If like me, you are already feeling quite fraught with the amount of organisation needed to steer a small family through the festive period, you might find yourself dreaming about relaxing somewhere warm, sandy and preferably with a cocktail in your hand.
Although our family Christmases have always been spent close to family and friends, I would love to escape one year to warmer climes to make the most of the winter sun – particularly since we still haven’t got around to arranging our honeymoon 7 years on!
But where to go in December and January that would be warm enough to chill out in a bikini?
Winter sun destinations
Here are my top 3 suggested destinations for finding winter sun
Number one on my list is the Caribbean island of Barbados which has a beach for just about everyone with its golden, white and rosy pink sands.
The dry season in Barbados runs from December to May with temperatures ranging from 23°C to 28°C.
The island attracts sunbathers with its gorgeous southern beaches and surfers at the famous Bathsheba Bay. The calmest waters are on the west coast where you’ll also find the most luxurious hotels.
Among the hotels, guest-houses and restaurants you’ll find late night fish fries and, of course, plenty of rum.
Visit Bridgetown’s historic Garrison area or venture inland to explore botanic gardens, plantation houses, ravines and caves.
Note, though that topless sunbathing is against the law on Barbados.
Quite apart from the fact that The Art Deco Weekend runs for three days in mid January in Miami, there’s plenty of warm sunshine on offer in Florida, together with a mix of Cuban culture and tranquillity if you’re brave enough to go kayaking through the Everglades.
Florida is the southernmost state in the US and is known for golf, tennis, auto racing, and water sports in its emerald and turquoise coloured waters.
Visit Universal Orlando, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, Disney World or Legoland Florida. Take a trip out to the Kennedy Space Centre or take a boat trip to find the Manatees. Literary fans will love The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum before people watching on Miami Beach where you can parade your finest swimwear along with the celebs and ‘beautiful people’ on the white sand.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Just a 4-hour flight from the UK, on the Spanish island of Lanzarote you’ll find dramatic volcanic landscapes, beautiful beaches and rolling surf for watersports. Temperatures will be in the high teens and low 20s.
Visit the Timanfaya National Park to see the extraordinary striated rock formations and dine on meat and fish cooked on a grill using heat from inside a volcano at the summit’s restaurant designed by César Manrique.
In the centre of the island you’ll find the town of Teguise founded in the 15th century with its cobbled streets and colonial mansions and the Convento de San Francisco which dates back to the end of the 16th century.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches to choose from. Playa Chica (also known as Pila de la Barrilla), is a sheltered beach noted for the stillness of its waters. If it’s a quiet secluded beach you’re after take the ferry over to La Graciosa and Playa Francesa, allegedly the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
If you have the family in tow, Playa Blanca is the island’s most family-friendly beach with loads of restaurants and ice cream parlours and just 10 minutes from the bus station.
Take a winter cruise
If you prefer the glitz and glamour of cruising, top up your tan in the Southern Hemisphere where December, January and February are the summer months and there’s still plenty of sunshine.
How about Singapore and Hong Kong, Hawaii and Mexico, Australia and New Zealand or Martinique to Antigua?
Prices should be lower and the ships less crowded. There’ll be fewer tourists at the various ports of call leaving you to enjoy the milder weather in a little more relaxed way. And, since hurricane season runs from June to November, you won’t have to worry about running into one of those.
What to wear
If all of this has you dusting off your passport and hunting for your sunglasses, you’ll need to make sure your beachwear is ready to go.
Simply Beach, the UK’s leading luxury swimwear retailer, has a great selection of designer swimwear, bikinis and maxi dresses to allow you to easily go from beach to bar.
I love these new pieces from Freya Swimwear and Australian brand Seafolly which are flattering and comfortable to wear.
Seafolly has a great range of beachwear co-ordinates and accessories too.
You also find designer swimwear from Melissa Odabash, Jet, Heidi Klum, Fantasie, Pour Moi and Stella McCartney Swim so you’re sure to find something to make you stand out on the beach.
Whether it’s the flattering cut of a full brief or a brazilian bikini, there is a style for every body shape so there is no excuse for not flaunting your curves.
For those of us staying in the UK for the winter, let’s hope we see a few of the sun’s rays and at least there are plenty of gorgeous hotel spas and pools for us to lounge around.
You can count me out for the traditional Boxing Day swim though!
Are you planning to go in search of some winter sun this year?