The temperatures are dropping and in some places, the snow is following. Now is the time to start thinking about your winter break. In the past few weeks, I have posted about various places to inspire your winter vacations. The first one was Winter Holidays in The Americas. Next was Winter Vacations In Europe and the UK. That was followed by Winter Sun Holidays In Asia. This week is about fabulous winter vacations in the Oceanian region. Next week, the final post in the series, Winter Holiday Destinations in Africa.
I have not been to any of these places yet. However, after reading about these fantastic destinations, they are high on my list of places to travel to. Right now, my favorite holiday in the sun includes Costa Rica, Hawaii, and the Canary Islands, Spain.
Gold Coast, Australia
Written by Holly Connors from Four Around the World. Follow Holly on Facebook here.
When it comes to escaping winter, you can’t go wrong with anywhere in Queensland, Australia, and the Gold Coast is a popular choice! With temperatures rarely below 20 degrees Celcius, even in the middle of winter, you can enjoy the sunshine and beautiful scenery.
The Gold Coast, like its name suggests, is home to stunning golden sand beaches. Whether you are spending your time in the tourist hot spot of Surfers Paradise or exploring some of the many other beaches along the coastline, you will not be disappointed.
There is no end of fun things to do for all ages on the Gold Coast and surrounding areas. From adrenaline-pumping water sports or thrill rides at the many theme parks, or taking a peaceful afternoon dinner cruise. If shopping is your thing, some of Australia’s largest shopping centers call Gold Coast home, including big-name discount outlets. Foodies are also catered to with great restaurants, bars, and markets.
Make sure you take a day trip to the Gold Coast hinterland where you can explore rainforests and nature walks. Mount Tambourine is a great option or to O’Reilly’s National Park. The Gold Coast is a perfect destination to escape the cold weather and enjoy sunshine all year round.
In the southwest of Australia is the coastal surf town of Dunsborough. This little slice of paradise is the ultimate getaway. One of the main reasons that this is our favorite place in the world is the insane number of beautiful beaches that are within a 15-minute drive.
If you drive the coastal road along Cape Naturalise, you will find some of our personal favorites, including Meelup Beach, Point Picquet, and Bunker Bay. The white sand and blue water that is found in this part of the world is spectacular, and the warm sea here in the summer months (December to February) is perfect for a refreshing swim.
To find some surf, head over to the other side of the cape, where you will discover Yallingup Beach. Yallingup has waves year-round and is a great place to catch waves in the glorious sunshine.
After spending a few hours beach hopping, we recommend heading on a wine tour to sample some of the world-famous wines from the Margaret River Region. There are over 200 wineries in the area and over 90 cellar doors where you can taste the local goods. The region is also home to some fantastic breweries which serve excellent food as well as great beer.
Dunsborough is a seriously beautiful place and the perfect sunny escape in the winter. It doesn’t get much better than hanging out at the beach all day and drinking great beer and wine.
Escape to Melbourne
Being a native of Ohio, I often head back there to visit my friends and family during the Christmas season. And spend most of that time sheltered in the house, huddled up next to the fireplace, to fight the cold. But imagine a place where you can spend the winter laying out on a beach, barbecuing with friends in the backyard, or going on a coastal road trip. Melbourne offers this escape!
For most of us, Australia is in the opposite hemisphere. Thus, it means that our winter is their summer and is enough reason to visit during the winter months.
Melbourne, in particular, is the perfect escape, as it’s one of the best cities in the world. The town has an artsy culture, cool museums, and graffiti-covered alleys. But more importantly, Melbourne caters to any holiday you want. Looking to relax, then spend your time hopping between the hundreds of vibrant cafes and cool coffee shops. Looking to soak in the sun, then head to St. Kilda Beach just outside the city center.
Or maybe you want a little adventure? Take a day-long road trip along the Great Ocean road – one of the best coastal drives in the world. Melbourne is a great place to escape winter to stay warm and have a fantastic holiday.
