The 5 Best Wine Bars in Melbourne
Milk the Cow: St Kilda & Carlton
1/157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
+61 3 9537 2225
Wine and cheese is perhaps one of the greatest pairings of all time and thanks to Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie, you can have it perfectly paired whenever you like! Visit MTC for a selection of artisanal cheeses teamed with a boutique wine flight prepared by the in-house cheesemonger, or grab your own cheese board and bottle of wine recommended by the staff. With a stack of local and imported wines to choose from as well as around 150 cheeses including melty varieties like Swiss raclette and fondue, there's more than enough wine and cheese to go around.
The Most Insane Adventure Activities in New Zealand
01 of 09
Take a Jet Boat up a Wild River
One of the more unique adventure experiences that you'll find in New Zealand is taking a jet boat up a narrow gorge along a remote river. Powered by engines that boast more than 800 horsepower, these boats are fast and agile out on the water. You'll zip along at breakneck speeds mere inches from the rock walls of the canyon as your expert guides deftly maneuver their way upriver. And just when you think things have started to calm down, they'll throw in a couple of 360 degree turns just to keep you on your toes.
Shotover Jet has been leading these kinds of tours for more than 50 years.
02 of 09
Skydiving is always an amazing – yet scary – experience no matter where go. After all, it seems silly to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft. But in New Zealand, it is also way to get a bird's eye view of the beautiful scenery that is so common on both the North and South Island. For some of the best views, head to the Tongariro National Park region, where the experienced instructors at Skydive Taupo will make the entire experience surprisingly easy.
03 of 09
Climb Mt. Doom
Located inside Tongariro National Park, Mount Ngauruhoe stands an impressive 7516 feet in height. The active stratovolcano erupted more than 45 times during the 20th century, although it has been mostly dormant in recent years. The mountain was used by director Peter Jackson to represent the fictional Mt. Doom in his Lord of the Rings films, and now it is a popular trekking spot for those who want to climb to the top. The flanks of the mountain are quite steep, but its summit can be reached in a couple of hours, rewarding adventurous climbers with views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the interior of the volcano's crater too. This hike is not especially technical and no guides or permits are required.
04 of 09
Raft a Raging River
New Zealand is one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world, with some of the wildest rivers imaginable. You'll find epic rafting tours in every part of the country, which also happens to offer the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world along the Kaituna River in the Rotorua region. Visitors to that stretch of water actually plunge over a falls that is 23 feet in height.
For a completely different experience, book a trip with Black Water Rafting, which specializes in taking clients through caves. Their Black Abyss and Black Labyrinth tours involve rappelling, jumping, and floating through underground caverns filled with bioluminescent glowworms.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
As great as New Zealand looks on the surface, it is almost equally spectacular underground. The country is home to some of the most spectacular cave systems on the planet, with the ones found at Waitomo being top of the list. There are a number of guide services that lead tours through these caverns, but once again Black Water Rafting is one of the best. The company's Black Odyssey tour takes travelers on a spelunking tour through the caves, climbing, zip lining, and rappelling along the way. It is a one of kind adventure for sure.
06 of 09
Learn to Surf
Want to learn to surf while you're visiting New Zealand? Head to Manu Bay near Raglan to find some of the best waves anywhere. It is not uncommon for those swells to carry surfers for more than a mile across the water, which is an amazing ride just about anywhere. If you're already an experienced surfer, grab a board and hit the water. But those who are new to the sport, drop into the Raglan Surf School for a lesson.
07 of 09
Take a Hike!
If backpacking and trekking is one of your favorite activities, New Zealand has plenty to offer. It is home to a number of “Great Walks,” although none is better than The Milford Track. This 33-mile stretch of trail runs from Glad Wharf to Milford Sound, with 40 independent trekkers allowed each day. That means you'll either need a permit before setting out (grab one here.) or you'll have to book a hike with a guide service. (We recommend Ultimate Hikes.) The walk will take you past snowcapped peaks, down-sweeping valleys, and past the tallest waterfall in the country, which means it is a spectacular hike to say the least.
08 of 09
Test Your Fly Fishing Skills
The rivers in New Zealand are filled with trout. Very big trout. That makes it a dream destination for anglers too, and a great place to test your fly fishing skills. The South Island in particular offers excellent opportunities to go fishing, For a great mix of scenery, fantastic river settings, and massive trout, head to the Nelson area. Dubbed the “sunshine capital” of the country, you'll find every element you need for a great outing in the backcountry.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Hit the Slopes
Believe it or not, New Zealand is a great destination for skier and snowboarders too, especially if you're looking to spread some backcountry powder. Both the North and South Island have opportunities to play in the snow, but for a pure adventure experience try heli-skiiing on Mount Cook with Harris Mountains Heli-Ski. You'll not only find untouched powder but virtually no crowds, as you glide down some of the best trails in the Southern Hemisphere. The helicopter will ensure you get safely in and out of the backcountry and whisk you back to the top of the mountain for your next run.
National Tourism Boards of Oceania
01 of 03
South Pacific Tourism Organisation
The South Pacific Tourism Organization is a consortium of 14 South Pacific island destinations. They have pooled their resources to create an effective website, with informational, promotional, and educational materials for tourism professionals, including a specialist program. The site also provides links to the official tourism agencies of the individual member countries and other useful links.
The 14 members of SPTO are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tahiti, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Samoa, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands. All except the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, and Tahiti are independent countries.
02 of 03
Palau Visitors Authority
Located on the western edge of Micronesia, about 400 miles east of the Philippines, Palau is a group of over 200 islands, ranging in size from small to tiny — total area 174 square miles (459 sq km).
Renowned for its unspoiled cultural and natural environment, Palau is among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Oceania. Magnificent reef lagoons make Palau a favorite among divers.
The nation's flag depicts a full moon on a sea blue field. The moon symbolizes peace, love, and tranquility; virtues the Paluan people exemplify.
03 of 03
Federated States of Micronesia Visitors Board
The Federated States of Micronesia are four nations — Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap — in the Caroline Islands, east of Palau. The FSM control 607 islands, 16 of which are inhabited. They lie about 6 degrees 55 minutes North of the Equator, sprinkled across a longitudinal distance of 1,678 miles (2,700 km). Though their total land mass is only 270.8 square miles (702 sq km), the islands occupy over a million square miles (2,600,000 sq km) of the Pacific Ocean.
