Travel The joy of dry heat ‒ and where to...

The joy of dry heat ‒ and where to go to find it


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Meanwhile, on a romantic spring trip to Miami, my barnet grew bigger and frizzier with each sultry terrace dinner and rooftop cocktail, eventually reaching comical, Sideshow Bob proportions. Walking between bars and restaurants, our foreheads beaded with sweat, I’ve never felt less elegant. In Jamaica, I stopped bothering with make-up after the second time it melted clean off my face.

I still love tropical landscapes, and of course there are plenty of destinations well worth experiencing whatever the weather. Plenty of holidaymakers have no problem embracing humidity, and if they live in a humid country themselves, may well be used to it. Humidity is also beneficial to skin health. But I now actively seek out dry heat: that blissful, breezy type of sunshine that warms your blood and ruffles your hair without making you flustered. More like the toasty glow of a pine sauna than the watery clouds of a Turkish bath.

Us humidity-haters have to be crafty about both timing and geography. You can get a dry-ish, breezy holiday in the Caribbean or Indian Ocean in the winter months of December to March; but booking then also coincides with the busiest and most expensive months. I’ve fallen foul of seeing a bargain September package to Barbados, then suffering through a clammy week.

Not only is it wildly humid, but the mosquitos are vicious (you might even get the trifecta of a hurricane). Choosing the right part of Australia or Mexico can decide whether you’ll be sweltering in humidity or swooning in a dry breeze: Perth or Adelaide and Baja California, say, rather than Queensland and the Yucatan coast.

Really, dry heat is a winter-sun category of its own. You’re looking for arid, desert-wrapped locations with cool enough winters to enjoy the sunshine. US sun-traps such as Arizona, New Mexico and California’s Palm Springs are all known as dry heat havens; or you could head for the dusty Middle East rather than verdant Caribbean or Asia, lounging in a UAE resort or seeing desert wadis and turtles in rugged Oman.

North African spots such as Morocco and Tunisia tick the dry-heat box, too. These are places where you can expect to be outside most of the day, charging your metaphorical solar panels without worrying about your mascara morphing into Gene Simmons’ stage make-up circa 1976. In short: they’re winter-sun bliss.

Where to go for deliciously dry heat

Red Sea, Egypt

January is Egypt’s driest month, meaning its mild winter comes with minimal, if any, humidity. This is when the country’s Red Sea coast comes into its own, with sunkissed hotel terraces, generous sun loungers and excellent snorkelling just metres from the beach. The clarity and warmth of the water here – not to mention the bright corals, manta rays and dolphins – makes it a fabulous place to learn to scuba dive, too. El Gouna’s new Chedi resort has a gorgeous palm tree-shaded beach, smart modern rooms and a romantic spa.

Stay at: The Chedi El Gouna, which offers doubles from £185, B&B

Palm Springs, California

Deep in California’s Sonoran Desert, this glamorous, arid enclave is where big spenders go to escape the state’s more humid areas, lounging by the pool in toasty temperatures of 21-25C in midwinter. You can also go exploring in that breezy warmth, checking out modernist villas owned by the likes of Elvis and Elizabeth Taylor, seeing Native American art in the city’s main museum and visiting Joshua Tree National Park, an hour’s drive away.

Stay at: The Modernist-style ARRIVE, with its vintage-cool pool. Doubles from £226, room only

Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE

A step beyond Dubai and all the more peaceful and stylish for it, Ras Al-Khaimah is one of the UAE’s lesser-known Emirates. Like the rest of the Gulf, its winters are comfortably warm and dry, with temperatures in the low 20s, and plenty of resorts and idyllic poolsides in which to enjoy them. A luxurious new Anantara opens this winter, set on a natural sweep of white beach surrounded by mangrove forest ‒ and only a 45-minute drive from Dubai.

Stay at: Anantara Mina Al Arab, which offers doubles from £343, B&B

Baja California, Mexico

A chilli pepper-shaped sliver of subtropical desert jutting out from northwestern Mexico, Baja California gets the dual blessing of dry heat and a Pacific breeze. Daytime temperatures of around 19-24C stretch across January and February, with wine tasting, surfer beaches, horse-riding and whale-watching excursions making the most of that sunshine. The majority of the resorts are clustered towards the southern end of the peninsula; try the Viceroy for its modernist design and opportunities for outback safaris.

Stay at: Viceroy Los Cabos, which offers doubles from £410, room only


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