Some eagerly wait for winter with dreams of skiing, snow and mountain scenery, while others prefer to escape the cold with a break in warmer climes. A swimsuit will be more use than a ski suit in these eight destinations, where water temperatures are at their highest in the world at this time of year. Below are the 8 best destinations for a beach vacation:

Maldives

This archipelago is a top destination for honeymooners. Its string of atolls is located in the Indian Ocean, over 400km from the Indian coast.

The climate is ideal for dips in the sea at all times of year. Close to the equator, the sea temperature in the Maldives rarely drops below 27°C. Conditions are ideal for snorkelling and admiring the marine fauna.

Goa, India

This former hippie hangout has become a landmark destination for lovers of postcard-perfect landscapes. Think long, white sandy beaches lined with palm trees.

Stretching 100km long and 50km wide, the state of Goa is located on the southwest coast of India.

Houses near the beach are adorned with blue and white azulejo tiles – a relic from the region’s past, as Goa was under Portuguese control until 1961.

December sea temperatures are the stuff of dreams, reaching up to 30°C. They tend to be around 28°C at the beginning of the year.

The Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Just an hour’s drive from Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula is an unspoiled area of breathtaking natural landscapes. It’s a great spot for fans of hot springs too.

Simply digging a hole in the sand of Hot Water Beach forms a pool of red-hot water, with temperatures up to 64°C. That’s only possible at low tide, however.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

A 40-minute drive from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that’s famous for its crystal-blue water. It may be cold outside, but bathers soon warm up with a dip in this man-made lagoon that’s over 200m long.

Thanks to its volcanic surroundings, water temperatures reach a toasty 39°C. Visitors can also benefit from the lagoon’s naturally high content in mineral salts, silicates and blue-green algae.

Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

Famously located next to the Palm-shaped artificial archipelago that’s home to the Atlantis Hotel, Jumeirah Beach is one of Dubai’s main tourist hotspots.

It’s popular with visitors who come to enjoy the idyllic sea temperatures, which can reach up to 33°C from July to October.

The Persian Gulf is ideal for travellers looking to relax in warmer waters. The locals, however, aren’t quite so keen, as they tend to prefer building chilled swimming pools.

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Winter sun-seekers have plenty of Thai islands to choose from, but the Ko Phi Phi islands – a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride from Phuket – are still a good option. Ko Phi Phi Lee found fame when “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed on the island.

With sea temperatures at around 28°C, swimmers won’t need to tip-toe cautiously into the water. The island has felt the effects of mass tourism, however, so finding a quiet spot on the sand can prove challenging at times.

Handstands on The Beach

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Situated off the coast of Queensland – gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – Australia’s Whitsunday Islands are home to Whitehaven Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

As its name suggests, this white-sand beach is a haven of tranquillity. The cool-feeling sand is composed almost entirely of silica, which makes an interesting contrast with the balmy temperature of the crystal-clear water, where shoals of fish can easily be seen swimming by.

With no hotel complex and not even a campsite, peace and quiet are guaranteed for day-trippers. Note that you’ll need a jellyfish-proof wetsuit if you plan on swimming between December and March, as stings can be deadly.

Costa Rica

Sitting between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is home to a wealth of stunning beaches where the sea meets the jungle. Proximity to the equator means there’s plenty of choice among the country’s seaside hotspots, which boast sea temperatures of 27°C all year round.