The approximately 110,000 citizens of the FSM speak 17 different languages. This diversity creates extraordinary cultural tourism opportunities. For example, Yap — an island renowned for its diving — is blessed with an intact indigenous culture that preserves rich dance and ritual traditions, and a strange, ancient monetary system.
If you have clients who think they've been everywhere and seen it all, consider offering them the FSM experience.
Australia’s National and State Flowers
01 of 10
Waves of Color Across the Country
Australia is covered with the glorious and varied colors of an abundance of wildflowers. Each state and territory has its own flower, and Australia has its own national flower. As you drive through the Australian countryside, you are sure to spot many of these native flowers.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Australia’s National Flower: The Golden Wattle
You'll find the golden wattle, or Acacia pycnantha, growing in the wild in many parts of Australia, such as in South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, western Victoria, and southern inland areas of New South Wales. It typically grows to about 13 to 26 feet.
Acacia is the largest genus in the family Mimosaceae, the Mimosa family, which is mainly tropical and sub-tropical. Mature golden wattle plants are said to be reasonably frost- and drought-tolerant. The specimen here was planted in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney in 1987.
Because native golden wattle grew naturally in the Australian Capital Territory and had other desirable features including design potential, it had popular support to be Australia's national flower. It was proclaimed Australia's national flower in 1988, the year of Australia's bicentenary. In 1992, Sept. 1 was formally declared National Wattle Day.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Australian Capital Territory: Royal Bluebell
The royal bluebell, Wahlenbergia gloriosa, is the floral emblem of the Australian Capital Territory. It's native to the region, and that was the main criterion for choosing it as the floral emblem. But other desirable features of the royal bluebell include horticultural merit and design potential, both in naturalistic and stylized representations.
Wahlenbergia gloriosa belongs to the Campanulaceae family. It is a small perennial herb with oblong leaves about an inch long. The leaf margins are conspicuously waved.
The violet-blue flowers are up to an inch or so in diameter and often appear to have a paler center because of the light blue base of the petals combined with the purple style, which ends in two white stigmas. The flowers may be erect or nodding and are carried on long, slender stems.
A related species belonging to the Campanulaceae family is the great blue lobelia, also known as the cardinal flower.
In the Australian Capital Territory, the royal bluebell can be found in sub-alpine woodland. It is a legally protected plant throughout its occurrence in the wild.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
New South Wales: Waratah
The waratah, Telopea speciosissima, is the state flower of New South Wales. It belongs to the Proteaceae family, which includes the protea or sugarbush.
It is fairly widespread on the Central Coast and nearby mountains and grows mainly in open forest as a shrub up to 13 feet tall. It also grows and flourishes in gardens.
The waratah is distinguished by a mass of deep red flowers grouped in rounded heads two to four inches in diameter surrounded by crimson bracts. It was proclaimed the official floral emblem of New South Wales in 1962. The waratah flowers from September to November with nectar-seeking birds acting as pollinators.
Telopea is derived from the Greek telopos, meaning “seen from afar.” Speciosissima is the superlative of the Latin speciosus, meaning “beautiful” or “handsome.” Waratah is the Aboriginal name for the species.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Northern Territory: Sturt’s Desert Rose
Sturt's desert rose (also known as Sturt desert rose), Gossypium sturtianum, is the floral emblem of Australia's Northern Territory.
The specific and varietal names, sturtianum, honor Australian explorer Capt. Charles Sturt (1795-1869), who first collected the species “in the beds of the creeks on the Barrier Range” during his journey to central Australia in 1844 to 1845. Gossypium belongs to the hibiscus family, Malvaceae, which is widespread in tropical and temperate regions of the world. It is related to the cotton plant, which also belongs to the Malvaceae family.
Sturt's desert rose forms a relatively compact shrub about 3 feet with dark green round-to-oval leaves usually with black stipples. The flowers have mauve petals about two inches long with red bases forming a contrasting center.
Sturt's desert rose has also been known as Darling River rose, cotton rosebush, and Australian cotton.
It can be found on stony or rocky slopes or in dry creek beds around Alice Springs and in the southern part of the Northern Territory, northeastern South Australia, western Queensland, western New South Wales, and parts of northern Western Australia.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Queensland: Cooktown Orchid
The Cooktown orchid, Dendrobium phalaenopsis, is the state flower of Queensland. Originally thought to be Dendrobium bigibbum, the correct botanical name for the Cooktown orchid has been the subject of speculation and debate.
In fact, when the Cooktown orchid was proclaimed the floral emblem of Queensland in 1959, it was under the botanical name of Dendrobium bigibbum var. phalaenopsis. But it appeared that when British botanist John Lindley (1799-1865) named the plant, it was not to be found near Cooktown, the north Queensland town after which the orchid was named.
In 1880, New South Wales Surveyor-General Robert FitzGerald described Dendrobium phalaenopsis as “obtained near Cooktown.” A color plate of the orchid, which he published in December that year, is said to clearly illustrate the plant now known as the Cooktown orchid, which FitzGerald described as “obtained in northern Queensland.”
The generic name Dendrobium comes the Greek dendron (tree) and bios (life). Many species of this genus are to be found on tree trunks and branches. The specific name phalaenopsis comes from the Greek phalaina (moth). The flower of the Cooktown orchid resembles a moth.
The plants grow to 32 inches tall and have three to 20 flowering canes with three-to-six lance-shaped leaves. Each stem has up to 20 flowers that are shades of lilac and sometimes white. It flowers during the dry season.
The Cooktown orchid is found in its natural habitat in northern Queensland, from Johnston River near Innisfail south of Cairns to Iron Range in the Cape York Peninsula.
Although found in tropical districts with very high summer rainfall, the Cooktown orchid is not a rainforest species. It grows in exposed situations usually attached to tree trunks.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
South Australia: Sturt’s Desert Pea
Sturt's desert pea, Swainsona formosa, is the state flower of South Australia. It was adopted as the state's floral emblem in 1961.
First discovered by the English explorer William Dampier on his 1688 visit to islands off the northwestern Australian coast, the plant's presence was noted by Australian explorer Charles Sturt in 1844 in areas between Adelaide and Central Australia. The flower was named after Sturt to commemorate his exploration of inland Australia.
Sturt's desert pea was formerly called Clianthus formosus and is also known as Willdampia formosa (named after Dampier). The specific name formosa is Latin for “beautiful.”
