Getaway Guide: 10 Best Beaches To Visit This Winter (Part 2)

by Miles Jackson

This is part two of a two-part series exploring some of my favorite beaches in the world for a winter getaway. You can find part one here

Fall might just be kicking in, but we all know winter is just around the corner. Does the thought of bundling up to stay warm give you the blues? Well, warming up is easy thanks to my favorite 10 best beaches to visit this winter.

Hop on a flight to one of these beautiful destination beaches and you could be posting selfies from the warm tropical sands to your friends and family freezing back home.

My 10 best beaches to visit this winter includes relaxing beaches that (in most cases) won’t break the travel budget. In this post, I’ll cover the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Gulf beaches.

Who’s ready to start planning their winter escape? Now is the time.

From East to West: My 10 Best Beaches To Visit This Winter

10 Best Beaches to Visit in January

I really can’t rate these ten best beaches on a scale since they’re all so different. So, let me take them geographically and cover them from east to west. We started in the Caribbean in part one and now, we’ll work our way from Hawaii across the International Dateline to Australia and Southeast Asia in part two.

Hawaii, Australia, and Southeast Asia Beaches

Waimea Bay Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Waimea Bay North Shore Oahu Hawaii Top 10 Beaches to Visit in January

Waimea Bay, Oahu (Image: Miles Jackson)

What winter beach list would be complete without a Hawaiian beach?

Winter visitors to this famous ‘big surf’ beach will find an average January temperature hovering slightly above 80 degrees. This is where the legends of big wave surfing began, more than six decades ago. Professional surfers come here to master the big ones.

Just down the road is the famous Sunset Beach and the Pipeline, a dangerous wave that’s famous for its huge curl (similar to looking into a pipe.)

When the waves aren’t that high, beach goers still enjoy the warm golden sands and many take to nearby rocks which jet out into the bay to try their luck at rock-jumping into the Pacific waters below. There’s lot to see on this quieter side of Oahu, referred to as the North Shore by locals.

The famous Waimea Falls is always breathtaking and a perfect photo opportunity.

Waimea Falls

Finding a place to stay is easy and affordable away from the overcrowded Waikiki area of Honolulu.

Hotel Recommendations: Turtle Bay Hilton is a sure bet for north shore luxury. A bit windy on most winter days, but a top-rated property and perfect for families. The hotel straddles two beaches and has been the site of many movies featuring its grounds and beautiful surroundings. Another alternative, but close to the action of Pipeline, is Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging.

How to Get There: Honolulu Airport (HNL) is served by most major airlines from all around the world. Renting a car is the best way to see the island of Oahu. It’s an easy drive to the north shore along some of the best scenery the island has to offer along its roads.

Related: Southwest Launches Flights To Hawaii 

Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay Australia Top 10 Beaches to Visit in January

Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay, Australia is a sure-fire destination beach down under. Of course, when the northern hemisphere is having its winter, it’s Australia’s summer.

You don’t hear that much about this beach, located a little more than 100 miles south from Brisbane and 475 miles north of Sydney.

It’s actually two beaches (Byron and Tallow) meeting at a peninsula, landmarked by a conservation area and lighthouse. Byron is also the easternmost point of Australia. There’s actually a sort of hidden beach (Little Wategos) along the northeastern side of Cape Byron. A popular spot when the waves are up, you will find it a popular point for surfers and surf watchers, but a bit too rough for swimming.

Tallow Beach

Tallow Beach typically is a bit windier as it faces eastward into the Pacific, while Byron Beach is where you will find most sun worshippers. In the months between April and November, people can whale watch from the beaches.

Hotel Recommendations: Appropriately named Beach Hotel, Byron Bay’s best property is just 50 meters from the sandy beach of Byron Bay. The resort is within 5 minutes drive from Belongil Beach and a 25 minute walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. If you book a suite, you’re guaranteed air-conditioning, plus a balcony or courtyard.

