The best warm places to visit in December offer clear blue skies, balmy days and crystal-clear waters, offering the perfect winter escape.
Thankfully, sun-seekers are spoiled with choices for a pre- or post-holiday season break; for most, it’s only a matter of looking south. Idyllic islands in the Caribbean, cultured-city visits in Morocco, or tropical sojourns in Southeast Asia are all excellent destinations for sunny, festive fun.
Whether you’re seeking serenity on a secluded sun-kissed bay, active adventures along a tree-shaded trail or hoping to glimpse migratory marine life on your winter travels, these warm vacation spots in December offer an unforgettable end-of-year escape.
Mexico’s reputation for winter sun is undisputed, and the island of Cozumel, just a shop hop from the Yucatán Peninsula, is one of the country’s best warm vacation spots in December, with day-time temperatures hovering around 82℉ (28℃).
Among the best scuba diving spots in the Caribbean, Cozumel dazzles as much underwater as above. At the Cozumel National Marine Park, a 30,000-acre reserve, divers can descend into the clear waters to spot some of the thousands of species that call the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the world’s second-largest coral reef system, home.
If you prefer your nature experience on land, one of the best things to do in Cozumel is to visit the Punta Sur Eco Park. This vast, scenic nature reserve is blessed with diverse fauna and flora.
Turquoise waters lap against soft-white sands, endemic birds flit in the skies as bright as the lagoons below, and a towering lighthouse offers enchanting panoramas.
The Caribbean has no shortage of warm places to visit in December. Still, Aruba, basking in year-round sunshine, is undoubtedly one of the best.
Aruba is famed for its pristine, coral-white beaches, and lazy beach days are a staple of any visit to the island.
From the watersport-heavy shores of some of Aruba’s best beaches, Eagle and Palm Beach, to the more secluded mangrove-shrouded sands of Mangel Halt or De Palm Island, the island’s 42 miles of coastline are diverse and divine.
But Aruba isn’t only about bath-like waters. Adventure-seekers should head to Arikok National Park, a protected, almost desert-like landscape. Here, caves adorned with historic artworks and cacti-strewn terrain lead to the roaring waves of Conchi, a natural pool perfect for a refreshing dip.
In Oranjestad, the island’s capital, local artisans, upscale boutiques, and an array of first-class dining options await.
And if Aruba’s appeal isn’t enough for you, the other two ABC Islands—Bonaire and Curaçao—are equally delightful in December, making an island-hopping tour of the trio highly tempting.
World-famous music culture, a cerulean coastline, and some of the Caribbean’s tastiest cuisine collide in Jamaica, cementing the island as one of the best warm vacation spots in December for any kind of traveler.
Along the shore, sublime beaches such as Turtle Beach in Ocho Rios and Seven Mile Beach in Negril dazzle, while boat trips allow for a more intimate experience.
Other unmissable places to visit in Jamaica are the waterfalls at Reach or Dunn’s River Falls, rafting along the Rio Grande, or hiking in the Blue Mountains.
In the urban areas, culture takes center stage. Fans of reggae and Bob Marley in particular should plan a visit to both Trench Town & Culture Yard Museum, Marley’s former home-turned-cultural space, and the dedicated Bob Marley Museum.
Around Montego Bay, tour some of the stately old Great Houses; Rose Hall, said to be haunted, is one of the grandest.
The Canary Islands, Spain
Europe might not seem an obvious choice for a winter sun escape, but the Canary Islands, which are closer to Morocco than Spain, are one of the best warm places to visit in December. You’ll be able to enjoy traditional European Christmas Markets during a December visit, albeit with a sun-kissed twist.
Canary Island beach highlights include Gran Canaria’s seemingly never-ending Maspalomas Beach and Lanzarote’s Playa del Carmen, where beach bars and streaks of dark volcanic sands sit side-by-side.
To explore this autonomous Spanish community more actively, head to the Tilos de Moya reserve on Gran Canaria, where easy trails lead to an imposing canyon. On Lanzarote, Timanfaya National Park is a starkly beautiful place where you can learn more about the island’s constant volcanic activity.
