Dolphins playing in a crystal-blue bay ringed with snow-covered peaks and January temperatures in the sunbathing range, it’s no wonder Airbnb travelers have dubbed Kaikoura, New Zealand as the top destination for 2019. In 2016 the small town on the east coast of the South Island was hit by a massive earthquake, but it has recovered with typical Kiwi spirit. This is the place to go in the southern hemisphere if you’re into whale watching, swimming with dolphins and gorging on fresh, fresh seafood. In fact “kai” means “food” in the native Maori language, and “koura” means “crayfish,” so there you go. Sperm whales, dolphins and seals are residents of the bay, unlike others parts of the world where they may be just passing through, so you are guaranteed to see majestic whales breaching, dolphins encircling your boat and seals barking in raucous union.
The town of just over 2,000 and its gorgeous surroundings also boasts plenty of entertainment for landlubbers, from coastal walks and opportunities to meet with local Maori people to shopping and visiting the iconic Fyffe House, the last remnant of the whaling station established here in 1842. If escaping the winter blues tops your travel wish list, you’re not alone.
Other warm-in-winter destinations that made the list are Puebla, Mexico (number three); Buenos Aires Province, Argentina (number six); Mozambique (number eight); and Santa Catarina State, Brazil (Number 12). Puebla is just two hours by car from Mexico City and its historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With beautiful colonial architecture, winter temperatures in the 70s and plenty of lively nightlife, it’s easy to see why it made the list.
Buenos Aires, the province not the city, encompasses nearly 11 percent of the area in Argentina, which means there’s a whole lot to see and do there. The province borders the Atlantic so pack your snorkelling gear. And don’t forget your hiking boots — there are also plenty of forest trails to explore. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a long-lost ancient city. On a more practical note, the strength of the dollar relative to the peso adds to the attraction.
Mozambique proves there is more to Africa than safaris. This east coast country boasts miles of white sand beaches, an archipelago of coral islands, marine national parks and more than 2,000 species of colorful fish. Don’t forget your underwater camera!
The popularity of Santa Catarina State, Brazil may reflect the intrepid spirit of Airbnb travelers. Stretching along the Atlantic Coast, Santa Catarina also features beautiful beaches and mountain adventures. The capital, Florianópolis, which spills over onto Santa Catarina Island, features a huge and colourful public market and a history museum in the 19th-century governor’s palace. And did we mention the beaches?
Best of the Rest
Airbnb’s list of the 19 top trending destinations for 2019 is based on data from bookings, searches and wish lists.
Other locales on the list that would be pretty great to visit anytime are Xiamen, China (number two); Normandy, France (number four); Great Smoky Mountains (number five); Accra, Ghana (number seven); Outer Hebrides, Scotland (number nine); Wakayama Prefecture, Japan (number 10); Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, US (number 11); Batumi, Georgia (number 13); Winnipeg, Canada (number 14); ); Pondicherry, India (Number 15); Uzbekistan (number 16); Calabria, Italy (number 17); Andalusia, Spain (number 18); and Taiwan (number 19).