Key Largo, FL
Set halfway between Key West and Miami, Key Largo is a secluded stretch perfect for a serene getaway. But the best place to hit the sand is Cannon Beach (named for the 17th-century cannons that adorn it). As part of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, this strip is a favorite among snorkelers and scuba divers as the clear water teems with colorful tropical fish. Just offshore is the Spanish shipwreck that’s home to marine life such as parrotfish, damselfish, barracuda, brain coral, sea fans, and more.
Even in the chilliest winter months, you can enjoy the warm Hawaiian sun and average temperatures of 80 degrees. Here you’ll find some of the world’s most scenic drives and beautiful beaches as well as lush rainforests and waterfalls. Plus, wintertime is the best time to see humpback whales – these massive, majestic creatures are between 40 and 52 feet long, which means there’s a good chance you’ll see one breach offshore. By going snorkeling you may even enjoy the chance to hear a whale song- their haunting melodies can be heard underwater from up to 12 miles away
San Diego, California
Many San Diego locals say that winter is the best season of the year. Popular attractions and the beaches aren’t crowded, the weather is mild, with high temperatures averaging in the upper 60s, and there’s more of a laid-back vibe. This is also a great time for whale watching, with more than 20,000 gray whales heading through the waters, making their 10,000-mile round-trip journey from Alaska to the lagoons in Baja California. You’ll find lots to do indoors and out, from museums, festivals and the theater to golfing, biking and surfing. One of the most popular activities is riding a beach cruiser along the three-and-a-half-mile path from Pacific Beach to South Mission Beach, where you’ll enjoy some of the best people-watching on the planet as well as fabulous views along the way.
The mid-Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda, mythical setting for Shakespeare's Tempest, is a land of pink beaches, pink houses and brightly coloured shorts. It is Caribbean in nature, though it's much closer to the UK - so shorter flight times - and has a distinctive character all of its own.
Its pink-sand beaches are lovely, too. Those along the South Shore are the glory of the island. Horseshoe Bay is the best known and most crowded, though Warwick Long Bay, a short way along the coast, is just as alluring. At one end of Horseshoe there is a little patch of sand the size of a playground, cut off from the rest of it by a rocky hillock.
Over on Mexico's Pacific Coast, two beach towns sit side-by-side: Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. They couldn’t be more different. Ixtapa, stacked with high-rise hotels and modern infrastructure was purpose-built for tourists, while, just round the bay, Zihuatanejo has kept hold of its old-world charm and sleepy-fishing-village feel. It’s a low-key beach retreat with genuine Mexican flair; fisherman flog their catches on the shore each morning, and the town centre is filled with historical cobbled streets and a buzzy market. Clutches of boutique properties sit right on the beach or overlooking the bay – which is a hit with surfers. It’s hot all year round, but October to April sees the least rain, making this a perfect spot for a hit of winter vitamin D.