, stop by the island’s Christmas market located along the harbor of Papeete, the capital city. During the market’s annual two week run, you can try your hand at a variety of Christmas-themed games, peruse stalls hawking hand-crafted goods, and, of course, load up on some delicious Tahitian cuisine.

Recommended by Kristin of Global Travel Escapades

5. Seychelles

Seychelles (pronounced say·shelz) is a country, made up of 115 islands, in the Indian Ocean. While it may be a bit of a trek to make it to the islands, your hard work to spend Christmas here will pay off- these islands are known for their electric blue water, unique rock formations, and incredible wildlife. 

While you’ll find plenty of places to stay on the islands, you first and foremost need is to figure out what type of vacation you’d like to have! If you’re looking for adventure, head to the island of Mahe. If you’re looking for a vacation with a whole lot of beach time, opt instead for La Digue or Praslin, islands renowned for their gorgeous beaches and bike-friendly streets. Or, mix it up and hit up Mahe, La Digue, and Praslin all on the same trip!  

Beach on Mahe, Seycelles

Regardless of which island you choose, be sure to carve out some time for relaxing on the beach- Seychelles has the perfect weather for it, with a tropical climate and highs around 85° F all year round! 

La Digue is a great homebase during your time here- consider a stay at its Chalets D’anse Reunion. These charming bungalows come with a kitchenette and are close to the island’s port and Anse Source d’Argent. This beach is renowned to be one of the most stunning in the country, with enormous granite boulders strewn across its soft pink sand.

In terms of planning your Christmas here, the island is a whopping 82% Roman Catholic, so there’s plenty of celebrating to partake in. Instead of spending the holiday around the foot of a Christmas tree by a fireplace, though, locals tend to take their festivities to the beaches, having picnics and BBQs all throughout the islands. Seychellois are known for their flavorful Creole food and during your Christmas festivities, be prepared for lots of it! 

In addition to the Creole food, one of the best Seychelles travel tips is to indulge in the fresh tropical fruit the island has to offer. Come December, bananas, coconuts, papayas, passion fruit, pineapple, and jamalac will be in peak season.

Besides gorging yourself on fruits and laying on the beach, there’s tons of things to do in the Seychelles, like Praslin’s Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and nature reserve that’s renowned for its exotic wildlife or by taking a trip to Curieuse Marine National Park to see the islands’ famed giant tortoises.

Giant tortoise on Seychelles

If seeing the giant tortoises is on your Seychelles bucketlist (and it should be!), you can get to the island the tortoises live on via a guided tour, like this one from Praslin.

Recommended by Megan of Megan Starr

6. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Fuerteventura, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, is among the top beach vacation spots in Europe for Christmas. With an average December temperature of 71° F, this region provides pleasant weather while being just over 60 miles from the coast of Africa.

With several direct international flights from Spain, the United Kingdom, and many other countries, Fuerteventura is a popular getaway from the chilly winter weather. The island’s tiny airport, Aeropuerto de Fuerteventura, is centrally located, giving you the chance to arrange a short Christmas break regardless of where you want to head on Fuerteventura.

Beach on the Canary Island

Caleta de Fuste, a glitzy resort town located less than 10 minutes from the airport, is a fantastic spot to lean into that holiday cheer. During the month of December, you even celebrate the holidays with the town’s Christmas markets, live music, and activities just for the kiddos, all while being surrounded by stunning ocean views and breathtaking coastline.

However, if you are looking for some of the best beaches in Fuerteventura, head north to the town of Corralejo, known for its national park, Parque Natural de Corralejo. If you want a really quirky backdrop for your annual Christmas photo, head to Playa del Bajo de la Burra or “Popcorn Beach.” Instead of sand, the beach is covered with small white algae fossils that look identical to fluffy popcorn!

Stay in Corralejo for a couple of days- Hotel Riu Palace Tres Islas offers stunning views of the surrounding sand dunes and its neighboring island, Isla de Lobos, and is the perfect place to relax, come Christmas.

Recommended by Paulina from the UK Every Day

Coastline of the Canary Island

7. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

What could be more fun than spending Christmas with a bunch of monkeys? Well, what about spending Christmas on a beach with a bunch of monkeys?! In Manuel Antonio, located along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, you can totally do that- in addition to seeing a bunch of other animal friends, surfing, and swimming under stunning waterfalls. 

Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica at sunset

Manuel Antonio is located approximately three hours south of the capital city of San Jose. Once you arrive in this small fishing village, there’s tons of things to do in Manuel Antonio. For example, head to Playa Espadilla, one of the most stunning beaches in Manuel Antonio, to take a surf lesson, jet ski, or simply buy a fresh coconut or beer from a vendor and relax on the powdery sand.

Of course, the number one thing to see here are the lush rainforests in Manuel Antonio National Park, home to an eye-popping 109 species of mammals and 184 bird species. The park is open every day of the year, but for every Tuesday, so you could spend Christmas itself wandering under the dense canopy of trees and spotting monkeys and sloths overhead. If my “monkeys on a beach” scenario above sounds like a dream come true, head to the park’s Playa Gemelas- you’ll have to fend off your belongings from being stolen from the cutest and furriest hellions around (no, seriously… they will yoink you stuff!).

Capuchin monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

While you’re in town, stay someplace that’s conveniently located near both the national park and the beach, like the San Bada Resort and Spa, with two different pools and spacious rooms.

To partake in Christmas activities, head north to the town of Quepos, which is a bit bigger than Manuel Antonio and has several churches and other Christmas festivities, like the Bright Lights Boat Parade and fireworks, to mark the occasion. 

8. Abu Dhabi, UAE

Have you ever considered jetting off to the Middle East to relax on a stunning beach on Christmas?

 Although the UAE is a Muslim country, make no mistake- you can absolutely still celebrate Christmas in bougie style at one of Abu Dhabi’s incredible beach resorts. Owing to the city’s large expat population, all types of religious festivals, including Christmas, are celebrated in the UAE capital. You can find plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday spirit throughout the month of December with markets, winter festivals, tree lighting ceremonies, and Santa photo ops in all the city’s glitzy shopping malls. 

Beach on Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

 Once you’ve gotten your shopping spree and daily cardio on, soak in the city’s many cultural attractions including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Watan (the Presidential Palace), and the Louvre Abu Dhabi before diving into the stunning azure waters of the Persian Gulf. Consider booking this tour to see all the city’s best sites, squeezed into just one day (more time for the beach, amirite?).

Christmas Day itself is always marked by elaborate all-afternoon brunches with all your traditional favorite Christmas foods, and, perhaps, even an appearance from Santa himself. One of the best places to spend the day is at The St Regis Saadiyat Island, but there are so many great options; in a city made up of a series of islands, you are always close to a beautiful beach in Abu Dhabi!

In fact, the weather in December is perfect for a beach getaway, with daily highs hitting about 82° F. Better yet, some of the country’s best beaches on Saadiyat Island are just a quick 25 minute drive away from the city.

Serviced by the Abu Dhabi International Airport, getting to Abu Dhabi is an easy international flight from many destinations (with over 101 cities offering direct flights here!), making this the perfect place to celebrate the holidays. 

Recommended by Keri of Our Globetrotters

9. Koh Samui, Thailand

If you’re looking to be on a beach on Christmas, Koh Samui in Thailand should be at the top of your list. 

It’s easy to reach this tropical island, thanks to the Samui Airport, with direct flights from several countries, like Singapore or Malaysia, and from dozens of destinations within Thailand itself. Once you arrive, Koh Samui perfectly mixes Christmas cheer with tropical paradise- stores and restaurants will be colorfully festooned with glittery decorations and Christmas music blasts from every corner (even at beach bars!).

Beach on Koh Samui

Beyond the cheerful decorations, there’s tons of things to do in Koh Samui, from its dreamy beaches to its lush jungles; its intricate temples to its bustling night markets. If you’re looking for a homebase during your escape, any of the bougie resorts on Chaweng Beach are solid options- for example, SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort offers private villas, many of which come with their very own plunge pools. And those little pools will come in handy- daily highs exceed 80° F in December!

So trade in the eggnog and mulled wine for a fresh coconut or a Mai Tai served out of a pineapple and enjoy a totally different kind of Christmas vacation under the tropical sun.