After experiencing the natural side of Lanzarote, embrace the chance to slow down and sample local flavors at one of La Geria Valley’s vineyards. Dark sands and mineral-heavy soils contribute to a unique terroir, and this is your chance to sample the wines produced from the native Marmajuelo grapes.
Antigua, the largest isle of this three-island Caribbean nation, is one of the most tempting places to visit in December due to its scintillating shorelines.
Famed for its 365 beaches, one for every day of the year—although a recent artificial addition has bumped the number to a leap-year aligning 366—there is no shortage of places to bask in glorious sunshine.
From the serene sands of Galleon Beach, where snorkelers might spot turtles, to the more developed Dickenson Bay, you’re never far from inviting waters. Likewise, fresh Caribbean seafood is abundant—add a sprinkle of Susie’s Hot Sauce and a sampling of local rum for an authentic Antiguan experience.
Cultural attractions include the UNESCO-listed Nelson’s Dockyard, a former British naval base, and the impressive Fort James, which once served as St. John’s harbor primary protection.
Last, no visit to Antigua is complete without venturing to the Shirley Heights Lookout. A far-reaching postcard-style panorama astounds from this elevated position, with turquoise bays, bobbing boats, and low-slung verdant hills spilling out into the Caribbean sea beyond.
Key West, Florida
While winter has firmly cemented itself in the northern states by the last month of the year, Florida is still basking in sunshine. That’s why Key West—an island on the tip of the Florida Keys—is one of North America’s best warm places to visit in December.
As the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, a semi-tropical climate and mild temperatures define this colorful and creative destination, which has been called home by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. You’ll find museums dedicated to both writers in their former homes.
Downtown, atmospheric Duval Street is the island’s central hub, with eclectic bars, brimming boutiques and local artists’ galleries.
After souvenir shopping, head to Higgs Beach to soak up the winter sun during your day in Key West before snapping a selfie at the southernmost point of the continental United States, marked by a giant buoy.
St. Lucia is a sun-seeker’s paradise in December, offering myriad activities and landscapes to enjoy without the summer humidity.
Whether you want to embark on some of the Caribbean’s best hikes, sample Creole cuisine and local rums, or lounge on idyllic sands such as Reduit Beach, this pocket-sized island packs in plenty.
However, some of the best things to do in St. Lucia are discovered away from the shoreline. At the Sulphur Springs near Soufrière, you can relax in a mineral-rich mud bath set inside a dormant volcanic crater, wrapping up with a soothing waterfall shower.
To the south, the landmark Pitons, two dormant volcanic plugs, Petit Piton and Gros Piton soar, peaking at 2,588 feet. For those who tackle a guided ascent, the panoramic views are just a reward for the challenging climb.
December also brings its own magic with the Festival of Lights. This week-long cultural event sees lanterns illuminating doorways, ending with the National Day celebrations on December 13th. It’s also an excellent time to visit St. Lucia for glimpses of migrating humpback and pilot whales.
With no monsoons (unlike some other Southeast Asian countries at this time of year), Vietnam boasts some of Asia’s most consistently dry and warm vacation spots in December.
In the capital, Hanoi, the generally rain-free days are ideal for appreciating the architecture in the French and Old Quarters, strolling around Truc Bach or Hoan Kiem Lake or touring some of the city’s thousand-plus temples and pagodas.
From here, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay is only a short journey. Here, traditional junk boats or kayak tours will take you around cinematic limestone islands.
In the central region—anchored around Hue and Danang—attractions spill out from the countryside to the coast. The Golden Bridge, a suspended pedestrian walkway supported by a giant “hand” structure, offers breathtaking views of the Ba Na Hills. Nearby, Hoi An, arguably Vietnam’s prettiest town, is renowned for its canals, markets, and rainbows of lanterns.
Further south, you’ll find the hottest December days in the non-stop city of Ho Chi Minh. Cultural and historic spaces like the War Remnants Museum and Independence Palace provide respite from the midday heat.
