Winter sun for a single lady
November 8, 2012 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Winter Sun holiday destination, less than a 12-hour flight from the UK, safe for a single woman to go on her own. Are there any?


- Planning to travel in early February next year, almost certainly will be on my own (by choice!).
- Need sun as the reason I'm going at this time is to try and help beat S.A.D. this year.
- I want an adventure rather than a package holiday in a resort, but my concern is that the places I imagine this happening in, maybe Morocco, Egypt, are possibly not safe for a woman to travel alone.

From a travel noob to the hard-soled wanderers of metafilter - where can I go?
posted by greenish to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cape Town, as long as you've done a bit of reading on how to travel alone there?
posted by cromagnon at 3:32 AM on November 8, 2012

Australia has plenty of sun in February, and is perfectly safe for anyone to travel alone. New Zealand would also qualify.

They're probably more expensive than most other destinations, and depends what you call an adventure.

Gold coast, Australia if you like beaches, coral reefs, and the like. Inland Australia if you want it to be really warm, and there's plenty of touristy natural parks, unusual wildlife and the like. New Zealand is probably more on the forest-side, and cooler, and less sunny, but great if that's what you like. Adventurous things in NZ include bungee jumping, various jet-boat things, and more along those lines. Plus lots of great places to hike.

If you're looking for a cultural adventure, go somewhere else. They're western countries.
posted by Ashlyth at 3:45 AM on November 8, 2012

Skiing in the Alps? That's certainly an adventure. There will be enough sun that you will need sunglasses even if the weather is overcast, and if the weather is sunny it will be GLORIOUS. There will be folks sitting in deckchairs up mountains wearing ski boots and drinking G&T.

Lots of people go alone, and you can have as much or as little of a package holiday experience as you like.
posted by emilyw at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2012

The Grenadines or Grenada in the Caribbean. Anywhere in the Caribbean fits weatherwise but I am suggesting places with less of a party vibe and a large sail boat cruising Euro population in the winter because they have more tourist amenities without being timeshare or spring break hell. Coral reefs, sunshine and it's fine for a woman alone. Good public transport even!
posted by fshgrl at 4:04 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think it depends on what sort of adventure you're looking for. Outdoorsy adventure is so different from culture shock adventure - for culture shock adventure, how about Hong Kong? You can fly there in 11hr40 min from London, and you will not experience a scrap of street harassment. It's a beautiful, chaotic crazy city that you can wander around in for days soaking up the atmosphere and eating amazing food. It's also easy to get away from the city centre to go for walks, hikes and to visit smaller more traditional villages.
posted by vodkaboots at 4:06 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have women friends who've gone to Zanzibar alone. It's toasty and dry in February, generally. (Level of difficulty: medium, mostly due to having to fly through Amsterdam, most likely.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:08 AM on November 8, 2012

Tenerife and the Canaries are very European. Short on adventure possibly, but safe.
posted by epo at 4:14 AM on November 8, 2012

Southern India beaches? Goa, Karnataka? - Not sure how long the flight is though. The weather becomes uncomfortably pre-monsoon at some point, but early Feb should be okay.
posted by carter at 4:16 AM on November 8, 2012

Also I have not been to Yucatan/Mexico in Feb, but if you can get to Cancun, there are quieter resorts nearby within easy reach. Isla Mujeres for example. South Yucatan is the Caribbean, very nice. There are also Gulf of Mexico destinations, even in the US, e.g. south Texas beaches.
posted by carter at 4:22 AM on November 8, 2012

Morocco can be a hassle for everyone, but maybe think about Essaouira in Morocco? It's a bit touristy, but for a first go at Morocco it might be a good start. You might be able to get cheap package flights out there. Also, perhaps Tunisia? Also, eastern Med - Cyprus, for example? Heaps of monuments there, if you are into that sort of thing.

