Best Beach Vacations in December

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December brings to mind bone-chilling weather and the hassle of holiday time, so why not plan to head to the beach? There are plenty of options around the Caribbean and Hawaii - perfect winter escapes that are still relatively close to home. Here's a list for the best beach vacations in December.

Kauna'oa Bay

This beach on Hawaii's Big Island is the epitome of beaches for this state. It's one of the most photographed in an area full of incredible beaches. With palm trees, white sand, and calm water, Kauna'oa is a great spot for sunbathing and water sports like standup paddle boarding and skiing. It's also close to several golf courses, so bring your clubs.

Half Moon Bay

It's tough to choose a favorite beach on the Caribbean island of Antigua, but Half Moon Bay's mile-long white sand beach is perfect for best beach vacations in December. On the east coast of the island, the sweeping curve of Half Moon Bay is as photogenic as it is relaxing.

Cane Garden Bay

beachvacation4.jpgThe beaches around Tortola in the British Virgin Islands can be crowded, especially in winter, but Cane Garden Bay keeps a low profile. It's still an excellent pick for a beach vacation, with its pristine stretch of sand perfect for joggers.

Seven Mile Beach

This Grand Cayman beach is long - making it a great place for a winter stroll. The water is always warm here, too, with an average winter temperature of 80 degrees. Plenty of great vacation rentals are nestled in this area, which makes getting to the beach easy.

Canouan

The Grenadines Island is somewhat remote, so it's guaranteed to be free of the typical Caribbean winter crowds. The water and the beaches here are ideal, and you'll probably have it all to yourself, making Canouan one of the best beach vacations in December.

Grace Bay Beach

This beach stretches for 12 miles on the coast of Providenciales, in Turks and Caicos, and has won numerous awards for its resplendent beaches and scenery. There's a coral reef just a few miles from shore that is great for snorkeling and scuba diving, too.

Trunk Bay

Much of the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is protected by the expansive Virgin Islands National Park. As a result, the beaches on the island are pristine and free from huge hotels and resorts. Check out Trunk Bay, on the northern coast of the national park. It boasts an underwater snorkeling "trail," with markers to guide you through the reef.

Ambergris Caye

In Belize, a caye is an island, and this is one of the best in the country for its beaches and scenery. It's important to book your vacation rental in Belize after hurricane season, so choosing December for a visit accomplishes that. On Ambergris Caye, the funky beach town of San Pedro awaits, as does outstanding fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving. And with Belize recently turning down an opportunity to become a cruise ship destination, you'll be free of the hordes on this island.

Isla Bastimentos National Park

This Panamanian national park protects pristine beaches, untouched jungle, and a string of islands called Cayos Zapatillas, or "Slippers Islands." The snorkeling is great here and you can hike (or take a boat) from one beach to the next.

Puerto Vallarta

Despite its popularity with winter tourists, this Mexican town on the Pacific Ocean has retained its charm, and it has excellent beaches to boot. The restaurants, shops, and cafes along the boardwalk still feel uniquely Mexican, while the nightlife provides yet another draw.

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