Sturt's desert pea is a slow-growing, creeping plant with stems and leaves appearing soft gray because of a covering of fine hairs. The flowers stand upright on fleshy stalks, up to 12 inches tall. The large pea flower can be in various shades of red, with a base of deep red to purple to black.
The genus name Swainsona honors English botanist Isaac Swainson, who maintained a private botanic garden near London in the late 18th century. The former name, Clianthus, is now thought to be confined to New Zealand.
Sturt's desert pea can be found in arid woodlands and on open plains, often as an ephemeral after heavy rain. It is able to withstand temperature extremes in inland deserts, and established plants can tolerate light frosts.
A protected species in South Australia, Sturt's desert pea flowers and plants must not be collected on private land without the written consent of the owner. Collection on Crown land is illegal without a permit.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Tasmania: Tasmanian Blue Gum
The Tasmanian blue gum, Eucalyptus glololus Labill, is Tasmania's floral emblem.
The Tasmanian blue gum flowers, larger than those of other Tasmanian eucalypts, usually occur singly in the axils of the leaves. Up to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, the flower buds have coarse ribs and are closed by an operculum, or cap, of sepals and petals.
When the blue gum blooms in early summer, the cap is shed, revealing large numbers of white stamens arranged in several rows near the outside. A thick nectar-secreting disc extends partly over the top of the ovary.
Found throughout the Australian island state of Tasmania, including the historic Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens, the Tasmanian blue gum grows largely in southern and eastern Tasmania and in the middle reaches of the Derwent River. It can grow up to 200 feet tall.
It has been introduced in other parts of the world and can be found in California, the Mediterranean region, parts of Africa and India, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Victoria: Common Heath
The common heath, Epacris impressa, has the distinction of being the first flower to be officially proclaimed an Australian state floral emblem.
It was agreed at a meeting in 1951 by representatives of interested government departments, societies, and individuals to name the common heath as the floral emblem of Victoria. The official proclamation of Victoria's state flower was made in 1958.
The generic name Epacris comes from the Greek epi (upon) and akris (hill) and refers to the elevated habitat of some of its species. While the flower is certainly impressive, particularly when blooming en masse, impressa is Latin for “impressed” or “indented” and refers to five dimples on the outside of the basal part of the floral tube.
The flower has a number of color forms: pure white, pale pink, rose pink, crimson, scarlet, and rare double-flowered forms. The pink form is the official state flower of Victoria.
The flowers are tubular and sometimes densely packed around the stem in the leaf axils. This gives the flower cluster a cylindrical, brush-like appearance.
A slender, upright shrub growing to 3 feet or so in height, the common heath flowers from late autumn to late spring, peaking in winter.
In Victoria, the common heath is found in coastal regions and nearby foothills, the Grampians, and the Little Desert. It also grows in New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Western Australia: Red and Green Kangaroo Paw
The red and green kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos manglesii, is Western Australia's floral emblem. Plants of the genus Anigozanthos have an inflorescence bearing a resemblance to the paw of a kangaroo.
The specific name, manglesii, honors an Englishman, Robert Mangles, who raised the red and green kangaroo paw in his Berkshire garden in the 1830s from seed sent from Australia.
The red and green kangaroo paw is a low shrub growing from an underground stem, with leaves about two-to-four feet long. The flowering stem grows to about three feet tall.
The stem and the bases of the flowers are usually deep red and covered with wooly hairs. The color then changes abruptly to a brilliant green for most of the length of the flower, which splits open to show a smooth, pale green interior.
The red and green kangaroo paw flowers in its natural habitat between August and October. It occurs naturally in Western Australia in heath on sandy soil from the Murchison River in the north to Busselton and Mount Barker in the south and Lake Muir to the east, and on gravel type soil of lateritic origin in the Darling Range.
Sources: The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Parliament of Tasmania, and Australian National Botanic Gardens
Cairns vs The Gold Coast: Which is Best?
01 of 04
Cairns, or The Gold Coast?
From one end of Queensland to the other, when comparing the Gold Coast and Cairns you’re comparing great waves to flat tropical water, endless high rises to stacks of backpacker hostels and theme parks to the Great Barrier Reef.
Just which city will make for an ideal getaway for you will depend on what you want from your holiday.Continue to 2 of 4 below.
02 of 04
The Beautiful Gold Coast
When thinking ‘Gold Coast holiday’ most people automatically picture themselves in a high-rise apartment overlooking Surfers Paradise.
But, the Gold Coast has so much more to offer. Staying in the heart of the Glitter Strip will be beneficial if you’re without wheels, but if you’ll have a car you can expand your options and stay anywhere from Coolangatta to the Hinterland.
Gold Coast Beaches
Starting at the city’s southern-most suburb, Coolangatta is a stunning section of the Coast and home to some of the region’s best surf beaches including Duranbah and Snapper Rocks which hosts a stop on the world surf league tour at the start of each year. If you’re into all things retro, consider staying during the Cooly Rocks On Festival, which takes place each June.
Traveling Back in Time
For laid-back living, your choice of hipster cafes and restaurants and more spectacular beaches, take your pick of Palm Beach, Currumbin, Miami and Burleigh Heads.
A cruise along the Gold Coast Highway through these suburbs will give you an insight into the old Gold Coast. Many of the old beach shacks are still standing and the ‘high rise’ hotels are mostly around 3-5 stories and reflective of 1980s décor. It’s here you’ll find Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Surf World Gold Coast (surf museum) and Laguna Park (kids playground).
Shopping and Exploring
Continue north and you’ll start to see the buildings grow taller and taller. Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, and Main Beach are bursting with accommodation, restaurants, attractions, and shopping. Pacific Fair Shopping Centre in Broadbeach has recently undergone a multi-million dollar transformation and its neighbor, Jupiters Hotel and Casino is in line for its own make-over.
From the Skypoint Observation Deck to indoor sky-diving, Surfers Paradise has much more to offer than just the beach and nightclubs. It’s been working hard to shake-off its party persona and become more family-oriented. But, both worlds are co-existing at the moment so whatever you’re after, you’ll find it not far from Cavill Ave.
The city’s famous beaches finish at The Spit in Main Beach, with the Broadwater hugging Southport, Biggera Waters, and further north. There are still plenty of resorts, hotels and holiday houses to be found as well as outlet shopping and the amazing Broadwater Parklands.
Theme Parks – Get Your Adrenaline Fix!
