Christmas is, of course, about hearth and home, spending the season with family and friends, but if you want to do something a little different have a look at these islands. They’re all great places to spend the festive season.
Easter Island, South Pacific
Tucked away in the southern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) is said to be the world’s most remote inhabited place. It’s home, of course, to those mysterious, massive statues – moais – that were carved between the 10th and 16th centuries.
It’s a magical, windswept island of rugged terrain, wild horses and sacred myths – no better antidote to (or escape from) the hurly-burly of Christmas time. Search and compare: cheap flights to Santiago (flights to Easter Island take off from there)
Sparking blue waters, sugar-soft pink sand and endless sun. If these are on your Christmas list, you’re in luck! The Bahamas consist of more than 700 islands that range from New Providence (the capital is Nassau) and its neighbour Paradise Island to tiny, little cays whose sands lay undisturbed by footprints.
If you’re there at the end of December/start of January you can look forward to temperatures of between 21 and 23 degrees. Bahamians go big on New Year’s Day, that’s when Junkanoo Parades take place on many of the islands. Search and compare: cheap flights to the Bahamas
This tiny emerald, volcanic, island has a fascinating history. It was “discovered” and named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and colonised in the 17th century by Irish Catholics from St Kitts. The island’s culture is a fusion of Irish and African traditions and there’s no better time to experience this than during Festival, which takes place between mid-December and early January.
Calypso competitions, the Festival Queen pageant and a parade of costumed troupes on New Year’s Day as well as street “jump ups” (dancing in the streets) pretty much guarantee a Christmas to remember. Search and compare: cheap flights to Montserrat
Lindisfarne, Northumbria, England
A visit to Lindisfarne or the “Holy Island” is an adventure at any time of year. This tiny speck of an island off the north-east coast of England is ethereal and beautiful. And ancient. In 635AD St. Aidan came from Iona, an island off the coast of Scotland, and founded his monastery on Lindisfarne.
The castle and ruins of the old priory face the North Sea and at high tide the island is cut off from the mainland. At low tide, visitors can walk across the sands, tracing an ancient route called Pilgrims’ Way. Visitors are advised to check the causeway crossing times.
Trinidad and Tobago
These islands are one of the Caribbean’s most diverse with African, Indian, British, Chinese, French and Spanish and Portuguese influences. At this time of year, the fusion of all these influences create colourful and joyous celebrations. What we know as carolling is given a Caribbean twist to create Parang. Groups of paranderos sing traditional Spanish songs at festivals around the islands and go from door to door on Christmas Day.
Fruit cake and an eggnog-type drink are seasonal treats and you can work it all off (or not!) on the islands’ glorious beaches, which bake in average daily temperatures of 27 degrees. Search and compare: cheap flights to Trinidad and Tobago
St. George Island, Florida
The best island, close to continental North America, just might be St. George island, off the Florida Gulf Coast. It’s not nearly as crowded as the islands off the Florida peninsula, has amazing seafood and one of the best beaches in the world.
Popular with families and nature lovers (it’s a nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles which lay their eggs between May and October), the festive season temperatures hover around the very comfortable 20-degree mark. Search and compare: cheap flights to Pensacola (the nearest airport)
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
If you want to experience a white Christmas, Salt Spring Island might not be the one for you. But if it’s a green Christmas you’d like, then there’s probably no better place off the coast of Canada. Salt Spring is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. It lies between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, an island for those who like the good life.
It’s a noted destination for art, crafts and food lovers, outdoor adventurers and those who like to be pampered – it even has its own currency! The island goes all out for the season; Santa arrives by ship and float plane, there are craft fairs and islanders even create a special cocktail for Christmas called the “Glowtini”. Search and compare: cheap flights to Vancouver (and take a flight with SaltSpring Air or ferry from Tsawwassen).
The Åland islands, between Finland and Sweden
The Åland islands are located in the northern part of the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. They’re close enough (ish) to being neighbours with Santa Claus. Why spend the Christmas and New Year in this far-flung part of the world? If you’re craving a white Christmas you’ve got a good chance of seeing snow there!
The temperatures are not too extreme for the latitude (-5C to -10C) and the festive season is long, starting with Little Christmas in late November. Markets and buffets feature warming Swedish and Finnish delicacies and the outdoorsy vibe of the islands (skiing, horse riding, trekking, ice baths and saunas) promise a wholesome, healthy holiday. Search and compare: cheap flights to Stockholm (and take a ferry from there).
Ischia is the biggest island in the Bay of Naples. Known for its curative spas (there are more than 100 springs), it’s an isle of bubbling springs and sulphurous waters that has been attracting visitors (including royalty and top-ranking celebs) since the 8th century.
Considered to be more Neapolitan than Capri, its sister island, the beauty of holidaying here at Christmas time is that you can indulge in the ludicrously delicious Italian fare and then ping back into shape with a myriad of wellness treatments. Search and compare: cheap flights to Naples (and take a ferry from there).
Fiji, South Pacific
A white Christmas in the Fiji Islands might not include the traditional powdery snow. Instead you’ll be greeted with hundreds of sandy white beaches and a range of accommodation from backpacker to luxury. Fiji’s Mamanuca archipelago, off the coast of Denarau, is home to some of the country’s most popular islands.
They offer crystal clear waters, palm fringed beaches and live coral reefs. There are also villages, resorts, bars and fantastic snorkelling, swimming and kayaking to keep you busy. Search and compare: cheap flights to Fiji.
(Featured image is by puroticorico)