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Spend Christmas at the Beach

Spending Christmas on the Beach

Did you ever think maybe it’s time to forget the traditional white Christmas and spend the holidays somewhere warm and relaxing?  Although many beach destinations might also be a little chilly come late December, you can’t go wrong with Central America. While more northern climates are freezing their socks off, countries in this part of the world are enjoying blissful sunshine. Spending Christmas on the beach could be just what your wishlist is missing! So if you’re looking to get out of town this Christmas and make your way to the surf and sand, here are five great Central American destinations for a white hot Christmas.

1. Placencia, Belize

Sitting at the tip of a long sandy peninsula that juts out into the Caribbean Sea, Placencia is a small beach village that is home to just 500 people, but features some of southern Belize’s best bars and restaurants, as well as good accommodations. If you’re the type of person that is looking to simply kick-back, relax and enjoy the surf, sun, sand and maybe sip on a cocktail or two, then a trip to Placencia might be just the thing you need.

2. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The quaint town of San Juan del Sur, with its Victorian clapboard houses and vibrant local scene, makes for the perfect place to begin exploring the southern pacific beaches of Nicaragua. With some of the region’s most astounding beaches just a few minutes to the north and south, great local nightlife, bars, and restaurants, San Juan del Sur is the perfect spot to make your home base if you’re looking to explore multiple beaches and do a little touring.

3. Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Often ranked in the top beaches of Central America, Playa Tamarindo is not only a stunning beach in its own right, but it is also sandwiched between two beaches that are protected nesting sites for the giant leatherback turtle. The breeding period for these turtles is between October and March, so don’t be surprised if you see a few coming ashore to lay their eggs while you enjoy the surf and sand. Tamarindo is also home to great snorkeling, diving, fishing, and surfing.

4. Barra de Santiago, El Salvador

Tourism is relatively new to this area, so when you arrive in Barra de Santiago don’t be surprised if you’re treated more like a new friend than a tourist. This region might be best known for the Balsam Coast, which is an absolute paradise for surfers, but if you’re after some true isolation and relaxation, then Barra de Santiago is a must-see. Located in a national park threaded with mangroves and waterways that cover this large sandbar, the local eco-resort is made-up of thatched roof bungalows set amongst the palms and sand.

5. Bocas del Toro, Panama

This friendly and laid-back town is the perfect base for anyone looking to spend Christmas in Panama. The region is an absolute treasure trove of sandy islets and remote beaches, where you’ll find some of Central America’s best snorkeling sites. If you’re after a good mixture of exploration and relaxation, then the chilled-out atmosphere and diverse collection of islands and beaches here make Bocas del Toro a great spot for you.

Whatever your plans this Christmas, remember that just because you haven’t planned a getaway yet doesn’t mean you can’t plan some great last minute holidays.

Images by KTDrasky and Daquella manera used under Creative Commons License.

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christmas beach vacation

Best Christmas Beach Vacation Ideas

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 for a Family 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.

bahamas out islands

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!

Belize Beaches for an Amazing Family Beach Getaway

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.

christmas beach vacation

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.

Spend the Holidays with the Family in Costa Rica

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.

christmas beach vacation

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.

Consider Isla Mujeres for an Easy Family Christmas Beach Vacation

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.

Condo in Mexico

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.

Book a Family Christmas Beach Adventure to the U.S. Virgin Islands

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.

Camping on St John

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?

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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!

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