– South Africa‘s east coast is a great value, no jet-lag, sea-food and wine nirvana, with lively city beaches such as Durban and totally tranquil, natural beaches like Nature’s Valley. January is the height of summer but not so busy as main holidays have finished.
– Maldives Islands: Endless spectacular silky sand beaches on coral atolls with equally spectacular resorts and astronomical prices. Most visitors come on packages, staying at one of the 90 otherwise uninhabited resort islands. Resorts are well set up with beautiful beaches and clear azure seas, great for snorkeling and diving. There are no cultural experience at all, just luxury and escapism with no hassle. Photos.
– Oman: Muscat beaches. A massive coastline with infinite unspoilt sand, a sensible government, guaranteed sun and very few tourists.
– Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. An superb destination for a beach and culture holiday.
Florida and especially down south in Miami or the Florida Keys it should be very warm and sunny in January with occasional showers. Highs of around 75F (24C) and lows around 61F (16C) can be expected. However, the sea will still be cold for swimming.
Southern California also offers reasonably warm temperatures with occasional rain showers during January. Long Beach, for example, averages highs of 66F (19C) and lows of 46F (8C) at this time.
Beaches services and facilities may be limited and seaweed evident, depending on the area.
Playa Maya crowd on Phi Phi Leh, Thailand.Photo by Diego Delso.
While this is certainly one of the world’s best beaches, being equipped with powder white sand, turquoise water and spectacular circular rock formation, it has no habitation (nearest is Phi Phi Don) and is beset by tourist hordes in season. And January is season! You gotta see it but go early!
High season for both east and west coast beaches. Low prices, lovely people, fascinating culture, exquisite food and of course magnificent beaches to suit all budgets from Phuket to Pattaya and Phi Phi; see Thai beaches map and beach pictures.
– 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.
Tulum beach and the Maya Templo Dios del Viento, Maya Riviera. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.
Mexico’s massive coastal stretches are littered with a fine white sand beaches on both Pacific coasts such as Cabo San Lucas and Ixtapa, surf at Playa Escondido as well as Caribbean coasts such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen. High temperatures should be around 79F (26C) and lows of 59F (15C) with showers from time to time.
Early January will still be busy and pricey month so book well in advance. The Yucatan peninsula is scattered with magnificent ancient sites a day trip from Maya Riviera beaches, Chichen Itza and Uxmal, great snorkelling and diving, delicious cuisine and potent drinks.
– Spain’s Canary Islands enjoy a climate of perpetual warmth with sunshine as standard and temperatures between 18C (64F) and the upper 30Cs; there are beaches of all types available, 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. Water temperatures are not very high, ranging from 18C in winter to 22ºC in summer.
– Datai Beach, Langkawi Island. One of the world’s most secluded and picture-perfect hideaways.
– Pantai Teluk Belanga (Emerald Bay), Pangkor Laut. A luxury resort on a perfect crescent bay of a tiny private island.
A relaxing afternoon off Dahab, north of Sharm el Sheikh in the Red Sea with the Sinai Peninsula in the background.
Egypt’s Red Sea beach resorts as well as Israel‘s rather tired Eilat are low priced, the sun is ever-present, the coral is brilliant, the sea’s tepid and brief trips to Luxor or Abu Simbel are an option.
The Red Sea’s air temperature is down to a still pleasant 18°C in January (15°C at night) and water temperature is an acceptable 21°C with low humidity and little chance of rain.
Beach holiday destinations that are probably not a good idea in January
Not a good time for much of the Pacific but there are bright spots. e. g. SE Australia, Mexico and southern USA (see above); the Rock Islands, Palau are good in December but south Pacific such as the Cook Islands, Fiji and Samoas are going through a wet patch.
Bali’s beaches range from big, busy and easy to reach but lacking in character (Kuta/Legian/Seminyak) to awesome surf and swimming beaches (such as Bingin and Padang Padang) and calm upscale resorts with outdoor dining (e.g Jimbaran, Bingin, Sanur and pricey resorts in Nusa Dua region). But December to February is not an ideal time to go to any of Indonesia’s beaches due to frequent rain, albeit sometimes just short showers.
No, not even on the Egyptian or Tunisian coasts. The weather’s cold and the sea is colder.