Autumn is here
It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plummet, and wanderlust starts to soar.
Tropical climates, sunny skies and lazy days by the water beckon. It’s time to replace the chill of the winter with the thrill of a holiday.
Even thinking about an escape is enough to take the edge off, so here are a few of our favourite destinations that are just so hot right now.
IF YOU WANT YOUR OWN PIECE OF BEACH …
Overwater bungalows, sparkling lagoons and palm-fringed beaches … the French Polynesian islands of Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti are probably everything you imagine when you think of a tropical winter escape.
Now the local tourism authority is looking to expand on the Tahitian islands’ reputation as an exclusive honeymoon destination, pitching to family groups looking for a laid-back holiday. “While Tahiti is best known for its overwater bungalows and luxury resorts, there is a whole other side to the destination for those who want more flexible arrangements, especially families, friends and groups who are holidaying together,” Tahiti Tourisme’s Australian director Robert Thompson says.
“Whether guests want a rustic beach house where the lagoon is never more than a few paces away, or a high level of service with a fully staffed property, there is a rental home to suit.” Most have a private pool and semi-private beach access.
IF YOU WANT TO TICK OFF A BUCKET LIST ITEM …
Thanks to David Attenborough’s latest documentary, the Great Barrier Reef is in the world spotlight, and thanks to the newly renovated Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort, this winter is an ideal time to head north for a taste of tropical north Queensland. The Attenborough effect has seen an influx of international tourists over summer, and now Queensland has put out the call for Aussies to follow suit.
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“It is Australia’s turn now to see this amazing living treasure which is on their back door. As the cooler months approach it’s perfect timing for southerners to swap their jackets and scarfs for a pair of swimmers and head north for the winter,” Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones says.
Port Douglas is an ideal base for daytrips to the outer reef, offering spectacular underwater scenery. It’s also the gateway to World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest and has beautiful beaches – but who needs that when you’ve got your own swim-up balcony at a newly revamped resort? The Sheraton Mirage has undergone a $40 million renovation, slated for completion next month.
Travstar has a package combining three nights at the Sheraton Mirage with three nights at Green Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef and an outer reef cruise for $1425 a person. See portdouglasinfo.com
IF YOU WANT A GREAT POOL …
Thailand has so many stunning resort pools it’s too hard to choose the best, so instead, let’s go for the biggest.
The Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf Resort & Spa says its 7000sq m lagoon-style pool is the largest in the country. At this resort, located in lush tropical garden just metres from the beach, “poolside” refers to just about everything. There’s the swim-up pool bar Koh Poda and barbecues. Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf Resort & Spa has a Magnifique Breakfast package, from $206 a room a night.
Or, if you love a good pool but want to do more than just laze around in one, never fear: Thailand’s amazing array of resorts has you covered. In Phuket, Centara Grand West Sands Resort & Villas is home to Thailand’s biggest resort waterpark, with rides, slides, a wave pool and lazy river. The resort has a 40 per cent off accommodation deal, starting from $135 a night.
IF YOU WANT TO FLOAT AWAY …
The ultimate water view is from the deck of a ship, so it’s no surprise sailing away for the winter is growing in popularity among Aussie holiday-makers. “Cruising provides the perfect relaxing escape from Australia’s colder winter months,” says Cruise Lines International Association Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine.
Queensland and the South Pacific are popular winter escapes, while the northern summer lures many to destinations such as Alaska and the Mediterranean. But for the best of both worlds, he suggests a round-trip world cruise: “These have a strong following among local travellers who want to combine a northern summer with the convenience of cruising from their own doorstep.”
P&O has a 12-night Best of the Pacific cruise starting from $749 a person departing Sydney on July 25, visiting six ports including Noumea and Isle of Pines, or a seven-night Pacific Island Hopper cruise via Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila from $699 departing Brisbane on July 23, on sale until June 29. Or take a 10-day cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu on Carnival Spirit departing Sydney on August 30 from $1299.
For a longer escape, check out Princess Cruises’ world cruise, which can be broken into segments.
IF YOU WANT A BARGAIN BEACH BREAK …
There are good reasons Aussies keep coming back to Bali – and not least among them is it’s a fabulous bang-for-buck destination. And Tigerair’s new budget flights from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth have seen even more holiday-makers make a beeline for Bali, with strong demand since launching in March.
“Bali is renowned as a popular travel destination for Australians in search of an affordable getaway. Tigerair’s consistently great value fares make it more accessible for more people to visit,” the airline’s spokeswoman Vanessa Regan says. Fares start from $139 (ex Perth), but can be snapped up for less during special promotions.