For a family stay or the budget-minded, I recommend Glen Villa Resort. There, you can have a private bungalow (each equipped with air conditioning).

How to Get There: Flying into Byron Bay is an option, albeit a bit expensive. Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is the local airport and closest to Byron Bay, under 30 minutes drive time. The airport offers flights from Sydney, Melbourne & Newcastle on Jetstar, Virgin Australia, FlyPelican and Rex Airlines.

I’d much rather fly into Brisbane (BNE) and do some sightseeing in the city on either end of my Byron Beach vacation. A light rail and buses run directly to Brisbane Roma Street transit terminal, which has a choice of buses to Byron Bay. There are also direct shuttles to Byron Bay, which take around two hours.

You can certainly rent a car and the drive (drive on the left) is one that will reward you with beautiful view of the land down under.

Southeast Asia Beaches

There’s no doubt that Southeast Asia contains a lot of the world’s best beaches.

Boracay Philippines Sunset Top 10 Beaches to Visit in January

A beach in Boracay in the Philippines (Image: Miles Jackson)

Boracay White Sand Beach, Philippines

Called by many “the best beach in Asia,” the island of Boracay has gone through a lot of changes in the past 18 months. After being closed down for six months by the government, it reopened in the fall of 2018. It’s certainly a premier beach in a nation comprised of more than 17,000 islands.

Boracay visitors are limited to less than 7,000 daily so when you go you won’t have to share its white sand beaches with a large crowd. Sunsets from the western facing shore are often dramatic and picturesque.

Island visitors will appreciate the low prices compared to many top beach destinations found around the world. Boracay hotels run from the budget cheap averaging less than $40 USD to the luxurious 5-star resorts (like Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa) that cost more than $400 nightly.

I love the layout of the beach as there are two distinct areas on the beach. Foot traffic is predominantly on the hotel and shop facing pedestrian walkway. In contrast, the beach is separated beyond by several rows of coconut trees.

Boracay is one of my favorite beaches

Hotel Recommendations: In the heart of the beach scene is the Henann Prime Beach Resort. Rates include a daily breakfast buffet. Hennan also features some amazing water features. For budget conscious travelers, there are many very affordable hotels to be found on Boracay, especially as the US dollar gains strength against the Philippine Peso. Here are a few of the better budget hotels on the island that are beachfront.

How to Get There: From Manila airport’s domestic terminal, you would then fly to the island of Panay in the Visayas.

You have two options of airports: Caticlan (closer, but much smaller with fewer flights and often higher fares) or Kalibo, which is farther away but has more carriers that serve the airport and offer cheaper fares, more flights, and more reliable service. The flight time from Manila to either airport is about one hour. There are also a few direct international routes to Kalibo like from Seoul, Singapore, Beijing, and more.

Double Six Beach, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

Kuta Beach Bali Indonesia Top 10 Beaches to Visit in January

Kuta Beach

Kuta is a beach and resort area in the south of the island of Bali, Indonesia.

No one probably recognizes Double Six by name but it’s one of the few outstanding Kuta area sandy beaches. It is west of the Denpasar Airport (DPS). One of Bali’s first tourist developments, it is experiencing a revitalization.

It’s often thought of as a party destination as well as surfing the Indian Ocean. As Double Six Beach wave breaks feature long, consistent waves, it’s a popular surf spot particularly for beginners.

The waves on Double Six Beach may be a thrill for the older kids, but may well be too much for the younger ones. Bali’s east coast beaches, such as Sanur’s, are milder. You can read my review of Sanur newly re-opened beachfront Hyatt Regency.

You will find the beaches filled with sunbathers and people-watching is very popular along the expansive sands of Double Six Beach. Shoppers are happy to know Kuta features large malls, plus vendors who sell everything from local art to jewelry to cold beverages. There is quite a nightlife here when the sun goes down across the Indian Ocean. Sunsets are sure to impress as the beach faces west.

