Top 10 destinations for Winter sun
The turning of the UK seasons brings changes in landscapes, food and clothes for us to enjoy. And the transition to the joys of the festive period are a nice prospects once Summer has passed. Bringing out thicker coats and boots…getting excited for Sunday roasts and mulled wine. We love Winter and the festive treats it brings but given the choice we do tend to sway towards warmer climes… Of course, we’re not only in the boating scene for sunny shores and blue skies. But great weather does make the water more inviting (and we look much better with a bit of a tan!).
Us Brits are most in need of a taste of paradise during the Winter months. Luckily there are plenty of places that offer just the kind of weather we need to tide us over until Spring, from grey skies to blue skies. We’ve provided an overview of our ten favourite Winter sun locations, all of which are ideal to visit in Winter. We’ve listed them in reverse alphabetical order because we can’t choose our favourite!
Saint Vincent & The Grenadines
Looking for a place to warm your bones and keep you going through the UK Winter? The average highs are around 30 degrees throughout the year in Saint Vincent & The Grenadines. October and November are a great time to visit this southern Caribbean nation – just before peak season when hotel rates and tourist numbers are at their highest. The peak season is December to April whereas crowds thin out between July and October when hurricane season threatens the archipelago. However unlike much of the rest of the Caribbean, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines are far enough south that they miss a lot of the storms.
Venture away from the main island (St Vincent) and you have a string of smaller islands to the south. Nine of these are inhabited and most are unspoilt by tourism. Island hopping around Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a sailor’s paradise. There’s something for all holiday makers though. Snorkel in Tobago Cays or swim with turtles and parrot fish. Visit Bequia and luxuriate in the sands of Princess Margaret beach. Sail to Union Island and explore the vibrant street-life and bustling market stalls. For more inspiration on Caribbean locations check out our detailed Caribbean sailing guide.
Our favourite places to dock: Charlestown Bay, Britannia Bay and Saint Vincent
Saint Martin is a quirky Caribbean island with a difference – namely, that it’s half French and half Dutch. Half of the island is governed by France (Saint-Martin) and the other half (Sint-Maarten) is governed by the Netherlands. This means that you can literally cross the road and find building designs and names are different! The Dutch came to ply the island’s ponds for salt in the 1620s. In 1648 France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two territories and signed the Treaty of Concordia.
It offers both easy island hopping and more adventurous open-water sailing. Sailors and crew can take a short trip to the superyacht haven of St Barts to enjoy fine dining and luxury shopping. For a more relaxed trip, you can head over to Anguilla and bask in the quiet relaxation of this tranquil paradise.
Our favourite places to dock: Marigot, Great House Marina and Anse Marcel
New Caledonia is a dot of tropical islands clustered together in the South Pacific, near Australia and New Zealand. Together they make up a unique and authentic land to explore. It’s a French territory comprising of dozens of islands – ideal for island hopping and best visited via boat. There’s also a massive barrier reef surrounding the main island that’s a major scuba-diving destination. You really see the French influences in the capital, Noumea. Here you can enjoy French cuisines and shop in Parisian style boutiques. New Caledonia is a unique and authentic place.
The 24,000 kilometres-squared Caledonian Lagoon is a Unesco World Heritage site. It’s a sailing area of variety because it also provides access to deep-water ocean sailing if and when desired. Here the winds blow from the southeast at an average of 16 knots (that being at the upper end of the range over winter). The morning winds tend to be light and variable, providing conditions for comfortable sailing and arrival at destination ready to enjoy the day. The locals also love it and spend most of their spare time out on the water, from a few hours to days at a time. With spectacular natural scenery on the main island of Grande Terre as well, New Caledonia is a stunning playground for boaters.
Our favourite place to dock: Port Plaisance
Now is a good time to go to Myanmar because it’s not really touristy yet. You’re guaranteed authenticity and to feel like you’ve been abroad, away from your everyday lifestyle. Myanmar (formerly named Burma) boasts beaches, temples and culture which easily rivals that of Thailand. Locals are friendly and most are proud to share their culture and way of life. Off the water there are thousands of temples to visit – all of which photos don’t do justice. Historically and politically significant with interesting culture and beautiful traditions it’s a destination to remember.