When it comes to theme parks, the Gold Coast is Australia’s hub. You can choose from the thrills and spills of heart-stopping rides and waterpark at Dreamworld (in Coomera). Or grab a pass that allows you access to Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild and Paradise Country. They’re open all year round and thanks to the Gold Coast’s great climate there is rarely a day when these attractions can’t be enjoyed.
Away from the surf, sand and city, just a 30-minute drive west, you can swap the high rises and beaches for rainforest, waterfalls and quiet. Mount Tamborine is also home to a little village of quaint shops and cafes as well as brewery and look outs that take in the entire Gold Coast.
If peace, tranquillity and absolute stunning natural wonders make you happy, be sure to check out Springbrook National Park. Again, it’s just a short drive from the heart of the Gold Coast, but is an entirely different world with a wide choice of look outs, walking tracks, waterfalls and gorgeous retreats.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
The Amazing City of Cairns
Much like the Gold Coast, Cairns is sandwiched between gorgeous beaches and World Heritage listed national park. It is also, of course, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef
You’d be crazy to come here and not explore the world’s largest coral reef system. Whether you want to keep your feet dry and hop aboard a boat, or don the snorkel and get up close and personal with the marine life – there is a myriad of tours you can choose from.
There are also a bunch of islands just off the coast that you can check out for the day, or a stay. They include Fitzroy Island, Green Island and Hinchinbrook Island.
Far North Queensland Rainforest
From the sea to the trees, hold on to your hat (and your stomach) as you explore pristine rainforest from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The six-person gondola cabins take around 1.5 hours to travel 7.5kms across the dense Kuranda State Forest. You can choose from gondolas that feature a glass floor, or the Canopy Glider which is completely open air (not for the faint-hearted). It’s best to set-aside at least half a day to make the most of the experience and spend time at the station stop-offs.
Just north of Cairns and Kuranda you’ll find the world renowned Daintree Rainforest which makes for a sensational day trip or overnight stay with plenty of tour and accommodation options. You’ll discover a huge array of wildlife from butterflies to crocodiles.
Whether you’re a local, inter-state traveller or overseas tourist, put a visit to Tjapukai on your list for an incredible insight into Australia’s Indigenous culture. Performances run day and night, plus you get hands-on experiences with boomerang throwing, a bush food walk and can learn about the history of the Indigenous rainforest people, the Bama, through a corroboree.
Shopping and Exploring
All holidays need some downtime, otherwise you’ll return home feeling like you need another break.
For a quiet day around the city, be sure to check the Saturday Esplanade market where you can pick up a perfect memento of your trip, or gift for someone back home. There is also the monthly Holloways Beach Market and Rusty’s Markets which runs from Friday to Sunday each week and is a great way to stock up on amazing local produce if you’re staying in a holiday house or self-contained apartment.
Other worthwhile attractions include the Cairns Esplanade, Botanic Gardens, Trinity Inlet and you’ll never go hungry with a city full of amazing restaurants, cafes, and bars.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Which City to Choose
When it comes to seeing Australia at its best, it’s hard to go past Cairns. It still holds on to our country’s rich history, through both Indigenous culture and natural wonder, and serves as an access point to some of the country’s most incredible and world-renowned natural wonders.
It may not lay claim to Australia’s theme park capital, like the Gold Coast, but it’s unlikely the kids will be bored when in Cairns, they have so much to explore and learn at the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef!
If a little less history and a little more glitz and glam is your style, then consider adding the Gold Coast and its world-class beaches to your itinerary.
Of course in the best of both worlds, you’d be able to visit both locations! If you opt for a double-header, just be sure to allocate enough travel time between the two (it’s around a three-hour flight between Cairns and the Gold Coast) and plan to spend at least 4-5 days in each city, to get the most out of your destinations!
Queensland’s Best Beach: Port Douglas or the Whitsundays?
01 of 08
Port Douglas or the Whitsundays. Which is Best?
An endless summer offering sparkling blue water, magical white sand and access to the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll get all of this and more when visiting Queensland’s North, so take our advice: if you’re travelling to this part of Australia, you’ll want to spend as much time as you can seeing as much as you can!
If time is not on your side, however, you’ll need to slim down your itinerary. Then, your big decision is: just what part of this picturesque coastline do you choose to spend your precious vacation hours exploring?Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Whitsundays: What to Know
Where is it? The Whitsundays isn’t actually one destination; instead, it’s a cluster of 74 islands of different shapes and sizes, dotted off the Queensland coast. Airlie Beach is the launching pad to the Whitsundays and is a 300km drive south of Townsville. You can fly here directly to the local airport, Proserpine, from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, or via connecting flights from other parts of Australia. Alternatively, if you’re really keen for a road trip, it’s about 1,100km north of Brisbane.
How to get there: You can save yourself a bit of time and fuel by flying direct from major Australian cities to Proserpine (via Virgin Blue or Jetstar), which is just a hop, skip and a shuttle to Airlie Beach.
Accommodation options: From budget backpackers to ritzy resorts and cosy campgrounds, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation. It’s about deciding what kind of holiday you want: romance, adventure, relaxation, fun, cheap, once-in-a-lifetime. It’s all here.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Whitsundays: What to Do
While most of the activities in the Whitsundays involve getting wet or at least being out on the water, there are adventurous options that’ll keep you dry (well, mostly).
The Whitsunday Crocodile Safari will get you up-close and personal with the snappy reptiles along with native and migratory birds and a host of fresh water marine animals that call the Proserpine River home.
You can show off your driving skills behind the wheel of a mini 4WD at Wings Adventure Park (this one could end up with you covered in mud).
Ever wondered if a koala is as cuddly as it seems? Spend the day at Bredl’s Wild Farm and you’re bound to get a snuggle. This is a terrific one for the kids – they only allow 20 people per day, which gives you close contact with both the animals and staff.
A fun way to see the best of Airlie Beach can be on top of two wheels as part of a variety of Segway tours, one even comes with afternoon Tapas.
To really emerge yourself in the Whitsundays and leave your stress at home, take a look at stunning Hamilton Island. It also has a domestic airport with direct flights from major cities along the east coast.
The accommodation options will astound you: palm bungalows, holiday homes, villas and private hideaways! There is even a ‘Baby’s First Holiday’ option complete with packages offering ‘mum alone time’, ‘dad alone time’, ‘family time’ and ‘mum and dad couple time’. I can hear you asking: “Where do I sign up?”
Hamilton Island is a perfect getaway for those wanting some time out from their busy schedules. This is likely why the busiest woman in show business, Taylor Swift, opted for Hamilton Island as her location of choice to celebrate her birthday – and give her band and crew some recharge time – during her tour of Australia in 2015.
