All I want for Christmas is not to have to hear about Christmas in November. Seriously. I’ve only just recovered from Halloween, and my blood sugar level is still way too high to even contemplate another candy-based holiday.
As soon as November comes around, the world instantly zeroes in on the holidays.
It doesn’t matter that there are still weeks to go, you’re going to hear Mariah Carey on the radio every day. Unless, of course, you flee the scene and head somewhere exotic for an adventure-packed getaway.
Not only will you escape the holiday-mania for a couple of weeks, but you also won’t need to break the bank in doing so.
November is one of the cheapest months of the year to travel because it is super off-peak; this means getting the ultimate bang for your buck when it comes to flights and accommodation.
If you’re ready to escape the cold and seek out adventure, here are seven incredible places to inspire your travels in November.
1. Surf in Mexico
Puerto Escondido is the surfing mecca of Mexico, and possibly the whole world. November is the perfect month to visit this coastal town for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the rainy season is coming to an end, so you’ll be blessed with days of glorious sunshine. Secondly, the rainy season hasn’t quite finished yet, which means that, in exchange for a wild electrical storm every few evenings, you’ll enjoy delightfully low prices.
Unsurprisingly, the number one thing to do in a surfing mecca is to surf. Beginners start out on the gentle ripples over at Playa Carrizalillo, while the more confident surfers head over to La Punta.
If you consider yourself a pro then you might want to try the monster waves over at Zicatela Beach. But beware because these bad boys are seriously huge.
If you’re not keen on surfing then fear not, there are plenty of other options. November is the best time of the year to see the bioluminescence that grows in Puerto Escondido’s lagoons. As you move your body through the water, the plankton glows fluorescent blue in what can only be described as a thoroughly magical experience.
If you’d rather not be submerged in water, the sun starting to peek through in November makes the boat tours to see dolphins and turtles all the more enjoyable. There are numerous tour agencies in La Rinconada and Zicatela that will help you book yourself on to such a tour.
2. Trek in Chile
Few places in the world can compare with Patagonia when it comes to untamed natural beauty. The stark plains, rugged mountains and endless glaciers combine to create incomparable landscapes. It’s the kind of stuff a photographer could only dream of, except that it’s real, and you’re right there looking at it.
While the Northern Hemisphere cools down, the Southern Hemisphere gears up for summer, and Patagonia is no exception. The extreme wind and snow that plague the region in the winter have died down, and the temperature in Patagonia in November is perfect for hiking.
The most popular part of the region to explore is the Torres del Paine National Park, which is distinguished by its cluster of jagged mountains. The two main trekking routes are the W trek and the Circuit trek. The Circuit trek takes around seven days, while the W trek takes only five—they follow roughly the same route, but the Circuit trek carries on a little further.
Both treks take you along the iconic Tower’s Trail, which stretches between the mountains and gives you unparalleled views of the spiky peaks and the glacial lake that sits at their base.
They both also include the Grey Trail, which snakes along the edge of Lake Pehoe until you reach Grey Lake. From there, a boat takes you across the lake and past the magnificent Grey Glacier.
The Circuit trek and W trek are physically demanding, and you will need a good fitness level, regardless of which option you choose. You should also be prepared for all kinds of weather. While November is generally sunny, there are no guarantees of anything in the wild lands of Patagonia.
3. Island Hop in the Philippines
November marks the start of the dry season in the Philippines. The temperature is warm but not sweltering, and the Christmas vacation travelers are yet to arrive. So the islands are less crowded and less expensive to visit. This means that you can island hop to your heart’s content without having to jostle for space.
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, and around 1,700 of these are in the Palawan region. This gives you ample island-hopping opportunity. And, in November, the humidity drops, so you won’t be suffocating within five minutes of being outside.
From El Nido, Palawan, there are four tours available: A, B, C, and D. This what they cover:
- A: Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and 7 Commando Beach
- B: Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Pangulasian Island
- C: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Star Beach
- D: Ipil Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Beach, Paradise Beach, Natnat Beach, Bukal Beach
Every tour is incredible and, if you have time to do all of them, I fully encourage you to do so.
Rest assured that if you only have time for one or two, every beach has pearly white sands. Just like every lagoon is filled with outrageously turquoise water. And it is all flanked by emerald jungle. While tours A and C tend to be more popular, there’s no wrong choice.
4. Explore Ancient Ruins in Greece
Despite being one of the most historical and fascinating capitals in the world, from June to August Athens is a ghost town because the heat is unbearable and the city becomes one big dustbowl. Everyone goes off to Greece’s insanely beautiful islands so they don’t suffocate in the capital.