In south Myanmar there’s a remote archipelago: Mergui Archipelago. Think white beaches lined with palm trees and dense jungle for nature lovers and explorers to enjoy. You can sail for days and not meet anyone other than the odd fisherman in a rustic canoe. The traditional people of the Mergui Archipelago are the Moken – people who live off and on the sea. They lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle that’s dominated and led by the resources of the sea. It’s this that has earned them the title of ‘Sea Gypsies’. Historically the relationship between the Moken and the central authorities has been marked by tensions. Following changes in Myanmar’s government however, things have improved and the Moken are somewhat less elusive.
Our favourite places to dock: Kawthaung Port
The Maldivian islands are in fact the tops of mountains, now submerged by the ocean making them the lowest nation on earth – only 1-3m above sea level. They’re also the perfect location for a peaceful retreat. Actually – they’re probably one of the most idyllic places you’ll ever visit. White sandy beaches, warm, clear water that’s perfect for sailing and snorkelling. You can stay in luxury bungalows extending over turquoise waters that invite you to jump in for a swim. If you get bored of relaxing on the exquisite beaches, there are plenty of things to do in the Maldives. It’s a premier scuba diving destination for one. You can go dolphin spotting, surfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), experience or learn Balinese massage or get a tour of the beautiful place by plane.
October marks the unofficial end of the monsoon season. Average day time temperature in October is 27 degrees which will gradually get lower until January. The Maldivian islands lie on ancient sea routes in the Indian Ocean and offer calm and safe deep anchorages. With literally thousands of islands to explore, the toughest decision is which powdery white beach to relax on next. Wind conditions are determined by the two monsoons. The drier Northeast monsoon falls during the Winter months, when light winds make rushing by sail boat impossible. You have no choice but to slide into holiday mode and pace of life here (or revert to the engine instead of the sails).
Our favourite places to dock: Hulhumale and Male
Near New Zealand, Polynesia is a vast archipelago that comprises over 1,000 islands on the central and southern Pacific Ocean. Similar to New Caledonia, this cluster of islands is remote and as such makes for a unique adventure to remember. If you head here you’ll really get away from everyone. It might be worth letting Father Christmas know in advance!
The weather is influenced by the south-east trade winds, creating a hot and humid climate from November to April, and a cooler season from May to October. From December to April, there’s the risk of storms and cyclones. The ‘balmy’ winds of Polynesia will carry you smoothly between coral reefs, shimmering lagoons and deserted white sand chains of islands formed of coral (known as atolls). This far-flung sailing paradise is destined to put you under its enchanting spell.
Our favourite places to dock: Marina Uturoa and Raiatea
Havana oh na na...Camila Cabello’s hit single has been in the charts for weeks so half of our heart is in Havana already! Think cigars, rum and an irresistibly chilled out vibe. Cuba is a culturally interesting destination and because it’s not a mainstream place to visit yet, you needn’t be concerned with peak season and bustling streets of tourists. It’s great to visit during the festive period, in fact many travel experts recommend December to May as the best time to visit. During these months you’ll experience dry, sunny days and plenty of blue skies. Just what the Doctor ordered right? Uncover heavenly, untouched islands, swim in crystal-clear waters and snorkel over stunning reefs. A note of warning though, to do this island justice you’ll need at least a fortnight.
Take in an array of natural wonders and get up-close to marine wildlife while sailing from Cienfuegos to the islands of Cayo Guano, Cayo Largo, Cayo Cantiles…to name a few! Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with many private and secluded cays to explore on its northern coast. The southern coast has more wide bays to drop anchor in.
Our favourite place to dock: Cienfuegos
British Virgin Islands
This British overseas territory is the inspiration behind the name of Sir Richard Branson’s multi million company…and we trust his taste in holidays! Our only reservation may be from a price tag perspective but this is the wonderful thing about the digital age. The internet and the sharing economy have revolutionised the way that we approach travel. They’ve opened the doors to affordable, far away adventures. With these new resources travellers can find the best deals. Why not balance a few nights stay in a hostel, bed and breakfast or rented charter with a couple of luxury nights in a Branson esque resort? Soak up Caribbean sunshine, music and sample some of the famous local rum. For a comfortable, tropical holiday that’s ideal for island hopping – head to the British Virgin Islands.
