Follow the sun with these great winter beach holidays

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You face the grey, cold days with increasing trepidation. You’re starting to suffer from “SAD” (at the sunshine deprivation) and you occasionally thumb through the atlas looking for places where summer reigns all year round.  Here are some great places for a winter beach holiday where you can brush up on your tan.

Christopher Chan / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Saint Barthélemy

Fancy mixing with A-listers? Or maybe you are an A-lister reading this. (If so, this is my big chance, to say, hey Jennifer, loved you in Silver Linings Playbook.)

muscapix / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Big stars, you see, don’t go to places frequented by mere mortals. So where do Hollywood royalty spend their Christmas holidays? In St Barts, of course, this sun-kissed, sybaritic enclave in the Caribbean. In fact, if you are reading this, Jennifer, I bet you’re planning your St Barts getaway right now, aren’t you?

A word of warning, though. Visitors are expected to have some money. This is definitely not for budget holidaymakers.

This volcanic island is home to iguanas, picture-postcard perfect beaches, millionaires’ yachts and boutiques where you can cheerfully part company with tens of thousands of dollars inside a few minutes.

St Barts’ full-time population is composed of French settlers and transplanted Europeans – it’s certainly one of the most unusual of the French West Indies Islands.

muscapix / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

St Barts is also known – surprise, surprise considering it is part of France – as a place of gastronomic delights. You have so many great restaurants to enjoy the finest food with your toes virtually in the ocean. But let’s recommend just one – La Plage Restaurant – a hip place with a romantic appeal.

See you there, Jennifer!

St Petersburg, Florida

Florida is a great winter getaway for those looking for some sun. In the summer it’s a humid greenhouse but it’s perfect in the winter. As Ratso Rizzo said in the film Midnight Cowboy – “there are two things essential for life – sunshine and coconut milk,” and Florida has both in abundance.

State Library and Archives of Florida / Flickr

St Petersburg lies on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the West Coast. Once known as God’s waiting room – in view of its retired population – it’s now attracting a younger crowd.

St. Petersburg’s Beach, with its white sand and turquoise waters, stretches for five sun-kissed miles.

Daytime winter highs in the low seventies make St Petersburg a warm alternative. Tampa is just 22 miles away, Orlando 106 miles. If, on the other hand, you want to fly in from Washington, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour flight.  An agreeable distance and Washington and Florida occupy different worlds in the winter.

San Diego, California

Not rip-roaringly hot but this southern California city is nevertheless a nice winter-warmer – with daytime highs in the mid to upper sixties in December and January. You could fly to San Diego and pick up a car rental at the airport.

San Diego Shooter / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

 There are many beaches in the city but Pacific Beach is known for its wide stretches of sand and perfect surfing waves. If you enjoy surfing and find yourself working up a good appetite, then you have come to the right place. Why not enjoy a lavish breakfast of eggs, sausage and fresh avocado at beachside Kono’s Surf Club?

When you’re not sunbathing, you can explore all the attractions in this magnificent city. Visit San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. Meanwhile, the city’s Latin American heritage is reflected in places such as Mission San Diego de Alcala and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria

Perhaps you’re planning a trip to Europe and in between business meetings in northern capitals, you fancy a little warmth?

Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands is one of the few places in Europe where you are guaranteed some winter sunshine, lying as it does to the west of Morocco in the Atlantic. It’s also the most attractive of the Canary islands with miles and miles of sandy beaches.

Robby van Moor / Flickr / CC BY-ND

For those fancying a really great resort, you can’t beat Playa del Ingles. It has a long beach made of tall sand dunes, and is connected with other beach towns including San Agustín and Maspalomas in the touristic center of the island. Average daytime highs hit the low seventies in winter.

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