September and October then see a surge of visitors as the weather cools off and, by November, it is quiet again. The difference this time is that, in November, the weather is perfect.
So, you’ve got the city to yourself (sort of) and the sun is shining: What do you do now?
Your first port of call should be the Acropolis. In the summer, this historical site is so hot and bright that it is downright unpleasant to visit. In November, you can explore the ruins in comfort.
If you’re interested in history then visit the museum first and then go up to the Acropolis. Otherwise, hike up to the ruins, spend some time walking around, and then come back down again. I’m not usually one for historical sites, but you really cannot visit Athens without checking out the Acropolis and its iconic Parthenon.
Once you’ve had your culture fix, head over to Mount Parnitha, which sits just an hour outside of Athens and offers incredible aerial views of the city. The main route to the summit ranges from the mildest incline to fairly steep, but there’s nothing too challenging about it. The round trip is around 7.5 miles.
5. Party at Pirates Week Festival in the Cayman Islands
You’ve probably heard of the Cayman Islands. It’s the little British-owned archipelago in the Caribbean Sea where loads of big corporations hide their money. But, the Cayman Islands are good for a lot more than just tax fraud.
In November, the three islands that make up the Cayman Islands play host to the highly entertaining Pirates Week Festival. Each of the three islands hosts a few days of the festival—with Grand Cayman allotted five of the 11 days. Meanwhile, the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman get three days each.
Pirates Week is a slightly tongue-in-cheek (and super fun) celebration of the Cayman Islands’ cultural heritage. And boy do they know how to celebrate. Fireworks, food festivals, parades, dancing, singing and even mock pirate invasions fill the days of the festival, bringing these sleepy islands to life.
Those of you who like to stay active while you’re on the road might want to participate in the 5K run or 5K swim (that’s just over three miles). The temperature will be in the 80s but if you can handle the heat, the races are great fun. Just make sure you register online for the race beforehand.
6. Scuba Dive in Cambodia
After months of intermittent rain, Cambodia dries off in November and clear skies are the order of the day. This means you can spend all day outside, exploring Cambodia’s rugged wilderness and spectacular ruins, without worrying about a sudden downpour.
To make the most of this glorious weather you should spend at least some of your time scuba diving. The clear weather makes for perfect visibility and the water will be bath-temperature at least.
The main diving spots are around Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Koun. Star players around these sites include octopi, stingrays, starfish and seahorses.
If you’d rather stay on terra firma, opt for one of Cambodia’s dozens of hiking trails. The Kalai Jungle Trail is a good choice for people who want to be fully immersed in nature, but also don’t want anything too challenging. The entire route is 10 miles through a verdant jungle with the occasional stop for a dip in a natural pool.
For something more hardcore, make the most of the beautiful weather and go on a multi-day trek through the Cardamom Mountains. Through lush rainforest and past green mountains, this route winds through one of Cambodia’s most remote and beautiful regions. The trek can take anything from three to seven days, depending on how much time you’re willing to commit and energy you’re willing to expend.
7. Hike in Hong Kong
You will find both comfortable temperatures and reasonable hotel rates in Hong Kong during the month of November. What you will also find in Hong Kong, although this may surprise you, is an abundance of adventure activities.
Hong Kong usually conjures up images of neon skylines and megamalls. But, venture outside the center and you’ll find a natural paradise ripe for exploring.
If you’ve just spent the past six months sitting in your office and want to get your legs moving, the climb up Lantau Peak will do the trick. The path runs for 10 miles through the undulating countryside to the grassy summit of the peak. Go on a clear November morning and exquisite views of where the sparkling coastline meets the jungle will be a treat.
You should also include a stop in the New Territories on your itinerary. Here, you will find adventures in all shapes and sizes, from gentle walking to adrenaline-pumping canyoning.
If you choose the latter option, you’ll spend the day sliding down steep rock faces and abseiling down waterfalls. An hour or so of that should get the blood pumping!
If you’re in the New Territories, there are also plenty of hiking and mountain biking routes. It doesn’t matter what path you take. All of them will give you front row seats to the region’s spectacular biodiversity.
If you need more convincing, here’s an old Hong Kong photo essay of mine that might do the trick.
No matter how much you may love the holidays, I guarantee you that a November getaway will be better. You’ll get away from all the holiday hype. And, when you return, the holidays will feel that much more exciting! Consider your booking an early present to yourself if you really need to justify your decision.
So where are you escaping to in November? Let us know in the comments!