The British Virgin Islands are a great destination for island hopping and good for learning to sail because the islands are pretty self-contained. Fair weather and picturesque islands with top of the range facilities make the British Virgin islands a dream destination for sailors and new boaters of all levels of experience. The winds are good quality and consistent all year round. Take in the beauty of the untouched beaches of Virgin Gorda before returning to main island Tortola. You can get from the main island Tortola to ‘boating playground’, North Sound and Virgin Gorda quickly and easily. There are a host of brilliant marina facilities, bars and villages amongst the luxury private islands in the North. There are even more private islands with marinas and restaurants open to visitors south of main island Tortola – perfect for exploring by boat.
Our favourite place to dock: Tortola / Road Town
The Bahamas is the perfect retreat from the UK’s Winter. With an average of 340 sunny days a year, there’s no time of the year that you don’t bask in plentiful sunshine. And the beaches are really, really special. The sand is powder-soft and the shorelines are shallow, shimmering and turquoise. The blueness of the ocean appears to merge into the blue sky on the horizon.
It’s regarded as part of the Caribbean, even though the archipelago of over 700 islands and cays is located in the Atlantic and not the Caribbean Sea. When the conditions at home aren’t quite as appealing, tropical weather and shallow seas all year make the Bahamas a great option for Winter sailing. The best time to visit for Winter sun is from December to April. These months fall within the region’s rainy season but avoid hurricane season. Nassau is relatively sheltered from storms but it’s always sensible to be on the safe side. October is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. If a storm or hurricane does occur, the island is well prepared. It’s simply a case of staying indoors until the weather passes and storms very rarely last for too long (rarely spoiling an entire day let alone a whole holiday). But sailors visiting in October need to be prepared to cancel the odd day trip when the weather poses risks.
Our favourite places to dock: Nassau Yacht Haven and Marsh Harbour
A laid back lifestyle, sunshine, BBQs, beaches and deserts – a world away from our Winter in the UK. Just as we prepare to trade our Summer plimsolls for hardier shoes and light jackets for warmer waterproofs in the UK, Aussies are a month into Spring and heading towards another scorchio Summer. Australia is the perfect place to go for a healthy dose of warmth and vitamin D from September to November. For an even bigger dose of heat, visit between December and February (the Aussie Summer). A word of caution though, it will be really hot. If you’re someone who enjoys mild but not really hot climates, it’s better to go between now and November.
Queensland is our favourite part of the Australian coast. Explore its 74 islands by boat and snorkel around the Great Barrier reef. The turquoise waters – perfect for swimming and snorkelling – are home to lots of tropical wildlife whatever time of year you visit. When you’re worn out from exploring, the famous white sand beaches are the perfect setting to catch up on your book or sip a cold beer.
Australian Spring (September to November) is the ideal time to visit the Whitsundays. September provides sunny days, minimal expected rainfall, temperatures around a maximum of 26°C and low humidity. The tides in the spring result in beautiful full moon nights and clear skies – magic to experience from aboard a boat. The beginning of September also typically doesn’t coincide with any school holidays, so there are less crowds on these glorious islands at this time. October through to May (mid-spring until late autumn) plays host to what’s known as ‘stinger season’ in the tropical waters of northern Queensland. During the stinger season, swimmers and snorkelers should always wear stinger suits to provide a protective barrier from rays as well as pesky jellyfish tentacles.
Our favourite places to dock: Abell Point Marina and Port Douglas
I don’t know about you but I’m off to start planning my Winter sun holiday right this minute…Plan your Winter sun holiday this October to tide you over until the New Year.
Borrow a Boat is the first boating holiday platform that connects boat owners with holiday makers across the globe. We want to make boating accessible to everyone – experienced sailors and first timers alike. If you’re desperate for some Winter sun already like us, take a look at our current top deals. You don’t need sailing experience to borrow a boat with us. Choose your destination and boat type and book a holiday with Borrow a Boat to secure your dose of Winter sun today.