A family on a beach in Dubai, UAE

The Best Christmas Beach Vacations for Families

With the thought of winter flurries and colder temperatures looming ahead, it’s tempting to think about hatching an escape plan to a sunny beach destination.

Christmas is the perfect time for a family trip because it’s all about spending quality time together, whether in the snow or in the sand. The holidays are the best time of the year, and it’ll be exciting to see how different places celebrate the festivities around the world.

While chasing the warm weather is easy, it can be harder to choose a destination that everyone in the family will enjoy. From different ages to different interests, you’ll find something for every family member at one of these places. Just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is one of the most unique travel destinations in the world, where futuristic skyscrapers overlap beaches and sand dunes in a magnificent cityscape. For Christmas, the city is transformed with lavish and festive decorations. If you wanted an energetic beach vacation without sacrificing holiday opulence, this is the place to go. 

December is the perfect time for a beach vacation in Dubai, when the weather is at its absolute best. Dubai’s beaches are great for lounging in the sun, but you’ll also find people catching waves or trying their hand at a variety of watersports.

You’ll find lots of family-friendly amenities, with waterparks, trampoline playgrounds, and scenic miniature train rides for the youngsters and barbeque picnic areas, bike trails, and free yoga sessions for the adults.

A woman standing on a beach in Dubai, UAE
Dubai is home to some beautiful beaches! | © Kunj Parekh/Unsplash

If you tire of the beach, go to one of Dubai’s many shopping areas to experience its world-class shopping scene. You’ll be surprised to still be able to engage in some traditional winter activities, like skiing and ice-skating, inside Dubai’s elaborate shopping malls. Be sure to visit the Madinat Jumeirah, which transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays.

With an elaborate German-style Christmas market, a kid-friendly Snow Zone and appearances by Santa himself next to a towering Christmas tree, there is no shortage of Christmas magic in Dubai. 

Sydney, Australia

In Australia, Christmas comes in the summer, and there’s nowhere better to experience the holiday than Sydney. Christmas in Sydney begins with the lighting of the giant tree in Martin Place, and family-friendly Christmas concerts are sprinkled throughout the city in the days leading up to Christmas, including the celebrated Carols in the Domain.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi Beach is the place to be when you’re in Sydney for Christmas Day! | © Madeleine Ragsdale/Unsplash

Don’t plan on staying indoors on Christmas Day – with most stores being closed, the most popular way to spend it is on the beach. On Christmas Day, huge crowds gather at Bondi Beach with beachgoers donning revealing festive getups to beat the Christmas heat. 

For dinner, try a Christmas pavlova in lieu of a fruit cake as per Australian tradition, and roast prawns instead of turkey. On any other day, Sydney’s world-famous beaches are less crowded, and you could have a family surfing lesson, or just lounge and soak in the Southern Hemisphere rays.

Kids will also love learning about nature at the Aquarium or at Taronga Zoo, where you can spot kangaroos, koalas, and even capybaras. Stay until New Year’s Eve to watch the spectacular firework show over Sydney Harbour to ring in the New Year ahead of the rest of the world. 

Nassau, Bahamas

A perennial family favourite, Nassau’s glimmering beaches call to anyone who shies away from the cold winter weather. Tourism is an important part of the Bahamas’ economy, and the islands are all done up for tourists year-round. Christmas is no exception, with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pompey Square.

Nassau’s beaches are always a good idea, and December weather is perfect for a swim, but if you want to get up close and personal with some marine life, visit Dolphin Cay to swim and kayak with the dolphins and see how bottlenose dolphins and sea lions are being cared for after their Mississippi home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Kids can also learn about the interesting history of the Bahamas at the Pirates of Nassau Museum, and you’ll love checking out the Caribbean flamingoes at Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. 

A boy photographing seagulls on a beach in Nassau, Bahamas
Family fun abounds on Nassau’s beaches! | © Mike Fox/Unsplash

Besides being home to a number of great beaches, Nassau also boasts some major resorts, like the Atlantis and the Baha Mar, which go all out for Christmas as well. Festive competitions, crafts, and activities with Santa are on the schedule at these resorts, and you might even catch the performances of some notable entertainers as they take the holiday stage. The whole family will love spending their Christmas in Paradise!

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Popular among Europeans for tropical weekend getaways, the Canary Islands (Spain) are a great place to spend a beachy Christmas. With open-air Christmas concerts and bustling Christmas markets, the holiday spirit abounds in Tenerife.

There is so much to discover on the island, from golden and black sand beaches to the Mount Teide and Masca Gorge, that you’ll find it hard to spend the entirety of your holiday in your resort – you’ll want to get out and explore all of what the island had to offer.

A man walking two dogs on a black sand beach in Tenerife, Spain
Tenerife’s black sand beaches are a draw for many! | © Jorge Fernández/Unsplash

Spend New Year’s Eve here for an impressive firework show under some of the world’s starriest skies, and go for a swim on the morning of New Year’s Day to take part in a Canarian tradition. You won’t find Santa Claus here – instead, the Three Kings come bearing gifts each year on January 5th atop their camels in an anticipated procession through the streets of the island. 

Snow isn’t a requirement for a magical family Christmas holidays. Which one of these destinations is calling you?

Melanie is a Toronto-based writer and editor who loves experiencing new things in new places. In between adventures, you can find her with her nose in a book, re-watching episodes of Friends, or on the lookout for her next favourite brunch spot.

Lights wrapped around pillars of a building in Edinburgh, Scotland
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