Woman on beach on Praslin Island, Seychelles (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 20 November

Last chance Christmas sun: 9 winter escapes you can still book now

The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping, but it’s not too late to book a bit of sun – in Jordan, Costa Rica, the Galapagos islands ... or even the sugar white beaches of the Seychelles

1: The Seychelles, not Santa

Coco Island in the Seychelles (Dreamstime)

Coco Island in the Seychelles (Dreamstime)

Anchor off uninhabited islands, encounter giant tortoises in mangrove forests and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world on this extraordinary small boat cruise through the Seychelles with Peregrine.

Sitting off the east coast of Africa in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is the archetypical tropical paradise. On board the twin-hulled Pegasus is the best way to experience it. Big enough to offer all the creature comforts, but small enough to reach secluded coves other ships can’t, the Pegasus will take you to world heritage nature reserves, quaint island communities and breathtakingly beautiful beaches, including the magnificent Anse Source D’Argent on La Dique – consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the world.

Your boat also comes fully equipped with kayaks and snorkelling equipment, allowing you to make the most of the Seychelles’ crystal clear waters.

Trip: Cruising in the Seychelles

Who: Peregrine

When: 16, 23 Dec & 6 Jan

How long: 8 days

How much: From £1,535 (exc. flights)

2: Enjoy a Cape Verde Christmas

Church high in the hills on Santiago Island (Dreamstime)

Church high in the hills on Santiago Island (Dreamstime)

Hike over volcanic mountains, clamber through deep gorges and amble along white sandy beaches on this two-week trekking adventure in Cape Verde with Ramblers Walking Holidays.

Starting on the largest island of Santiago, you’ll head to the geologically younger, more rugged islands of Cape Verde where the walking is superb and the way of life is often relatively untouched by the outside world. From the very African interior of So Domingos to the British colonial town of Mindelo, it’s a trek that offers beautiful landscapes, fascinating culture and a chance to give a little back to the communities you pass through.  Climb a volcano, hike across fertile valleys, swim in turquoise seas – just make sure you pack your sunscreen and a sense of adventure.

Trip: Undiscovered Cape Verde

Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays

When: 21 Dec

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £2,650 (inc. flights)

3: Feliz Navidad in Central America

Tikal (Dreamstime)

Tikal (Dreamstime)

Spend Christmas and New Year in one of the most colourful and festive regions in the world on this 10 day adventure through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. 

As well as taking part in seasonal fiestas in the old colonial town of Antigua, you’ll spot wildlife in jungles, clamber up the Mayan temples of Tikal and boat down the Rio Dulce to the Caribbean fishing village of Livingston. Finally, you'll enjoy a few days of R&R on Caye Caulker before heading north for Playa del Carmen in the Mayan Riviera.

Trip: Quetzal Highway

Who: Tucan Travel

When: 22 Dec

How long: 10 days

How much: From £815 (exc. flights)

4: Order a Jordanian desert for dessert

Sunrise in Wadi Rum (Dreamstime)

Sunrise in Wadi Rum (Dreamstime)

Spend nine days exploring vast, empty deserts, rose-red stone cities and the best of bedouin hospitality on this Middle Eastern adventure in Jordan with Exodus.

You’ll have two full days to explore the spectacular lost city of Petra, before heading to Jerash, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Middle East. Float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, snorkel over beautiful coral reefs of the Red Sea, and unleash your inner ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on a 4WD safari across Wadi Rum, camping with bedouin.

Trip: A week in Jordan

Who: Exodus

When: 23 Dec

How long: 9 days

How much: From £859 (exc. flights)

5: A Cambodian Christmas cracker

Monks in Angkor Wat (Dreamstime)

Monks in Angkor Wat (Dreamstime)

Explore one of the most fascinating countries in South East Asia and experience a bit of Indochine culture this Christmas on this action-packed adventure through Cambodia with Intrepid.

