Where can you go that's hot in January? 18 destinations to escape the winter cold

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

For a lot of us, January means one thing — winter is officially here. If you're wondering where you can flee to that's hot this time of year now that the novelty of cold weather has worn off, here's handy list of some of the best winter destinations for warm-weather seekers. 

From white sandy beaches to city escapes, these radiant holiday stops could give you a much needed break in the endless winter slog.

1. Southern Florida, U.S.A.

Siesta Key Beach
Source: 
AndreCarrotflower/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 60° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 75° F

Whether Miami beaches and clubs are your scene or you prefer a quieter resort in the Keys, the temperatures in Florida are still fairly hot in January, making it a popular winter destination. 

The appropriately named 'Sunshine State' beats most of the high temperatures of Europe, making it a favorite for snowbirds who come to visit from colder climates. For those of you already in the U.S. who aren't up for leaving the country but still wanted a taste of summer, Florida is the only state in the sun belt of the U.S. that has a tropical climate — so it has relatively constant warm temperatures throughout the year.

2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Lanzarote
Source: 
Desiree Martin/Getty Images

Average temperature in January: 63° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 66° F

The Canary Islands, located 62 miles west of Morocco, are an autonomous archipelago of Spain. Made up of the islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, the Canary Islands are far enough south to maintain warm temperatures in the winter despite still being part of the European Union. You can see a breakdown of individual islands on this Rough Guides summary. 

Lanzarote in particular is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Protected Site, and is known for its beautiful architecture and notable lack of high-rise buildings.

3. Cozumel, Mexico

Scuba diving off Cozumel
Source: 
Ken Goddard/AP

Average temperature in January: 75°F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 81°F

It's not surprising to find Mexico on this list as a close-to-home destination that also boasts fantastic sunshine in the winter. The famous Yucatán Peninsula separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, and enjoys warm temperatures all year round. 

The island of Cozumel provides an alternative destination in the region to the more frequented Cancún, located just 12 miles from the mainland. It's a popular retreat for those interested in marine life, with abundant scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, as well as white sandy beaches.

4. Costa Rica's Caribbean coast 

Arenal hanging bridges
Source: 
Keteka

Average temperature in January: 82° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January (Caribbean coast): 81° F 

Costa Rica has a very diverse climate as a result of sharing coastline with both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is a great destination if you want a bit of everything — stunning beaches, tropical rainforest you can explore on the famous hanging bridges, and incredible wildlife. 

Despite being a relatively small country, it has 5% of the entire world's biodiversity. It is also part of what's known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of volcanoes and oceanic trenches, and has 14 known volcanoes within its borders. 

5. Perth, Australia

Quokkas in western Australia
Source: 
Raffi Kojian/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 77° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 13

Average sea temperature in January: 70° F 

Of course Australia had to make it to the list! Perth boasts just slightly higher average temperatures for January than Sydney and Melbourne, as well as a whopping 13 hours of average daily sunlight. 

With turquoise blue ocean and white sandy beaches at your doorstep, it's a paradise of a winter holiday for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. If you feel like a break from the beach, it also has one of the biggest city parks in the world, Kings Park. Perth is also host to a variety of cute marsupials only native to western Australia, like the quokka, which always looks adorably happy.

6. Hawaii, U.S.A.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Source: 
Tim Orr/AP

Average temperatures in January: 73° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 8

Average sea temperature in January: 77° F

Hawaii has major appeal in the winter, especially for surfers, with its delightful warm water and large waves. It also has incredible hiking trails, like in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, where cliffs reach as high as 4,000 feet and offer stunning views of both the Pacific Ocean and Kalalau Valley. 

Hawaii is also a great destination to encounter marine life, from humpback whales to manta rays. If you're still craving adventure, you could even visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park where you can watch two active volcanos.

7. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket viewpoint
Source: 
Oberpepe/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 81° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 82° F

Phuket is Thailand's largest island and one of it's most well-known tourist destinations. It has a reputation for incredible beaches as well as great nightlife for those looking for more than just relaxation. While it has previously struggled with the devastating consequences of a tsunami in 2004, the island now thrives on the renewed tourist influxes of more recent years. 

