If it hasn’t already arrived in your corner of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s coming. Winter. That time of the year when we gaze longingly at the lower half of the globe and wonder how to steal a little of their sunshine.
Everything south of the Equator is heating up right now as the Earth tilts towards the sun and brings the warmth of summer to parts of Africa, most of South America, and all of Australia and New Zealand. If you’re looking for a winter getaway, why not reach beyond the Caribbean and explore some of the more exotic destinations that are gearing up for temperate days and balmy nights.
Mo’orea, French Polynesia
This small island in the Pacific lies off the western coast of Tahiti and is thought by many to be the most picturesque in the world. Ferries travel to Moorea from the Tahitian capital of Pape’ete, and the presence of several world-class resorts hasn’t spoiled the pristine beauty of this tropical paradise. The island is heart-shaped, and you’ll fall in love with its majestic peaks, blue lagoons and secluded beaches.
The Republic of Mauritius lies in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa and roughly parallel to Madagascar. It’s a long way from anywhere but once you arrive, you’re in for a real treat. The island was tossed around between the Dutch, French and British for hundreds of years before gaining its independence in 1968. That left a legacy of colonial architecture and a fabulous mix of French, Creole, Indian and African cultures. Le Morne Brabant mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is just one of the many attractions of this unique destination.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Once you get used to being 7,000 feet above sea level, visiting this community on the edge of the country’s biggest salt plain is an unforgettable experience. The terrain is stark, fringed by golden-hued mountains, and incredibly beautiful. It’s also one of the darkest places in the world when the sun goes down and the astral display at night is simply breathtaking. A must-see destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for something dramatically different.
It’s long been a favorite holiday destination for neighboring Australians, and Bali has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler. The island is filled with temples, palaces and other cultural gems. The interior is marked by volcanoes and tropical jungles while the beaches offer great swimming along with some of the best surfing you’ll find anywhere in the region. A gentle introduction to Indonesia and a fantastic winter escape.
The Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city and while it’s a great place to visit, try driving three hours north to discover the incredible Bay of Islands. It’s a veritable playground for anyone who loves empty beaches, maritime wildlife and endless hiking and cycling trails. There are plenty of places to swim, scuba and snorkel, and you’re likely to spot everything from penguins to frolicking dolphins and breaching whales.
The Gold Coast, Australia
There’s a reason that thousands of local and international tourists flock to this part of the Queensland coast. It’s a 25 mile stretch of virtually unbroken beachfront that runs from the south of Brisbane to the border with New South Wales. This is where you’ll find the infamous nightlife of Surfers Paradise, countless amusement parks, dozens of world-class golf courses, and a seemingly endless expanse of soft white sand. If you want to do anything on or in the ocean, you’ll find what you’re looking for on the Gold Coast.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This is the other city that never sleeps, a South American metropolis with a distinctly European feel. Birthplace of the tango, Buenos Aires more than lives up to its reputation as a sensual, stylish, and wonderfully diverse holiday destination. Your winter blues will melt away as you stroll along the Caminito or lose yourself in the labyrinth of the Recoleta cemetery. Safe, affordable, and never fails to delight even the most jaded traveler.
Over 80% of the Southern Hemisphere is under water, which is why that half of the world is dominated by island nations. Only about 10% of the world’s population lives south of the Equator, and half of them are either in Brazil or Indonesia. That’s leaves a lot of pristine, uncrowded and sun-drenched territory for you to find your perfect retreat from the inevitable dump of ice and snow that’s heading our way.