Source: Lonely Planet
When relaxation is the name of the game, we’ve got just the thing for you – think beaches, wine, sun-kissed isles and a healthy dose of cool culture.
From Antigua to Australia, settle into your slice of paradise where whale watching, snorkelling, beach-bumming and vineyard-hopping will be the only things on your to-do list.
Enjoy a spring coastal break in San Diego, USA
‘America’s Finest City’ – or so the local claim boasts – is deceptively laid-back despite its size. And though summer is hotter and drier, March is still plenty warm, and also offers better value and shorter queues at its big attractions, of which there are many.
There are the beaches, of course: Mission has its wooden roller coaster, surfers head to Pacific Beach; Moonlight’s a family favourite; La Jolla’s the place for kayaking and snorkelling; hit Del Mar for peace and sweeping ocean views; and Coronado… well, it’s just beautiful. Balboa Park, with its museums and zoo, is uncrowded in March, while the bars and restaurants of the Gaslamp Quarter are as lively as ever. Go north towards Carlsbad to be dazzled by the ranunculus flowers at the Flower Fields, or to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to hike clifftop trails – watch for dolphins and migrating grey whales between December and March.
- Trip plan: San Diego’s airport is absurdly (but conveniently) close to downtown – just a couple of miles from the Gaslamp Quarter, as the crow flies.
- Need to know: Check dates for Spring Break, when school and college kids flood town.
- Other months: Mar-May & Sep-Nov – warm weather, not too crowded; Jun-Aug – very hot; Dec-Feb – cool.
Wind among Australia’s wineries and beaches at grape-harvest time
Come March, the grape-pickers are busy plucking bunches from the vines – and it’s the perfect time to roam the rolling hills south of Adelaide. While the Barossa, northeast of the state capital, gets the bulk of the wine tourists, the Fleurieu Peninsula offers a diverse menu of fine vineyards – some 70-plus cellar doors, dominated by hearty Shiraz vintages – plus artsy towns such as Willunga, kitsch Victor Harbour, and a gorgeous coastline, with sandy shores along Gulf St Vincent and surf breaks such as those at Middleton and Christies Beach.
- Trip plan: You could base yourself in Adelaide and explore from there, but better to noodle south and spend the night in McLaren Vale or at one of the beaches, roaming the wineries by day.
- Need to know: If you’re feeling active, the 750-mile (1200 km) Heysen Trail winds from Cape Jervis at the tip of the peninsula to the Flinders Ranges – tackle a short stretch to justify another gourmet dinner.
- Other months: Sep-May – spring to autumn most pleasant; Jun-Aug – winter.
For bright Caribbean sunshine and cool breezes head to Antigua
Antigua has a beach for every day of the year – or so the legend goes. Whether or not there are 365 separate stretches of sand on the island, it’s true that you won’t want for a patch of soft, golden-tinted shoreline on which to lounge.
March sees a lull in tourist arrivals after the midwinter peak and before Easter, but the weather is still dry and hurricane-free. Antigua is a family-friendly paradise, too, with activities galore and a piratical air – venture to Nelson’s Dockyard or the atmospheric, 18th-century Fort James for a bit of maritime history, snorkel the colourful reefs or try a bit of bodysurfing.
- Trip plan: International flights serve VC Bird Airport in Antigua’s north, near the capital, St John’s; the other significant centre is around the dual coves and historic sites of Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour in the south. But with its compact 13-mile (21 km) length and beaches all around the island, it’s easy to access all parts of the island.
- Need to know: March is towards the end of the mating season for frigate birds – look for the throat sacs of courting males at Codrington on neighbouring Barbuda, one of the world’s largest breeding colonies.
- Other months: Dec-Apr – driest; May-Jun – hot; Jul-Nov – showers; Jul – Carnival.
Visit Sri Lanka for chilling, culture, cetaceans and carnivores in the dry season
Sri Lanka is complicated – not least the weather: much of it gets hit by monsoons around May and October, while the north and east get soaked November and December. Come in March, when weather’s good all over, wildlife at parks such as Yala and Uda Walawe – home to leopards, elephants, monkeys and more – comes out to drink at waterholes, blue and sperm whales cruise the coast, and hiking Adam’s Peak is most pleasant.
Hit the beaches of the west for gorgeous sweeps of sand, and the south for peace and surf, but be sure to explore inland – sacred city Kandy, with its Buddha tooth relic; the ‘Lion Rock’ topped with an ancient palace at Sigiriya; and the ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the ‘Cultural Triangle’. Make time to sample the glorious food, a blend of South Indian, Arab, Malay and Portuguese flavours.
- Trip plan: Fly to capital Colombo and head south to the beaches around Galle for a few days’ relaxation, then hire a car and driver or catch trains and local buses east to the wildlife reserves then north to the cultural attractions of the centre.
- Need to know: Visitors require a visa; obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) online at eta.gov.lk/slvisa.
- Other months: Jan-Mar & Jul-Aug – dry most places; Dec-mid-Jan – busiest; Apr-Jun & Sep-Nov – wet in southwest and centre.