Life Travel See ya winter: tropical escapes to book now

See ya winter: tropical escapes to book now

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With Australia’s winter in full freeze mode, the sunny climes are calling for many.

There’s no better time to head to sun-soaked resorts and sandy beaches, particularly for millions in Australia’s south who have been weathering subzero temperatures on the frostiest July nights.

Escaping from the chill is a lot easier than it has been in the past couple of years, with many Pacific destinations opening their borders following COVID. And the Top End of Australia is still very much an attractive option to those longing to explore their own backyard.

These idyllic winter warmer locations are an instant tonic to winter-weary Australians.

Fiji

Fiji reopened to Australian travellers back in December and since then, visitors have flocked to the 333 islands that make up the nation.

The Coral Coast is a popular Fiji go-to with its stretch of crystal clear beaches and resorts conveniently located nearby.

Denarau Island is for lovers of luxury travel with nine exclusive resorts and an 18-hole championship golf course. The island is just a 20-minute drive from Nadi.

Fiji
Incomparable Fiji.

There’s plenty on offer for those days when lazing by the pool is getting stale. The Sigatoka River Safari is a full day or half day guided tour that stops at remote Fijian villages.

There’s also multiday hikes across Viti Levu’s Suncoast and a wide selection of ocean spots to snorkel, including the Yasawa Islands where Manta Rays flock between May and October.

Fiji is just a three-hour flight from Sydney, four hours from Melbourne and five from Adelaide. Travellers over 16 must have proof of COVID vaccination and everyone aged over 12 must prebook a rapid antigen test to take shortly after arrival.

Vanuatu

The first international flights in Port Vila began landing on July 1, with Vanuatu reopening its borders after two and a half years of pandemic closures.

Vanuatu is renowned for its white, sandy coastline and sparkling blue-water beaches. Efate Island, home to Port Vila, is a good place to start with its coral reefs and selection of beautiful beaches, including Paradise Cove, Breakas, Eratap, Tamanu and Hideaway.

The largest island, Espiritu Santo, is where beachlovers will find the famous Champagne Beach. It lives up to its name thanks to a fizz that appears at low tide, caused by gas escaping from volcanic rocks.

Adventurers can check out the Vanuatu Jungle Zipline in Port Vila on the island of Efate, take a day trip to the active Mount Yasur Volcano or snorkel around the SS President Coolidge, a WWII wreck at Million Dollar Point.

Mount Yasur, Vanuatu
Ash cloud erupting from crater of Mount Yasur Volcano

Visitors don’t need to quarantine upon arrival. They do need a certified negative RAT from within 24 hours of departure or a certificate of infection and recovery from within 28 days of travel. 

Thailand

Looking for an affordable holiday in the sun where you can dine on tasty food and enjoy the local culture? Thailand has all of that and more.

Phuket is an easy place to land with its fragrant food, comfortable resorts and picturesque beaches. Its main resort town, Patong, has a colourful nightlife where you can find a massage, dance the night away and enjoy the street food.

From Phuket you can also travel to the crystal clear waters of Koh Phi Phi, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach.

Phi Phi Island
The view at Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

The traditional holiday spots of Bangkok, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai are still popular with tourists, but those seeking to find somewhere a little more off the beaten track should try Koh Kood, Khao Lak and Sangkhlaburi.

Travellers to Thailand need to show proof of either full COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test result issued within 72 hours of travel.

Port Douglas

A tried and true winter escape, Port Douglas is as well known for its palm-fringed beaches as it’s relaxed vibe.

While there is a range of accomodation to choose from, luxury travel is very much on the agenda here, with the Sheraton Grand Mirage leading the way. The 295-room resort was built by the late Christopher Skase – former businessman turned fugitive – 25 years ago and restored in 2016.

Foodies will love the bar, restaurant and cafe scene. Sample the beers at Hemingway’s Brewery at Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, fine food French flavours at The Epicurean on Macrossan Street and delicious fresh seafood at Melaleuca on Wharf Street.

Once you’ve walked up and back the beautiful expanse of Four Mile Beach, you may want to visit the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest – a 55-kilometre drive away.

Daintree
Mount Alexandra Lookout from the Daintree rainforest.

Estimated to be about 135 million years old, the Daintree is the land of the Yalanji people. Explore the boardwalks, plan a hike and maybe even spot a cassowary.

Broome

Home to one of Australia’s most fabled beaches, Broome is a heavenly outback retreat. A two-and-a-half hour flight from Perth, the coastal town is home to the Yawuru people and was famous pearling port during the 1800s.

Cable Beach is the heart and soul of Broome. The 22 kilometres of pristine white sand is paired with clear tropical waters, making it the perfect backdrop for walks, ocean-gazing, camel rides or a beachside beverage.

Cable Beach
Sandy white Cable Beach

The Staircase to the Moon sunset phenonmenon is a must-see. It occurs two to three days a month between March and October, when a full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay.

Travellers can enjoy it from The Mangrove Hotel Resort with live entertainment. The Staircase to the Moon markets is also held at Town Beach between 4-8pm.

Gold Coast

The Goldie is a beloved holiday spot, attracting 4.2 million visitors each year. With its sundrenched beaches, theme parks and buzzing nightlife, it’s popular with everyone from schoolies to retirees.

Surfers Paradise is the most famous Gold Coast beach destination and an excellent surfing location. The foreshore is always alive with walkers, cyclists and skateboarders enjoying the beachside shopping, dining, bars and clubs.

Take in some stunning beach views from Burleigh Head National Park. There you can follow an easy 15-minute walk along a coastal track that’s immersed in lush rainforest.

Outdoorsy types love Tallebudgera Creek where they can indulge in camping, swimming, picnicking, kayaking and a spot of fishing or two.

Tallebudgera Creek
Clear water, sunny skies at Tallebudgera Creek.

And then there’s the theme parks. Warner Bros Movie World is home to the super fast Superman Escape – a rollercoaster that reaches 100km/h in only two seconds. Dreamworld has plenty of rides for the littlies and thrillers for the big kids, as well as a wildlife park and a water park.

It’s waterslides galore at Wet’n’Wild – the perfect place to cool down under the Queensland sun. Sea World is home to a host of marine animals – from penguins to polar bears, sharks to seals.