The best winter sun destinations for 2023

As we head into what looks like a pretty difficult few months at home, winter sun has never been so appealing. Pamela Goodman recommends destinations to provide some much-needed vitamin D

As winter creeps upon us, now’s the time to turn our thoughts to where we might get that blast of sunshine to sustain us through till spring. With the pandemic behind us, the world (almost without exception) has reopened to travel and tourism, and the hospitality industry is begging us all to get travelling again.


Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness - read our full review here

Jean-Bernard ADOUE

Mauritius is one of the most in-demand destinations for winter sun aided by direct flights from the UK and minimal jetlag. The list of hotels to choose from is endless so, depending on your requirements (budget, family, couple, honeymoon etc) I would do some careful research before booking. It’s also worth pointing out that the north of the island, round the popular Grand Baie area, is a long way from the airport. The south and east of the island are much more convenient. Check out Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness resort in the south; and LUX hotels, which has three different properties on the island. Read our review of LUX Le Morne and LUX Grand Baie here.

The Maldives

My advice regarding the Maldives, the destination that tops most bucket lists for winter sun, is to think hard about whether you want an end destination in a far-flung atoll reached by an onward scheduled domestic flight or one that’s only a short hop by seaplane or boat transfer. The former can add considerably to overall journey time but will allow for a greater sense of remoteness than some of the busier atolls closer to Male. The choice of hotels is overwhelming, so ask a specialist tour operator for advice. Less expensive than some but well-designed and with a distinctly younger vibe is Patina in the North Male atoll with speed boat transfers from the airport; down south, exquisite Six Senses Laamu cleverly combines sustainability and barefoot luxury.

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Les Deux Tours

One of the easiest destinations to get to for winter sun, which doesn’t require too long a flight and is therefore good for a short break. No, it’s not going to be boiling hot but there should be plenty of daytime warmth and sunshine even if the evenings are a little chilly. Keep it straightforward and go to Marrakech. Stay in the Palmeraie on the edge of the city (Les Deux Tours is a good option) from where you can enjoy beautiful gardens and views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains while still being only a short taxi ride from the medina.

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In this, the diamond year of James Bond, perhaps now is the moment to think of visiting Jamaica. Take this theme one step further and stay at GoldenEye, the tropical hideaway of Bond’s creator Ian Fleming, which has one of the loveliest locations on the island with no less than three private beaches. Private villas, cottages or beach huts are the accommodation options; music, art and culture set the vibe.


One of the best destinations for fly-and-flop winter sun – not quite as convenient as nearby Dubai, but so much more interesting. Most people tend to hang out in one of the very lovely hotels near Muscat (the Chedi they’ll tell you is the best, but I have rather a soft spot for the Al Bustan Palace), which also means the desert town of Nizwa and the beautiful Jabal Akdar mountains are within easy striking distance. More adventurous types might consider an onward flight down south to Salalah, where the Al-Baleed Resort by Anantara sits on one of the most fabulous stretches of sandy beach in the region.

Sri Lanka

This island has had a tough time of late. Political unrest caused fuel shortages and blackouts earlier this year and in one fell swoop most tourists – the life blood of Sri Lanka – left. The island seemingly was written off, but you’d be wrong to rule it out. Stability has been restored and now is a better time to go than ever – partly because not many people are and there are consequently good deals to be had. Given the choice, I would combine a few days in the Central Highlands staying at one of Resplendent Ceylon’s tea plantations with a few days at both lovely Malabar Hill, just inland from Welligama, and the Last House, on the beach at Tangalle.


Bai San Ho

This is a great South-East Asian country to visit in the winter months. Take note, however, that as a very long, very thin country, Vietnam’s climate and temperature vary dramatically between north and south according to which time of year you go. Central and southern Vietnam are best during the European winter. Bai San Ho, a 245-acre nature and beachfront resort from the brilliant Zannier hotel group, ticks the luxury box; Salinda Resort on Phu Quoc island off Vietnam’s mid-western coast not far from Ho Chi Minh City, would be my less-expensive choice.


I might have included Brazil or Costa Rica in this spot but plumped for Mexico instead because it’s marginally easier to get to and this country has so much to offer. Hassle-free sunseekers should head to Cancun from where they can decide whether to head south down the Mayan Riviera towards Playa del Carmen and Tulum or west towards laid-back Isla Holbox and Merida. The more intrepid who have greater time to spare should head via Mexico City to the Pacific coast at Puerto Escondido. Journey Latin America is a good tour operator for all holidays in this part of the globe.

South Africa

Forever a favourite choice of those seeking winter sun – great food and wine, minimal time difference and lots to see and do. To maximise your time there, seek the advice of an African specialist, Aardvark Safaris, for example, who can throw you plenty of ideas your way whether you’re after beach, safari, a family trip or off the beaten track adventure.