British Virgin Islands
Known as the sailing capital of the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands is an excellent warm vacation spot in December to get out on the water, especially as this month signals the start of peak sailing season.
Try adjusting the ropes yourself onboard with a professional instructor, or sit back and admire the experts and flotillas while sipping a Painkiller cocktail, a creamy mix of coconut and Caribbean rum.
Beaches are also one of the BVI’s best assets, and you don’t need to venture far to enjoy some of the Caribbean’s finest sands. On Tortola, head for Cane Garden Bay to be lulled by a lapping-wave lullaby. The white-sand beaches of lush Jost Van Dyke island also deserve a dedicated day trip.
On Virgin Gorda, meanwhile, The Baths is a playground of giant granite boulders concealing shallow pools, caves, and turquoise lagoons.
While the BVI has a unique event to celebrate Christmas in July, they still reserve much of their festive cheer for December, meaning you’ll find a few Christmas Markets and celebrations taking place.
Morocco swelters in the summer, making winter a far more appealing time for sightseeing. In December, daytime temperatures hover around a pleasant 72℉ (22℃), offering the perfect climate to experience the cultured coastal cities of Casablanca and Tangier.
As the largest city in the country, Casablanca offers plenty. In the medina (the city’s old town), you can get lost among narrow streets, local craft stores, and hospitable cafes selling sweet mint tea before strolling the fashionable Corniche waterfront promenade.
Architectural highlights include the modern yet mesmerizing Hassan II Mosque, which claims the second-highest minaret in the world, and the strikingly white Casablanca Cathedral.
In Tangier, the labyrinth-like medina is equally as beguiling, with the city’s souk abuzz with trade and activity. For a slightly more serene experience, take it all in from afar at the Kasbah, an 18th-century hilltop fortress.
Alternatively, head inland towards the Rif Mountains, calling in at the town of Chefchaouen, characterized by its houses painted in multiple hues of blue.
Still, with Morocco being one of the best warm places to visit in December, you’ll likely want to enjoy some downtime along the coast, too. Inviting Achakar Beach, where the Strait of Gibraltar begins, is just a short drive from Tangier. On the Atlantic-facing side, Plage Aïn Diab—part of Casablanca’s Corniche—blends urban living with a surf-friendly swell.
December is the start of the dry season in the Bahamas, making it one of the best times to enjoy this 700-island-strong archipelago’s natural treasures.
But you don’t need to tour countless islands to be charmed; many of the best experiences are right on the doorstep of the capital city, Nassau. Walk among salmon-pink flamingos at Ardastra Gardens, hop on a bike tour of the historic downtown area, or simply sink into the soft sands of Cable Beach.
For an even more exclusive beach experience, slip away to Salt Cay (known as the Blue Lagoon), a private island just a stone’s throw from Nassau. On this retreat, you can go snorkeling among colorful coral reefs, sunbathe in serenity, or read under the shade of a coconut tree.
Alongside the expected Christmas cheer that comes with visiting The Bahamas during December, preparations for the kaleidoscopic cultural celebration of Junkanoo, a national festival hosted between Christmas and New Year’s Day, make the atmosphere even more festive.
The Galapagos Islands
December marks the start of The Galapagos‘ warm (and wetter) season. Showers are sporadic, and the humidity is still rising, making it an excellent time to island-hop across this pristine and protected volcanic archipelago.
The start of the season also delivers plenty more highlights, with warmer waters and calmer currents increasing visibility ideal for diving and snorkeling in the Galapagos. It’s also the last chance of the year to spot newly-hatched waved albatrosses on Española Island, as the chicks will have fledged by the end of the month.
Whether you’re admiring flamingos from the coral sands of Las Bachas Beach, spotting lava lizards on Rabida Island, or marveling at the Galapagos’ giant tortoises on Santa Cruz, this cluster of otherworldly island’s promises wildlife galore.
Are you eager to escape the winter chill and embark on a warm end-of-year escape? Browse Celebrity’s December cruises to start planning your next idyllic getaway.