5 places to find winter sun

Plan hot destinations to beat the winter blues!

As the days grow shorter, I find myself endlessly researching sunny spots – even if I never get to go to them! Dreams are free, after all. But if you are looking for somewhere to escape the gloom come wintry July…

1. Fiji

According to booking search engine Expedia, New Zealand travellers have an enduring love affair with Fiji in July, heading to this Pacific island more than any other international destination at that time. I can see why – warm temperatures, blue seas, white sand, a short flight … what’s not to love? I’ve been a regular visitor over the years and I don’t think you can go wrong. Just pick your budget and choose your accommodation accordingly. I tend to book flights that do not require an extra stopover on the way, often the case if you’re heading to the outer islands. But mostly kids just like a swimming pool and even the digs right near the airport have one of those.

2. Galapagos Islands

My insider at Chimu Adventures, which runs tours to South America, reckons you can’t go past the Galapagos Islands for a July getaway. This volcanic island group straddling the Equator west of Ecuador has a subtropical dry climate all year round and, in July, you can see hordes of whales and dolphins out at sea, while inland it’s nesting time for blue-footed boobies (birds) and it’s also sea lion breeding season. Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay is where to go to see colourful reef fish, rays, sea turtles and marine iguanas, but don’t expect beachside cocktails – this is a natural playground, not a jet-set one.

3. Port Douglas

This Tropical North Queensland destination is perfect for the midwinter getaway with an average high of 26ºC. Bring a wrap for the evenings, but you’ll be swimming at Four Mile Beach during the day when the folks back home are huddled around the heater. In mid-July, the water temperature is 23ºC, just right for your snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef, which should be on everyone’s bucket list. Port Douglas is a bustling little town with heaps of food and lodging alternatives to suit every price, and it’s particularly well-stocked with self-contained apartments, so economical for families.

4. Nelson

Sorry, Blenheim! These two sunspots typically battle it out for pole position on the blue sky and shining yellow circle front, but according to NIWA, Nelson actually takes the cake. The cake being, in this instance, the mean monthly sunshine hours. Nelson catches 159 sunshine hours in July while Blenheim catches 157.1. So you could actually go to either place and expect some nice days. Plus, they are only an hour-and-a-half apart and they both have a lot of wine. By the way, Kaitaia in the “winterless north” has only 138.6 hours of sunshine in July, but family favourite Tauranga, at 151 hours, might not be a bad place to head either.

5. Turkish Riviera

Last winter, I holed up along Turkey’s southwest coast where the turquoise water is so warm and delicious, you can swim in it all day long. Rent a traditional gulet (wooden boat) and see this beautiful coastline from the water or unpack your bags in seaside towns like Kas or Kalkan. We had two weeks in Kas and the English children we shared the pool with reckoned it was their best holiday ever. Sadly for the Turks, the economy is suffering so prices are very cheap for holidaymakers (once we get there, of course). But for my money, it’s worth the haul.

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