Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

Welcome to the “Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February!”  Today’s high in Bend, Oregon (where I currently reside) was a non-toasty 48 degrees!  So my mind got to wandering….to warmer climes, & I began to wonder what the warmest destinations are in January, all around the world.  So that’s exactly what this article discusses, & here are my requirements: we need day-time highs of at least 75° (23° Celsius), & water temperatures about the same!  Tall order??  Well, we’re going to be greedy here & ask for it ALL! 

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January and February, Girl Who Travels the World

Cozumel may not be the first place you think of for a Mexican getaway ~ but the weather is just about PERFECT in January.

Map of Warm Weather Spots in January 

We’ll start in the U.S. with two spots that are warm enough to make this list, & then move out into the world from there: 1) Miami; 2) Oahu, Hawaii; 3) Cozumel, Mexico; 4) St. Lucia, in the Carribbean; 5) Cartagena, Colombia; 6) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 7) Bali; & 8) Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket

Bali

Hawaii

Cartagena

Cozumel

Cebu, Philippines

St. Lucia

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

1) Miami, Florida

Average Daily Temperature = 76°F, Average Water Temperature = 77°F (25°C)

Did you know that the warmest place in the continental United States in January is Miami, Florida??  Even within sunny Florida, it’s the warmest city at this time of year.  And it’s got happening South Beach, with its Cuban influence & trendy hotels like the W, delicious eats like Joe’s Stone Crab, & TONS of nightlife.  Check out the art deco along Ocean Drive, play a round of golf, or simply enjoy one of the only places where you can swim in nice, warm water in January…

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations in January and February, Girl Who Travels the World, Miami, North Beach

Miami is the warmest city in the continental U.S. in January.

2) Oahu, Hawaii 

Average Daily Temperature = 79°F, Average Water Temperature = 76°F (24°C)

Surfers from all over the world head to Oahu’s famous North Shore every December & January, when swells reach their peak.  Billabong holds a famous surf competition this time of year at infamous “Pipeline” ~ but the truth is, even if you’re not an adrenaline junkie: the Hawaiian Islands are the perfect spot for a January getaway.  Hotel prices peak during the holidays & around New Year’s Eve…so you may get lucky finding good deals in January & February.  Also try the Big Island for fewer crowds & lower prices. 

Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is a perfect place for beginners to learn surfing year-round, as its waves are calm & mellow, with Diamond Head forming a perfect backdrop.  On the Big Island, you can night-dive with manta rays or find amazing snorkel spots with turtles & even wild dolphins…

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Pipeline in Oahu

Oahu’s famous North Shore goes OFF every December & January, which brings surfers from all over the world to Hawaii. But don’t worry: the waves at Waikiki are calm & small!

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January and February, Girl Who Travels the World

The Big Island is usually less crowded than the other islands (especially Oahu), & also typically has lower prices.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

3) Cozumel or Tulum, Mexico 

Average Daily Temperature = 81°F, Average Water Temperature = 79°F (26°C)

The Yucatan Peninsula is just about perfect in January, & you’ve got loads of great beach destinations: Cancun is good for families with its all-inclusive, beachfront resorts; Playa del Carmen is perfect for party-lovers & those who love a good “scene.”  To get off-the-beaten path & more on “Island Time,” you can head out to Isla Holbox or Isla Mujeres.  But personally, my two favorite spots in the Yucatan are Cozumel & Tulum.  Why, you may ask

Cozumel I love for its diving & snorkeling, & the pace of life there reminds me of old-school Newport Beach or San Clemente ~ before they got crazy popular.  Yes, it gets busy with cruise ship tourists: but only for brief times, & they almost always stick to the main drag.  If you venture just a couple streets over: you’ll only find locals.  And Tulum I love because it has the best beaches in the Yucatan: they’re wide & stretch on for miles.  Tulum has a relaxed, bohemian feel with sandy streets, fashionable boutiques in beach-y shacks, & hip string of hotels that sit right on the beach.  No high rises here! 

For a full run-down on all cities in the Yucatan, read this article.

Best Cozumel Sunsets, Girl Who Travels the World

Not only is the water warm in Cozumel, with AMAZING diving & snorkeling….but the sunsets are unreal.

