At the mere thought of the phrase ‘polar vortex’, Canadians across the nation unite in a bone-shaking shudder. With memories from last winter season’s necessity for triple layers and an extra shot of warming whiskey to get through the night (or day… I’m not judging), a beach holiday this season has never been more appealing (and necessary; let’s face it: can you get though the next six months without a ray of sunshine? Me neither.) Trade snow for sand this holiday and cleverly live like the locals and in-the-know visitors with this ultimate beach travel guide.
If a blazing hot sun and crowded beaches aren’t your thing, take full advantage of Tré³ia’s quieter tourist season during the winter months and revel in Euro glamour without pretention (or price). Only an hour from Lisbon by ferry, this chic and sophisticated beach town is Portugal’s best-kept secret, leaving the southern coast to those less informed. Book a room in the art deco-esque Blue & Green Tré³ia Design Hotel for its deluxe comfort, incredible beach views and proximity to urbanization. Still flush with sea- and wildlife, relish nature’s beauty in Tré³ia’s traditional fishing villages and dig in to a decadent seafood risotto.
Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Every Euro Girl worth her perfectly pastel Laduré©e macarons used to flock to the Canary Islands for their beach frolics, and many still do. Lucky for me, my BFF Euro Girl’s little sister is a flight attendant, and when deciding on a sunny destination to visit together last holiday season, were told this African island was a hidden gem. With its supremely tranquil vibe and the comfort of many established resorts lining the coast, this is the ultimate chill beach holiday that is perfect for a rejuvenated return. Enjoy an active vacation with tons of watersports offered along the stretches of gorgeous beaches, or work up an appetite ripping around sand dunes on a 4×4. Afterwards, there are plenty of decadent and delicious dining options to refuel for the evening.
St. Martin/ St. Maarten
Although this Caribbean island is a tiny one, it is actually two separate entities, with France owning the northern half of the island and The Netherlands owning the south. Truly different in nearly every way (currency, governments, language), it’s a cultural paradise for visitors of the island. The French side boasts some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean, with must-eats lining the popular street Grand Case. Lolo’s (which stand for their low, low prices) BBQ the most incredible creole food, and stand beside five star French restaurants. Worth the trip itself: amazing pharmacies bursting with French beauty loot. Stock. Up.
The Dutch side is Americanized and has great shopping, casinos and nightlife, like Sky Beach Bar, a rooftop bar with trendy, lounge-y house music and an actual sand floor. No matter the side, both have absolutely stunningly picturesque beaches that range from completely secluded to colada-soaked liveliness. Don’t miss Kokomo Beach, Bar & Restaurant on a Sunday, and definitely go early and eat anything and everything on the menu.
Melbourne is Sydney’s cooler, more understated cousin, and Christmas time is the perfect time to explore — it is, after all, Australia’s summer season. With holiday display storefronts that rival 5th Avenue’s, Melbourne has some of the planet’s best and most unique shopping. Luckily, many of the major shops downtown are open late to ensure you don’t miss valuable sunny beach time on one of Melbourne’s many beautiful shorelines. Not to miss: the Sass & Bide outlet and a caramel slice from Chimmys on shoptastic Bride Road, and the Russian themed institution Borsch, Vodka and Tears on the painfully hip Chapel Street. The ultra trendy bar scene in Melbourne is bursting with incredible cocktail lounges, supper clubs, dance clubs and everything in between, too. Stumble down any alleyway through an unmarked door to find one where locals like to hang out, and you’ll most likely be greeted with a shooter-filled syringe.