Winter Sun Destinations
The thought of leaving behind dreary winter skies and escaping to sunnier shores is very appealing. Long weekends in sunny cities, lazy family beach holidays or you may even be setting your sights further afield to exotic locations where sunshine and adventure is guaranteed. There are plenty of places to visit which offer sun during our winter season – India, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The world is your oyster.
Guaranteed sunshine, cheap accommodation and long sandy beaches are exactly the tonic most need this time of year and the Canaries tend to tick these boxes. The more adventurous may opt for the boisterous and colourful markets of Marrakech or the sun-drenched beaches of Agadir, Morocco, there’s something for everyone and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Below are a few spots that might hit the sunshine spot.
With direct flights from Dublin to Agadir and Marrakech (approx 3.5 hours), this is a good winter sun option for those in search of a week in a sunny beach resort. Agadir is a purpose built resort, with hotels built up along the long sandy beach and in recent years some fantastic 4 and 5 star hotels have opened where you can get excellent winter deals.
The town centre has some traditional restaurants, markets and local shops if you don’t feel like lying about by the pool or if you are up for some adventures there are plenty of day trips to other beach areas, mountains or the desert.
However, a good way of doing it is if you spend a couple of nights in Agadir and then head to Marrakech for some culture and to get a true sense of the country, which is only a 2 ½ hour drive away.
The Medina is a vibrant place to visit, and will give you a real insight into the real Morocco. Many of the shops operate as they would have done 100 years ago – traditional butchers, rug sellers and you see everything from people selling spices to snake charmers! There is a lot of hustle and bustle, but a simple, but firm no will allow you to move from stall to stall easily enough!
(Read full information on Marrakech here)
Packages- Sunway Travels offer two centre options to Agadir & Marrakech (7 nights) From €629 per person
South Africa is one of the most popular destinations for winter sun as our dull winter months coincide with their summer and the lure of sunshine, adventure and cheap accommodation is a major incentive for Irish travellers. While many will head to the southern coast and the bright lights of the cosmopolitan Capetown, more seasoned travellers on the lookout for an adventure may want to try the east coast, north of Durban.
The Isamangaliso National Park is remote and rugged, a World Heritage site teeming with wild-life. The best way to reach the area is to fly into Johannesburg and take an internal flight to Durban. Here you can stay a few nights in one of the many 4 star resorts and do a bit of shopping, enjoy the nearby beaches and then head north for your adventure. St Lucia is the main town that services the national park and is around 2 hours drive north of Durban. There are a number of small hotels or more homely Guest Houses that make a great base from which to explore the area.
Once called the Greater St Lucia Wetlands, the national park has been designated a world heritage site. Here you’ll have the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, turtles laying eggs, cocodiles, hippo’s and of course, on land some of the ‘Big 5’ pound the grassland areas. This is a great and slightly different safari and beach combination. Make sure to do the river cruise in St Lucia where you get to see crocs, hippos and lots of beautiful birdlife.
You can drive up the coastline on a day trip or if you’re a diver you will have to visit Sodwana Bay where you will have the opportunity to swim alongside Mantarays, Tiger Sharks, whale sharks and lots more. Further north from here is the luxurious Tonga Bay, a 5 star beach resort where you can while the days away on a deserted beach.
Another luxury reserve is Makakatana Lodge – located on Lake Lucia.
Hotel Accommodation from €50 per room per night
www.gohop.ie – from €1540 per person includes all transfers, 10 nights accommodation, safari drives and accommodation includes fully inclusive (4 nights)
Orlando is not only a children’s paradise, but an adult’s one too. There’s so much to keep you occupied, you could not possibly cover it all in one trip. It’s impossible to avoid the theme parks that dominate the city and to be honest, you would be crazy not to pay at least one a visit.One of the main attractions here is Disney World, which in fact comprises of a number of different theme parks and families can get a family pass to which gives access to the 4 theme parks over the course of the week – Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom. There’s something for every age group, wild animals, carousels, thrilling rides, lunch with a princess, meet Minnie Mouse, you name it you can do it here!
For those looking for something to do outside the city could opt for one of the many day-trips from the city
- Take an air boat through the everglades. Here you can spot alligtors and exotic birds and other wild-life.
- Kennedy Space Centre – space geeks will be in their element at Nasa’s headquarters a short distance from Orlando. Here you can explore the launch areas, train in a simulator, meet an astronaut and even see a launch!
- There are a number of interactive theme parks like Ripleys Believe it or Not or Wonder Works where you can get blown over by 65hour winds or feel a 5.3 earthquake.
- If you’re overwhelmed by it all, hit the road and head to the coast. The coastline has some fine beaches and quaint villages where you can spend the day browsing and escaping the bustle of the city.
- Golf – with over 170 golf courses, golf enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice for somewhere to tee off from
- Shopping – charming boutiques, gigantic shopping malls, outlets and designer shops cater for shopaholics of all budgets
- Spas – who doesn’t enjoy a day of pampering? Well no better place to splurge on a blissful massage than at one of the exclusive spas. Choose from Waldorf Astoria® Spa, the Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton Spa
(Read full information on Orland here)
Fly direct from Dublin from €179 one way with www.aerlingus.com
Sunway Travel – €710 per person for 7 nights, return flights, car hire and villa for 4 people – travelling in May
The Maltese islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino, lie 93kms south of Sicily. Enjoying a typical Mediterranean climate with temperatures in January – March ranging between 12 – 20 degrees, it may not be blistering sunshine, but it makes for a pleasant break if you want to escape the winter and enjoy a peaceful rest by the sea. It’s a very family-friendly destination, with a stunning coastline, excellent restaurants and nightlife and an intriguing history.
It’s a good idea to get out into the more rural Malta, renting a car is a good idea and is cheap on the island. Visit the ‘silent city’ of Mdina, a walled 16th-century city, with narrow streets, grand mansions and great restaurants and the best chocolate cake in Malta!
Malta has some of the best diving in the Mediterranean – boats take you out around the waters of Gozo and Comino which is the best diving area. Watersports in general are very popular, along with other activities such as yoga and walking.
The remote and rugged Gozo is a great place to spend a few nights and has a real old-time feel to it. Between Malta and Gozo lies the tiny island of Comino, a paradise for snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and walking. For the romantics, don’t miss sunset at the Azure Window.
(Read full information on Malta here)
Hotel Accommodation from €50 per room per night