Where can my family go to have a sandy, sunny, inexpensive Christmas?
September 24, 2008 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Where's a warm, sunny, beach-y, relatively inexpensive place for my family to visit over Christmas?

Having spent the last twenty-something years of my life celebrating Christmas with the family in cold, boring Nebraska, I've finally put my foot down this year: we are going somewhere warm and sunny!* with beaches! The only catch is that my family doesn't have a lot of money to spend on this--they can probably take care of their airfare, but I'll most likely be covering the hotel costs (for five days, I'd like to spend no more than $1500).

So where should we go? I'm assuming somewhere in the US or Latin America would be best. Renting a house or apartment makes perfect sense. We don't have to be right on the beach, just somewhere near one, but great weather is very important--we've visited frigid beaches together, but never a warm one.

Ideally, we should be able to buy tickets (now) for about $600 or so per person from South Dakota. I don't think San Diego will be warm enough, and Mexico is something of a mystery to me. Texas? Outer Banks? Florida? Some incredibly cheap country further south?

*"warm and sunny" = at least 75' F during the day.
posted by timoni to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that my family includes three siblings and one toddler, so, seven people total.
posted by timoni at 12:43 PM on September 24, 2008

Skip the hotel and rent a villa in Mexico or Puerto Rico. PR has the logistical advantage of being part of the US, but that also gives it something of an economic disadvantage. A random Google search turns up (for example) a place on Culebra at $300/night for an 8-person house. Mexico may be more affordable still, if you avoid the tourist meccas or else choose very carefully.

December will be, or else will be approaching, high season in many of these places so planning well in advance (as you are) is a very good idea.
posted by aramaic at 1:06 PM on September 24, 2008

The Outer Banks will be affordable as it's the off season. It's the off season because the Outer Banks in December are not beach weather. If you really want basking in the sun type weather I think you'll need to head to south FL or the Caribbean. I'm not that familiar with West Coast weather by my impression is that San Diego is plenty warm in December, so you might want to check that assumption.

Does it have to be ocean beach? I'm wondering if a lake house rental somewhere in the southwest might be a better deal financially?
posted by COD at 1:08 PM on September 24, 2008

San Carlos, Sonora is my favorite vacation spot in Mexico. Winter average temp is only ~70, though.
posted by carsonb at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2008

San Diego will not be warm enough. I live here and in the winter you don't want to be hitting that ocean water without a wet suit. Plus save a visit to San Diego for when that toddler is old enough to appreciate the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Texas probably isn't the ticket either; even Padre isn't that warm at Christmas. (I've lived there too.) Florida may not work because the average temp in Key West is going to only be about 70 degrees F during December.

Having knocked out the continental USA, Mexico it is. Cabo San Lucas is lovely. There are very few hotels where you can swim in the ocean, so if that's important be careful when booking.
posted by 26.2 at 1:15 PM on September 24, 2008

Seconding that the Outer Banks is not warm enough at all. Beautiful, and I love it down in there in off-season, but not warm enough.

One of those package deals to the Caribbean may be your best bet. I wouldn't normally recommend resorts over small inns or renting a house, but there's something to be said for the package deals to keep the airfare costs down!

Check resorts in the "Rivera Maya." I've been to Playa del Carmen/Tulum for Christmas, and the weather is lovely. Sometimes a little chilly at night, but perfect beach weather during the day.
posted by desuetude at 1:43 PM on September 24, 2008

Another vote for Mexico, Florida weather is iffy that time of year and Puerto Rico airfares have hit the stratosphere in the last couple months. You still can find cheap flights to Cancun and from there head to Puerto Morelos, PlayaCar or Tulum. Isla Mujeres is probably already booked up, but you might get lucky.
posted by Floydd at 2:23 PM on September 24, 2008

My midwestern family went to Costa Rica for Christmas a few years ago and it was awesome. Cheap, lots of English speakers, beautiful, low-key, and fun.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:44 PM on September 24, 2008

I don't know the pricing, but Bermuda has always been on my radar for that kind of thing.
posted by gjc at 8:33 PM on September 24, 2008

I don't know the pricing, because I already live here, but Hawaii has pretty warm weather all year round, and the water is amazingly nice and clear. As far as hotels go, Outrigger Hotels is known for having the most reasonable rates, but again, I live here and so have no reason to know how much they are.
posted by motown missile at 1:28 AM on September 25, 2008

I already live here, but Hawaii . . . , but again, I live here . . . .

Go ahead, rub it in.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2008

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