Have a good winter sun trip
Want to get away this winter? These are our picks for the best destinations for a good winter sun trip.
What's the Good Trip Index?
We've put together a list of top winter sun destinations using our Good Trip Index to help you have a good trip this winter.
The Good Trip Index is the Holiday Extras guide to travelling ethically, sustainably and well. To help make travelling responsibly less of a hassle, our meta-index produces one simple list which holidaymakers can use as a ready-reckoner when picking a destination, and check before they set off that they'll really have a good trip.
Aruba may lie in the Caribbean Sea, but it's actually part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is why it scores so highly. In fact, it has the highest possible score for women's rights, and quality of life isn't far behind.
It's behind the Netherlands on LGBTQ+ rights though; while the island recognises same-sex marriages it won't perform any, so where Netherlands sits 14th in the world as a relative haven of safety for gay travellers, Aruba scores a much poorer 60, dragging down the island's overall Good Trips Score from 8 to 17. Even that makes it one of the most accepting Caribbean destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers though, so if you're looking for a more socially progressive Caribbean island this is probably your best bet.
Think pristine beaches shaded by palm trees, vibrant blue sea teeming with colourful sea life, beautiful caves and windswept sand dunes. If you need more convincing, the average low in the coldest month of the year is about 25ºC. That's the average low! Bliss.
New Zealand just makes it into our top 10, scoring particularly well on human freedom and quality of life.
Ok so this might be a bit far to go for a break in the sun but the weather is pretty much guaranteed to be warmer than the UK and why not make your winter sun trip a once-in-a-lifetime event?
It helps that our winter coincides with New Zealand's summer, so as it's cooling down here it'll be heating up over there. So you can expect temperatures of up to around 25ºC, which is the ideal sweet spot for both relaxing on the beach and exploring the iconic outdoors that New Zealand is famous for.
Middle-earth Travel Guide
It's not quite New Zealand but it's the next best thing!
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, which comes in on our Good Trip Index at 12 and scores highly in world press freedom and LGBTQI+ rights.
However, it doesn't share the mainland's cooler winters and instead boasts a warm climate all year around, even in the darkest depths of winter. The island boasts some incredible natural scenery, from gorgeous green mountains carpeted in ancient forests to lofty cliffs that lean dramatically over the Atlantic.
The Canary Islands
Landing at 18 on our Good Trip Index, the Canaries (and Spain) have high scores in LGBTQ+ rights and women's rights.
The Canaries are the classic winter sun destination because it just doesn't get cold there. The nice thing is you have a selection of islands depending on the kind of holiday you want. For beaches and surfing you've got Fuerteventura, there's La Gomera for a quiet getaway, and you'll find family resorts and incredible national parks in Tenerife and Lanzarote.
Then there's Gran Canaria which is popular with the LGBTQI+ community, boasting gay-friendly resorts and beaches, the popular Yumbo shopping-centre-cum-nightlife-hotspot and two annual pride festivals - one of which takes place in winter.
Tenerife Travel Guide
Heading to Tenerife? Get your trip off to a good start with our travel guide
Florida has the warmest winters in the United States with daily highs of up to 25ºC in some parts of the state. Plus winter marks the end of hurricane season so it's the perfect time to go for some winter sun.
We all know Florida's big draw is Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, and this is a great time to go, but don't overlook everything else the Sunshine State has to offer. You've got coastal cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami, with its iconic art deco strip and endless sandy beach, as well as the Florida Keys archipelago.
This string of tropical islands stretching out from Florida's southern tip, dividing the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, is popular because of its beaches and waters that are perfect for snorkelling, diving and fishing. They're a great alternative to the Caribbean.
USA Travel Guide
Heading to the USA? Get your trip off to a good start with our travel guide
Boasting one of the mildest winters in the Mediterranean, it doesn't really get much colder than 15ºC in Malta - which is positively balmy compared to back home.
With more than 7,000 years of history and some of the oldest ruins in the world, Malta is filled to bursting with fascinating things to do and learn. The temperature is ideal for exploring the historic capital of Valletta as well as the island's gorgeous natural attractions and the remnants of the Knights of Saint John.
Malta also encompasses the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino, home to crystal clear waters and 16th-century architecture. Gozo in particular is also a popular spot for stargazing.
The dry season in Costa Rica coincides with our winter, making it a popular time to visit as the rains of the previous season will have left the forest beautifully lush and green.
The country's national parks combine rainforests with volcanoes as well as rich and unique wildlife. In fact, the country is famous for its wildlife, which ranges from the sloth and toucan to teeny tiny frogs and high-pitched howler monkeys.
That's to say nothing of the tropical Pacific coastline, with pristine sands and shimmering blue sea all backed by dense jungle.
Another part of the Mediterranean that enjoys a mild winter, Cyprus offers ancient Greek ruins, mountainous scenery and, in winter, relatively warm temperatures - it can reach the low 20s. That makes it warm enough for days on the beach under the sun, only without the crowds.
Popular party town Ayia Napa also becomes much quieter at this time of year, so if boisterous nightlife isn't your scene it's a great opportunity to explore the resort's more traditional heritage.