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By Josie Hough - 4 min read

8 winter sun destinations to swim with wildlife

Had enough of the cold, rain and snow? Us too. Get inspired for some heat and sunshine instead read all about our favorite winter sun destinations 🌞

These aren’t just any winter sun destinations though. Make your escape to the sun a truly unique experience visiting one of these amazing beaches where you can swim with incredible wildlife from pigs to flamingos to penguins!

Grab your swimsuit and camera, and let’s dive into these unique beaches…

Fun with flamingos in Aruba

Even if flamingos aren’t your favorite animal, there’s no denying their charm 🦩 What better image is there than these fabulous pink birds splashing in the crystalline seas around Aruba? The enchanting winter sun destination is naturally famed for its white-sand beaches and turquoise seas. But for the full experience, we definitely recommend staying at the luxurious Renaissance Aruba and making the most of its private island, home to a flock of flamingos.

Splash around with pigs in the Bahamas

If you haven’t seen photos of the adorable swimming pigs around the Bahamas, where have you been? 🐖 The piggies roam free on Big Major Cay, one of the paradise islets in the popular winter sun destination Exuma Cays. Stay at the neighboring Fowl Cay Resort, a private island retreat home to six secluded villas to spend your vacation in pure luxury. There’s plenty to do around here, but swimming with pigs is a clear highlight!

Meet the stars in Panama

And when we say stars, we mean starfish. Located off the Caribbean coast of Panama is Bocas del Toro, a seriously beautiful island chain that has magically remained an almost-untouched natural paradise 🏝️ Stay at Island Plantation Hotel, Bar & Restaurant, a boutique beachfront resort located on beautiful Playa Bluff. Your vacation will be packed exploring all the stunning corners of the archipelago, but make sure to keep a day free for Playa Estrella. This wild, remote beach is named for the numerous starfish that inhabit its sparkling blue waters – a truly unforgettable sight!

Peek at penguins in South Africa

An ideal winter sun destination, South Africa is home to countless attractions – from culture to nature – making it well worthy of a spot on your travel bucket list. But one particular experience sets it apart. Yep, you read correctly: penguins on the beach 🐧 We might associate them with colder climates, but a colony of these cute little birds has been living on Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town, since 1982. Just a few minutes’ walk from the beach is Boulders Beach Lodge & Restaurant, a laidback and welcoming hotel that works well as a base for your penguin watching.

Get moo-ving in Goa

Another unlikely beach-dwelling creature can be found calmly strolling along Palolem Beach in Goa, a mythical winter sun destination. OK, so you won’t be swimming with them, but it’s certainly an unforgettably unique experience to see cows strolling across the beach while you sunbathe 🐄 Stay at Ciarans, a tranquil eco-resort with rustic beachfront huts, for that authentic Goa experience.

Jump around with kangaroos in Australia

Australia is a hugely popular winter sun destination for us northern hemisphere travelers and one of the best ways to explore the country is on a road trip. Driving around in a campervan is a fun, unique and flexible way to see all the spectacular nature and wildlife it has to offer. If your Australian road trip takes you to the west, make a stop at the Lucky Bay Campground. Lucky Bay is known to be home to a group of the country’s most recognizable creatures: who’d have thought you’d see kangaroos on the beach! 🦘

Swim with turtles in Mexico

There are tons of places to see turtles in the Caribbean, but one of our favorites is definitely Akumal Bay, located between Cancun and Tulum. Akumal actually means “Place of the turtles” in the Mayan language, so it’s a no brainer really! Stay at Akumal Bay – Beach & Wellness Resort to be able to swim with turtles just steps from your hotel room, or at one of Tulum’s many beautiful eco resorts, like the Tulum Hotel Azulik, and make a day trip to swim with these adorable creatures 🐢

Monkey around in Thailand

There are endless reasons to visit Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands. White sand beaches, emerald waters offering amazing snorkeling opportunities, delicious Thai food… the list goes on. And it includes our furry friends on the aptly named Monkey Beach! 🐒 Up for sharing the beach (and quite possibly your lunch) with monkeys? The Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort is just a few minutes’ walk away and offers the perfect combination of comfort, luxury and wild nature.

Discover more unmissable winter sun destinations

Get inspired for your sunshine escape with more positive and personal recommendations for great places to eat, sleep and drink around the world on TWISPER.

Follow our Winter Sun List for more ideas to plan your next winter sun escape!

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About the author

Josie is a content creator at TWISPER. She loves traveling and writing about her experiences. Check out her top recommendations for places to eat, sleep and drink around the world on TWISPER!