Joy, fun... it's Christmas in the sun!

A guide to the best desintations with Winter sun instead of sleet


Christmas Island The big problem about getting to Christmas Island for 25 December is availability. Everyone wants to reach this tropical paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 2,600km north-west of Perth. Half of Australia's offshore gem is a national park, with the requisite white sand beaches and diving among tropical fish and local spinner dolphins. To get to Christmas Island you can fly direct from Jakarta (one hour), Singapore (two hours) or Perth (four hours). Contact Island Bound Holidays in Perth (00 618 9381 3644) or CI Travel (00 618 94811200). Accommodation ranges from backpacker-budget to resort. The Christmas Island Tourist Association (00 61 89164 8382, www.christmas.net.au) can provide more information and arrange bookings.

Christmas Island The big problem about getting to Christmas Island for 25 December is availability. Everyone wants to reach this tropical paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 2,600km north-west of Perth. Half of Australia's offshore gem is a national park, with the requisite white sand beaches and diving among tropical fish and local spinner dolphins. To get to Christmas Island you can fly direct from Jakarta (one hour), Singapore (two hours) or Perth (four hours). Contact Island Bound Holidays in Perth (00 618 9381 3644) or CI Travel (00 618 94811200). Accommodation ranges from backpacker-budget to resort. The Christmas Island Tourist Association (00 61 89164 8382, www.christmas.net.au) can provide more information and arrange bookings.

New Zealand While shepherd's watched their flocks by night... they probably smacked their lips at the thought of that succulent New Zealand lamb - or, rather, crayfish on the beach. In New Zealand they celebrate Christmas and the start of the summer holidays together. The ovens are turned off and the barbies dusted down). You can have a very Maori Christmas on the beach in New Zealand with a two-week package from Austravel (0117 933 0450, www.austravel.com). The price of £1,500 per person includes return flights to Auckland leaving on 23 December, two weeks' board and 10 days' car hire.

Oman For a more traditionally exotic flavour you could head east. Frankincense and myrrh originated in Oman, where the incense trade supported an extravagant and wealthy civilisation for over 1,000 years. Arabian Odyssey (01242 224482, www.arabianodyssey.co.uk) has an eight-day tour departing on 22 December, from £1,505 per person. Exploring dusty villages, banana plantations, spectacular wadies and Oman's capital, Muscat, are all possible. Wandering around Muscat's Muttrah souk - a labyrinth of covered walkways - shopkeepers will tempt you with frankincense and myrrh, carpets and silks.

Tinsel Town Tinsel Town refers to Hollywood's year-round glitz, and is not to be confused with seasonal festivities. But if you do fancy seeing how the Americans do Christmas, Thomson Breakaway (0870 606 1476, www.thomsonholidays.com) has four-night breaks to Los Angeles from £503 per person. If you include a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, you'll find that Christmas has been replaced this year by Grinchmas to coincide with the blockbuster adaptation of the cult 1957 Dr Seuss' Christmas book The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

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