Where to travel in January

By Francesca Syz for High Life magazine, Travel columnist and editor.

Photography by Adobe Stock

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November 2017

If you’re looking to start the New Year off with a break away, we’ve rounded up some of the best winter sun destinations, from far-flung exotic escapes, to sunny stays closer to home.

Fort Lauderdale

The lowdown

A coastal city with a humid subtropical climate, Fort Lauderdale is hot all year round and, in summer, wet too. January is one of the driest months and the sea is still relatively warm. Just 50 kilometres up the coast from Miami, it was once considered its shy little sister. Now, with sophisticated art and food scenes, Fort Lauderdale is changing. Las Olas Boulevard is a strip packed with art galleries, boutiques, cafés and bars. The city’s nearby arts hub, the Flagler Arts & Technology Village district, is definitely worth a visit.

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Fort Lauderdale has risen so much in the gastronomic ranks, that its new moniker is ‘Fork Lauderdale’.


Fort Lauderdale has risen so much in the gastronomic ranks, that its new moniker is ‘Fork Lauderdale’. High on the cuisine scene radar is chef Michael Schulson’s take on Japanese cuisine, Monkitail. But if you’re around Las Olas and fancy typical American fare, check out trendy dive bar, Back Alley Bar & BBQ for pulled pork, mac ‘n’ cheese, and classic ribs.


Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, which sits on its own long, wide stretch of private beach, has a lagoon pool and an enormous spa. It’s also just an easy five-minute cab ride – or water taxi – to Las Olas Boulevard.

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  • Experience the natural wildlife in Costa Rica © Adobe Stock.

    Did you know…?

    Costa Rica only takes up around 0.03 per cent of planet’s surface but holds roughly five per cent of its biodiversity.

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  • Treat yourself to dinner at Monkitail in Fort Lauderdale.

    Hide and sing

    Hidden behind the dining room you’ll find secret cocktail and karaoke bar, Nokku, where sake is served into the wee small hours.

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  • Witness the power of Mother Nature at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote © Adobe Stock.

Costa Rica

The lowdown

With its pristine coastline and extraordinary, rainforest-filled interior, Costa Rica has long been a trailblazer in sustainable, conservation-minded tourism – and must be among the best family destinations in the world. It’s perfect for a wilderness adventure, whether on the ground, in a kayak or ziplining through the treetops. There are two seasons here – Green (rainy) and Dry (December to April). Go in January for less rain, fewer people and a landscape still lush from the rainy season.

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With the best of the sea and land on its menu, Kalú (meaning ‘meeting place’ in original Panamanian) is all about food in a social setting. Grab a seat on its beautifully airy terrace and tuck into a fusion of French and Costa Rican cuisine, such as lamb cutlets with white risotto. For something a little different, try the menu at La Bodeguita del Medio featuring Cuban chicken, plantain and yucca (plus a mojito or two).


The hilltop, adult-and-teen-only Gaia Hotel and Reserve, which sits within its own ten-acre nature reserve on the edge of the Manuel Antonio National Park, is a haven for endangered flora and fauna. The coast is within striking distance, but between the multiple pools, a spa and the most extraordinary natural setting on your doorstep, heading to the beach may not be top of your list.

  • Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of white sand beaches © Adobe Stock.


The lowdown

If you think Lanzarote is still the go-to place for cheap beach holidays, you’ve missed a few memos. A Unesco Biosphere Reserve, thanks to the work of influential local architect and environmentalist César Manrique in the 1960s, Lanzarote is now better known for its arresting boutique hotels, unique art and architecture, and otherworldly lunar landscapes. Go in January for warm, dry days and cool, star-filled nights.


Thanks to their location and climate, the Canary Islands are blessed with plentiful seafood and fresh produce, and Lanzarote is no exception, with most restaurants serving a ‘catch of the day’. Head up to the Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) and eat at El Diablo where meat and vegetables are cooked over an open furnace powered by the natural volcanic heat. Children and big kids will love Chacho Fresh Burger’s fully loaded burger menu, in Playa Blanca – try the Chacho Burger with goat’s cheese, rocket lettuce, and fig marmalade.


The friendly, privately owned Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort by Dorada Beach, in Playa Blanca, is the island’s prime resort. One of the bigger holiday centres, it makes an excellent base for sightseeing or beach lounging. Book the hotel’s four-day Open Water PADI diving course, which includes a visit to the eerie, but brilliant Museo Atlántico, by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, Europe’s first underwater sculpture park.

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