If an island getaway is on your bucket list, you can also look at stay options on nearby Daydream Island, Hayman Island and Palm Bay Long Island.
While you can’t stay there, we would be remiss not to mention the spectacular Heart Island. It’s the brilliant little heart-shaped dot in the Great Barrier Reef that you see all over the world on postcards, tourism ads and could be the perfect way to pop the question…Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Whitsundays: Best Activity
Visiting Whitehaven Beach. To put yourself in the picture of Australia’s most photographed beach, the Whitsundays will need to be top of the list. Or more specifically, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island.
Voted the Best Beach in Australia (2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards) and regularly rated amongst the world’s best, Whitehaven Beach is basically Mother Nature showing off. The idyllic combination of the most pure white sand you’ve ever squished between your toes and turquoise shaded flat water will assure you you’re on holidays.
It is the perfect beach, especially if you’re a ‘sandphob’. The sand is super fine, with a high amount of silica so it doesn’t get hot and isn’t as prone to sticking in places you’d rather it didn’t.
Then, when you’re ready to swap five stars for a million stars, book a national park campsite for a night of twinkling wonder.
Just remember: photos are all you can take away with you. Whitehaven Beach has a World Heritage Listing which means it’s illegal to take any sand. So, snap away and print a pic when you get home to remember your magical day.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Port Douglas: What to Know
Where is it?
When it comes to North Queensland, Port Douglas is about as far north as tourists will venture. Situated around 70km north of Cairns, which is around a two-hour flight north of Brisbane, this beach resort town is nestled between the infamous Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. You’ll really feel like you’ve landed on another, visually spectacular planet.
How to get there: You’ll need to fly to Cairns from one of the major cities on the east coast (there are also semi-regular services from Darwin and remote areas). From Cairns, Port Douglas is just a 40-minute scenic drive. If you feel like taking the scenic route, for keen road-trippers it’s a 1,700km journey – a little over 1,000 miles – from Brisbane.
Accommodation options: Although Port Douglas is known for its luxury beachside resorts, you’ll also find a range of budget stays, along with holiday rentals that are ideal for families or group getaways.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Port Douglas: What to Do
When it comes to the best the great outdoors has to offer, you’re spoiled for choice in Port Douglas. You can start the day watching the sun rise over the Coral Sea and then carry on exploring the coastline, which stretches on for more than 200km.
If you don’t feel like heading to the beach just yet, head west for a rainforest tour. The World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park is close enough for a day trip, but it’s also worth spending a night or two here if you can afford the time.
The best way to see all it’s glory – complete with 800 different rainforest trees, flowering plants, animals, waterfalls and rugged mountains – is by hopping on board the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Of course, if you don’t want to do much exploring at all, that’s perfectly fine as well! Port Douglas is world renowned for its beautiful beach resorts, which are so luxurious and well appointed, you really don’t have to leave after checking in (and checking out from day-to-day life!).
Port Douglas is also a popular jumping-off point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef, which depart from the iconic Reef Marina.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Port Douglas: Best Activity
Spending a day exploring the Great Barrier Reef while you’re so close to this incredible natural wonder. It may seem to be stating the obvious, but you could leave kicking yourself if you don’t dedicate at least one day to knocking this beauty off your Bucket List.
You won’t believe how, just metres from your comfy bed, an ocean bed is quite literally teeming with thousands of different types of marine life and the most breathtaking coral and plant life on the planet.
You’ll want to consider your ability and confidence in the water before deciding on just how you’ll take in this natural wonder of the world. You can choose from scuba diving or snorkelling, day trips or extended luxury cruises, with activities and adventures to suit all fitness and skill levels.
For tangible memories you can reflect on when you return home, it may be worth investing in an underwater camera, as this World Heritage Site needs to be left untouched – so there will be no opportunities to pop a piece of coral in your beach bag to take home with you!Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Which is best: Whitsundays or Port Douglas?
After singing the praises of both of these beautiful locations, it’s difficult to decide which one reigns supreme. It’s a little like trying to choose your favourite child!
Both locations have so much going for them, but when it comes to selecting the all-round great North Queensland holiday that will generate memories last a lifetime, Port Douglas really does have it all. It’s not just a resort town; it’s also the gateway to the incredible Great Barrier Reef. And how many cities do you know of that are sandwiched between two World Heritage Listed, breathtakingly beautiful natural wonders?
Make sure you plan to spend at least five days in this sensational part of Australia, so you have the opportunity to properly ‘meet’ the reef and explore the local villages. Whether you’re planning a romantic holiday, a family vacation, a solo adventure or a trip with friends, you’re sure to create lifelong memories in spectacular Port Douglas!
One final piece of advice: When planning to travel to tropical North Queensland, be sure to consider stinger season. From November to May every year, jellyfish are prevalent in water off the mainland and around the islands. The irukandji jellyfish in particular can be quite deadly, so make sure you read up on ways to protect yourself if you are booking travel during these months.
Wonders from the Water: The Migrating Sea Turtles of Heron Island
01 of 05
The Migrating Sea Turtles of Heron Island
Have you ever wanted to see turtles in the wild, but you were worried that doing so would interrupt their natural habitat? If so, then you may want to add Heron Island to your travel bucket list, as this beautiful part of Queensland offers an experience like no other!
Providing safe and sustainable breeding grounds for Green and Loggerhead turtles, the tropical beaches of Heron Island are fast becoming a must-visit for curious souls who are interested in witnessing one of nature’s most remarkable journeys.
Heron Island’s beaches, located off the coast of Queensland, are reminiscent of paradise – both for you and the diverse wildlife that calls this part of the world ‘home’.
As the site of both the Heron Island Resort as well as its own National Park, the island is a dream getaway for people who come to experience its unique and biodiverse ecosystem in all its splendor, as well as for the scuba divers and snorkelers eager to explore the nearby reefs.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Why Visit Heron Island?
As a traveler to the island, you’ll find yourself gifted a first-hand view of the famous migrating turtles who arrive to lay and hatch their eggs, as well as of the local sea life, all from one of the most natural and breathtaking coral cays in the world.
Each year, between the months of October and April, Heron Island plays the role of breeding ground to countless Green and Loggerhead turtles, and of course, their hatchlings. While this is amazing in itself, the turtles aren’t merely arriving on the island for the first time.