Recommended by Martina of PlacesofJuma

 10. Cook Islands

After a year of working hard, the Cook Islands are the perfect place to kick back and relax at a gorgeous beach on Christmas. This self-governing country, consisting of 15 islands, is a total hidden gem and located between Samoa and the more popular tourist mecca of French Polynesia.

Beach on the Cook Islands

You’ll fly into the town of Avarua on the north of Rarotonga, the most popular island in the country. From here, rent a car or a moped to get to your accommodations and around the rest of the island. 

If you’re trying to pack in all the beach vibes during your trip, many flights from the United States or New Zealand include a stopover in Tahiti, which is a great (and, at least in terms of airfare, totally free!) way to explore another stunning destination.

Spend your time exploring Rarotonga, or alternatively, Aitutaki is the second most popular island with visitors. Commonly referred to as the “Honeymoon Island”, Aitutaki can be accessed by a plane or short boat ride.

Christmas falls right within the Cook Islands’ rainy season; however, showers are usually short in duration. You’ll have plenty of time to relax on the beach or swim or paddle board through the crystal blue waters. And don’t forget to bring along your snorkeling gear, so you can explore the islands’ incredible coral reefs and observe some of the 600 species of fish that call these reefs home!

Misty mounrain on Rarotonga on the Cook Islands

Other than enjoying your beach time, Punanga Nui Market on a Saturday is the place to go to shop for some locally hand-crafted goods, to find a beach bar for happy hour, and take in a cultural show at night.

There are many Rarotonga resorts to make your homebase for your week or two in paradise. The beachside Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa in Muri is a popular choice for a luxurious stay in Rarotonga, offering an onsite spa, free kayak rentals, and private pools in some of the rooms. In Aitutaki, the Pacific Resort is a no-brainer – each room has its own private sundeck and beach shower overlooking the resort’s turquoise lagoon.

Recommended by Delilah of Our Travel Mix

 11. Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, a Caribbean island off the coast of Belize, offers a Christmas like nowhere else. Thanks to its unique mix of Caribbean heritage, a predominantly Christian population and many years as a British territory, celebrating Christmas here will mean midnight mass, a feast of traditional Caribbean dishes, and glorious sunshine.

With the slogan of “Go slow”, Caye Caulker’s sleepy vibes and laid back culture will be no surprise. It’s an excellent place to just relax, unwind, and reset for the New Year- just go for a swim, grab a Belikin (the national beer of Belize), or soak up the sun on a white sand beach. 

Cottages along a beach in Caye Caulker, Belize

One of the most popular activities in Caye Caulker is a snorkeling tour out to the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This area is the home to Belize’s barrier reef and the sea turtles, rays, sharks, fish and even manatees that inhabit it. So if you want to make your Christmas all the more magical, consider checking out this tour or this tour to make the most of your experience. 

The southern part of the island is bustling with beach bars, restaurants and guesthouses. So if you’d prefer to enjoy your Christmas at the beach in peace, book somewhere a bit more northern, like the beachfront El Ben Cabanas, with oceanfront views; all kinds of perks, like electric scooter and paddleboard rentals, and a swimming pool surrounded by swaying palm trees.

Colorful beach shack on Caye Caulker, Belize

The nearest international airport is in Belize City on the coast, with regular flights from the United States. From there, you can catch the water taxi to Caye Caulker – or if you really want to treat yourself, take a small propeller plane there!

Recommended by Zoe of Zoe Goes Places

12. Aqaba, Jordan

Jordan is the perfect destination for those seeking a warm place with crystal clear waters and the chance to combine historical and cultural activities with a Christmas beach getaway.

Aqaba, in particular, lends itself to being an excellent base to relax among luxurious resorts on the shores of the Red Sea. This small part of southern Jordan overlooks the warm waters of the Gulf of Aqaba connected to the Red Sea. Plus, it’s super easy to get to- the Aqaba Airport is directly serviced by most of Europe’s budget airlines (helllllllo, $30 airfare!).

Along the coast, you will find a menagerie of beautiful resorts to unwind at. One of the best is the Al Manara Resort, with pristine beaches, upscale restaurants, and pools to relax in. 

