15 beach destinations for winter vacations

By Kristy Alpert
December 11, 2018, 11:29:20 AM EST

There’s no need to wait until summer to step your toes into soft sand and warm water along the coast. While the rest of the world is buried beneath sheets of snow and ice, many of the best beach destinations can be found blanketed in nothing but sunshine and warm breezes. Find a beach near you with our 80 Degreesbeach-finder tool, or simply swap the blues of winter with the azure shores of our 15 favorite sunny beach destinations.

1. Kailua-Kona
WHERE: Island of Hawaii, Hawaii


(Photo: Marc Turcan/Shutterstock)

Why Go: During the winter months the temperature on Hawaii’s youngest and largest island barely dips below 70 degrees during the night, with daytime temperatures averaging in the low 80s. Winter is the season for humpback whale watching, just one of the many other options for passing the day leisurely on the beach after snorkeling with sea turtles along Kahalu’u Beach or hiking to the nearby Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.

Where to Stay: The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is a natural paradise along the Kona-Kohala Coast, where more than 865 acres encompass the award-winning golf course, spa, accommodations, and restaurants on the property. Hualalai is where many of the nation’s top athletes come to train for the Iron Man competition, and the resort’s state-of-the-art fitness facility always has something creative going on with their daily classes.

2. Pensacola Beach


(Photo: Michael Rosebrock/Shutterstock)

Why Go: Although Pensacola Beachresidents may pull out winter coats when temperatures dip below 60 in this beach destination, the mild weather and sunny days are just the right temperature for thawing out from the snow up north. Hike up around Fort Pickens, kayak in the bay, or grab a wetsuit for snorkeling off the protected shorelines of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Where to Stay: Stick close to the shore by booking a room at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel. The 275-room hotel is located directly on the beach and features an indoor heated pool as well as two outdoor pools (one is heated) and an outdoor hot tub.

3. Grand Cayman
WHERE:Cayman Islands


(Photo: Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock)

Why Go: The largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman boasts year-round temperatures in the 80s and is home to one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach. During winter this crescent-shaped beach hosts some of the island’s most popular events, like Eric Ripert’s Cayman Cookout and the comedy/music festival Kaaboo.

Where to Stay: Grand Cayman has become best known for its signature blend of ethereal luxury and down-to-earth hospitality, and the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spaseamlessly captures both qualities within its 266-room complex. The resort sits directly on Seven Mile Beach, where its open-air architecture makes good use of the soft Cayman breeze.

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