Rather, they’re completing a wonderful and unbreakable cycle, 30 years in the making. The turtles are born on Heron Island and they return about 30 years later, ready to lay their eggs and complete the circle of life. This annual phenomenon is a sight not to be missed, particularly when the migrating turtles and their hatchlings join the 4,000 local turtles who permanently reside on the island.
As General Manager of Heron Island Resort Sandy McFeeters shares, there’s no other sight quite like it.
“Heron Island is truly an amazing place to be part of the annual laying and hatching of the Green and Loggerhead turtles,” she says.
“Watching these giants of the sea lug themselves up the beach and settle in to lay up to 120 eggs per clutch is one of the most amazing and breathtaking things to see.”
The see this incredible hatchling happen in front of your eyes, all you need to do is wait for a couple of hours after the evening’s high tide and then walk along the peaceful Heron Beach. When you spot a couple, you know you’re near babies as well. Remember to keep an eye out for the tracks in the sand, which show where the turtles have emerged from the ocean. Be sure to focus on the hatchlings, who will rush toward the safe ocean once they have been born.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Where Is Heron Island?
Heron Island is a part of the Great Barrier Reef and sits on the western side of Heron Reef, about 85km off the coast of Australia.
Technically a part of one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the island and its surrounding reefs are popular tourist hotspots. This makes Heron Island the perfect blend between a serene island escape and a humming destination with enough excitement to quench any thirst and warrant a visit!
You can visit the island as a one-off adventure, or combine it with an exploration of other nearby island destinations. The Whitsundays nearby is comprised of more than 70 islands ranging in size and amenities, so there is plenty to do in this part of the world if you want to explore!
If you do decide to make a beeline for Heron Island, not only is it easily accessible to visitors (whether they’re coming over for the day or are guests at the resort) but there’s also plenty to do in between watching the turtles. Even if scuba diving isn’t your idea of a relaxing time, grab yourself a snorkel and discover the natural masterpiece living below the water’s surface.
Keen to visit a tropical island in Queensland but Heron Island doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for you? Consider exploring the beautiful white sand beaches of the Whitsundays, or the stunning far north Queensland destination of Port Douglas. Discover the pros and cons of each destination here!Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
How Do You Get to Heron Island?
Regular flights run from all Australian capital cities to Gladstone or the drive from Brisbane will take you around six hours. You could pair your visit to Heron Island with a few nights in Brisbane, so you get to explore the city and the coastline in one trip!
To celebrate the wonder that is Heron Island, you can arrange a stay on the island at the on-site resort. There are a number of accommodation options, including a freestanding home you can rent out for the duration of your stay! Children are very welcome for those who are planning a family holiday and in most cases, kids under 12 are allowed to stay for free.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Will Your Visit to Heron Island Harm the Local Ecosystem?
Importantly, the people who run Heron Island are fully aware of the impact that human traffic can have on the local ecosystem.
As a result, Heron Island has partnered with the Sea Turtle Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to safeguarding sea turtle populations, migration routes, and habitats.
Though sea turtles have been swimming in the world’s oceans for over 120 million years, today’s turtle populations face an uncertain future. Heron Island is committed to educating people and protecting the beautiful Green and Loggerhead turtles. They do this by giving guests a number of opportunities to learn, through guided walks, information sessions and junior ranger programs, to help guests understand and support these amazing creatures.
8 Central Spots to Stay and Explore in Hobart
01 of 09
The Best Places to Stay in Hobart City
The capital city of our often-forgotten island state of Tasmania, Hobart is sometimes bumped down our list of places to see due to the assumption it is difficult to access.
The truth is, you can fly there quickly and easily. Depending on where you’re flying from, there may be a stop-over involved (most likely in Melbourne), but it’s all part of the adventure!
Of course, you can really ramp up the experience by departing Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania and go by boat, arriving in Devonport. For this, you’ll need a car or plan in place to get from Devonport to Hobart – just over three hours’ drive.
Once you arrive in Hobart there is so much to explore and a long list of places to stay. Let’s check them out…Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Top of the To Do List when visiting Hobart is to spend a Saturday morning strolling through the Salamanca Market (on Salamanca Place). Australia’s largest outdoor market is teeming with delicious food, collectables, handmade clothing, flowers and loads more.
To put yourself on its doorstep, check in to the Salamanca Inn. It is nestled within 1830s sandstone Georgian warehouses that now open their doors to restaurants and specialty shops. This stylish hotel houses 60 fully self-contained suites so whatever yummy fare you pick up at the market you can bring back for afternoon nibbles or a delectable dinner.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Customs House Waterfront Hotel
A short stroll from Salamanca Place is the charming Customs House. Perfectly located for taking in the market, it also overlooks Parliament House and its lawn and gardens.
Some rooms offer marina views and for a great meal and live entertainment, you only have to walk downstairs. If you’re planning early mornings, just be prepared for the entertainment to run until midnight.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Lenna of Hobart
Another hotel offering all the goods of the market, marina, and parks is Lenna of Hobart. The building itself has been standing since 1874, but the rooms boast a modern fit-out with the choice of park, harbor or mountain views.
If you can’t choose which setting you’d like to wake up to, there’s always the penthouse, offering 360-degree views and the ultimate in indulgence!Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Salamanca Wharf Hotel
Still within Hobart’s premier entertainment and cultural hub, but standing out amid the sandstone buildings is the Salamanca Wharf Hotel. Floor to ceiling glass allows for uninterrupted views of the harbor and Princes Park.
If you’re visiting between Christmas and New Year you’ll get to experience The Taste of Tasmania on your doorstep. Held in the Princes Wharf 1 facility across the road, you will literally step out of the hotel and into one of Tasmania’s largest annual events.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Henry Jones Art Hotel
Stepping away from the Salamanca hub, across the harbor, you’ll find Australia’s first dedicated art hotel. The Henry Jones is on the waterfront and just a stone’s throw from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
The former jam factory, built in the early 1800s, is now a five-star hotel showcasing an ever-changing exhibition of over 400 artworks. It is also home to a selection of restaurants that celebrate Tasmania’s wonderful produce.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
Ideal for both business and leisure travelers, The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel is found a block away from the waterfront in the historic Sullivans Cove precinct. A short walk will take you into the CBD, Theatre Royal, Convention Centre and Hospital.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Mayfair on Cavell
If you’re not in Hobart for the harbor or river views, but instead plan to spend some time exploring the majestic Mount Wellington, you can head west of the CBD. At Mayfair on Cavell you won’t find the glitz and glamour of the city hotels but will enjoy a quiet and comfortable sleep. During your stay be sure to ask about the property’s history, which dates back to the early 1900s and has a strong family focus.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Woodbridge on the Derwent
If you’re happy to hire a car and head out of the city, a quick roadtrip along the Derwent River will take you to one of the most breathtaking hotels you can imagine. The captivating Woodbridge on the Derwent is a 5-star heritage listed mansion tucked away at New Norfolk. Its lush lawns kiss the banks of the river and there are trees and greenery as far as the eye can see. Enjoy your days at the nearby wineries or distilleries, or on the water.
