The holidays are a magical time of year. The snow falls, the fireplace crackles and the egg nog flows.
I absolutely love the preparation, the planning and the excitement of the holidays. And especially with young kids in the house, the holiday energy reaches a fever pitch by Christmas Eve.
I love the holiday season. I really do. But I have something to admit.
Last year we spent the week between Christmas and New Years in Mexico on the island of Isla Mujeres. And this Christmas beach vacation was a-freaking-mazing!
Because to be honest, by the time Christmas actually arrives, I am kind of over the holidays. I’m usually pretty wiped out after all the shopping, decorating, eating, drinking and merry-making from Thanksgiving all the way through December.
So packing up and heading south on Christmas day was one of the best decisions we made all year. If you’re considering a Christmas beach vacation, I can wholeheartedly endorse that idea!
Here are a few of my top picks for the best Christmas beach vacation.
The Bahamas Out Islands are considered to be the “Caribbean Connoisseurs” destination. Consider the Out Islands if you’re looking for a place to relax, reconnect and keep away from the crowds.
The Abacos, a 120-mile chain of islands (kind of a mini-Bahamas within the Bahamas), are perhaps the most accessible of the Out Islands. Here you’ll also find the widest range of accommodations; bungalows, villas, vacation rentals and a few larger resorts. The tourist board website is a great place to start looking for a place to stay in the Out Islands.
While you’re in the Out Islands, be sure to enjoy the white – and the pink – sandy beaches. You’ll find a variety of nature trails and hikes spread out among the four national parks located within The Abacos, where you can see orchids, Caribbean parrots and exotic marine life. Kids also love seeing these famous swimming island pigs in the Bahamas Out Islands!
Just short 2.5-hour flights from many airports in the southern Unites States, the best Belize beach vacations all include the island of Ambergis Caye. Originally put on the map as a mecca for divers, this funky beach town has grown into a fun home base for a week at the beach. Activities on Ambergis Caye revolve around the water; diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing. Golf carts are the main form of transportation on this island.
Las Terrazas Resort is an Ambergis Caye family favorite. When traveling to the beach with kids it’s important to stay someplace where you can spread out as well as prepare some of your own meals. This family-friendly hotel checks all the boxes. Select fro a range of “town home” rooms available, all including kitchen and sitting area. And the La Terrazas private, white sand beach is one of the largest on Ambergis Caye.
Especially if you have older kids, you may also want to consider a visit to San Ignacio while on your Belize Christmas beach vacation. Here you can visit ancient Mayan ruins and learn about the culture and history of this part of Central America. I like to plan this active and historical type of activity early in the vacation, so you can fully relax once you get to the beach.
Costa Rica is a seriously fun place to visit around Christmas, as this country is host to one of the most traditional Christmas celebrations in the region. The celebration goes on for weeks. There are three Christmas parades; El Carnival with dancers and musical groups from all across the country, El Tope, a parade of show horses and decorative hand-painted ox carts, and the favorite, El Festival de Luzes, a nighttime parade filled with thousands of decorative lights.
These are magic events and well worth scheduling your trip to be in San Jose during one or more of these parades.
Costa Rica is a great option if you’re keen to stay active during your Christmas beach vacation. Spend a portion of your trip next to the magnificent Arenal volcano on Guanacaste’s white-sand beaches.
Then head to another amazing beach, one of the best in the country in fact, at Playa Conchal. I love this Christmas beach vacation package from Vacations Costa Rica, which combines these spectacular Costa Rica beaches.
My family spent Christmas on Isla Mujeres island last year and loved every minute of it. Even though this island is only a quick ferry ride from Cancun, it feels miles away from the mega-resorts, crowds and shopping malls.
We stayed at the Ixchel Beach Hotel, and of course loved having a kitchen and spent a fair amount of time in their beachfront pool. But what we loved most was being right on the magnificent North Beach, the best beach on Isla Mujeres island. The water here is a stunning shade of turquoise and stays very shallow far out, so you don’t have large waves and it’s safe for small children.
During the week between Christmas and New Years there were many private boats parked near North Beach, creating a very fun, festive atmosphere every day.
Be sure to rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres at least one day during your trip to fully explore the island.
St. John, which along with St. Croix and St. Thomas make up the U.S. Virgin Islands, is perhaps best known for maintaining over two-thirds of it’s land mass as protected national forest. You won’t find a single resort or condo on any St. John beach.
No cruise-ship ports or airports either. While there is a main town, a number of private villas and a few hotels, St. John maintains a totally natural and pristine atmosphere.
If you’re feeling adventurous or looking to save money on accommodations, consider camping on St. John. That’s right, I said camping! Kids love the adventure of camping on the beach, and you’ll love sleeping just a few feet away from the magical blue ocean in this secluded part of the Caribbean.
So what do you think? Is a Christmas beach vacation something your family would consider?
Out Islands image by Scott Smith via Flickr
La Terrazas image by Patton via Flickr
This post is part of the fun Travel Advent Calendar series, check it out here for fun travel posts the entire month of December!