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10 Best Beaches to Visit in January

Is it cold enough for you yet? Warming up from the winter storms of January is as easy as hopping the next flight to paradise. Jetsetter rounds up some of the most relaxing beaches on earth to kick off 2019 right.

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Carílo, Argentina

The Argentine 1% flock to Carílo, a three-hour drive south of Buenos Aires, for its lush pine forests and idyllic beaches, not to mention hip hangouts like Parador Neruda, a waterfront seafood restaurant and spa that opened in October. Put on your helmet and harness to traverse the lofted wood walkway through the forest canopy at Bosque Aereo Carilo, go for a reiki massage at Carilo Village Apart Hotel & Spa, or simply laze about on the beach: the average temperature here in January is a perfect 80 degrees.

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Waimea Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

The average January high temperature on Oahu is over 80 degrees—and what better place to enjoy it than Waimea Bay Beach Park? Big Wave surfing supposedly started here in the 1950s, and it’s still the coolest place to watch pros ride the up-to-30-foot waves. You might also spot locals cliff jumping, but there’s no shame in opting for more chill activities, like visiting the centuries-old temples at Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site or checking out the 45-foot waterfall and gorgeous gardens in Waimea Valley.

RELATED: 10 Best Hotels in Hawaii

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Paternoster, South Africa

With its whitewashed cottages, lobster-filled restaurant menus, and verdant hillsides, Paternoster, about 90 miles north of Cape Town, feels like a slice of Greece in South Africa. Explore the 1936 lighthouse at Cape Columbine Nature Reserve Tietiesbaai; rent one of the sailboats or yachts bobbing in the marina at Club Mykonos (where hotel rooms face the turquoise sea); and tuck into a Noma-esque meal at Wolfgat, with a seasonal tasting menu that often includes local seaweeds, venison, and produce from the restaurant’s own garden.

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South Beach, Miami, Florida

Florida is filled with tourists during the holidays—but come January 2, the crowds return to cooler climates. South Beach gets decidedly more relaxed and is the perfect level of “scene.” Stop by the brand-new Stubborn Seed restaurant from Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford for green curry lobster, then check into the just-opened Iberostar Berkeley hotel, with its throwback Albert Anis-designed Art Deco exterior still intact and all the modern amenities you'd expect on offer, including showers with triple-filtered water and an outpost of BLT Steak in the lobby.

RELATED: 8 Best Restaurants in South Beach

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Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

January is “dry season” in this lush country, and Manuel Antonio National Park’s beaches may just be the most extraordinary place to soak up the Costa Rican sun. The half-mile, crescent-shaped Playa Manuel Antonio beach encircles a hidden cove, but should you tire of the sand, the area's wildlife spotting is incredible with more than 184 species of birds and 109 mammals (including sloths and squirrel monkeys). Make your base Los Altos Resort, which features an infinity pool that looks out over the Pacific Ocean and rainforest, a spa, and cooking classes.

RELATED: The Best Hotels in Costa Rica

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Byron Bay, Australia

In boho-chic Byron Bay, it's all about sublime beaches, epic surf breaks, lazy afternoons, and eating seriously well. Foodies love the breezy Halcyon House, where Australian-born, Noma-alum chef Ben Devlin runs the hotel's standout restaurant Paper Daisy (we hear the scorched kangaroo with lychee is delicious). Work off your meal by climbing the 19th-century Cape Byron Lighthouse, or sign up for a workshop on sustainable agriculture at The Farm; the beekeeping class is a favorite and fills up quickly.

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Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia

January is the “coldest” (read: less visited) month in St. Lucia, with an average high temperature of over 80 degrees. If that’s cold, sign us up. Pigeon Island National Landmark, a 44-acre islet on St. Lucia’s northern arm, feels like your own private island—with plenty of secret coves, reefs, and verdant areas ripe for exploration, for just an $8 entrance fee.

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Ko Phi Phi Le, Thailand

With hidden lagoons and lush cliffs that tumble down to the sea, Ko Phi Phi Le island could very well be your dream escape—the problem is, it’s also high on other peoples' travel wish lists. To get the isle all to yourself, make sure you get an early start. The January low temps hover around 72 degrees, which makes Ko Phi Phi Le an ideal place to laze about on a sugary beach even in the morning. We recommend you do just that followed by a snorkeling trip to Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park with an expert guide from ++Nuditours++ (ask them to take you to Phi Ley Lagoon, which is so eye-poppingly blue it will blow up your Instagram).

RELATED: 7 Jaw-Dropping Places to See This January

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Playa Peña Blanca, Puerto Rico

Yes, Hurricane Maria devastated a still-struggling Puerto Rico. But with some 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s hotels operating as usual—with fewer than normal visitors—this may be the best time to visit and show your support with a much-needed cash-infusion. In the northwest coast in the county of Aguadilla (a two-hour drive from the San Juan airport), the powdery Playa Peña Blanca is a favorite beach among locals thanks to its volcanic cliffs, towering trees that form natural shelters from the sun, and nearby reefs teeming with technicolor fish. Bring your snorkeling gear, pack a picnic, and set up shop for the afternoon.

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Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Picture sand so white and sparkly it looks like glitter, water so clear and blue it makes your eyes ache, and seafood so fresh you'll never want to eat anything else. Welcome to Arraial do Cabo, a simple fishing town a hundred miles east of Rio with big (ahem) lures. Forno Beach is often called the prettiest on the planet and it takes just a short hike to get there. Spread out your towel, take out your beach read, and stay for as long as the salty sea air beckons. Once hunger strikes, we recommend the family-run Pimenta Rosa Gastronomia, a local go-to for its laid-back vibe, just-caught fish, and lemon mousse dessert.

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