Floriade vs. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
01 of 04
Canberra’s Floriade, or Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers?
Flowers, flowers everywhere! Spring has to be one of the most glorious times of the year! We shake off our winter woolies, begin to expose our pale, dry skin again and take a big breath to inhale all the fresh, new aromas starting to emanate from our gardens and parks.
It’s also the time of year that thousands of visitors flock to two of Australia’s garden capitals. Toowoomba, in south-east Queensland, is known as The Garden City of Australia and holds the Carnival of Flowers over 10 days in the middle of September. Meanwhile, the nation’s capital, Canberra, comes alive with colour for the month-long celebration of Floriade.
Let’s compare the two stunning events and see who comes up roses…Continue to 2 of 4 below.
02 of 04
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers: Toowoomba, Queensland
September 15 – Sunday 25 2016
Each year the Carnival of Flowers is Toowoomba’s time to shine. Just like the bees, the entire city is buzzing with excitement as tiny bulbs, planted months ago, reveal their rainbow of colours just in time for the influx of visitors. Garden lovers from far and wide force ‘no vacancy’ signs to go up at hotels across region, so it’s a good idea to book accommodation in advance.
For more than 60 years the Carnival has centred around the street parade. It’s believed that 50,000 people lined the streets for the inaugural procession in 1950 and today that number has doubled.
Each year, on the first Saturday of the carnival marching bands, colourful floats, acrobats and well-known personalities in the town make their way past the crowd to Queens Park.
“The parade usually marks the start of the school holidays and it’s so much fun waving to the procession while standing side-by-side with locals and visitors from near and far,” born-and-raised local Jodi Paynter reflects.
“You’re entertained by clowns on bicycles, performers in stunning, bright costumes, floral floats and bands providing a marvellous soundtrack,” she adds.
The family flavour continues at Sideshow Alley (Queens Park 16-18 Sept) where you’ll find rides, food trucks, show bags and fireworks displays. Entry is free, but you’ll need to grab some coupons for a spot on the rides that cater for the little and big kids.
A relatively recent addition to the Carnival’s calendar is the increasingly popular Food and Wine Festival (Queens Park 16-18 Sept). Showcasing some of the region’s best drops and produce, this year the festival will be headlined by celebrity chef Miguel Maestre (from Network Ten’s The Living Room). ‘The Smiling Spaniard’ will host a gala dinner on opening night and will also be holding cooking demonstrations across the weekend. This is a ticketed event, so get in quick!
Combined in your Food and Wine Festival ticket is entry to the Live Concert Series, which has an incredible line-up of Aussie talent this year. Birds of Tokyo, The Whitlams, Tim Finn and much-loved 80s acts The Chantoozies, Eurogliders and Models are spread across the three days (16-18 Sept). Bring your picnic blanket, grab a plate of delicious food, glass of wine and mates for a sing-a-long under the stars.
“I take little people with me to sideshow alley and then extend my carnival weekend with friends at the Food and Wine Festival,” Jodi explains.
While the first weekend is jam-packed with entertainment, the following week also has plenty to offer with exhibitions, displays, markets, tours and loads more. Plus, the parks and private gardens will also be open for you to wander through and marvel and the delicious sight and smell of springtime.
If you’re a lover of certain types of flowers, be sure to check out the ‘floral’ section of the event calendar on the website, as organisations such as the Geranium Society, Bonsai Group and Orchid Society are hosting events across the carnival.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
Floriade: Canberra, ACT
September 17 – October 16
An annual celebration, “Floriade is all about the arrival of Springtime and colour after the cold Canberra winter,” says Canberra local Erin Higuchi.
As a city that well and truly experiences all the four seasons in their intended way, Spring really is greeted with gusto in Canberra. So much so, they’ve dedicated an entire month to celebrating it in the form of Floriade.
Established in 1988, Floriade has not been running as long as Toowoomba’s Carnival, but has certainly rooted itself in the annual calendar with around 400,000 people flocking to the event each year. It is held in Commonwealth Park, next to Lake Burley Griffin, with one million flowers blooming alongside live music, workshops, family entertainment and displays.
“I love being out and about with all the other thousands of people enjoying the sunshine and being able to leisurely stroll through the different gardens, watch the performances and browse the stalls,” Erin says.
Not just something to be enjoyed during the day, Nightfest (28 Sept – 2 Oct) begins at sunset with stunning lighting displays, roving performers, markets and entertainment. The Comedy Cave is always worth checking out, with a bunch of brilliant Aussie acts bound to get a few belly laughs.
Foodies will love The Kitchen Company Tasting Plate. Local chefs wander through the food market, piling their basket with fresh produce, before returning to their make-shift kitchen to whip up a scrumptious feast. Two demonstrations are held alongside the markets each night.
No one loves having a good sniff more than man’s best friend. That’s why one day is set aside for Dogs Day Out (11 October), allowing pooches to come and explore Commonwealth Garden for themselves. Be sure to jump on the event website to check out the conditions and make sure your four-legged friend doesn’t go digging up any garden beds.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Floriade or Carnival of Flowers: Which is best?
When it comes to a springtime festival there’s bound to be something to love. Flowers just make us happy! But it seems 60-plus years of experience has given Toowoomba the edge.
Despite the Carnival of Flowers being held over just 10 days (around a third of the length of Floriade), so much has been packed in and in many ways, it offers more than Floriade.
There’s not just one central park to marvel at. While Queens Park hosts the larger events (sideshow alley and the Food and Wine Festival) Laurel Bank Park, the Japanese Gardens, the Rose Garden and even private home gardens are all spruced up and on show.
Plus, there’s the street parade, which takes you back to yesteryear and is a reflection of the city pride that the event brings out in all locals.
Floriade is still a sensational event, but we think the Carnival of Flowers may just hold the trump card. Canberra may lay claim to being the Nation’s Capital, but Toowoomba rightly holds the title of Australia’s Garden City.
