ESCAPE THE COLD
7 Destinations for the Perfect Tropical Vacation
It’s always summer somewhere, or so they say.
As winter creeps into the Northern Hemisphere, it brings with it excitement and trepidation in equal measure; excitement for the possibility of snowy thrills on piste and the coming holiday season; consternation for the numerous extra layers we will be donning and the digits so chilled we are barely able to operate the zipper on our cumbersome winter jackets.
Though cold-weather destinations can be spectacular and thoroughly enjoyable, few things whisper ‘vacation’ more resolutely than a gentle breeze through palm fronds, the swishing of your feet across pristine, white-sand beaches and the hypnotic lapping of waves upon the shoreline.
The more temperate climate of the African mainland can alleviate some of your winter chill, though the end of the year also coincides with the rainy season in many destinations and the southern summer heat can be somewhat stifling in the hotter destinations. However, the Southern Hemisphere presents a diverse collection of options for those seeking a little winter warmth and a festive season with a tropical twist.
Spanning the globe, there are destinations for every kind of vacationer, from romantic hideaways to jungle-fringed coastlines and even your very own private islands.
The notion of a lake conjures numerous images but few, if any, would be of turquoise waters hemmed by exquisite sand beaches and linen-shrouded cabanas. Lake Malawi is renowned as the warm heart of Africa, both in terms of climate and hospitality. Averaging 86ºF (30ºC) through our winter months (Nov-Feb), Malawi is the perfect African destination to escape even the coldest of winters.
Set sail across the vast inland sea (Malawi is the ninth largest lake in the world), enjoy coconuts under the warm African sky. Discover the blissful peace of a seaside retreat – except you’re not at the seaside, you’re in the middle of Africa, and the water is fresh, not saline. Pairing perfectly with any African safari, Lake Malawi is an exceptional complement to spending dusty days on game drives and allows you to unwind spectacularly before your return home. December to February are, like much of Africa, the wettest months of the year, but Malawi experiences warm, drier climate with occasional showers through the peripheral months of November and March-April.
With a year-round climate ranging between a low of 64ºF (18ºC) and 81ºF (27ºC), Costa Rica is truly a land of an endless summer. The balance of jungle, beach and culture makes Costa Rica a spectacular destination for all ages, and averaging six to seven hours’ flight time from either US coast, it’s close enough to avoid a debilitating long-haul flight.
Often regarded as a venue for the more adventurous, Costa Rica is equally to be relished by those seeking luxury and relaxation. Exploration, however, is almost inevitable, with a corrugated coastline of secluded coves beneath verdant cliffs, with the sounds and aromas of the rich jungle permeating every moment. Costa Rica is alive with wildlife and lush jungles, making it a nature lover’s dream, but there is far more to the nation, with a strong focus on health and wellness, indulgent spas and that pristine ocean always beckoning.
The Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean far from the East African coastline, almost forcibly beckons you to relax. Though comprising 115 islands, the largest – Mahé – still feels wonderfully remote and untouched once you step from the capital of Victoria. The Seychellois people are wonderfully hospitable and a collection of luxurious, intimate private retreats allow you to feel utterly pampered and catered to whilst avoiding the more commercial and crowded aspects of a resort-style vacation.
The Seychelles is impeccably primed for a more prudent traveler, be they young or old, individuals, couples or families. For the latter, children are expertly accommodated, with kids’ clubs and facilities readily available, allowing parents to enjoy peace and relaxation as much as a kindred family experience.
If Robinson Crusoe had planned his castaway destination a little better – or at all – he would have likely envisaged Zanzibar. Another African island archipelago, Zanzibar is an autonomous region of Tanzania with an exceptional melting pot of history.
Inhabited for over 20 millennia, its culture reaches into prehistory and archeological discoveries suggest a significant community thousands of years old. However, it is Zanzibar’s renown for spices that has formed much of its present-day persona. The quintessential palm-fringed tropical islands have been heavily influenced by Portuguese architecture and style, Vasco de Gama first visiting in 1498 and his countrymen establishing an empire a decade later.
History lesson aside, fascinating though it is, Zanzibar still imbues distinctly African flavors. Hand-hewn timber dhows ply the calm waters between islands, locals live harmoniously with the environment, hand-fishing and farming seaweed from the shoreline, and even the most luxurious of accommodations are infused with the rustic chic of traditional African nuances.
The two main islands of Unguja and Pemba are skirted by much smaller satellite islands, some with private accommodations, others offering an incredible intimate escape for a picnic on your very own desert island.
The Maldives are known by a dichotomy of travelers for two very different reasons: incredible surf and absolute decadence. Though the former is of little interest to us, the latter is simply inimitable and incomprehensibly exquisite. You could daydream for hours upon hours and still not contemplate the divine Maldivian tropical paradise.
Sand as white as snow, ocean impossibly clear, palms swaying gracefully in the gentle Indian Ocean breeze and every whim you could possibly have catered to faultlessly; the Maldives, dare I suggest it, is… perfect.
Though closely connected to India, the Maldives is an independent state, but culturally, it is a culmination of Indian, African and Arabian influence. The archipelago is as exquisite as it is fragile, the surrounding reefs teeming with life yet so delicate and the low-lying islands subject to the threat of rising sea levels. Tourism combines unparalleled luxury with absolute sustainability, and much effort is being taken to preserve this remarkable jewel of the Indian Ocean.
The Maldives offers pure tranquility, boundless romance and a million magical moments in every single day.
The largest island in the world, Australia also boasts over 8,000 far smaller islands within its territorial boundaries. With a summer climate of October through April, it also inversely mirrors the northern hemisphere in seasons, making it the perfect destination for your winter escape.
Of those 8,000 islands of Australia’s periphery, a small collection offers the unique opportunity for a completely private escape.
Makepeace Island on the aptly-named Sunshine Coast lies in the Noosa River, only a few minutes from the Noosa township, a haven for tourists with its immaculate beaches and unspoiled national parks. Co-owned by Richard Branson, Makepeace is an idyllic private retreat for up to 20 guests, and combines pure island escapism with easy access to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle.
If you’re craving a little more isolation of your winter escape, Orpheus Island, to the north of Australia’s East Coast, is an all-inclusive luxury island all of your own. Up to 28 guests can be accommodated at this flawless paradise within the Great Barrier Reef, with 1,000 hectares of untouched national park covering much of the island.
Every desire is catered to, from the retreat’s own catamaran and diving equipment to an indulgent day spa and three gourmet meals daily. Australia has excellent diversity and, of course, first world infrastructure almost wherever your vacation may take you. With so many opportunities, and with borders projected to open for international tourism prior to the holiday season, it may well be your ideal winter escape.
Winter is a wonderful time of year and offers so many experiences that cannot be replicated in other seasons. The vibrant crispness enlivens the senses and invigorates the mind.
But if you are yearning for respite and wish for a rise in the mercury, we know just the place – or places – to take you. Contact your Travel Designer today about fulfilling your winter escape.