Are you dreaming of spending Christmas on a beach? When the leaves have fallen, and the weather turns cold, many of us pine for hot weather and a sunny beach. If you're not dreaming of a white Christmas, why not do some looking and booking now to make your dream beach vacation come true?
From familiar places like Cancun, Mexico, to more far-flung destinations like the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora, there are many destinations to choose from for your perfect Christmas vacation.
With crystal clear, warm water, soft, white beaches, and perfect winter weather, Cancun deserves its reputation as a top winter vacation destination. December, with its blissful sunshine and not-too-hot temps, is the ideal time to visit Cancun. Take a day trip to the peaceful beach on Isla Mujeres, visit the family-friendly beach at Playa Tortugas, or hang loose on the undeveloped and peaceful beach of Playa Delfines just outside of the city.
To ramp up the fun and make this Christmas unforgettable, Cancun also has plenty of hip nightclubs and top restaurants for foodies. From traditional Mexican to world-class fusion, there are dining-out options for any budget. Cancun, considered to be the heart of the Mexican Caribbean, is only 80 miles from the ancient ruins of the stunning beach-side city of Tulum — once an important Mayan sea-port and a gorgeous example of pre-Columbian architecture.
Located on the west coast of the island of Barbados, Paynes Bay is lapped by the calm Caribbean Sea. This bay is a great place to try jet skiing, water skiing, and sailing, or you can take a boat ride and go swimming with hawksbill and leatherback turtles. December is the perfect time to spot humpback whales from the cliffs of North Point. The island's only accessible sea cave, Animal Flower cave, is known for its fascinating sea anemones.
Paynes Bay is a short walk from the Sandy Lane Hotel beach, where you might get the opportunity to spot A-list celebrities. If you're able to travel to the capital, Bridgetown, on Christmas morning, head to Queens Park to see people promenading in colorful and outlandish Santa outfits and ballgowns in a ritual going back over 100 years.
The breathtaking turquoise waters, calm surf, and nearly year-round sunshine of Grace Bay Beach have earned it worldwide accolades and regular top rankings on international 'best of' lists. Located on Providenciales Island's northeast coast, this stunning coral reef-protected beach is a postcard-perfect stretch of white and pink sand, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, this Grace Bay Beach is a short distance from the eco-tourist destination of Mangrove Cay, a small, uninhabited island. Shallow and scenic tidal pools make this an excellent place for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
For a more laid-back Christmas, skip the touristy Bahamian towns of Nassau and Paradise Island and ride a ferry to Harbour Island, locally known as Briland. Spend your vacation on the stunning Pink Sands Beach and catch a glimpse of one of the stylish jet setters who often visit. Pink Sands Beach is a three-mile expanse of coral reef-protected shoreline that has — you guessed it — delightfully cool and soft pink sand and exceptionally clear water.
Set on the Atlantic Ocean, this beach area is full of friendly locals and stunning natural surroundings. The Devil's Backbone, an outlying coral reef, is home to marine life like turtles and stingrays. There are accommodations to fit any budget and varying levels of culinary sophistication to satisfy even the pickiest eater. Visit the main hub of Dunmore Town and see adorable pastel houses.
There is no better place than Costa Rica for a beachside Christmas. December falls in Costa Rica's dry season, making it the perfect time for a vacation visit to Playa Manuel Antonio. Located inside Manuel Antonio National Park, this singularly beautiful beach has powdery white sand backed by a jungle bustling with monkeys, sloths, and birds. Because of the park's environmental restrictions, its hotels are not beachfront but sit cliff-side with sweeping views of stunning, brightly-colored sunsets.
Costa Rica is renowned for its Christmas celebrations that typically start on Christmas Eve and can carry on for weeks. Decorated with nativity scenes and lots of lights, locals host three main Christmas parades that'll have you merrily screaming ¡Feliz Navidad!
Key West, Florida, is an ideal destination for enjoying an American beach vacation with a Caribbean-feel. At Christmas, you'll find warm temperatures, local cheer on Duval Street, the main drag, and soft sandy beaches where you can swim, snorkel, and relax. Beautifully trimmed palm trees, festively decorated boats, and historic inns done up in holiday décor line the historic waterfront. If you're a lover of literature, you'll need to raise a drink at Sloppy Joe's, the bar Ernest Hemmingway frequented when he was a resident. Or you can visit his home, which is now a museum and shop.
Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is a daily festival that's been held since the '60s! Everyone is invited to watch the glowing red and pink sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico horizon amidst jugglers, clowns, magicians, psychics, artists, local musicians, and food vendors.
As one of Spain's seven Canary Islands located off the coast of West Africa, Tenerife — or Gran Canaria — has many stunning beaches for the perfect Christmas vacation. Known for its year-round warm weather, fine golden sand beaches, and crystal blue waters, this top European getaway was formed over many years of volcanic activity. From cooking classes by local chefs to high adrenaline watersports, it's easy to enjoy Christmas in the sun on Tenerife.
Playa de las Teresitas is an artificial beach of golden Saharan desert sand. Scattered with palm trees that offer shade for sunbathers, it has a soaring mountainous backdrop and clear lagoon-like waters. Thanks to the many bars offering cocktails and snacks all day and night, this beach has a buzzing social scene and is popular with tourists. Las Teresitas beach is situated close to the capital and is known for its perfect, picture-postcard appearance.
Ambergris Caye, Belize's largest island, enjoys sunny days and clear skies in December. Located in the Caribbean Sea with the Barrier Reef — the largest reef in the Northern hemisphere — just off-shore, this island enjoys shallow and calm water, making it ideal for snorkeling. For swimming and diving in deeper water, many resorts have long docks. All beaches on Ambergris Caye are public.
The small community on Belize's largest island, Ambergris Caye, goes all out to celebrate Christmas. Tropical Christmas trees or decorated palms are the norms, with a giant-tree lighting ceremony in Central Park. Holiday feasts and parades abound, and you'll hear all of your traditional favorites with an island twist.
Goa, India, with its gorgeous beaches, non-stop nightlife, and casinos, is a great place to visit in December. This west coast paradise is home to some glorious beaches, including Anjuna Beach. This beach, known for its parties and vibrant nightlife, attracts thousands of tourists each year and caters to different budgets and tastes. Famed for its trendy nightclubs, beachside hotels, and resorts, Anjuna beach is a glamorous paradise.
An area rich in the Christian tradition, Old Goa has many beautifully decorated churches, countless market stalls selling homemade sweets, and an infectious atmosphere of fun.
One of the world's most stunning and romantic places, Bora Bora is a popular South Pacific island in French Polynesia that attracts young people and honeymooners alike. Because of the surrounding, protective coral reef, rich marine life is easily viewable while snorkeling or scuba diving. Bora Bora's famous dormant volcano, Mount Otemanu, and the surrounding crystalline lagoon offer breathtaking vistas.
Located northwest of Tahiti, the beachside resorts on this beautiful island provide the perfect combo of relaxation and fun. The island has lots of fine French restaurants where you can sip a tropical cocktail on the beach. A visit to the underwater aquarium Coral Gardens is a must, and at the Lagoonarium, you can swim with turtles. If you're looking to spend Christmas in a luxurious, stilted bungalow in stunning turquoise water beside a gorgeous beach, the private islands have what you need.