It has water sports galore for sea-lovers, as well as mountains and stunning natural beauty for those interested in hiking. It also is known as a great place for cheap shopping (though perhaps not as good as Bangkok!) and rejuvenating spa treatments.

8. Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Source: 
Gianluigi Guercia/Getty Images

Average temperature in January: 72° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 11

Average sea temperature in January: 68° F

With a leisurely 11 average hours of sunlight in January, Cape Town is a delightful winter escape with warm temperatures and fantastic scenery. As a major city with great infrastructure, it's easy to travel to beautiful beaches.

Cape Town is home to Table Mountain National Park, which you can climb on foot or by cable car. At the top, you'll see impressive views from the summit of Table Mountain, so-named for its flat plateau, which spans two miles. From Cape Town you can travel to nearby Robben Island, where Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 year. While Cape Town is an fantastic vacation destination for a number of reasons, it's worth spending some time as a tourist delving into South Africa's history of institutionalized racial segregation and oppression — and learning about the years of resistance that helped bring about the end of Apartheid.

9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lapa and Santa Teresa Steps, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Source: 
Keteka

Average temperature in January: 79° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 77° F

Home to the famous Copacabana Beach, Rio has to be included in a list of hot winter holidays. The impressive Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most well-recognized city icons in the world, and Sugarloaf Mountain nearby provides stunning views of the city and the statue. 

Before the Olympics earlier this year, there was some speculation about the safety and general preparedness of the city to host massive large volumes of tourists, spurring the Brazilian government's efforts to make Rio safer for visitors. 

It's still extremely important to take care when exploring Rio, but there are safe ways to explore the city, like taking a guided favela tour with a local. If you're drawn in by Rio's traditions, don't miss out on a Brazilian samba dance show while you're in town either!

10. Barbados, Lesser Antilles 

Crane Beach, Barbados
Source: 
Patdoy/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 79° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 9

Average sea temperature in January: 81°F

Only 21 miles in length and 14 miles in width, Barbados is a small yet idyllic island paradise that is reliably hot in January. It's a perfect destination if you want to hang out on the beach and swim in the sea right through our coldest winter months. Ranked as one of the Caribbean's leading tourist destinations, visitors mainly come from the nearby U.S. and Canada or the United Kingdom, as it's part of the British Commonwealth. 

Home to many varieties of wildlife, it notably hosts nesting turtles — and the government's conservation efforts have helped to maintain the extensive surrounding coral reef, making it a great destination for those interested in marine life.

11. Singapore

Aerial view of the Civic District, Singapore
Source: 
William Cho/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 79° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 6

Average sea temperature in January: 82° F

The city-state of Singapore is a fantastic city retreat for those who want an urban vacation with beautiful scenery. New green policies mean that 47% of the city is covered in greenery and enchanting parks. It is extremely densely populated but strict laws regarding trash mean that the city is an incredibly well-looked after place to visit. 

January is a great time to go there and enjoy the celebrations for the Chinese New Year, which is also celebrated in Singapore, usually with festivals and parades. 

One of the biggest draws for tourists in Singapore is the shopping — Singapore has more malls per square mile than any other country in the world, so there will certainly be an escape from the rain if you happen to get a wet day.

12. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Laguna Limón, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Source: 
Keteka

Average temperature in January: 77° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 9

Average sea temperature in January: 81° F 

Punta Cana is the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, and is famed for having more than 20 miles of beaches and turquoise waters. It's a great destination for water sports like windsurfing and diving. And with plenty of gentle, shallow beaches, it's also an ideal family destination.

For adventurers, the Dominican Republic hosts a wide array of zip lines and canopy tours which can help provide other fun distractions from the beach. It has varied landscapes including Montaña Redonda and Laguna Limón where you can go hiking or kayaking. Although it's known for tourist resorts, Punta Cana offers historical architecture within the city and the scenic Los Haitises National Park for those curious about ecotourism in the area.

13. Havana, Cuba

A street in Old Havana, Cuba
Source: 
Gildemax/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 70° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature in January: 79° F

Take a step back in time while you still can, and head to Cuba to explore its charming culture, cities, and beaches. Decades without any trade with the U.S. left Communist Cuba largely isolated from the technological revolution, which means smartphones and wifi are hard to come by. But extremely limited wifi access means you can embrace your holiday in Cuba as a chance to unplug. There are few hotels in Cuba, so many visitors stay with locals in their own apartments and houses. 

