Vallon des Auffes port in Marseille, France
Trip Ideas

The Sunniest Places on Earth

With everything that's going on right now, we can’t stop dreaming about a toasty spot in the sun. At these nine destinations, warmth and blue skies are a year-round luxury.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Yuma, Arizona

Average hours of sunshine per day: 11 hours

Yuma, Arizona takes the cake (and the Guinness World Record) as the official sunniest spot in the world with an average of 11 hours of sun per day, and with so much sunlight, the Southwestern city is a haven for the outdoorsy. With river-tubing on the Colorado, hot air ballooning over the serene farmlands of Yuma Valley, and ATVing in the Imperial Sand Dunes (it’s where they filmed Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, guys), there’s no shortage of ways to cash in on Yuma’s sunshine capital. Just a short jaunt from the borders of California and Mexico, the gateway city also makes for a great starting point for your next road tripping adventure.

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San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Average hours of sunshine per day: 8.4 hours

Little ol’ San Pedro de Atacama lies right in the middle of the Atacama Desert –an arid locale that is no stranger to the sun’s powerful rays. With a mix of old world architecture, a rich collection of ancient relics and archaeological findings, and unrivaled views of the Andes, the Chilean commune is a must see for those looking to go off-the-beaten-path. During the day you’ll want to visit Chaxa Lagoon in the Los Flamencos National Reserve, a salt flat that’s home to three species of flamingo. Come sunset, devastatingly beautiful views of the Andes mountains bathed in pink and red hues await in the Valle de la Luna. Thanks to the high altitude and lack of light pollution, the spot is also a choice spot for both stargazers and amateur astronomers.

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Fresno, California

Average hours of sunshine per day: 10 hours

In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno, known as Cali’s “year-round-playground” has the appeal of a cosmopolitan city, with plenty of small town charm. Spend your sunny days strolling through the Shinzen Friendship Garden (a nod to Fresno’s sister city, Kochi, Japan); exploring nearby Yosemite National Park, where you’ll find hiking/camping/ice skating/rafting and any-and-every-outdoor-activity-you-can-imagine; and visiting some of the world’s rarest animals at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

RELATED: 11 Best California Beach Escapes 

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Costa del Sol, Spain

Average hours of sunshine per day: 7.75 hours

Here’s a destination wise enough to put its appeal right in its name. Costa del Sol–the Sun Coast of Spain–is known for its powdery sands, standout tapas and whitewashed villages. It’s also a great a place to get your hand-gliding, zip lining, bungee jumping, or [insert your preferred thrill-seeking adventure here] fix. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, or just relax on a sun-kissed beach, you’ll have no problem finding a perfect stretch of sand (trust us, there are over 100).

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Perth, Australia

Average hours of sunshine per day: 9 hours

While we know there’s plenty to do in Perth beyond clichéd kangaroo spotting, we just can’t help ourselves. On the outskirts of the city, still within view of the skyline, Heirisson Island is home to a small population of Western Grey kangaroos. Once you’ve seen enough animals to fill your ‘gramming feed, head back downtown to admire Perth’s urban art works, which include narrative sculptures, light shows and aerial banners. The city is so committed to its art scene, its enacted a Public Art Strategy to up their game.

RELATED: 14 Cool Things to Do in Sydney Right Now 

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Tulear, Madagascar

Average hours of sunshine per day: 9.5 hours

The up-and-coming Tulear or Toliara– called “City of the Sun” by locals– is the southern capital of Madagascar and is catnip for nature lovers. It’s home to the “spiny forest,” a surreal-looking ecoregion that contains hundreds of plant species. To learn more about the area’s indigenous life, head to the Antsokay Arboretum, a botanical center that focuses on native flora and fauna and houses the country’s tiniest lemurs (they’re only 12 cm long!). Madagascar also has a rather extensive barrier reef system, filled with clown fish, lion fish and whale sharks, among others. If you happen to be an avid diver or budding environmentalist, spend an afternoon with the ReefDoctor, a marine research NGO that monitors coral reef health in southern Madagascar.

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Belle Mare, Mauritius

Average hours of sunshine per day: 7.75 hours

If your idea of fun in the sun includes tanning on a pristine white-sand beach, tropical drink in hand, Belle Mare (and all of Mauritius, really) is your place. Cuddling up to the Tropic of Capricorn-meaning the sun is directly overhead- Mauritius’s subtropical climate makes it the perfect escape year-round. Kite-surfing, parasailing and underwater walking are just a few of the activities on offer, thanks to the island’s crystal clear lagoons, exotic marine life and deep sea wrecks.

Book Hotels in Mauritius
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Marseille, France

Average hours of sunshine per day: 7.25 hours

Just a three-hour train ride from rainy Paris, the waterfront city of Marseille is brimming with slick boutiques, authentic gastro-pubs and world-class contemporary art galleries and institutions. A highlight: the ultramodern MuCEM, a triumvirate of buildings that marry old and new, dedicated to showcasing Mediterranean culture. Although touristy, any visit to Marseille should also include a trip to Vieux Port, or Old Port. If you get there early, you can catch the fishmongers as they gather at Le Marché de la Pêche before grabbing lunch on the terrace at La Caravelle, flanking the harbor. Or, if you prefer to sleep in, go for an afternoon tour of the Abbey of St. Victor, then ride the beachfront Ferris wheel at Parc Balneaire du Prado (trust us, it’s worth it).

Book Hotels in Marseille, France.
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Limassol, Cyprus

Average hours of sunshine per day: 9 hours

Thanks to a slew of recent renovations, sunny Limassol, Cyprus is experiencing a renaissance. The once medieval town has made way for beachfront clubs, art nouveau speakeasies, 70s-style discotheques and a modernized public promenade. That being said, at the core of the deceivingly cosmopolitan city are the can’t miss remnants of Old Town. Stop by the Ancient Kourion archaeological site, the Limassol Castle, or the Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas of the Cats (of which we’re particularly interested). In a time when Cyprus was inundated with poisonous snakes – we’re talking 300 AD – the power move was to borrow a bunch of cats from Egypt and Palestine to fight off the intruders. Today you’ll still find felines sunbathing on the grounds, as well as a lovely group of nuns who sell their own jams and honeys.

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