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    Our favourite winter escapes for Aussie travellers

    Our favourite winter escapes for Aussie travellers

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    Chasing the sunshine across the Pacific is one of our favourite ways to escape the Australian winter. We have an incredible variety of destinations to choose from, each with its own distinct culture, cuisine, scenery and style. These are our nine favourite destinations for a mid-year tropical escape:


    1. Indonesia

    Nusa Penida. Indonesia

    Bali has been a favourite playground for Aussies for decades: its stunning mix of beautiful beaches, warm hospitality, wide variety of activities and experiences, and sunny settled weather makes it one of our top places to visit during our winter months. However, Bali is only one of the 18,000 (give or take) islands to choose from in Indonesia, and there are plenty of fabulous alternatives that offer unique experiences and great value for money.

    Stunning Nusa Penida is only a short boat ride from Bali, but it feels a world away from the buzzing beach clubs and five-star resorts. It’s an ideal spot for an idyllic day trip by boat, especially if you want to visit stunning but hard-to-reach spots like Kelingking and Diamond Beach. The island’s clear, warm waters are paradise for snorkelling and scuba diving, and you may even be lucky enough to encounter gentle giant Manta rays and turtles.

    If you’re looking to venture even further off the beaten track, a visit to the islands of Komodo National Park is a must. Although still relatively under-the-radar for most travellers, it definitely deserves a top spot on your bucket list. Aside from being the UNESCO World Heritage listed refuge of the world’s largest lizards, the islands also offer a spectacular diversity of marine life and stunning beaches, especially the ethereal pink-sand beach of Pantai Merah.


    2. Fiji

    Viti Levu, Fiji

    There are plenty of reasons why Fiji is one of our favourite destinations for a family-friendly winter escape: it’s easily accessible, with fabulous resorts and a warm, welcoming culture of hospitality. The Australian winter coincides with Fiji’s dry season, which means you’re likely to enjoy endless warm, sunny days – perfect for lazing on the white sand beaches or dabbling in an endless variety of water sports.

    There are plenty of amazing, award winning resorts on the main island of Viti Levu, many of them located an easy drive from Nadi, which offer fabulous, family-friendly facilities like kids’ clubs and cultural activities. You’ll also have a variety of fun experiences on your doorstep, including horse-riding, rafting and ziplining.

    If you’re looking for true barefoot luxury, treat yourself to an island escape at one of the idyllic resorts of the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands. Hop aboard a high-speed catamaran, sea plane or helicopter, and before long, you’ll find yourself in a paradise of pristine beaches, sparkling water and lush, tropical greenery. Spend your days lazing under the palm trees or snorkelling in turquoise water through colourful coral gardens and swimming with inquisitive tropical fish, then marvelling at the sight of yet another technicolour Fijian sunset.


    3. Vanuatu

    Iririki, Vanuatu

    The islands of Vanuatu are a diverse playground of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, rugged mountains and breathtaking waterfalls. The destination is particularly renowned for its exceptional diving and snorkelling – its crystal-clear waters are teeming with colourful coral reefs and diverse marine life, as well as some of the world’s most accessible wreck diving.

    Adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers will find plenty of action on dry land too: hiking through ancient rainforests, horse riding on deserted beaches, or zip-lining through the jungle to explore ancient caves. The island of Espiritu Santo is famous for its stunning Blue Holes: a collection of natural limestone swimming pools filled with incredible, sapphire-blue water. You can even get thrillingly close to an active volcano with a scenic flight or guided hike to experience Mount Yasur on Tanna Island.

    Vanuatu’s culture is a fascinating blend of Melanesian traditions and European colonial influences. A village visit is a great way to experience the traditional way of life, complete with mesmerising performances of music and dance.


    4. Cook Islands

    Rarotonga, Cook Islands

    A holiday in the Cook Islands is a chance to slow down, escape from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy a unique blend of Polynesian culture and immense natural beauty.

    In Rarotonga, you’ll find some of the best beaches in the South Pacific, encircled by a sheltered lagoon that’s ideal for paddle boarding, kite surfing, wind surfing and kayaking. The volcanic island’s rugged interior offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, birdwatching and exploring hidden waterfalls, and the weekly markets in the island’s main town of Avarua are a great place to shop for delicious local produce and handmade souvenirs.

    The island of Aitutaki takes the concept of tropical paradise to an entirely new level. Comprising an immense lagoon of turquoise water, studded with one main island and numerous tiny motu (islets), this picture-perfect paradise is a favourite spot for honeymoons and romantic escapes. Be sure to pay a visit to One Foot Island to get your passport stamped at the world’s smallest post office, perhaps stopping along the way to swim or snorkel in the impossibly clear, sparkling water.


    5. Samoa

    To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa, perfect under-the-radar place to escape Aussie winter

    Another of our favourite Polynesian island destinations, Samoa offers a tropical holiday that combines incredible natural beauty with enchanting cultural and adventurous experiences. You’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit every taste, from luxury resorts to traditional beach fales.

