The remains of your turkey has dried up, crumbs of leftover Christmas pud are moulding in the corner, the brandy sauce dregs have gone off and if you see another Quality Street or sprout, you might just throw up!
Once the festive season is done, and the New Year rung in, January blues can set in fast. There’s nothing to look forward to other than frosty mornings, cold toes, miserable weather, long nights, frostbitten fingers and short days. Or is there?
If you’re suffering from a bout of winter SAD then it could be time to jet off somewhere warm and sunny, get some paddling action under your belt and chill out. Here’s a selection of our favourite destinations to hopefully wet your appetites and inspire you to get gone.
A tropical paradise and part of the Caribbean’s Windward Islands; Grenada is more commonly referred to as the Spice Isle. A vibrant, colourful and friendly chunk of rock that’s perfect for a spot of paddling, tantalising your taste buds, soaking up the sun’s warm rays and letting Caribbean good vibes wash over you.
Seclusion and paradise – Morne Rouge, Grenada
Grand Anse tourist hub is where you’ll find one of the longest and most picturesque stretches of white sand – fringed by the alluring turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Grand Anse Beach has a number of well positioned hotels along the shore, catering for various budgets. At the southern tip you’ll find the Flamboyant Hotel, perched on a hill above the Dive Grenada watersports centre.
Grand Anse Beach, Grenada
Set back into the hillside, views from your rooms, across Grand Anse Bay, are simply stunning. Waking each morning and throwing back the curtains will reveal each day’s glorious weather conditions. Sunny, some high fluffy cloud, a moderate cross offshore breeze and just a tiny risk of a sharp rain squall generally sums up Grenada’s climate – this is the tropics after all! Although Grenada was swiped by Hurricane Ivan (2004) it’s not in the direct firing line and as such, risks are minimal.
A different kind of paddling – SUP on Grand Anse
The Flamboyant Hotel offers the use of kayaks as part of their package. Guests are free to take a boat and head off for a float whenever they like. Dive Grenada’s crew will happily give you some pointers but they don’t actively oversee your paddling exploits – you’re pretty much left to your own devices. A degree of competence is therefore required – even in the sheltered waters of Grand Anse, things could go wrong.
To the north, you’ll find the Spice Island resort, Eco Dive, Umbrellas Beach Bar, Grenada Grand Beach resort, St George’s University Grand Anse campus and the local craft and spice market.Grenada’s buzzing capital, St Georges, is also visible in the distance. Its colonial history is obvious with ominous Fort George keeping guard. You can paddle along the three mile stretch of Grand Anse and continue until your reach the mouth of St George’s Harbour – just watch out for boating traffic, including large container ships that won’t be able to get out of your way!
Conservation Kayak is based on the Atlantic facing coast of the island, at Whisper Cove Marina, and offesr hire and guided tours. Trips around Woburn Bay, and across to Hog Island, are perfect for whiling away the hours under the Caribbean sun. You’ll find waves in this area of Grenada, at certain times, that are suitable for surfing. Prickly Point, on the leeward side of Lance aux Epines, offers shelter from the sometimes strong Trade Winds and serves up fun swells to ride.
Surfing at Prickly Point, Lance aux Epines, Grenada
After a busy day paddling, rounding off your session at Umbrellas Beach Bar, Grand Anse, for a sundown cocktail or two, will relax those weary muscles and put you in the mood for some evenings entertainment. Heading off to one of the many restaurants, such as the popular Beach House, will be icing on the cake. Sleep, wake and repeat for continued bliss.
Grenada isn’t a particularly hardcore destination for paddling, but it does have a wide variety of venues for ‘putting in’. Hit up the Spice Isle this winter for laid back Caribbean kayaking, great food, friendly locals and some serious suntan action.
The end of another perfect day – sunset over Quarantine Point, Grand Anse, Grenada
Maui is a fair old jaunt to get to, but once you’re on the ground in the Valley Isle, you’ll be wishing you’d made the pilgrimage sooner. Split into two, with Haleakala National Park at one end and teh West Maui Mountains at the other, Maui is a Pacific watersports Mecca for all types of aficionado.
The Valley Isle, north shore Maui – watersports paradise
Paddlesports, in particular, have a long history within Hawaiian culture – along the shores of Maui you’ll find numerous outrigger canoe clubs with healthy member numbers. Although surfing is synonymous with Hawaii (Maui is also ‘windsurfing central’), it’s argued that more locals favour a paddle when taking to the water – putting you in good company.
Maui, ‘windsurf central’ and a watersports Mecca for all
Winter is a great time to visit the Valley Isle as the Trade Winds blow a little less hard than in summer ensuring paddling antics are an easier prospect. Waves are bigger, but with a multitude of spots to choose from, both on the south and north shore of the island, you’ll be spoilt for choice – whatever your skill level. And for those faint hearted types, you’ll be pleased to note that it isn’t all about bomb wave dodging – there’s plenty of flat water for those less inclined to charge big swells. If all this chat of physical of exertion is too much, simply grab some shave ice, a seat under a Banyan Tree and just take in the view.
South shore Maui tranquility
Superior comfort and luxury can be found on the south shore, between Kihei and Makena State Park. All inclusive hotels, where you’re free to relax and unwind at leisure, are numerous. Many of these resorts offer kayaks as part of the package. There’s lots to explore with flat water, generally, being the norm in the south of teh island. Surf usually hits the north shore during winter and tends to miss this part of Maui.
Staying on the opposite coast is more of a rustic experience, with limited accommodation options overlooking the water. A handful of self-catering options are available in the Sugar Cove area, which are suitably quaint and do offer direct access to the brine.
North shore accommodation – rustic charm and affordable waterside luxury
Head to Maui if you’re looking for a completely immersive experience in one of the ‘must visit’ watersport locations in the world.
Zante (Zakynthos), Greece
Greece, during the off season, can be a great place to visit. Less crowds, cheaper flights, affordable accommodation and warmer air temperatures than the UK, are attractive prospects. Many holiday companies open their doors for business around Easter and even though it’s getting warmer at home it’s still worth a trip to escape those final flurries of UK winter.
North coast Zakynthos – stunning scenery and perfect for paddling
Our resident scribe, Tez, visited Zakynthos last year for a spot of paddling and watersports action. Initially dubious; he and his wife were pleasantly surprised by what the island had to offer. Staying at the fabulous Peligoni Club, on the north eastern tip of the island, saw plenty of saltwater shenanigans go down – all enjoyed under the warm Mediterranean sun.
Paddling as a group – increase the fun
Early doors sees less tourists on the island, making exploring Zante a less hectic experience – Zakynthos is home to the famous Blue Caves which are well worth a look. During high season, boat tours and excursions become increasingly frequent, and the more popular sites get swamped.
Starting the day al fresco with fresh coffee and local Greek yoghurt and honey; gazing across glassy azure coloured water, will be exactly what the doctor ordered. Meander down to the centre at your leisure, grab a paddle and boat and head for a coastal jaunt. Return for lunch at the club, or stop off at one of the restaurants in Agios Nikolaos port, before enjoying a spot of windsurfing or dinghy sailing when the afternoon Meltemi breeze fills in.
Time for a spot of apres?
Zante is noted as a Brits abroad destination but once you’re out of the Laganas sprawl, Zakynthos reveals its picturesque, typically Greek colours. For more info check out –