– South Africa’s east coast is a low-cost, low jet-lag, sea-food and wine paradise, with action-packed city beaches such as Durban and totally peaceful, undeveloped beaches like Nature’s Valley. In December beach business is brisk so book ahead for your space on the sand.
– Maldives Islands: A chain of superb silky sand beaches on coral islands serviced by equally spectacular resorts and astronomical prices. Most visitors come on all-inclusive packages. Resorts are well set up with perfect beaches and clear azure seas, great for snorkeling and diving. There are no cultural experience, just luxury and escapism. Photos.
– Ngapali Beach, Chaung Tha Beach beach, Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar. Less developed, very reasonable prices, nice cabins, very nice locals, very unpleasant military junta.
– Oman: Muscat beaches (Arabian Sea). Over 1, 000 miles of coastline with endless unspoilt sand and very few tourists.
– The north & east coast of Zanzibar. Perfect for relaxing after wildlife safaris.
– Seychelles: Anse Lazio, Praslin island, Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue Island, Ile Souris, east coast of Mahé island. Pricey but incredible ‘paradise’ island resorts including one of the world’s most photographed beaches.
– Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. An ideal destination for a beach and culture holiday.
The Caribbean Sea encompasses hundreds of dazzling beaches and magnificent beach resorts and the climate should be excellent in December, but beware the Christmas rush and book well ahead.
If you’re conscious of spending check our Best Budget Islands page which features the Dominican Republic as number one for good deals, mostly all-inclusive, along with a multitude of interesting activities, Jamaica‘s colourful and lively island at number two and Puerto Rico at three, just like home for Americans – great, full-facility beaches and US fast food chains! US Virgin Islands are also easy for US citizens, good flights and no passports needed.
Florida and especially down south in Miami or the Florida Keys it should be quite warm and sunny in December with occasional showers. Highs will be around 75F (24C) and lows around 61F (16C), but the sea will be unpleasantly chilly.
Southern California is also quite warm in December, with occasional rain showers. Long Beach, for example, can expect averages highs of about 66F (19C) and lows of 46F (8C) at this time.
Beaches services and facilities may be limited and seaweed evident, depending on the area.
Fraser Island, Lake McKenzie beach, Queensland, east Australia. Yes, cool, clean freshwater. Thirsty? Do dive and drink!
– Byron Bay, between Sydney and Brisbane, for a neo-hippie ‘alternative’ beach scene.
– North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, for wildlife walks, quiet beaches and good surf.
– Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, a tranquil, dispersed town with great, soft beaches, parks and surf.
Saikaew beach dining in the New Year, Koh Samet, Thailand
This is the best season for both east and west coast beaches except for Ko Samui which has a micro-climate that differs slightly from the rest of the east Thailand. December is not one of the dry months – in fact statistically it’s one of the three wettest months and one of the hottest at 33C – though it comes at the end of the rainy period so by Christmas holidays the rain should be irregular and bearable.
Thailand is a long hike there for most travellers but once you’re there it’s magic. . . low prices, lovely people (mostly), a fascinating culture tinted with sleaze, exquisite food and of course magnificent stretches of sand to suit all tastes from Koh Samet to Phuket to Pattaya and Phi Phi; see Thai beaches map and beach pictures.
Philippines is a very good value destination populated by lovely people (apart from certain individuals in government) and offering some magnificent tropical beaches tho’ not often easy to get to. For example White Beach on Boracay Island is coated with exceptionally white, soft sand that never gets hot, fringed by palm trees and a large number of small, friendly hotels/bars/restaurants. But you have to fly to the nearby island of Palawan and catch a banca or small ferry boat to get there, which may involve jumping off into shallow-ish water off White Beach.
Also popular is Honda Bay, Palawan island, an area of outstanding beauty, and Muelle Bay, Puerto Galera, Mindoro island. A terrific place to go island-hopping on to perfect, isolated beaches.
Egypt’s Red Sea beach resorts as well as Israel‘s rather tired Eilat are reasonably priced, the sun is constant, the coral is kaleidoscopic, the sea’s still warm and day trips to Luxor or Abu Simbel are a mass-tourism must-do. Ahem.
The Red Sea’s air temperature is generally about 20°C in December (18°C at night) and water temperature is 23°C with low humidity and little chance of rain, so book ahead if you fancy swimming on Christmas day!
– Spain’s Canary Islands, enjoy endless sunshine and beaches of all types – activities, nudist, family, surfing, wild town sand, back-to-nature coves. The southern sections of islands tend to be the warmest and Fuerteventura and Lanzarote the sunniest. La Palma is the wettest island.