Christmas is a magical time of year and imagine how much more magical it would be spent on a beach. Why not have a sunny, beach Christmas this year, or maybe even the next? Take a break from school and escape from the bitter cold for a student holiday in the sun, sand, and surf.
Everyone loves California from the vast, thick forests of redwoods in the north to the rugged coastline of Big Sur all the way down south to the land of movie studios, celebrities, and endless summer sun. Pretty much anywhere in Southern California is going to be a sunny holiday vacation destination but we love a few in particular. Los Angeles is at the top of the list with all of its sun-soaked beaches, exciting attractions, and close proximity to everything you could ever want. Long Beach is an exciting and endlessly sunny L.A. province that would make for a beautiful home away from home in the holiday season.
Or...you could go a little south and hit up San Diego, one of our top recommended cities for year round excitement, or relaxation if you choose. San Diego's La Jolla district is home to one of the country's most popular beaches complete with the Children's Pool which is constantly covered in seals and sea lions basking in the sun, gorgeous sea caves ready for exploring by kayak or canoe, and a plethora of seaside attractions to hold your attention. Also in San Diego is the world famous San Diego Zoo, the stunningly pretty Balboa Park, Little Italy and the exciting Gaslamp District, and much more!
P.S. If you're finding you miss the snow in the holidays, there are quite a few ski resorts just minutes away from L.A. in the San Bernardino mountains and more in northern California.
Hawaii has loads of intense and exotic beautiful landscape across its seven major, accessible islands. Any of them would be an amazing destination for a winter holiday vacation but it would depend on what you're wanting to do once you're there. Kauai is fabulous for natural attractions and spectacular recreational opportunities from the Grand Canyon of the Pacific (aka Waimea Canyon) to the Wailua Falls, Poipu Beach, and the Kalalau Trail, all of which will give you the outdoor lover's dream vacation. Or you could relax on the beach in Maui, home to some of the world's best, like Makena Beach State Park or climb the highest peak on the island in Haleakala National Park. If you're wanting to see volcanoes, thick jungles spilling forth with every shade of green, powerful yet delicate waterfalls, then the Big Island of Hawaii is the right place for you. Finally, try Oahu is home to the cultural, historical, and natural wonders of the islands including the capital city of Honolulu. Also make sure, if you choose Oahu, to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, plantations and palaces, and more!
The southernmost part of the United States has not only the relaxed vibe of the Caribbean but it's close enough to the mainland to be an easy trip, and an easy choice. A varied history follows the Keys through pirate smuggling trade routes, Spanish conquistadors and explorers, and finally engineering innovations like the Seven Mile Bridge which connects 42 of the islands. There are, however, three major destinations in the Keys: Upper Keys, Middle Keys, and Lower Keys. You'll find cities full of colorful homes, beaches leading to waves of the deepest, clearest turquoise, and plenty of sites to be seen. Key West and Key Largo are among the most popular, most populated cities in the islands and bring in much of the tourism industry for its beautiful beaches, wonderful diving opportunities, and sport fishing experiences like no other. Off Key Largo you can dive the depths and see the sunken Christ of the Abyss statue, see the wildlife of Big Pine Key, or visit the Hemingway House in Key West and see the cats that still live on the property. There's plenty to do in the Florida Keys, and the entire series of islands is basically one big beach so you'll have no problem wiling away the hours on the soft, sandy shores soaking up the sun.
Jamaica, with its deep teal waves, laid back attitude, and English speaking cities, is a popular destination for American travelers. Its cities are major ports of call for cruise ships - which wouldn't be a bad idea if you're a student traveler - and its attractions very friendly for tourists. There are, however, plenty of cultural attractions that have stayed true to the island's original personality, untouched by the hand of big box businesses. Moreover, the island nation is fairly affordable for student travelers, especially so when you move farther away from the resort covered coasts. Negril and Montego Bay are stunningly gorgeous backed by the Blue Mountains, full of inland excursions like to the Blue Mountain Coffee Plantation, home of the world famous coffee. Kingston, of course, is the magnificent capital city with centuries of history, culture, and vibrant nightlife for an excellent destination with everything you could want.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Another popular destination for American travelers, the U.S. Virgin Islands is a phenomenon on its own. Ecotourists will have a dream vacation among the inland mountains surrounded by lakes, the clearest waves you've ever seen, and thick jungle landscapes for hiking, zip lining, and canopy tours. The three major islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, give you and your group a full range of experiences from outdoor excursions to historic tours, beach relaxation, and unspoiled beauty. Also, like Jamaica, the USVI are an affordable option when considering a Caribbean holiday vacation.