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Fiji
01 of 11
Why You Should Go to Fiji
Just the name Fiji sounds exotic. And it is – even if it's now widely familiar to American consumers as a brand of bottled water (which, by the way, is indeed sourced and bottled on the main island of Viti Levu). And yet what makes Fiji's 333 islands rank among the must-sees of the South Pacific is the fact that mixed in with all that exotic ambiance are a range of familiar activities popular with a wide array of travelers. From the very first time you hear “Bula,” the exuberant Fijian greeting, you will know the rest of your stay will be one to remember.
Explore our top 10 reasons why Fiji should be at the top of your travel list.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
02 of 11
The Private-Island Resorts
While South Pacific islands offer fabulous beachfront resorts, Fiji's abundance of private islands, some just a few dozen acres in size, are the closest most of us will ever get to feeling like a castaway. In fact, the 2000 film “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks was filmed in Fiji (as were several other movies and TV shows). Rather than build big resorts, these islands' owners have focused on a traditional Fijian feel, with small (less than 30 guests at one time) resorts offering seclusion and top-notch service. It's no wonder that Fiji's top private-island resorts, such as Royal Davui, Turtle Island, Vomo Island Resort, Vatulele Island Resort, Qamea Resort and Spa, Laucala Island and Wakaya Club, have drawn celebrities seeking five-star R&R.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
03 of 11
The Romantic Bures
The typical accommodation in Fiji is known as a bure, a traditional thatched-roof wood bungalow set along the beach or tucked back into a fringe of tropical foliage. Often one room, but sometimes two, bures feature louvered windows to let in breezes and are mainly cooled by overhead fans and feature exotic amenities such as net-draped beds, outdoor showers, and plunge pools. Nightly rates range from about $150 for basic budget options to several thousand for the creme de la creme. Many rates at Fijian resorts, mainly those on private islands, include all meals and most beverages, so be sure to note that when comparing options.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
04 of 11
The Warm and Welcoming Fijian People
Ask anyone who's just back from Fiji what they liked the most and there's a good chance the answer will be “the people.” Native Fijians are renowned for being happy, hospitable, church-going people who love to laugh and sing-although a few centuries ago, as was the case in much of the South Pacific, their enemies were apt to end up on the dinner menu as cannibalism was practiced. The only remnants of that unpleasantness today are the carved wood “cannibal forks” and “warrior clubs” for sale as souvenirs. Rather, the Fijians you'll meet at resorts and when invited to visit a local village, will do everything they can to make you feel relaxed, welcome, and awed by the beauty of their islands.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
The Amazing Snorkeling and Diving
Fiji's crystal-clear South Pacific seawater, ideal location along protected reefs renowned for their brilliant soft coral formations and 1,000 species of fish, and relative lack of development (outside of Viti Levu, where 75 percent of the population lives), make snorkeling and diving a major draw. Almost every resort has an onsite dive operator or works closely with one located nearby and offers PADI certification for neophytes who want to take the plunge. Both intermediate and expert divers can choose from a wide array of sites, many easily accessible from resorts, and enjoy experiences ranging from drift dives to dramatic drop-offs with Fiji's dive experts, such as at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
06 of 11
The Super-Fresh Seafood
What snorkelers and scuba divers in Fiji see on their underwater excursions often ends up on lunch and dinner menus later in the day. Seafood is a staple the Fijian cuisine, with some of the more popular varieties being mahi-mahi, tuna, snapper, grouper, pawns, lobster, and crab. The seafood here is served both cooked and raw. While the islands of Tahiti to the East call their lime-juice-and-coconut-milk-marinated tuna poisson cru, Fijians use mahi-mahi marinated in coconut milk and lime with onions and tomatoes to make their national delicacy called kokodo.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
07 of 11
The Fabulous Spas
As the art and science of relaxation has evolved to include wellness, resorts in Fiji have added or expanded their spa offerings. The islands' leading spas incorporate local natural resources such as fresh fruits and oils, sand and sea salt into their treatment menus. Since Fiji caters to honeymooners (many of them celebrities) couples massages and body treatments are also popular. Some of the leading resort spas include the Spa & Sanctuary at Namale Resort, the Mandara Spa at Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, the Jungle Spa at Qamea Resort & Spa, and the Tatadra Spa at Likuliku Lagoon Resort.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
08 of 11
The World-Class Golf
A good golf course is not all that easy to find in the South Pacific. But golfer Vijay Singh, a native of Fiji, has put his country's interest in the sport on the map. Fiji's main island of Viti Levu has three championship courses, including the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course and Denarau Golf Club. There are also a handful of nine-hole courses scattered around Viti Levu and a few outlying islands.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
The Beautiful Beaches
Most of the islands in Fiji have excellent beaches, many with sugar-white sand washed by calm lagoon water since the islands are ringed by protective coral reefs. Some of the most pristine are in the Yasawa Islands. In addition, many of Fiji's resorts are set near offshore sandbars, where couples are transported for a day-long picnic with an umbrella, cooler filled with food and drink and snorkel gear to enjoy some alone time on a tiny speck of sand in the middle of the gorgeous South Pacific.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
10 of 11
The Adrenaline Rush Adventure
Anyone who watched 2006″s “Survivor: Fiji” knows that the islands of Fiji are not just about romance and relaxation-they are packed with land- and water-based activities that will satisfy even the most ardent adrenaline junkies. On the main island of Viti Levu, visitors can kayak or raft the Navua River, take a jet boat safari up the Sigatoka River, or go hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, surfing, sky-diving, parasailing, or shark-feeding. Activities on the outlying islands vary but include hikes to waterfalls on Taveuni and nature treks on Kadavu.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
11 of 11
The Captivating Local Culture
Fiji is a melange of two main cultures: native Fijians, who are proud of their Melanesian culture, and Indians, who were brought o Fiji as servants by the British in late 19th-century and now, as more than 30 percent of the population, are a vibrant and visible part of the cultural mosaic. Visitors to Fiji will likely witness Fijian traditions such as a kava ceremony (also called yaqona, it is a drink made from the root of a pepper plant and water and its effect is mildly calming with a novocaine-like feel to the lips and tongue). Other rituals include the lovo, a feast of pork, chicken, fish, taro, breadfruit, and sweet potatoes cooked in an underground oven; the meke, a rhythmic dance; and fire-walking, which began on the island of Beqa.