Scuba diving in Aqaba, Jordan

Aqaba at Christmas offers warm days, perfect for sunbathing. Aqaba is world-renowned for being an excellent scuba-diving destination- just be sure to bring along your wetsuit (like this one for men and this one for women), because the water is a bit chilly in December. 

Tear yourself away from the beach for a day or two to explore some of Jordan’s other gems, like Petra or Wadi Rum. Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World (and, arguably more importantly, where Indiana Jones found the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade!) and easily accessed from Aqaba along a group tour, like this one. Wadi Rum, famously the filming location of Star Wars, Aladdin, and The Martian, is also just a short drive from Aqaba and yet, feels a million miles away from everything, with its red cliffs and sand dunes stretching endlessly on.

Petra in Jordan

To round out your trip to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, don’t miss going even a little further north to experience floating in the Dead Sea– it’s one of the most unique sensations in the world!

Recommended by Clotilde from Princess Travelling with Twins

13. Goa, India

If you want to be on a beach on Christmas, you can’t go wrong with Goa. This tiny Indian state was once a Portuguese colony and a lot of the activity around Christmas time is attributed to the large Christian community and Portuguese influence in the area.

Colorful houses on a beach in Goa, India

Goans prepare all kinds of delicious local delicacies for Christmas and deck out their homes and businesses with festive decor. While the decorations may not be quite as bawdy as those usually festooning buildings in the United States, you’ll likely see plenty of stars hanging up in every Christian home.  

On Christmas Eve, many people head to their local churches, while youngsters usually head out for Christmas dances which are organized across the state. If you’re interested in attending Midnight Mass, head to Old Goa. While the state has plenty of churches all over, the churches of Old Goa are gorgeous- so much so, in fact, that they were named a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Outside of the Christmas festivities, Goa is located along the western Indian coastline and is lined with gorgeous beaches. So head to the coast to explore Colva Beach in Betalbatim, which has plenty of water activities that you can enjoy, soft white sand, and plenty of swaying palm trees. 

Palm trees on a beach in Goa, Indiabeach in

December just so happens to be peak weather in the state, so it’s the perfect time to relax on the warm sand and have a totally different kind of white Christmas. Book a stay here at the Sea Queen Resort, for its proximity to some of Goa’s best beaches, impeccable service, and an onsite spa.

Recommended by Penny of GlobeTrove

 14. Cape Town, South Africa

 Like many coastal cities, Cape Town is at its best in summer and Christmas falls right at the start of the season. Expect the city to be bustling at Christmas time, with many of the locals on holiday and in a festive mood. The weather is usually good, with a handful of overcast days sprinkled throughout the month of December. 

Coastline near Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa at sunset

To get into the Christmas spirit, head to Carols by Candlelight in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. People gather at twilight to listen to some Christmas tunes, all with the incredible backdrop of the lush gardens and beyond, Table Mountain. For the day itself, you can book a holiday lunch at one of Cape Town’s restaurants – Hout Bay Manor or the Grand Pavilion in Sea Point are good options – where you can expect all the trimmings of a proper Christmas feast.  

Then spend the rest of your trip exploring the beautiful city. Climb (or take the cable car) up Table Mountain and admire the sweeping views, make friends with the penguins at Boulders Beach (reason enough to visit South Africa, if you ask me!) and, of course, join the locals at the beach on a sunny day. Be sure, though, to head to the beaches around False Bay, which tend to have way warmer waters than the Atlantic. 

Penguin at Boulder Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

If you have the time, take a day trip to the Cape Vineyards to take in the views of its colonial Dutch houses and sweeping vineyards- and of course, drink wine! To make your trip as epic as possible, try to squeeze a South African safari into your visit – there are several reserves near Cape Town where you can marvel at wild animals in their natural habitats. 

For your explorations around Cape Town, Jardin d’ébène Boutique Guesthouse is a great option, located in the City Bowl neighborhood (which is perfect for first time visitors of Cape Town)- plus there’s a swimming pool and free breakfast!

