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Our ten best holiday destinations for 2019

Wondering where to go in 2019 and utterly spoiled for choice? We can help you.

Whether you’re a self-appointed yogi, a hippy surfer-dude, or a professional beach bum, we’ve pulled together the most popular 2019 beach holiday destinations our travellers have opted for so far to alleviate the November blues.

STA’s package holidays fuse beach-lounging with outdoor adventures and partying. Read on to discover paradisiacal white sandy-beaches, cracking surfing destinations and beautiful hidden coves that we probably should have kept secret… Beach, pleeease.

 

1. Bali

 

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Why? Bali is every traveller’s dream, home to an array of dazzling temples, rippling rice terraces, multicultural cuisine, immense volcanoes, gushing waterfalls, gorgeous natural surrounds, surf meccas and banging nightlife in Kuta and Legian.

Where to go in Bali: Surfers should head to Batu Belig Beach for its epic waves and party-goers to Seminyak beach resort. Snorkel to see kaleidoscopic sealife on Nusa Dua’s golden beaches.

When to go to Bali: Shoulder season (May, June and September) is perhaps your best bet, as you’ll get the drier weather, better deals and less tourists than high season (July, August and December).

Intrigued? Check out our full Bali travel guide.

2. Sri Lanka

 

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Why? Hellooo, mountainous landscapes, white-sandy beaches, abundant wildlife, tuk-tuks, tea-sippin’, killer hikes, scenic train rides and a top-notch culture. Plus, the Sri Lankan locals are among the friendliest you’ll encounter anywhere in the world, and this is all before you hit the beaches. Only just re-opened to tourism after years of civil unrest, it’s no wonder this untouched island has topped every traveller’s lust list for the whole of 2018!

Where to go in Sri Lanka: Surfers – Arugam Bay on the east coast, or the surfer village and party town of Hikkaduwa on the southwest coast are your calling. Wildlife lovers, head to Marissa or Tangalle on the south coast to get a unique chance to see blue whales in the waves, turtles hatching on the beach and elephants not far away in the neraby Udawale or Yala national parks. The best bit? Since the island is relatively small, it’s super-easy to beach hop around all of these beaches!

When to go to Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is pretty much a year-round destination, but monsoons affect the climate at different points of the year in different parts of the country. Generally, your best bet for good weather will be to visit between December to March if you’re exploring the west, south coasts, and hill country. As for the east coast, travel to Sri Lanka from Apr/May to September. Nomatter when you decide to visit, there’s always somewhere sunny with great surf.

Check out our Sri Lanka travel guide for more information, inspiration, cheap flights and ludicrously cheap beach break packages.

 

3. Thailand

 

Why? An oldie, but a goodie, this Asian destination never gets old. And each time we go back, we encounter different experiences, fresh idyllic islands and new favourite beaches. Think towering limestone cliffs, Buddhist temples galore, friendly elephants, even friendlier locals, and the most mouth-watering food. And, with its epic Full Moon parties and bucket-sized cocktails, Thailand is your sociable backpacker’s haven.

Where to go in Thailand: For gorgeous islands and spectacular sunsets, the Andaman side (on the west coast of this long, thin country) is the place to be. Koh Phi Phi may be hibernating for now but Phuket, Krabi, Railay and Koh Lanta still offer the same vibes and landscapes arguably more staggering than their famous brothers.

Over on Thailand’s eastern coast, Koh Samui offers chilled out holiday vibes whereas the idyllic backpacker paradise of Koh Phangan is the place to be for Full Moon, half-moon and pretty much Every-other-kind-of-Moon parties which happen almost nightly. Don’t let Koh Phangan’s ravey reputation put you off though: there’s a lot to this island waiting to be explored.

When to go to Thailand: Wanna hear the best thing about Thailand? It’s a year-round destination. But for a drier climate, we recommend visiting anytime from early November to April, to avoid the rainy season. Seas the day guys.

Get clued up on all things Thailand with our Thailand travel guide.

 

4. Croatia

 

Why? Probably because Croatia, as a whole, is legit one of the most underrated, and beautiful destinations in the world (sorry, Thailand, we still love you)! Walk in the footsteps of Game of Thrones stars in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, see UNESCO-listed lakes, swim in waterfalls that could compete with southeast Asia’s, and explore sprawling National Parks, jagged mountain ranges and scenic beaches while you island hop around the Adriatic… or party for days in unspoiled paradise. Now home to some of Europe’s best dance festivals, Croatia has overtaken Ibiza as the summer party capital for Europe.

Where to go in Croatia: Literally anywhere! Head to Stiniva Beach in Vis to swim surrounded by limestone cliffs. For beaut bays, beaches and parties, travel to the Pakleni Islands: Hvar, Brac and Vis.

When to go to Croatia: Summer weather is pretty fab in Croatia, but we’d recommend that you head there either from May-Jun or Sept-Oct to avoid the franticness of the school holidays.

 

5. Portugal

 

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Why? Come hither for glorious beach sunsets, fresh seafood, mosaic-clad buildings, wine-tasting, surfing and to-die-for pastéis de nata (custard tarts).

