Already sick of the polar vortex? You might have missed the cyber Monday specials to your favorite beach town but it’s not too late to book a flight and get the fu*k out of the cold and into warm water.
Here are eight recommendations for warm beaches for some serious winter R&R…
1. Curaçao: Cas Abou
Curaçao is a fabulous island 5 miles north of Venezuela. Home to over 140,000 residents from 55 different cultures, this island puts the official “C” in the Netherlands ABC Caribbean islands. Leave your suit and tie at the office and fill your suitcase with beach attire, sunscreen and diving necessities. Cas Abao is a popular local beach with a pristine white sandy coast, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There’s a great bar, restaurant, dive center, and plenty of picturesque palm trees waving in the breeze. Head up to Cas Abao early to get a prime chair so you can swim and sun yourself in total comfort. The reefs are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving while a pleasant raft is moored just off the beach for you to soak up the sun. Stay late so you can play in the surf with cute yogis like the guy above.
2. Aruba: Eagle Beach
Aruba is the ultimate winter beach destination. The “one happy island” is known for its powdery white sand beaches, friendly people, and gorgeous resorts. The local community boasts over ninety nationalities and the island prides itself on this diversity. With their rich Dutch and LGBT friendly roots, Arubans have a progressive view that is not always shared by their Caribbean neighbors. The best place to catch some surf and sand is at Eagle Beach, situated off the main road. This stretch – the widest beach on the island – considered one of the best (and most breathtaking) in the Caribbean, and of course, it’s now a hotspot for plenty of sun seekers. If you’re lucky to spot red and white markers on the beach it’s identifying turtle nests, which hatch at sunset. Stay late and watch the little hatchlings make their way into the ocean.
3. Key West: Higgs Beach
A long-standing queer destination as well as an historic and culturally rich town, Key West was the first American city to actively and openly recruit gay tourists. Key West has only a few beaches, and Higgs is the busiest. A great spot known for snorkeling, volleyball, jet skiing, or just lounging in a beach chair forgetting about the cold back home. Don’t want to leave Fido at the kennel? No worries, there’s a grassy area for dogs to live it up and run wild off-leash just beside the beach.
4. Puerto Vallarta: Playa Los Muertos
Playa Los Muertos is the epicenter of Puerto Vallarta. Situated just south of the Malecon and the Cuale River in the Romantic Zone (or “Old Vallarta”), the yellow sandy beach draws locals and out of town guests throughout the year. Rafael Zamarripa’s iconic sculpture, “Caballero del Mar,” or “The Seahorse” stands strong at the end of the beach, just off of the popular Mantamar Beach Club Bar & Grill. Architect Jesus Torres Vega designed the new Los Muertos Pier, which opened in the winter of 2013.
5. Saint Martin: Cupecoy
Saint Maarten, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is located on the Southern side of the Caribbean island shred with France. The island is just a few hours from Florida and the perfect place for a quick winter getaway. While Cupecoy Beach might be relatively small, this mighty clothing optional beach is a cluster of three beaches (the central beach is the gayest) situated on the Dutch side of the French border. Enjoy rich, coral sand just off of the protective sandstone cliffs.
6. Florianopolis: Praia Mole
Florianópolis is the capital of southern Brazil’s Santa Catarina state on Santa Catarina Island. One of the most beautiful beaches on the island is also one of the most convenient, Praia Mole, is a five-minute walk from Lagoon of Conceição, one of the most popular spots on the island. It’s no wonder why the locals choose Mole as their tanning hotspot.
7. Sydney: Obeslisk Beach
Sydney, the well-known gay epicenter of Australia and Oceana, is the capital of New South Wales. While Bondi might be one of the most popular beaches in the world our list wouldn’t be complete without a choice nude beach on the lineup. A local favorite, Obelisk Beach, is located on the southern side of Middle Head in Sydney Harbor. Strip down and nuzzle up to a local while indulging in the stunning views of Camp Cove and Parsley, Vaucluse and Watsons Bays off on the horizon.
8. Cancun: Playa Delfines
Given the proximity to the States and the accessibility to the beach, bars, restaurants, and luxury resorts Cancun is definitely a popular destination for travelers. Cancun offers a variety of gorgeous white sandy beaches and though the water is often too rough for swimming it’s certainly a paradise for surfers, snorkelers, and divers. Delfines is a popular place with all tourists but it’s definitely extremely gay friendly. The white sands are perfect for sun bathing, the water is many shades of blue and the view is incredible. Lay your town down and forget about the wind, the snow, your obnoxious co-workers or your ex back home.