Rotorua, New Zealand
If you are looking for a warm destination to escape winter, are a fan of beautiful nature, and love to learn about other cultures, Rotorua in New Zealand is the place for you. It is jam-packed with fun activities and most famous for Maori culture and geothermal activity.
Located only 230 kilometers southeast of Auckland, it is easy to reach by bus or car from the international airport in Auckland. While you are in Rotorua, you should check out one of the Maori experiences.
I can recommend Tamaki Maori Village, it is highly rated and a great way to learn about the Maori. A big plus is the traditional Hangi dinner at the end of the evening, which will leave you full and satisfied. Another attraction you shouldn’t miss during your stay in Rotorua is the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Pictures of this park are famous worldwide due to the vivid colors and it is a truly fascinating experience to see them for yourself.
Of course, Rotorua has more to offer, and if you are looking for some relaxation, you should check out the Polynesian Spa. It sits on the edge of Lake Rotorua. It has a variety of naturally heated pools with a beautiful view of the lake. After enjoying some time in the spa, you should also check out the Rotorua Lakeside Walk. It starts right next to the Polynesian Spa and takes you to the lakefront. You’ll walk past the beautiful government gardens, sulfur point, and if you keep on walking after passing the lakefront, you’ll end up in Kuirau Park.
Another place to experience geothermal activity, but other than Wai-O-Tapu, this park is free to enter and a beautiful place for an afternoon stroll. If you are still looking for more, you can try white water rafting, explore the Redwood Forest,
Whakarewarewa, or even take a day trip to Hobbiton, which is only an hour’s drive from Rotorua. As I said, this city has loads to offer and is the perfect “Escape Winter Destination.”
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
What better place to escape the northern hemisphere winter, than to head down under to the summer sun in the southern hemisphere. And our vote for the best summer destination goes to Waiheke Island in New Zealand. It’s not only our vote! Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure Magazine, and many other international travel experts recognize Waiheke Island as one of the top island escapes in the world!
What you will find are beautiful, sandy, pristine beaches, lined with uniquely New Zealand pohutukawa trees. There are olive groves dotted around the island and over 30 boutique vineyards along with their tasting rooms and amazing restaurants with stunning views.
There is a network of walking tracks throughout the island, showcasing the New Zealand flora and fauna and birdlife and the 40 km of coastline. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, rent a kayak, go mountain biking, or ziplining through the trees.
There is a public bus network, a hop-on-hop-off bus and rental cars are available. Group tours are available for all these attractions.
Waiheke Island was once known as an arty hippy area and still has many interesting art galleries and an outdoor Sculpture Exhibition and walking trail every two years in February or March. A popular jazz festival takes place over Easter.
Hop on a plane or cruise ship to Auckland and take a 40-minute scenic ferry ride or a ten-minute plane ride across the sparkling Waitemata Harbour to Waiheke Island.
By Cat Lin from For Two, Please. Follow Cat on Instagram here.
Want to escape the winter but don’t want to follow the crowd? The Cook Islands in the South Pacific is a great choice to enjoy a sunny beach vacation!
Powder-soft sand and crystal-clear waters in a geographically remote location, the Cook Islands offer the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. The idyllic islands are where you can unplug from the stress of modern life and reconnect with nature. With a total of 15 islands, you don’t need to worry that you will run out of things to do there!
To make the most out of your Cook Islands holiday, we recommend going diving and snorkeling. The capital island, Rarotonga, is surrounded by a reef-enclosed lagoon, providing plenty of snorkeling opportunities right off the shore! You can see an abundance of hard corals and tropical fish without going too deep or too far!
For those who’d like to dive deep into the cultural scene, the progressive dinner tour will connect you with the locals and get a taste of the local cuisine.
If time allows, a visit to the Aitutaki Lagoon is highly recommended! Named the most beautiful lagoon in the world, Aitutaki promises to make your jaw drop!