Blue Monday is upon us again, when failed New Year’s resolutions, depleted bank accounts and dreary weather combine to create (supposedly) the bleakest day of the year. So, what better time to start thinking about sunshine and swimming pools?!
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite winter sun destinations for the next few months – perfect for those who want to swap their winter blues for cloudless skies and turquoise seas. There’s a little something for everyone, from colourful parties in Mexico and family-friendly trips to Mauritius, to peaceful island retreats in the Maldives.
Not a fan of long flights? We’ve also popped a few closer-to-home options for each month, too.
February: Cocktails and Carnival in Mexico
Think Carnival and you might think Rio – but Mexico celebrates it on a big scale, too. Head to Playa del Carmen or Cancun just before Ash Wednesday (in 2018 it’s on 14 February) for fabulous costumes, parades and parties. Celebrations are geared more towards locals than tourists, so it’s a great way to experience a little local culture.
Parties aside, Mexico is ideal for a winter sun holiday. Temperatures in February hit daily highs of around 29°C – perfect beach weather. There’s lots to do if you like getting out and about (like Xcaret and Xel-Ha eco-parks and the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Coba), but you could very easily spend a week or two poolside at your hotel, with gourmet restaurants and cocktail bars at your fingertips.
Closer to home
Tenerife goes all out for Carnival each February, with glittering floats, dancers and musicians parading through the streets of the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. It’s easily reached from the south’s beach resorts, so you can retreat back to golden sands once you’re ready for a bit of peace and quiet. Alternatively, try Malta, Europe’s 2018 Capital of Culture. Carnival takes place in early February, plus the capital, Valletta, is chock-full of beautiful historic buildings.
March: Indian Ocean Escapes
March might officially be a spring month, but in the UK it’s still very much a case of coats, boots and (usually) brollies. Jet off to the Indian Ocean and you can ditch grey skies and rainy pavements for overwater villas, glass-clear lagoons and coconutty cocktails.
For a complete switch-off from meetings, deadlines and crack-of-dawn commutes, try Constance Moofushi. This Maldivian retreat is an all-inclusive oasis, so the most you’ll need to worry about is whether you’d prefer to have dinner on the overwater deck or on the white sands.
Or escape to the Seychelles and the idyllic Hilton Seychelles Labriz, the only hotel on the beautiful island of Silhouette. Villas nestle in tropical greenery just steps away from a pristine white-sand beach and a coral-dotted lagoon that teems with marine life. It’s easier than ever to get to as well. New direct flights get you straight to the Seychelles from Heathrow, and from there it’s a mere 45-minute boat ride to your island paradise.
Bringing the family? How about Mauritius – March is still summertime on the island, with temperatures climbing to a very pleasant 28 degrees. Heritage Le Telfair is one of the best family hotels in Mauritius and sits on a spectacular white-sand beach.
If you’ve got teens, how about boutiquey Lakaz Chamarel, set up in the hills overlooking the island’s south-west coast? Sea-view and garden suites sleep three and four adults respectively and come with their own pool, plus you’re just a half-hour cycle ride from the famous Seven Coloured Earths.
Closer to home
Cyprus sees highs hitting the early 20s in March, so it’s one of the best winter sun destinations without a long flight. Or take a look at Marrakech, where the mercury hovers in the high teens and early 20s – ideal temperatures for shopping in the souks and sipping mint tea in peaceful riad courtyards.
April: Water fights in Thailand
Thailand celebrates its New Year in April with Songkran, AKA the Water Festival. For 2018, it takes place from 13-15 April – expect to see local children running around with water pistols and buckets, soaking each other (and anyone else in the vicinity). It’s a lot of fun, especially if you pick up a cheap water pistol from a local shop and get involved in the water fights.
Phuket and Koh Samui are both great places to experience Songkran festivities. Hotel-wise, we love Six Senses Samui (the infinity pool is to die for), The Slate (boutique style but with a family-friendly feel) and The Shore at Katathani (where private pool villas come as standard).
Closer to home
Madeira’s mild temperatures are ideal for exploring the island’s botanical gardens and walking the famous levadas, while Crete sees things hotting up to around 20 degrees by the end of the month (warm enough for sunbathing, but not too hot to tackle the shade-free ruins at Knossos).