Where to go in Portugal: Head to the coast of Alentejo for hot surfing spots, to Albufeira in the southern Algarve region for golden sands and rugged cliffs, as seen in the photo above. Arrabida National Park in Setubal is a pretty breathtaking environment for a long, leisurely swim… and then for to-die-for, wine-fuelled, art-filled city life, there’s always Lisbon and Porto.

When to go to Portugal: Summer runs from June to September, although be warned that July and August are hot in da club. Spring, you’ll find flowers in the hillsides, and October (early Autumn) offers a more pleasant climate, and less people. June-mid September marks the official swimming season.

Check out our full Portugal travel guide here.

 

6. Greece

 

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Why? Crumbly feta cheese, sticky-sweet baklava, tasty moussaka… sorry, just drooled a lil’ bit. Not only is Greek cuisine pretty damn delicious, but the country is also home to stunning beaches, breathtaking islands and ridiculously diverse landscapes.

Where to go in Greece: Potentially the most papped beach in the country, Myrtos beach in Kefalonia island is popular for good reason, with its surrounding cliffs and startlingly blue seas. The creamy sands and crystal lagoons of Balos beach in Crete are home to fantastic snorkelling. See the white volcanic rock Sarakiniko Beach for an alternative beach experience.

When to go to Greece: Flock to Greece in May to see wildflowers and experience less tourists (but colder seas). Travel from June to August and guaranteed that it will be super hot and pretty busy, but ideal for partying. Journey over in Autumn (September and October are your best months) for warm waters, whale watching and sunny days without the summer crowds.

Take a peek at our full Greece travel guide here.

7. Mexico

 

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Why? Find historic Maya ruins, incredible cuisine (it’s not all fajitas y’know – wait ’til you try the tacos!), mountains, volcanoes, tropical beaches, UNESCO-listed sights, spooky festivals, amazing national parks and glistening snorkelling opportunities in this culturally rich country.

Where to go in Mexico: Mexico is huuuge. But thankfully for us sun-worshipping Brits, the Yucatan peninsula, closest to us, is where all the best beaches are, as well as the best cenotes (cave-like swimming holes) and Chichen Itza. For warm waters and pristine beaches punctuated by Mayan ruins, head to Tulum. Sun-worshippers should head to the famous Playa del Carmen for abundant umbrellas, blue seas and bars and restaurants. Die-hard party animals will love Cancun.

For something a little more off the beaten track, (and for awesome surf), head to the long sunny stretch of coastline that is Puerto Escondido in the Oaxaca region.

When to go to Mexico: Arguably Dec-April is the best time to visit Mexico to avoid rainy season and enjoy endless sunny spells. Partygoers should visit in March and April for epic nightlife in central Cancun (Spring Break, hell yeah), and Puerto Vallarta for whale watching.

Check out our full Mexico travel guide here.

 

8. Hawaii

 

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Why? This holiday destination is one for those who love the drama. See volcanoes up close, navigate your way through hiking trails amongst the luscious vegetation of Kauai Island, and go wildlife-spotting and surfing in a country that’s been the movie set for Lost, Jumanji and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Where to go in Hawaii: Make headway to Honolulu on Oahu island for buzzing nightlife, Kailua Beach for activities galore, and Tunnels Beach in Kauai for laid-back snorkelling with rugged mountains as your backdrop.

When to go to Hawaii: Insider tip alert! May and September are pretty great months to visit, considering you’ll be there for optimum weather, be around less tourists, and generally enjoy a cheaper holiday.

Check out our full Hawaii travel guide and look for beach breaks here.

 

9. Cuba

 

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Why? Step back in time to admire colourful colonial buildings and vintage cars. Shimmy up to salsa clubs and hike in verdant national parks. Learn about the country’s gruelling history, drink a load of coffee, and relax on Caribbean beaches… freshly-rolled cigar optional.

Where to go in Cuba: There are plenty of amazing beaches a stone’s throw from Havana meaning you can have the best of beach and city. But for the real-deal Caribbean dream, head north to the iconic Cayos. Here you can party on iconic Varadero beach, or spot flamingos on Cayo Coco.

When to go to Cuba: For top weather, you’ll want to fly to Cuba from December to May where the days are sunny and dry and the skies are blue. Wet season starts in June and ends in October; you’ll find less tourists during this period, but the weather will be more unpredictable!

 

10. The Philippines

 Chilling in the Philippines

Why? Because it’s the new kid on the block when it comes to southeast Asian paradises. Find eclectic landscapes with rippling rice terraces and limestone karsts, glistening lagoons to dip your toes into, amazing diving opportunities and colourful festivals. Oh, and the beaches are pretty awesome too if you were wondering.

Where to go in the Philippines: Yogis should head to the coastal city of Puerto Princesa to zen; for kayaking and limestone crags, El Nido in Palawan is your best bet. For volcanic rocks and white sands, travel to Palaui Island in the Cagayan Valley Region.

When to go to the Philippines: Dry season in the Philippines runs from Nov-Apr, and the sun is strongest in March and April (although be warned guys, it gets hoot). Hot to trot, check.

Check out our full Philippines travel guide here.

 

Desperate to kick off your 2019 with some vitamin sea as much as we are? Good – check out our beach break packages for under £500!