Soaking up the sun (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 16 November

9 winter sun adventures you’ll want to book now

As temperatures drop and the days shorten, these tours offer the chance to throw off the woolly jumpers and enjoy an active, sunny winter adventure

1. Island hop the Maldives by traditional dhoni

The people of the Maldives have been travelling their vast archipelago by dhoni for centuries. Looking very much like Arabian dhows, these traditional wooden vessels are perfectly suited to the small harbours and short hops that are part and parcel of getting around this small island national. 

They also make the ideal way to soak up the winter sun, especially when they have been converted into a liveaboard cruise boat with couchette accommodation, a saloon area and plenty of room on deck for watching the world go by.

Your dhoni in Male (Explore)

Your dhoni in Male (Explore)

Starting at the North Male Atoll, this cruise heads down through South Male and Felidhoo Atolls, stopping in small harbours or at uninhabited islands along the way.

Each meal is caught fresh from the sea and every day there is the opportunity to swim and snorkel in clear blue waters off white sand beaches. The ultimate goal is Meemu (Mulaku) Atoll, a group of islands in the south, dotted with small fishing villages.

Make it happen …

Maldive Dhoni Cruise, Explore

8 days; depart Male, Maldives (roundtrip)

What makes it special: A timeless way to experience the best of the Maldives


2. Feel the rhythm in Cuba

You could spend all your time on one of Cuba’s fabulous beaches, but why not delve into the vibrant musical culture of the country as well? Get caught up in the rumba of Havana, take a salsa class in Trinidad, visit the legendary 'cave disco', learn to play traditional Cuban music and even record your own track with local musicians in Santiago de Cuba.

Seductive music (Intrepid)

Seduced by the rhythm (Intrepid)

Encompassing all the styles that make this country move – from the ballet in Camaguey to the Afro-Cuban beats of son music – this musical journey is an absolute must for anyone with a passion for Latin music and dance. You’ll stay with local families, drop by renowned musical venues and meet the musicians who make Cuba such a rich musical destination.

Make it happen …

Cuba Music & Dance, Intrepid

9 days; depart Havana, Cuba (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Getting in tune with Cuba’s hot, sweaty heartbeat


3. Get away from it all in Oman

With its evocative landscapes and overwhelming hospitality, Oman is fast becoming a favourite winter sun short break. Muscat is a lively city with an interesting old town, but it's the Indian Ocean coast that will take your breath away. Here, turtles come to nest on vast empty beaches and the Bedouin camp among the towering sand dunes of the Arabian Desert. Join them overnight to watch flames flicker and a billion stars shine.

Camels on a beach in Oman (Dreamstime)

Camels on a beach in Oman (Dreamstime)

Away from the coast, the scenery is equally dramatic. Head into the craggy mountains and discover the ancient fort of Nizwa and the ‘Grand Canyon of Oman,’ Jebel Shams. After a picnic lunch, head to Wadi Bani Awf, the end point of the canyon, offering stunning views over the vast empty interior. Here, you truly are ‘away from it all.’

Make it happen …

Oman – From The Desert to the Coast, Undiscovered Destinations

7 days; depart UK (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Peace and solitude amongst nature at its most dramatic


4. Southern African Sun and Safari

Spoil yourself this winter with a chic sun’n’safari break in South Africa and Mozambique. Your adventure begins at the five star Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge, where each suite has its own private plunge pool and deck overlooking the nearby watering hole. The world famous Sabi Sands game reserve is on your doorstep and so are the Big Five: buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard and lion. Guided safari tours will do their best to ensure you see them all.

Benguerra Island, Mozambique (azura-retreats.com)

Benguerra Island, Mozambique (azura-retreats.com)

After a short flight to Vilanculos in Mozambique, you’ll be helicoptered across turquoise seas to Azura Benguerra, a stunning resort, surrounded by untouched reefs. Here, you can snorkel and dive, or relax with spa treatments and private dining experiences right on the beach. Tanned and relaxed, the danger is you may never want to leave.

Make it happen …

South Africa & Mozambique: Chic Safari and Stunning Island, Turquoise Holiday Company

10 days; depart UK (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Five star Big Five and beaches


5. Cycle the mountains of Morocco

This is a classic mountain bike adventure in Morocco's arid Jebel Sahro region. With the snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas to the north and the Sahara to the south, the climate of the Jebel Sahro in southern Morocco is the perfect place for cycling outside of the summer months.