Apologies for serial posting, still need coffee ...
posted by carter at 4:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Single data point but my friend went to Cape Town on her own and had a very good time. Most of it was spend in vineyards, restaurants and looking at penguins.
posted by like_neon at 4:40 AM on November 8, 2012

Are you opposed to the US? You are within 12 hours of Puerto Rico, Key West, etc.
posted by murfed13 at 4:40 AM on November 8, 2012

Essaouira in Morocco might not be very warm in early February. I've traveled in Morocco as a single woman by myself and the hassle factor can be overwhelmingly high, and while I never felt exactly unsafe depending on your personality it might make it less than relaxing.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:48 AM on November 8, 2012

I was also going to say the US. Florida is gorgeous this time of year. Miami has a lot of neat stuff to explore and do, and it should be affordable with the exchange rate.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:22 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could head to the island of Madeira. It is relatively safe (it is a stop for cruise lines on the way out) and far south so it is quite warm but is also still a bit of a wild place in many ways.
posted by vacapinta at 5:36 AM on November 8, 2012

Oman would fit the bill. It is pleasantly warm at that time of year - especially in late February.

For adventure, there are lots of ancient forts, mountains and wadis to explore. You can self drive to do this or there are reputable companies who will organise this for you. At a price.

The Omanis I met were pleasant, not pushy and engaging. It is generally pretty safe for men and women alike. While it always pays to dress a little more conservatively, especially outside Muscat, Oman is generally pretty chilled in its attitudes towards female tourists.

That said, Oman is not particularly cheap for tourists. So if that is a factor, it is probably not the place for you.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2012

If you are going to the Caribbean then look for islands which do not have major airports on them - so yes, indeed, somewhere like Bequia in the Grenadines.

Seconding the USA as a possible destination - Florida has - in addition to all the package places - many out-of-the-way corners if you want to get close to nature: the Everglades, Big Cyprus, etc.

Your 12 hour window would allow you to get to Costa Rica, Honduras, Brazil (perhaps Bahia). All adventurous places - all a step up in terms of hassle factor - but not as high as, say, Morocco. In all these places you can arrange to join a group to go on a rain forest trek, learn to dive, etc for part of the trip. That might help if you are a little intimidated by the thought of going to these countries alone.

If you go somewhere tropical then do check how much sunshine it really gets in February - for example if you wanted to visit Costa Rica then you would want to be on its Pacific coast - not the Caribbean one where it rains.
posted by rongorongo at 7:24 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Cuba?
posted by mdonley at 7:31 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Cuba?

Actually, brilliant, yes. 1000% Cuba. And now is the time to go; who knows what'll be happening in a few years!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:05 AM on November 8, 2012

Ashlyth - Australia/New Zealand are a 24 hour flight each way - so probably not what the OP is looking for.

My recent trip to Morocco (Taroudant) was very relaxing when I kept to my riad and read books. Marrakesh was quite high energy and adventurous - I was exhausted after four days there.
posted by teststrip at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2012

Belize is a fantastic destination. There are pre-Columbian ruins, gorgeous beaches, interesting people.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2012

posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2012

California? Its not Egypt or Morocco, but it does squeak in under your 12 hour flight rule. Flying to California is generally cheapest in February (it may be rainy in SoCal, not sure if that's why though) but its still generally sunny. Fly into SF or LA, rent a car and drive into the desert or Yosemite. There are tons of great national parks that are accessible from California. Yosemite is partly-closed - only the valley is open to cars, but you can hike up to Glacier Point on foot. Tons of other cool spots in the desert areas, if you don't mind long freeway drives. Or go to Palm Springs for winter sun (not quite as adventurous though).

Alternately - Tokyo and Kyoto. I think it still squeaks in under your 12 hour rule, and its about the safest place to go as a lone female traveller. Tokyo is a great city to explore, then hop on a bullet train and go to Kyoto to check out the temples.
posted by Joh at 2:29 PM on November 8, 2012

I found Tunis in Tunisia to be almost hassle free and it felt much safer than Egypt or Morocco. Alternatively, Gambia is or Florida may be good options.
posted by Laura_J at 7:36 AM on November 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks a lot! I've added Hong Kong and Zanzibar to my so far very short short-list, but I'm a bit concerned about some of the others, safety-wise.

Cape Town for instance - a friend of mine travels to South Africa for work regularly, and has told me he wouldn't dream of going there alone with a view to exploring - and he is male and knows the country somewhat.

Cuba is a great suggestion, but would it definitely be safe enough for me to go on my own?
posted by greenish at 2:10 AM on November 12, 2012

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