Discover the laidback charm and easy smiles of the Cambodian people as you temple-hop through Angkor Wat, take on the frantic streets of Phnom Penh and relax on the palm-fringed beaches of Sihanoukville. A homestay in the village of Chambok puts you right in the heart of everyday life in rural Cambodia and, in Sihanoukville, you’ll get the chance to explore the mangrove forests of Ream National Park.

Trip: Cambodia Adventure

Who: Intrepid

When: 13, 20, 22, 27, 29 Dec

How long: 12 days

How much: From £529 (exc. flights)

6: A very Kerala Christmas

Houseboat on Kerala backwaters (Dreamstime)

Houseboat on Kerala backwaters (Dreamstime)

Watch the sunset through the fishing nets of Kochi, stretch out on white-sand beaches, drift through tranquil backwaters on a houseboat on this South Indian Christmas break with G Adventures.

It’s the perfect introduction to the diversity of South India. You’ll check out the Jewish Quarter and spice markets of Kochi, stay with locals in Alleppey and relax with Ayurvedic massage or yoga session or even consult a local healer for all that ails you. Authentic and exciting, it’s the perfect Christmas treat.

Trip: Kerala Beaches and Backwaters

Who: G Adventures

When: 11, 25 Dec & 01 Jan

How long: 7 days

How much: From £425 (exc. flights)

7: The Galapagos. All you'll want for Christmas

A sea lion in the Galapagos (Dreamstime)

A sea lion in the Galapagos (Dreamstime)

The sun, sea and exotic wildlife of the Galapagos islands are calling this Christmas with this 7-day nature cruise aboard the Daphne with Gecko.

After learning about the islands’ history at the San Cristobal Interpretation Center, you’ll set off for the archipelago’s remote northern islands. Wander through Santa Fe’s Opuntia Forest, visit the seabird rookeries on Genovesa, snorkel among turtles and diamond sting rays off Darwin Beach and get close to the unique flora and fauna of Bahia Sullivan. Close encounters with some of planet’s most fascinating creatures are guaranteed.

Trip: Galapagos Discovery (Daphne)

Who: Gecko

When: 8 Dec

How long: 7 days

How much: From £2,330 (exc. flights)

8: It's beginning to feel like Costa Rica

Red-eyed tree frog (Dreamstime)

Red-eyed tree frog (Dreamstime)

Forget the Christmas tree this festive season. This 15-day tour of Costa Rica with Grand American Adventures offers biodiversity on a monumental scale, with incredible diverse ecosystems and with over half a million different species.

From cloud forests and sandy beaches, Costa Rica offers a tropical climate, relaxed lifestyle and an abundance of wildlife including sloths, toucans, frogs, butterflies, anteaters and howler monkeys. A highlight is a visit to Tortuguero National Park where thousands of Green turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the beaches of the Caribbean coast. Shouldn’t you spend Christmas in this ecological paradise?

Trip: Discover Costa Rica

Who: Grand American Adventures

When: 15, 20, 27 & 30 Dec

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,199 (exc. flights)

9: A sunny Sorrento Christmas

Positano (Dreamstime)

Positano (Dreamstime)

Spend Christmas on the Amalfi coast soaking up history, culture and excellent food and wine on this week of Italian indulgence with Chapters Experience Holidays.

The holiday combines rambles on the Sorrento Peninsula and in the Lattari Mountains, with visits to legendary sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum and the magnificent Greek temples of Paestum. Naples provides an injection of Italian brio and the chance to sample pizza at the source and a boat trip to Capri includes a visit to the beguiling Blue Cave. Finally, the sophisticated town of Positano, clinging to a cliff beside the blue sea, offers a haven for fine dining, fine wine and extraordinary views.

Trip: Exploring the Sorrento Peninsula

Who: Chapters Experience Holidays

When: 20 & 27 Dec

How long: 7 nights

How much: From £1,055 (inc. flights)