Yucatan Travel Guide, Tulum

The beaches in Tulum are my favorite in the Yucatan…

4) St. Lucia, in the Caribbean 

Average Daily Temperature = 83°F, Average Water Temperature = 81°F (27°C)

Though the Caribbean is known for being warm year-round: St. Lucia is among the warmest Caribbean islands in January.  And it’s one of the most scenic, with the dramatic Piton Mountains rising sharply above the sea, creating an absolutely epic backdrop ~ which the Jade Mountain Resort takes full advantage of.  St. Lucia is ideal for a romantic getaway, & features reef-dives, volcanic beaches, rain forest hikes, waterfalls, sleepy little fishing villages, & upscale luxury resorts.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January and February, Girl Who Travels the World, St. Lucia in Carribbean

Magical St. Lucia.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

5) Cartagena, Colombia

Average Daily Temperature = 87°F, Average Water Temperature = 81°F (27°C)

Oooohhh….I just love Cartagena!  It’s got more spirit & liveliness than most places on this list ~ but if you don’t like humidity, you may want to look elsewhere: it gets HOT & a bit STICKY here!  All the better for those salsa nights.  Water temps are in the 80° range, with air temps close to 90°…which simply isn’t for everyone.  I spent most of February in Cartagena, & some days the heat got oppressive, but for the most part, I loved it!  And the spirit of the city, with its rooftop bars & pools, meandering cobble-stone streets, colorful buildings, & the gorgeous Rosario Islands give you plenty of opportunities to cool off. 

For more photos of Cartagena, click here.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Cartagena

The beaches in Cartagena are pretty good ~ but the beaches on nearby Rosario Islands are AMAZING!! Definite “Gilligan’s Island” vibes…

6) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Average Daily Temperature = 87°F, Average Water Temperature = 77°F (25°C)

They say that some of the most beautiful people in the world (like perhaps Gisele Bundchen) are from Brazil.  And you can see many of them frolicking in itsy bitsy, teeny weeny bikinis on beaches like Copacabana & Ipanema.  I never made it to Brazil in all my South America travels, but its warm January temps still secured a spot on this list.  And pretty much everyone I met who traveled there RAVED about Brazil’s beaches!!!  If you’re looking for a sexy beach vacation in South America: Brazil is the place. 

More killer beaches in Brazil: Florianopolis, Buzios, & the #1 place I wanted to visit in Brazil ~ Fernando de Noronha.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Fernando de Noronha

Exquisite Fernando de Noronha.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World

The Miramar Hotel, overlooking the beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

7) Bali, Indonesia 

Average Daily Temperature = 79°F, Average Water Temperature = 84°F (29°C)

Bali is currently the ultimate travel blogger’s paradise: everyone & their brother seems to have picked up & moved to Bali!  And as you can see from its balmy temperatures: Bali is an ideal January beach destination, with almost too many picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy beaches to name: Seminyak, Kuta, Canguu, the Uluwatu Temple overlooking Bingin Beach, & Klingking Beach (pictured below). 

Bali isn’t a county ~ in case you were wondering….it’s part of Indonesia, & largely believed to be one of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands.  It’s also where Elizabeth Gilbert “Eat, Pray, & Loved” ~ Bali was her final of three destinations.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Klingking Beach, Bali

Klingking Beach in Bali.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Bali Rice Fields by Ubud

Swing in Bali!

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January & February, Girl Who Travels the World, Bali Rice Fields by Ubud

Rice fields near Ubud, Bali.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

8) Phuket or Krabi, Thailand 

Average Daily Temperature = 81°F, Average Water Temperature = 82°F (28°C)

Finally, we come to beautiful Thailand.  Dry season here is from November to early April (which means it’s NOT “Monsoon Season!”), & famous beaches like Krabi & Phuket are at near-ideal times to visit in January.  Phuket has an international airport on the north side of the island, & its main town is Patong ~ which has a gorgeous beach, but can feel very busy & touristy.  For more peace & quiet on Phuket: stay further from Patong, or venture over to Krabi with its towering monoliths rising out of the Andaman Sea.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January and February, Girl Who Travels the World

Imagine yourself relaxing on this beach in Phuket, mimosa in hand…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Thailand Travel, Girl Who Travels the World, Ao Nang, Krabi

Ao Nang is in the Krabi region of Thailand, & offers breathtaking sunsets & many ocean-view, luxury hotels.

Best Warm Weather Beach Vacations for January

I hope this post has got your wheels turning about where you want to visit this January & February, to escape the winter doldrums.  The Yucatan, Brazil, Thailand….where do you most want to go..??  Type it in the search bar below & start dreaming!

xoxo Noelia

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