Apart from having stunning beaches, Cuba's main cities of Havana, Holguín City, and Santiago de Cuba are steeped in history to uncover during the day, and famous salsa clubs to explore at night.

14. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

The sand dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Source: 
Shutterstock / Felix Lipov

Average temperature in January: 82° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 7

Average sea temperature: 81° F

The Bazaruto Archipelago is made up 6 islands off the east coast of Mozambique, the most well-known of which are Bazaruto Island and Benguerra Island. They are famed for their 2 mile-long reef as well as exotic wildlife, from dolphins and whales to flamingos, crocodiles and turtles. 

Bazaruto Island is famous for its long sandy beaches and turquoise blue water, and Benguerra Island is known for its fishing and horseback riding as well as beach locations. One thing to note is that the rainy season lasts from November to March. However it's still worth a visit during wintertime, as the weather is wet but hot in January.

15. Dubai, U.A.E.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Source: 
Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Average temperature in January: 66° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 8

Average sea temperature in January: 70° F

Beaches, shopping, and sand dunes are just some of what you can enjoy in Dubai in January. You'll find warm temperatures with almost no rainfall. Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, where you can take the tallest elevator in the world to get spectacular views of the city and surrounding beaches. 

While it's known for its malls and glitzy hotels, you can also enjoy local culture by exploring the many souks, or markets, where you browse the different spices or herbs. Take a ride on the abras, old fashioned roofed boats that take you across Dubai Creek, and don't forget that Dubai is also full of charming parks and elegant green spaces that are worth strolling around. For those keen on a bit more adventure, take a Jeep ride through the sand dunes and venture out to explore the surrounding desert.

16. Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia
Source: 
Keteka

Average temperature in January: 81° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 6

Average sea temperature in January: 82° F

Cartagena is a stunning walled city on the coast of Colombia. It's a great place to visit if you would like to explore a city and learn about its culture while also being relaxing on great beaches.

With its long and complicated history, there is much to learn here about Colombia's slave-trading past and commercial development. 

There are also fabulous things to do near the city, such as renting a yacht, exploring the islands, or taking a mud-bath in an actual volcano! Cartagena also has great nightlife  — like salsa clubs for both tourists and locals, as well as a wide array of restaurants in open air plazas.

17. Cape Verde

Sandy panorama in Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Source: 
Ximonic, Simo Räsänen/Wikimedia Commons

Average temperature in January: 73° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 6

Average sea temperature in January: 73° F

Cape Verde is an island country in the Atlantic, off the coast of West Africa, with a warm climate perfect for hot winter holidays. You can visit turtle sanctuaries, go whale-watching, or even try quad-biking. There are gorgeous beaches for lounging, but you can also go island-hopping by ferry or plane. Cape Verde is also known for good shopping and artisanal markets. In the evenings, you can sit back and enjoy the local morna music and dance, which often combines guitar and violin to tell poetic love songs.

18. Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires
Source: 
Keteka

Average temperature in January: 77° F

Average hours of sunlight in January: 9

Average sea temperature in January: 73° F

Built in the style of European capitals like Paris, the architecture of Buenos Aires is both elegant and imposing. Many of the city's historic buildings feature towering facades that also hold intricate architectural details. 

From the exciting nightlife of Palermo to the multicolored painted houses of La Boca, Buenos Aires is a city rich in both culture and history. That makes it an ideal destination for those interested in a cosmopolitan January vacation. Top highlights include Eva Perón's tomb, the Plaza de Mayo, and the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, all located within walking distance of each other and all with their own importance in Argentinean history. 

Don't miss out on a tango show in the evening — and of course, let's not forget the delicious range of cheap and delicious food and wine offered by the city's many restaurants.

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Sapphire Samiullah

Sapphire is originally from the UK, but has lived abroad in four different continents and traveled extensively as a result. She is currently based in Santiago, Chile where she heads up the Digital Marketing team at Keteka.com, an online tours and activities marketplace that allows you to book authentic experiences in Latin America.

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