Riding towards an oasis (KE Adventures)

Riding towards an oasis (KE Adventures)

Your ride will begin in the magnificent Todra Gorge, whose towering walls attract rock climbers from all over the world. Ascending on tarmac and then on hard pack jeep roads, you’ll cycle through a remote mountain area, with nomadic Berber shepherds and views of the Atlas peaks.

Crossing the Tamtattouchte Pass (2800m), you'll drop down into the beautiful Dades Valley, the 'Valley of the 1000 Kasbahs' and then on to the oasis town of Zagora on the very edge of the Sahara.

Make it happen …

Ride the Kasbah, KE Adventure Travel

8 days; depart Marrakech, Morocco (roundtrip)

What makes it special: North Africa’s most stunning cycle route


6. Swim with sea lions off South Australia's coast

South Australia's Eyre Peninsula is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Australia and the perfect place to experience every aspect of life ‘Down Under.’ You’ll trek through Warren Gorge in the Flinders Ranges, discover you inner Jack or Jillaroo on a working farm in Coolie Park, and then head down to Baird Bay for a dip with local sea lions and dolphins.

Venus Bay, South Australia (Dreamstime)

Venus Bay, South Australia (Dreamstime)

It’s a perfect mix of land and sea. Look for koalas hiding in Manna Gums or sign up for a cage dive with Great White Sharks in Port Lincoln. Sleep under the stars in a traditional Aussie swag (camping trailer) and explore the caves of Talia on the Great Australian Bight. The ocean and the desert await.

Make it happen …

Eyre Peninsula Overland, Intrepid

6 days; depart Adelaide, Australia (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Nature at its most elemental


7. Visit the lost tribes of the Omo Valley

With temperatures dropping to more ‘comfortable’ levels, winter offers the perfect opportunity to travel through the remote Omo Valley in southwest Ethiopia and meet the extraordinary ethnic groups who inhabit the region.

Ethiopian Tribespeople (Dreamstime)

Ethiopian Tribespeople (Dreamstime)

Here, you’ll meet the Mursi, renowned for their lip-plates, and the Konso, famous for their terraced farming. The Hamer live here too and if you’re lucky your visit will coincide with one of their famous bull-jumping coming-of-age ceremonies.

Your journey will also take in the Bale Mountains, home to Gelada monkeys, rare Ethiopia wolves and abundant birdlife.

Make it happen …

Ethiopian Southern Explorer: Hara, Bale Mountains & The Omo Valley, Wild Frontiers

14 days; depart Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Ancient tribes and unique wildlife


8. Best of the Caribbean, naturally...

The island of Dominica is regarded as the ‘green jewel’ of the Caribbean, a land of luscious national parks, volcanoes and an ancient Caribe culture. Based in Jungle Bay, a luxury boutique eco resort on the island's stunning Atlantic Coast, you’ll be able to enjoy it all.

A beach in Barbados (Dreamstime)

A beach in Barbados (Dreamstime)

Dive in a spectacular underwater world of sunken volcanoes, deep drop-offs, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life, or hike to the boiling lakes of the Morne Trois National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean.

Make your way on to Barbados, where you’ll be whisked away to the luxurious Cobblers Cove on one of the island’s best beaches.

Make it happen …

Dominica and Barbados Escape, Wexas Travel

14 days; depart UK (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Every day is like Sunday


9. Southern sun in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s location close to the equator ensures that you can rely on year-round warmth. This trip offers all the best that the south of the country has to offer in a short, sunny package of adventure and relaxation.

Stilt fishing near Galle (Dreamstime)

Stilt fishing near Galle (Dreamstime)

Get a glimpse of Sri Lanka's colonial past with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort. Experience the country's wild side with a safari in Yala National Park where you can spot the majestic yet elusive leopard.

Watch baby turtles begin their daring journey towards the sea on the golden sand of the beaches in Tangalle. And don't forget to simply soak up the sun.

Make it happen …

Southern Sun In Sri Lanka, TravelLocal

7 days; depart Colombo, Sri Lanka (roundtrip)

What makes it special: Short, sweet and sunny

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Main image: soaking up the sun (Dreamstime)