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Christmas is coming near and what better way there is to spend it than taking a break from everything at one of these stunning tropical islands for your next vacation. It doesn’t matter if you are by yourself, with your loved one or a large family – going on a beach vacation is always a ton of fun. However, during the holiday seasons places get crowded real fast and prices soar, so it is important to do proper research before selecting your preferred destinations.

Below you can find our list of most recommended island getaways for this holiday season. Not all islands are created equally, but we have tried to highlight the ones that offer the most balanced experiences. This means they can suit you no matter what your budget and time restrictions are like – you’re still guaranteed to have a wonderful vacation if you choose any of these places.

1) Mexico

Beach fun in Cancun, Mexico. Photo by Linda Aksomitis.

Beach fun in Cancun, Mexico. Photo by Linda Aksomitis.

Mexico is one of the best choices for a short beach getaway during the cold months. There are dozens of beautiful islands to choose from, but in our opinion, Cancun is by far the best one. Technically not an island, but on the northeastern edge of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the upsides of choosing it are clear. Relatively close so you save a lot of time on travelling, it’s also very easy to get by for English speakers.

We don’t necessarily recommend going to Mexico during the holidays though, as it does tend to be very crowded. You can still find a place to stay of course, but it might mean you’d have to keep your standards somewhat flexible. This is why this country is more suitable for young couples and backpackers during that time. More established travelers or families who prioritize comfort might do well to look further down the list for better alternatives.

2) Puerto Rico

San Juan National Historic site fortification was built in the 16th century to protect - now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

San Juan National Historic site fortification was built in the 16th century. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Puerto Rico is also quite near, and everyone there speaks English. The beaches and nature are just as beautiful as in Mexico, and the country is much less crowded and touristy. Most visitors to the country choose to stay in San Juan, the capital, since that’s the most convenient choice and keeps you close enough to all the beaches and beautiful spots you might wish to explore.

Puerto Rico is much less developed than most of the other locations on this list, so it’s also not as suitable for luxury travelers. Still, there are a lot of great hotels to choose from, and this beautiful and unique country is a fascinating choice for people who seek a good combination of stunning nature and interesting culture and history.

3) French Polynesia

This turquoise lagoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, is protected by a coral reef. It’s best known for its scuba diving.

This turquoise lagoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, is protected by a coral reef. It’s best known for its scuba diving.

If you were wondering where the luxury, all-inclusive places are – this is the first real option on this list. French Polynesia is comprised of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, the most notable of which are Tahiti and Bora Bora. These all offer picturesque white sand beaches, volcano filled islands and stunning coral reefs and lagoons.

However, these islands are best known for there iconic overwater bungalows in luxurious 5 stars hotels. This applies especially to Bora-Bora, which is home to some of the world’s best resorts. If you want to travel in style, and money isn’t an issue, this place should be high upon your list. It is the perfect choice for honeymooners – what can be more romantic then having your own private beach in the middle of paradise?

4) Seychelles

Choose one of the 115 Seychelles tropical islands for your next vacation for its coral reefs and nature reserves and rare animals.

Choose one of the 115 Seychelles tropical islands for your next vacation. You’ll find coral reefs, nature reserves, rare animals and lots of adventure!

This group of islands just east of Africa is gaining a lot of popularity over recent years. This place has become synonymous with exclusiveness and luxury, so it’s no wonder it is one of the favorite vacation spots for the rich and famous. While some resorts there cost up to 2000$ a night, there are also plenty of options that a fit a more sensible budget.

Flying into Seychelles is complicated and usually involves a layover at one of the gulf countries. You actually consider spending a few nights in Dubai for example before heading out on your way. From most major European cities, travel time to Seychelles is typically 13-14 hours.

It is well worth it though, since once you get there you are promised a once in a lifetime experience. The beaches are perfect and very secluded, the coral reefs are stunning and the wildlife is extremely diverse and unique. The Seychelles is home to many endangered species, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world – for example the Aldabra giant tortoise.

5) Philippines

The Banaue Rice Terraces are believed to be around 2000 years old and are sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world. Photo by Linda Aksomitis.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are believed to be around 2000 years old and are sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world. Photo by Linda Aksomitis.

Another up and coming destination is the Philippines, which is also probably the most well-balanced item on this list. This country caters to virtually all types of travelers and it doesn’t matter if you are looking to splurge or travel on a budget – you can have a wonderful time there. With more than 7000 different islands to choose from, anyone can easily find the perfect place for his preferred type of holiday.

That said, most visitors tend to focus on a couple of specific islands. Palawan, Boracay and Siargao have all been named in the top 5 islands in the Asia just recently, so those are always a safe bet. If you wish to stray off the beaten path though, there are plenty of other equally beautiful places to choose from. Planning a vacation in such a large country can be challenging, especially since transfers between islands can be quite chaotic. For that reason, it might be better to book a package to the Philippines through a local agency.

6) Thailand

Take an elephant-back safari adventure, hiking trail, raft, canoe or kayak to explore the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Khao Sok National Park, Khlong Sok, Thailand. Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

Take an elephant-back safari adventure, hiking trail, raft, canoe or kayak to explore the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Khao Sok National Park, Khlong Sok, Thailand. Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

Thailand is always a safe choice for travelers who seek a tropical getaway. The country is such a tourist hotspot, that you can rest assured your entire vacation will go smoothly and you’ll be able to enjoy the best service imaginable. For some, that does take away a bit from the authentic experience, but it does mean Thailand is a good choice for families who prioritize safety and comfort.

There are plenty of exciting islands all over the country, with Samui, Phangan and Phuket being the most famous ones. Smaller islands such as Koh Tao or PhiPhi for example are perfect for those who seek a more relaxed and private atmosphere. The best thing about Thailand is the perfect mixture it offers between nature and culture. The food is amazing as well, so you really enjoy a complete experience while visiting the country.

What’s Your Favorite Tropical Island Adventure?

Have you visited one of these islands — we’d love to hear about your adventures in the comments below. If you have another favorite island destination, let us know!

 

Joanne Rivers is a freelance travel writer.

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About the Photo

The photo in the header above was taken by Linda Aksomitis in Kiangan, in the Philippine municipality of Banaue in Ifuao province, Philippines. 

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