Here are a few ideas for destinations which are great – either for a daydream, or a booking. As ever, travel restrictions can be quick to change from country to country, so do check the current Foreign Office guidance before booking.
The Indian Ocean’s all-rounder island is packed with charm: wild, surfy beaches; real big-scale wildlife in the form of leopards, elephants and the delightfully named purple-faced leaf lunger; and intrepid train rides into thick, verdant countryside. It’s just as good for a week’s lounging by a (top value) hotel pool, but after a 13-hour flight, you’ll likely want to stretch your legs. Temperatures are in the low 30s Celsius from January to March, with plenty of sunshine. Sri Lanka is currently open to fully vaccinated travellers (two doses) who can produce a pre-travel health registration form, travel insurance that meets the criteria listed here by the tourist board, and those who haven’t been fully vaccinated can also stay in a ‘bio-bubble’ resort as their quarantine.
With daily highs of 25 C in January, warming to 30 C by March, Oman is a winter sun-trap. It’s also ripe for adventure: you could book a few days in the capital, Muscat, to acclimatise in a glam hotel, nipping out to souks and mosques and seeing the wedding-cake Opera House. Then you could book a self-drive tour into the desert, stopping by jewel-bright wadis (natural pools) such as Wadi Shab, or heading for a coastal resort around Salalah or Zighy Bay. To enter Oman from the UK, fully vaccinated travellers must show a QR code from a negative test result taken within the past 72 hours before travel, fill in a health form before travel and show proof of travel health insurance which covers at least 30 days of COVID-19 treatment. They must also have a hard copy (paper) version of their proof of vaccination rather than a digital Covid Pass.
Britain’s favourite safari-and-beach hotspot is back on the menu following a traumatic short-term spell on the resurrected red list in November. And it’s a delight in our midwinter: weather in the high teens and low 20s C (great for active pursuits), with particularly low crowds in March. Allow plenty of time for the cutting-edge food scene in Cape Town and surrounds before exploring the winelands, spending time by the beach and heading off on safari. Travellers to South Africa must produce a paper copy of their proof of vaccination (authorities recommend packing several hard copies) as well as a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours before travel, and download the South Africa COVID Alert app. Random airport screening can also occur on arrival and departure.
Another Indian Ocean hideaway with a rugged interior, Mauritius is famous for its swish, romantic coastal resorts and genteel golf courses, not to mention beautiful hikes to waterfalls, peaks and nature reserves. January to March is its off-season – summer locally, with temperatures of around 30 C, but also high humidity and a small risk of cyclones. This means there are some great bargains to be had, as many will flock there around Easter, or British summer. To enter Mauritius, fully vaccinated travellers can take a PCR test within the 72 hours before travel; you must also show proof of travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, and take an antigen test on day 0 and day five after arrival (many resorts provide these tests).
This Central American country is packed with personality, whether you’re heading straight for the jungle-trimmed beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, or booking a more colourful multi-stop trip through its cities or west coast surfer towns. (We’d recommend the Tequila region for a seriously hedonistic look at Mexican culture.) And it’s a longtime winter-sun haven, with sunny and breezy weather making January-March a top time to visit – it’s also the best time to see humpback whales off the coast. Throughout the pandemic, it’s also consistently had some of the least taxing travel restrictions out there – currently both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers can enter by simply registering on the online Mexico Vuela Seguro Platform – no tests or quarantine required.