January is the most popular month for UK consumers to book a holiday, and really, it’s hardly surprising. Going back to work after the Christmas break is enough to shock many of us into booking our next retreat immediately. Although the days are finally starting to get longer again, there’s also still no warmth from that sun. That makes the prospect of relaxing on the beach or exploring the sights of an island holiday destination all the more appealing.
So, if you’re ready to get away from it all, these are some of the island holiday destinations we think you’d be wise to consider.
With lush forests, rugged mountains, unspoiled beaches and plenty of historical and cultural sights, the island of Cuba seems like a good place to start. With average temperatures of 21oC in January rising to 27oC in July, you’re sure to experience some of the sunshine the average Brit emerging from winter so desperately needs. But while the weather might be the primary attraction of some island holidays, Cuba has much more to offer.
Cuba has maintained its unique architectural heritage, which makes a visit to the cities of Havana, Camaguey and Trinidad feel like you’re stepping back into a bygone colonial era. Each is resplendent with grand squares, narrow alleyways and plenty of historical intrigue. The entire country is also home to the iconic 1950s American cars that turn the island into a rolling car museum and provide endless snapshot opportunities.
The brilliant beaches, famed for their white sands and turquoise-blue waters are some of the best in the world, while the Valle de Vinales, is the perfect place for nature trailing, biking and hiking. And by night, you can indulge in some rum tasting and cocktail drinking, and if that goes well, maybe even some salsa dancing.
- Dominican Republic
We’re not planning to make our guide too Caribbean-centric, but this part of the world does do a rather good line in island holiday destinations. The beauty of the Dominican Republic, aside from the exotic year-round climate, wildlife-rich rainforest interior and stunning beaches, is the island’s relative affordability. There’s excellent accommodation that represents good value, particularly when compared to other islands in the Caribbean. For example, www.teletextholidays.co.uk currently has all-inclusive deals starting at just £643 per week, with the 9-hour flight included in the price.
But the Dominican Republic offers much more than tropical island living on a shoestring. Beyond the beautiful beaches, there are quaint Colonial towns and forest-cloaked mountains to explore. On the north coast, Puerto Plata town with its picturesque old quarter and seafront fortress offers some respite from the sun-drenched beaches of Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, while the eastern tip of the island features the popular resort of Punta Cana, which was named by the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards as the number one destination in the Caribbean.
Beyond the family-friendly beach resorts, there are a great many attractions to enjoy on this, the largest of the Balearic Islands. The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, which has recently been made a World Heritage Site, is perfect for exploration by foot or bike, while the authentic Majorcan villages in the island’s interior provide a snapshot of authentic island life as well as some exceptional local food. There’s also the spacious beaches of Cala Mesquida on the east coast, which are framed by pine forests and dunes and make perfect fodder for windsurfers and walkers alike.
However, it’s the numerous child-friendly, Blue Flag beaches and the range of activities for people of all ages that make the island of Majorca such a popular choice for family getaways. That, combined with affordable flights and a range of accommodation options, make it pretty tough to beat.
With its pretty coves, pastel-coloured towns and fantastically sunny weather, Corfu is a short-haul island holiday destination that’s well-deserving of a place on our list. Corfu boasts more than 217km of coastline, which includes some of Europe’s greatest beaches, with calm, impossibly clear waters that are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
In the summer, you can enjoy temperatures that are a blissful 32oC, while in the winter and spring, the weather is cooler but still balmy enough to enjoy the many outdoor attractions that appeal to a diverse range of travellers. That includes Corfu’s old town, which has earned its UNESCO stripes thanks to its interwoven lanes, spectacular castles and Venetian fortress that reaches above the rooftops to provide views across the region.
Despite the holidaymakers that visit in their droves during July and August, the island still manages to keep a firm grip on tradition. Nowhere is that more obvious than the traditional cuisine served up in the many family-run tavernas.
So which island holiday destination are you going to escape to this year?