Recommended by Roxanne of Faraway Worlds

15. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

If you’re looking for an unusual place to spend Christmas, Gili T is a fantastic choice. December is the off season in this part of Indonesia, meaning you’ll get to enjoy low prices and fewer crowds. Plus, due to the unique geographic location of the Gili Islands, they experience a lot less rain than Lombok or Bali, with plenty of sunny days, come December.

To get to Gili T, take a half hour boat from Lombok or, alternatively, a two to three hour ferry from Bali.  Once you arrive, you can immediately start enjoying the Gili Islands’ famous beaches and crystal blue water.  In fact, for one of the most unique experiences on the island, consider swimming with sea turtles right off Gili Trawangan’s beaches, especially along the northeastern coastline. Just be sure to pack your own snorkeling gear and to watch the turtles from a respectful distance!

Woman swimming with a sea turtle in Indonesia

Besides living out your sea turtle dreams, Gili is also known for its boisterous beachfront atmosphere- so come ready to party! Instead of your typical snowy Christmas, you can expect to find beachside barbecues and bonfires to celebrate the holiday.

If you’re looking for a mix of relaxation at the beach and a bit of holiday shenanigans, book a stay at either Pink Coco or Mad Monkey– you’ll be close to the action, but still able to catch some shut-eye so that you have the energy to do it all again the next day.

Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel

16. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida is one of the most iconic party destinations- and in fact, it’s an excellent place to celebrate the holidays!

Located at the southernmost tip of the United States, you can either fly into Key West International Airport or for a cheaper flight, fly into Miami and make the three hour drive south to the city. Thanks to its latitude, you’ll be ringing in Christmas while wearing shorts- you’ll enjoy daily highs around 77° F and clear skies almost all December long.

Sailboat at sunset in Key West, Florida

Once you’re in Key West, enjoy a wide variety of holiday-inspired events as part of your Key West itinerary, like the Key West Holiday Parade where Santa rolls through town. 

For a uniquely beachy kind of festivity, check out the annual lighted boat parade through the Key West Bight, where boats of all kinds are festooned with twinkling lights, garland, and lots of Christmas cheer.

Next, check out the Historic Inns Holiday Tour, where some of the area’s historic bed and breakfasts quite literally deck their halls and open their doors to the public to enjoy!

Bed and Breakfast in Key West, Florida, decorated for Christmas

Once you’ve gotten all tuckered out on the Key West Christmas goodness, spend the night inside a Bohemian-style room at the Key West Bed and Breakfast. The Victorian-era structure is bursting with historic charm and, more importantly, has an onsite hot tub!

Recommended by Victoria of Florida Trippers

17. Lima, Peru

If you want a warm escape in December, head to Lima, Peru, which, due to its location in the southern hemisphere, enjoys its summer from December through February. In fact, Lima has average temperatures around 75° F around Christmas, which is the perfect temperature to enjoy its gorgeous beaches.

While most folks associate Peru with Machu Picchu and the incredible Andes mountains, the capital city of Lima shouldn’t be overlooked. Come December, in addition to the aforementioned beaches, you’ll also find big Christmas celebrations, delicious food and lots of adventure.

Buildings in Lima Peru along a cliff overlooking the ocean

Lima is renowned for its food scene, with several Michelin-starred eateries and killer street food. And if if the traditional Peruvian dishes were not already amazing enough, the food served for the Christmas holiday is also unique, with dishes such as tamales and panatone, a special cake for the celebration, being served up.

Beyond your inevitable food baby, you’ll find parades, ice skating rinks and lots of decor and lights hung for the festivities that you can enjoy. For example, the Circuito Magico del Agua is a massive water fountain park that is open year round, but is especially magical at Christmas!

While you’re here, make the Miraflores District your homebase, like at the JW Marriott. It’s located right along the coast, with excellent proximity to plenty of shopping and dining options and stunning ocean views.

Historic district in Lima, Peru

Getting to Lima is easy as most major airlines in the US fly to Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport. Once you’ve explored Lima, make sure you visit other areas of Peru- from hiking the Inca Trail to sandboarding in Huacachina, there’s so many incredible adventures in this country!

Recommended by Tori of Tori Pines Travels

I hope you have a bit more inspiration of where in this big, beautiful world you should soak up the sun on a beach at Christmas. Do you have any questions about any of the destinations above? Let me know in the comments below!

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