Where is hot in January 2023

Cuba is hot in January

 By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer

Q.  Where is hot in January for a holiday?

A. January is peak season in the Caribbean with lots of sun, temperatures of 29-30ºC and gentle breezes. In the Canary Islands and Madeira you’ll find temperatures around 20ºC. For somewhere hotter, consider the Arabian Gulf with guaranteed sun and 26ºC. For cheap winter sun, grab a direct flight to the beaches of The Gambia.

Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

Southern Caribbean

Average temperature in January: 29ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 9 hours

The southern part of the Caribbean is at its year-round best in January with reliable sunshine, gentle breezes and low humidity. Head to Barbados for great beaches, golf courses and a lively bar and restaurant scene.

Also consider: St Lucia which is among the most scenic of all Caribbean islands. Best hotels include St James’s Club and the adults-only Calabash Cove.


Average temperature in January: 20ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 6
Flying time from UK: 4 hours

If you want warm weather in January without a long flight, one of the most reliable destinations is Madeira. It’s not really a beach destination, but a stunning island with mountains, hiking paths, botanical gardens and great food. See these deals on luxury hotels.

Also consider: the Canaries. The beaches of Tenerife won’t disappoint. If hiking and nature are more your thing, try the tiny black-sand island of La Palma. You can also get some great deals on villas with private pools in Lanzarote and under-occupancy charges in January tend to be very low. Find the hottest Canary islands in January.

For more short-haul ideas, see where is hot in January in Europe.

The Gambia

Average temperature in January: 32ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 6 hours 30 minutes

The Gambia is a charming West African country offering great value beach holidays. It is only just over six hours flying time from the UK with direct flights and no jet lag. I have stayed with my family at the Kombo Beach hotel in January, which I highly recommend.

Also consider: the Cape Verde Islands have influences from Brazil and West Arica. You’ll also find direct flights from the UK and good prices in winter.

Arabian Gulf

Average temperature in January: 26ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 8
Flying time from UK: 7 hours

It’s only seven hours flying time to the desert heat of the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi has great beaches and an impressive collection of luxury hotels, fine restaurants and entertainment venues. Visit Yas Island to enjoy Ferrari World, a waterpark, Formula 1 race track and the world’s fastest roller coaster. Dubai continues to dazzle with its iconic hotels such as Burj Al Arab, water parks, beaches and vast shopping and entertainment malls.

Also consider: Oman for more of a taste of ancient Arabia, along with luxury hotels, beaches and sand dunes. Nearby Qatar is fast emerging as a fascinating and exciting destination with world-class hotels plus art, culture, shopping and thrilling activities from kite surfing to 4X4 dune bashing.

Northern Caribbean

Average temperature in January: 30ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 8
Flying time from UK: 10 hours

Jamaica offers great beaches, plenty to see and do with a splash of reggae. Tropical Sky has the best selection of hotels. For the finest white-sand beaches, check out the Cayman Islands or the immaculate coral island of Anguilla. If you want a beach-city combination and you love cocktails and salsa music, it has to be Cuba – explore the capital Havana, the colonial city of Trinidad and spend a few nights on the beach at Cayo Santa Maria.

Also consider: for Caribbean beaches at bargain prices, head to Mexico where you’ll find a great choice of all-inclusive hotels including the five-star Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa.

See more holiday ideas in the Caribbean and details of the Caribbean weather in January.

Goa is hot and cheap in January

Marrakech, Morocco

Average temperature in January: 19ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 7
Flying time from UK: 3 hours

Morocco is a great short haul option. It will be warm, rather than hot in January, but it’s only a 3-hour flight to Marrakech from the UK, and it’s cheap. There is plenty to see and do, and the food is outstanding.

Also consider: Fitscape offers fitness holidays in the Atlas Mountains, while destination yoga features short-haul holidays in January to Morocco.


Average temperature in January: 30ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 8
Flying time from UK: 12 hours

If you’re feeling the urge to splurge on a tropical island, I can think of nowhere more appealing in January than the Indian Ocean. How about a spa hotel in Mauritius – we love the location of the Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa. See the best time to visit Mauritius.

Also consider: an over-water villa in the Maldives (31ºC, 9 hours of sun) or a white-sand beach in the Seychelles (29ºC, 6 hours of sun).

Costa Rica

Average temperature in January: 24ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 7
Flying time from UK: 11 hours

Costa Rica is packed with Latin American charm and natural wonders, but it’s small and easy to get around. It offers world-class beaches, jungles teeming with exotic wildlife and lots of exciting activities. This 12-day tour Costa Rica Highlights is well priced and takes in Tortuguero Jungle Reserve, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal volcano and time on the beach.

Also consider: for adventure, breathtaking sights, activities and superb beaches, how about Brazil or Argentina.

Phuket, Thailand

Average temperature in January: 33ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 13 hours via Bangkok

Thailand is the most popular destination in Southeast Asia for good reason: you’ll find gorgeous islands, delicious food and cheap prices. Avoid the east Gulf coast in January, when heavy rainfall is possible. Phuket and Krabi on the west Andaman coast are better than Koh Samui. If you want more than just a resort hotel in Thailand, check out these exciting ideas from Experience Travel Group. It will take you beyond the tourist traps to find secret beaches, wildlife adventures and authentic encounters with local people.

Also consider: explore Malaysia or Vietnam. Further south, Bali is cheap and offers glorious beaches and a colourful local culture, though rain showers are a risk in January.

Goa, India

Average temperature in January: 28ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 10 hours 30 minutes

The land-back beaches of Goa are perfect for lazing in the sun, plus there is plenty to do if you want to explore colonial Portuguese villages. Further north, the weather is much more mild in Rajasthan – perfect for sightseeing, in fact – with temperatures in January falling to around 20°C in Delhi. See this selection of private tours (with chauffeur and English-speaking guide) and small group tours.


Average temperature in January: 27ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 8
Flying time from UK: 21 hours (one stop)

If you don’t mind a long flight, you could go all the way to the pristine islands of the South Pacific. Few people have returned from TahitiFiji or the Cook Islands and said it wasn’t worth it!

Save on hot holidays in January

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More travel ideas in January

Find more expert tips from our team of editors on holidays in January and honeymoons in January. If you’re travelling solo, see our guide to the best singles holidays in January. You may also be interested in the hottest Canary Islands, the hottest Greek islands and the hottest, sunniest places in Europe.

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Last updated: 10 June 2022

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Travel restrictions have been lifted by the UK, but some other countries still have measures in place. Check the latest government travel advice.