The holidays are over, frigid temperatures are here and cabin fever has officially set in. Lately, I’ve been catching myself daydreaming about jetting off to relax on a sun drenched beach. While there are several warm destinations to enjoy a mid-winter getaway, the problem can be choosing one. To help narrow down the options, here is my list of top 5 beaches that will help you beat the winter blues.
1. WAIMEA BAY BEACH PARK: O’AHU, HAWAII
Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Waimea Bay Beach Park, located on the northern tip of O’ahu, offers a little bit of everything. Its distance from Honolulu provides seclusion and its deep clear waters make for excellent snorkeling. For those feeling adventurous, there is a large boulder used as a jump rock that will certainly test your courage. This beach is also just a few minutes away from Waimea Valley where you’ll find preserved gardens, waterfalls and peacocks roaming the grounds.
2. OCEAN BEACH PARK: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
The town of Ocean Beach in San Diego caters to the casual traveler looking for low key rest and relaxation. Although it may be a bit chilly for sunbathing this time of year, temperatures are certainly mild enough to spend a day walking the shoreline or even setting up a picnic in the park. In addition to the beautiful beach, there are also plenty of nearby restaurants and shops making this a great place to escape winter weather.
3. MANGO BAY: KOH TAO, THAILAND
If a quick weekend retreat just won’t cut it and you have extra time and motivation, Thailand is a fabulous option. While the beaches are just one of many reasons to visit Thailand, they certainly are a main attraction. There are literally hundreds of islands to choose from, each one offering something a little different. The tiny island of Koh Tao, located in the Gulf of Thailand is known for its superb scuba diving sites as well as its gorgeous beaches. Mango Bay is tricky to find, but it is well worth the effort. You could spend an entire day at this beach and not encounter another soul other than colorful schools of tropical fish darting about.
4. FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
This option may be a bit less exotic than the others, but South Florida has a lot to offer those looking for an easy mid-winter escape. Accommodations are affordable, there is great nightlife and, most importantly, there are miles of sun drenched white sand beaches to enjoy. One weekend here will surely make those winter blues fade into the sunset.
5. KE’E BEACH: KAUAI, HAWAII
Hawaii claims two spots on the list and with good reason. Each island has a different feel and requires adequate time to fully explore. One of Hawaii’s most stunning beaches can be found on the island of Kauai. Ke’e beach is uniquely situated at the start of the Na Pali Trail. This 11 mile stretch of untouched coastline is considered one of Hawaii’s natural treasures. You can hike the first ½ mile of the trail and capture stunning views of Ke’e beach then spend the rest of the afternoon snorkeling and sunbathing. If you’re lucky, a monk seal may even swim into the bay to play.
6. PLAYA ROCOSA DE PIÑONES: CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO
I had to sneak this last one in because it simply deserves mentioning. There is no shortage of beaches in Puerto Rico, but Playa Rocosa de Piñones stands out. This 1.2 mile stretch is popular not only for its beautiful teal waters and palm lined dunes, but also because of its proximity to Kiosko el Boricua. This small roadside stand is a local hot spot serving up authentic Puerto Rican fare. Grab a sizzling pincho de pollo (chicken skewer) and a couple crab arepas and enjoy your feast under the cool shade of a palm tree. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon in the middle of winter.
I hope some of these helped warm you up a bit! Where do you go to beat the winter blues? Share your comments below!