Winter is coming. Scratch that; winter is well and truly here. Nevertheless, one of the many perks of living in Australia is you don’t have to travel far to find yourself lost in a tropical paradise, dipping your toes in warm water and getting sun-kissed skin while drinking straight from a coconut. The South Pacific’s sprawl of idyllic islands is just a single flight or at most two short flights away.
Here are four South Pacific island destinations where you can unfurl your beach towel and find sunny solace during these cold months.
Off the north-western coast of Tahiti is Mo’orea, a heart-shaped island that travellers often dub ‘the most beautiful island in the world’. It’s easy to make your way to Mo’orea, as it’s just a heartbeat away from Tahiti.
Many Tahitians flock to Mo’orea for a weekend getaway. If this notion of escaping one island paradise to another boggles your mind, consider it a testament to the Mo’orea's beauty. The island is blessed with a breathtaking backdrop of lush vegetation, mountains and volcanic rock formations that jut out of azure lagoons. Ta’ahiamanu Beach is perfect for a rejuvenating lounge in the sun, and when you've had enough languidness for one day, you can pick up your snorkel and check out the coral and marine life that live in the surrounding water.
The undisputed gem of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is a stunning gateway to tranquillity and nature in this sweep of islets. Make your way to Muri Beach, the most popular shore on the island and also the go-to spot for lovers of marine life, as it boasts some of the most vibrant underwater scenes on the island.
If you manage to tear yourself away from the utopia that is Rarotonga, island-hop your way to Mangaia, the most ancient island in the South Pacific – estimated to be 18 million years old (and counting) – and famous for its juicy golden pineapples. If that’s not enough to satiate your tropical cravings, sail to the coral atoll, Palmerston Island, where you can rub shoulders with dolphins, turtles, whales, coconut crabs and other friendly native wildlife.
A romp in the South Pacific would be incomplete without diving headlong into the Fijian waters, made famous for the marine life and kaleidoscopic coral.
The world-renowned Great Astrolabe Reef, off the island of Kadavu, is filled with manta rays boasting wingspans reaching up to six metres. If you prefer an underwater adventure pumped with adrenaline, go deep into the Great White Wall and Rainbow Reef, where you can swim amongst sharks.
A decadent tropical escape? Check. Multicoloured volcanic lakes? Check. Authentic indigenous villages? Check. Roaring waterfalls and underwater meccas? Check. Vanuatu pretty much has it all. Many have deemed Vanuatu to be ‘the happiest place on earth’, and when you get there it doesn’t take long to understand why.
For a thrilling experience on Vanuatu, check out Siri Falls; 120 metres of white-water magnificence that can be reached via a climb up Mt Garet. You can then paddle a canoe across Letas Lake, which leads you to a volcano that seeps sulphur into the water, giving it a glowing orange hue. Finally, embark on a wicked descent on foot to the falls. This trek is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the effort. After all that hard work, take a well-earned siesta on the sands of Champagne Beach.