    The island of Upolu serves as the gateway to Samoa. Although it has plenty of amazing beaches, including Lalomanu and Lefaga (also known as ‘Return to Paradise’ Beach), the island’s most photogenic swimming spot is the famous To Sua Ocean Trench. It’s a stunning natural swimming hole, surrounded by lush vegetation, which can be reached by climbing down a wooden ladder to a small platform. A visit to Apia’s Samoan Cultural Village is a great way to learn about various aspects of Fa’a Samoa (‘the Samoan way’), from tapa cloth making to stories of Samoan history and mythology.

    Samoa’s largest island, Savai’i, is a haven of unspoiled natural beauty: pristine beaches, secluded waterfalls and authentic Samoan culture. Explore the island’s dramatic, volcanic landscapes, from the abandoned villages and lunar landscape of the Saleaula Lava Fields to the thrilling phenomenon of the Alofaaga Blowholes.


    6. Hawai’i, United States

    Waikiki, Hawai'i

    It may take a little longer to reach your destination, but the islands of Hawaii are definitely worth the effort. The Australian winter months are a wonderful time to visit Hawai’i, as gentle trade winds (and reliable air conditioning) provide just the right amount of relief from the tropical heat.

    On the island of Oahu, Honolulu’s legendary Waikiki Beach is an iconic spot for learning to surf, with Diamond Head providing a picture-perfect backdrop. Waikiki also offers an array of shopping and dining options, from luxury boutiques and designer stores to casual eateries and world-class restaurants.

    Hawaii’s breathtaking natural beauty is not just limited to its endless array of stunning beaches. You can also take a helicopter flight over Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, experience the power of an active volcano on the Big Island, go snorkelling over the remains of a submerged volcano at Molokini Crater or watch the sunrise from the summit of Maui’s Mt Haleakala.


    7. New Caledonia

    New Caledonia, winter escape

    Although it’s one of our closest Pacific neighbours (a little over two hours’ flying time from Brisbane), New Caledonia remains something of a well-kept secret for many Australians. Its beautiful beaches and Mediterranean-style atmosphere, combined with an exotic blend of French and Melanesian cultures, has earned it the nickname, ‘the French Riviera of the Pacific’.

    Its capital, Noumea, combines beautiful beaches with excellent shopping and dining experiences. You can shop for delicious tropical fruit at the local markets, sample delicious French cuisine at waterfront cafes and bistros, and laze on the white sands of Baie des Citrons.

    New Caledonia is made of one large island (Grande Terre) and several smaller islands. Amédée, Île aux Canards and Îlot Maître are all popular day trip destinations from Noumea, while Isle of Pines, with its white sand beaches and iconic, towering pine trees, is an ideal choice for a romantic escape. The Loyalty Islands of Mare, Lifou and Ouvéa are renowned for their warm Kanak hospitality and culture as well as their pristine natural beauty.


    8. French Polynesia

    Bora Bora, escape the Australian winter

    The islands of French Polynesia are scattered across a vast section of the Pacific Ocean: a collection of five island groups that encompass more than a hundred volcanic islands and coral atolls, each one more beautiful than the last. The largest of these islands is Tahiti, and its main town, Papeete, is the capital of, and gateway to, French Polynesia. Its vibrant markets are a great place to pick up freshly baked croissants each morning, while its waterfront roulottes (food trucks) serve up a mouthwatering assortment of street food every evening.

    From Papeete, you can travel by ferry or plane to the other islands in French Polynesia, from low lying coral atolls like Tikehau and Rangiroa, to towering volcanic peaks of Moorea and Bora Bora.

    Tahiti’s most glamorous cousin, Bora Bora shares the same volcanic heritage, but with the added star appeal of an immense turquoise lagoon that’s studded with tiny, white sand motu (islets). With its collection of world class luxury resorts, which feature indulgent spa experiences and idyllic, overwater bungalow-style accommodation, Bora Bora is the ideal choice if you’re looking to escape the winter in one of the most romantic destinations in the world.


    9. Cruising

    cruising holiday

    If you’re fully invested in the concept of a winter Pacific escape but having a hard time choosing a single destination, an island-hopping cruise holiday may be the perfect solution for you. The all-inclusive nature of a cruise means that your meals, entertainment, and some activities are included in the price, and you’ll get to visit multiple destinations without the hassle of packing and unpacking at every stop.

    There are plenty of onboard opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation, whether it’s lounging by the pool, indulging in spa treatments, or simply enjoying the ocean breeze from the deck. If you’re more of an active relaxer, you can choose a cruise line that specialises in on-ship adventure, whether it’s racing the kids down the water slides or abseiling down the ship’s funnel. During your time ashore, you can choose from a variety of curated excursions that are designed to highlight the best of each destination, or you can opt to explore at your own pace if you prefer.

    You don’t even have to leave Australia to find a warm place to escape winter – you can opt for a cruise holiday that explores the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.


    The best places to escape winter in Australia offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a romantic escape in a luxury resort or a family-friendly, tropical island hopping adventure. However you choose to chase the sunshine, your personal travel manager can help make it happen.


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