There’s even a Waterbom water park filled with slides and pools set within tropical landscaping. Northwest of Kuta, Tanah Lot temple is well known for its dramatic location on a rocky perch overlooking the Indian Ocean.

The Stones Hotel - Legian Bali Marriott Autograph Collection

The Stones Hotel Legian Bali, Marriott Autograph Collection

Hotel Recommendations: The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, a Marriott Autograph Collection is situated right on Kuta Beach in the heart of the action. I managed to visit there earlier this year and was impressed by the property and service.

Another solid option is the Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach (an IHG property.) Don’t let the name fool you, it’s right on Double Six Beach.

Railay Beaches & Caves, Krabi, Thailand

Railay Krabi Thailand Top 10 Beaches to Visit in January_02

Thailand is a country that offers many great beach escapes. For me,  Krabi offers everything and is one of my favorites.

Railay Beach boasts expansive white-sand featuring soaring limestone cliffs and caves and nearby lush jungle surroundings. Beach goers will find white sand, warm waters and plenty of options for food and drinks right on the beach. When the light is just right, visitors get magnificent views across a greenish blue sea and surreal landscaping.

Railay is accessible only by long tailed boat from Ao Nang Beach, Krabi. You have to pay 200 Thai baht per person (~6 USD) each way, but the ride alone is an experience across the crystal clear waters.

There’s a couple of caves including the awesome Princess Cave. If you have the time and an adventurous spirit, try one of the many mountain climbing activities. The views from above will be some of your best memories.

Hotel Recommendations: The Railay Princess Resort & Spa is that kind of hotel which makes you feel like you are part of a travel commercial. It’s an awesome setting, has attentive service and the price is very reasonable for a resort. The resort is perfectly positioned next to the pier and close to restaurants, beaches and activities.

Dream Valley Resort is a short walk from the beach, but you can book a private bungalow for less than $300 for a week.

How to Get There: Krabi Airport (KBV) airport is served by direct flights from several cities, including Shanghai, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore. Flights also operate directly from Bangkok (BKK).

The Upshot

If you’re looking to escape the upcoming cold days and nights of winter’s wrath, there are a lot of beautiful beach destinations. I’ll be quick to admit that I’m a beach bum when the opportunity comes.

Related: 3 Secret Island Beaches That You Can Visit with Points & Miles

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4 comments

Christian October 5, 2019 - 2:56 pm

Nice list. Glad to hear some independent information on Railay Beach. I’ve considered the area a couple of times but haven’t bitten the bullet. Double Six is okay, but the whole Kuta area is mostly suited to surfing rather than swimming. Nusa Dua has nice beaches, although walking anywhere can be a chore. Is it still a giant pain to get to Boracay? That’s another place on my wish list.

Reply
Ed October 6, 2019 - 1:24 pm

Railay beach is overrated. Full of tourists, constant comings and goings of long tail boats and aggressive monkeys… Much better to head south to the island of Koh Jum. Try Oon Lee Beach resort

Reply
Miles Jackson October 6, 2019 - 3:34 pm

Ed,
I agree on the many boats, as this is a problem in many SE Asian beach destinations. But overall, I found Railay to be quite wonderful and unique. I never felt it had too many tourists and offered a lot of accommodation options for affordable prices. I’ll have to put Koh Jum on my list to check out next time I’m in the area. Thanks for your observations and for reading!

Reply
Miles Jackson October 6, 2019 - 3:39 pm

Hi Christian-
Thank you. To answer you about Boracay, I think the easiest way to get there is to fly into Caticlan (MPH). From there you must walk to a trike stand, then take trike to ferry terminal where you’ll board a smaller ferry boat (called a bangka) and once you arrive on Boracay fall into line for a trike (or mini-bus, often called multi-cabs) to your hotel. You can read more about Boracay and my review here. Unfortunately, many SE Asian beach areas have similar transportation impediments to overcome. But if you have the right attitude and appreciate the rewards you’ll discover at the end of it all you’ll have no problems getting around! Thank you for being a reader!

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