A quick getaway doesn’t have to be an Aussie one. You can escape the drone of the everyday, earn a stamp in your passport and find yourself in an exotic paradise all in the time it takes to watch a handful of in-flight movies.
Right on our doorstep, Australia’s eastern and western seaboards boast sun-drenched islands and azure seas where the paradise is real. White sands, balmy ocean breezes and shady palm trees are calling. Throw in a luxe stay, pampering and good food and what more could you want?
Here are our favourite snappy beach getaways that you’ll need your passport for.
Koh Samui ticks all the boxes of an idyllic tropical escape: squeaky white shores, aquamarine waters, sophisticated facilities and a rich tapestry of cultural heritage. An island all of its own in the Gulf of Thailand – off the eastern coast – it’s just one of many islands that make up the beautiful Ang Thong Marine National Park.
If Koh Samui hasn’t been on your radar as of yet, it should be. This goes doubly so for beach goers whose idea of an island paradise involves massages, pedicures and other heavenly treatments; Koh Samui is famous for its luxe spa culture.
Look beyond its rim of picture perfect beaches dotted with exclusive resorts – all the way up to 5-star standards –and you’ll discover a beautiful maze of dense rainforest at its interior. Discover waterfalls and beautiful native flora and fauna by day and retreat to the slew of bars and restaurants by night. Koh Samui has it all.
Bali is the tropical holiday playground Aussies know and love; from the West Coast, it’s just a three-and-a-half hour plane ride which makes it incredibly hard to resist. But even from the East Coast, Bali is highly accessible being just a six hour flight away. That makes it one of the closest and most irresistible beach holidays on our doorstep.
Bali is famous for its luxury villas, beachside resorts, kids clubs, stylish bars and cocktails. But it’s now just as well known for its epic surf, volcanoes, spirituality, yoga dens and rice paddies spilling down steep hills in a lush, jungle interior.
The best part? Bali can be whatever you want it to be: luxury or low-key and authentic; expensive or cheap; touristy or off-the-beaten-track. Immerse yourself in exactly the kind of holiday you need, with plenty of beach, tasty food and the warm and welcoming nature of the Balinese guaranteed.
Bali’s neighbour Lombok is starting to get the cred it deserves. It’s a beautiful island destination in its own right – and with an international airport all of its very own, you can fly right in. But then again, if you like the sound of doing both Indonesian island gems in one go, that’s a swell idea too – make the journey between Lombok and Bali by boat or on a quick island-hopping 20-minute flight.
Lombok will welcome you with its low-key charm, flaunting many similarities to Bali but yet without the crowds. Relax on palm-lined beaches in luxe resorts, and when you’re not ‘busy’ soaking up the sun and swimming, venture further afield to explore.
Off Lombok’s west coast, there are beautiful beaches, reefs perfect for diving and snorkelling, and for the wildlife lovers, a sea turtle hatchery. In the cultural stakes, there are sacred Hindu sites, traditional handicraft villages and local markets to discover. For surfers, Kuta and Banko Banko serve up great waves. One last highlight? Hike up the towering heights of Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-largest volcano, for views you’ll never forget.
Fiji ticks all the boxes: swaying coconut palms, white shores, aquamarine waters and happy locals. It’s also the ‘soft coral capital of the world’, so it flaunts snorkelling and scuba diving hotspots in spades – including stunning coral gardens, fascinating wrecks and picture-perfect lagoons.
Adventure, relaxation, indulgence and pure sun-soaked bliss are all possible. Go on AWD adventures through the jungle, trek to find waterfalls, swing in a hammock, wander through local villages or simply kick back in your resort. And considering only a third of the 333 islands are inhabited, so many more sandy havens stand to be discovered by boat.
Whether you’re on the main island Viti Levu or escape to one of the more secluded, highly luxurious and exotic smaller island grounds such as the Yasawa Islands or Mamanuca Islands – some of which are private – you can find your style of paradisiacal heaven. Better yet, many of Fiji’s luxury resorts are a short ride from the airport, making true island escape without the fuss easy and fast.
It’s Thailand’s most famous island escape and the nation’s biggest island, so it’s no wonder there are boundless beaches to choose from – all with those same sultry sands and blue waters. Some are all hustle and bustle, some are quiet and secluded, and others flaunt all the mod cons you could possibly want with the convenience of beachfront resorts flaunting gorgeous pools, culinary delicacies and more nearby.
But perhaps Phuket is most famous for its dizzying array of nightlife. Dance the night away and be entertained by the cabaret shows and more in Patong – nightlife central and the ‘party capital of Asia’.
Beach or not beach, by day there are many great spots to unwind in Phuket too – from temples and sunset viewing points to island day trips and atmospheric old town streets. Like to see below the surface? There are many fabulous snorkelling beaches in Phuket too; the Andaman Sea puts on a great show of corals and tropical marine life, especially Racha Yai with its spectacular underwater displays.