Let’s be honest, we’re pretty spoilt having grown up in Australia. From fish and chips on white sand beaches to sunsets over blue sea horizons and a coral reef that’s among the greatest in the world, summer Down Under is the next thing to paradise.
But while the whole world is like, ‘I want to go to Australia and drink beer out of stubbies and swim with the dolphins’, you can often find us Aussie’s searching for a balmy summer destination in other corners of the globe. Because sometimes, Bells Beach and Bondi become a little too familiar.
So, for all you travel folk looking to spend your summer abroad, here’s our (sort of) definitive list of the best undiscovered, off the beaten path, #notouristsallowed, downright bloody delightful destinations guaranteed to satiate your seaside thirst while simultaneously stirring your cultural cravings. God-summer-speed.
#1 Anguilla, Caribbean
The Caribbean a.k.a. warm weather utopia. Year in and year out, travellers flock to the more popular destinations such as Barbados and the Bahamas in search of island life, but little do they know that just off the coast of the bustling St. Martin sits the super chill Anguilla. Ringed by Instagram-worthy white sand beaches and get-out-of-town aquamarine waters, this low-key island maintains its relaxed vibe due to there being no non-stop flights from the US and zero ports for cruise ships. In Anguilla, there’s just peace, privacy and a bucketload of seafood.
#2 Hainan Island, China
Island life in China? Whodathunkit. Not us. But it turns out that the Russians and the Chinese travellers are onto something. Affectionately known as ‘China’s Hawaii’, Hainan is a tropical wonderland packed with incredible beaches, a volcano park, an ancient Hainanese village and a Shaolin Buddhist temple. How’s that for summertime diversity?
#3 Ibo Island, Mozambique
Summer holiday in Mozambique? Yes, you Afri-CAN! Early on Ibo’s life, the island was used as a major export point in the slave trade, but don’t let that put you off. Today, it’s all sunset views over incredible mud flats and deserted hidden beaches.
#4 Myeik Archipelago, Myanmar
Yep, you read right. Myanmar is home to one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets – the Myeik Archipelago. A splendour of over 800 islands, life here is very much like Leo DiCaprio’s The Beach but on steroids. You’ve got your palm trees, you’ve got your crystal waters, you’ve got your lack of other tourists. Head there in the next few years before the boom and you’ll be swinging pretty (in a hammock, that is).
#5 Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
When something is UNESCO World Heritage listed, you know it’s going to be good. Plitvice Lakes is a national park brimming with (yep, you guessed it) lakes, caves and waterfalls. Spread over more than 70,000 acres, expect a playground of seemingly never-ending cascades. Pack your bathers, a map and get exploring.
#6 Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Yeah, yeah, we know you’ve heard of Tahiti and Bora Bora but have you ever heard of Rangiroa? We thought not. Well, take out your pen and paper, because you might want to take some notes. Officially the second largest atoll in the world, Rangiroa is basically a string of coral around a breathtaking lagoon. If you’re a diver, welcome to paradise. If you’re just a beach enthusiast, welcome to paradise.
#7 Albanian Riviera, Albania
Don’t know where Albania is? Don’t be too hard on yourself, we had to get out Google Maps too. A coastal beauty bordered by Montenegro, Greece and Macedonia, Albania boasts the best of Europe’s beach life but at a significantly lower price. Head along the Riviera to one of the many seaside towns, relax by turquoise waters and marvel at the magic of the Adriatic.
#8 Gokarna, India
Move over Goa, there’s another idyll in town. The state of Karnataka, wedged between Goa and Kerala, is home to Gokarna, a backpacker haven of cheap beach shacks, palm trees and mango lassis. Head to Om Beach and Kudle Beach for easy access good vibes, or hire a boat and head out to the super secluded Half Moon Beach for private hang times.
#9 Los Roques, Venezuela
350 islands, cays and islets off the coast of Venezuela? Now, that sounds like a recipe for summer. A chain of stunning coral islands, Los Roques is so calm you can take your own boat out and go for a punt. No worries, hombre. Dock for a little after-lunch swim, do a touch of birdwatching, take a nap on pristine white sands and then drift back to your villa in time for happy hour rum and coca colas.
#10 Koh Tao, Cambodia
Just a hop skip and a jump from Sihanoukville (booze cruise central) sits this dreamy little number. Discovered by an American tourist only eight or so years ago, he befriended the local military and proceeded to build beachside treehouses. Organise a boat to drop you off at the jetty, bag yourself a treehouse and head on over to the absinthe distillery before dipping your toes in phosphorescent waters.
(Lead image: Maitai Rangiroa)