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australia

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Maderia

If you enjoy an easy to reach sub tropical climate but don’t fancy the Canary Islands the Portugese island of Madeira could be the place for you. Aside from beaches this is the perfect destination for anyone looking for an active break with surfing and other water sports available all over the island and the largest evergreen forest in the world at the Laurisilva Forest.

Average winter temperatures are 20° C. Flight time is 4 hours.

Find out more here or check out www.travelrepublic.ie for deals.

Miami

Miami is an experience as much as a destination. Art Deco on South Beach, shop of the best shopping and dining in the world and of course, those white sandy beaches. Hard to beat as a choice for a fun filled winter holiday.

Average winter temperatures are 20-25°C. Flight time is 9 hours.

Find out more here or check www.americansky.ie for deals.

Cape Verde

Just one hours flight time south past the Canary Islands the Cape Verde islands off the coast of Senegal offer guaranteed hot winter sun. Across the 10 different islands there are activities and experiences to suit all from the more beach and activity based Sal to Mindelo which offers a more cultural experience it is worth doing some research before chooing your island.

Average winter temperatures are 28°C. Flight time is 5 hours.

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Rio de Janeiro

The party capital of the world will be partying even harder in 2014 with the World Cup about to visit town. Soak up some serious sun on the iconic Copacabana or Ipanema beaches or vist the famous Christ the Redeemer statue for breathtaking views over the city. You can also take a cable car to the summit of the Sugarloaf for a different perspective and even more impressive views are available by having a go at the current number one tourist attraction…hang gliding over the city.

Average winter temperatures are 29°C. Flight time is 11 hours.

Find out more here or visit www.travelrepublic.ie for deals

Australia

Yes it is a long way to go for some sun but the ultimate getaway from Irish winter has to be a visit to the southern hemisphere’s summer. The biggest challenge you will find with a short holiday to Australia is deciding where to go and how to divide up your time. There is just so much to see here serious research is required before you plan your route.

Average winter temperatures are 25-30°C. Flight time is 22 hours.

Find out more here or visit www.australiansky.ie for deals.

Anse Chastanet House Reef, St. Lucia

As they say, location is everything. Anse Chastanet, which sits right around the corner from the twin pitons that define this island nation, has the lion’s share of St. Lucia’s lush, shallow snorkeling right off its doorstep. Color rules here: Azure vase sponges battle it out for space with brilliant sea fans. Gangs of blue tangs and fanciful creole wrasse roam the reef. Striking goldspotted and sharptail eels slither in the crevices among seahorses and spotted drums. There’s even a boat drift snorkel over coral gardens farther afield.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji

With such an iconic name as Cousteau attached to a resort, you’d expect the experience to encompass all things having to do with the sea. This resort even has an onsite marine biologist for your inevitable, “What-was-that-blue-thingy-with-the-red-marks?” questions. The shallows just off the beach abound in marine life. You’ll find acres of vividly patterned giant Tridacna clams, clownfish and vibrant, soft-coral-covered reefs. Also check out nearby Namena Reef.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

If there is one archetype of a world-class snorkeling site, Oahu’s Hanauma Bay would be it. This ancient volcanic caldera offers snorkelers protection from Pacific-borne waves, a lively, shallow reef and typically crystal-clear water. It doesn’t get much easier than this. If it flits, fins, hides or hunts in Hawaiian coastal waters, you’ll probably find it here in great concentrations. And with more than 30 percent of Hawaiian marine life endemic to the island chain, much of the parade before your mask can be seen only in Hawaii. Camouflage has not been a priority, so most species look like they’ve rolled around in a box of Crayolas. Take a little food with you and you’ll be immediately surrounded by millet-seed, raccoon, threadfin, pyramid and ornate butterflyfish. And keep your eye out for the Hawaii state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or reef triggerfish.

Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Every inch of Australia’s 1,250-mile-long Barrier Reef could be considered a world-class destination for snorkelers. Since most of it lies 30 miles off the coast, what could be better than planting yourself on Heron Island, smack on top of the Barrier Reef and spending your days in the water mere steps from the shore? Heron Island, a short hop off Gladstone on the Queensland coast, has a bit of everything, from spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles and manta rays to legions of wildly colored nudibranchs. Sea turtles come ashore to nest from December to February. If you don’t feel like swimming, the resort offers a reef walk that will bring the reef alive — literally — right at your feet.