We get it – you want to jet off to somewhere idyllic but you’re looking to avoid a long-haul flight. Sound familiar? Luckily, you don’t have to venture too far for a fantastic getaway. We’ve done the (slightly) hard work for you and discovered some seriously remarkable destinations that are only three hours’ flight from Australia. Now’s your cue to start packing…
Related article: 5 amazing new Australian escapes
If you’re looking to tick off a range of cultures during your whirlwind getaway, set your sights for New Caledonia. A fascinating mix of French and Melanesian cultures, the island nation is where European-inspired streets lined with quaint cafes lead down to shockingly turquoise waters.
You’ll find extraordinary natural beauty here – don’t miss seeing the brilliant blue of the World Heritage-listed Caledonian lagoon, discovering white-sand islets and brightly coloured underwater playgrounds – as well as secluded resorts and gourmet delights.
Time: Two hour’s flight from Brisbane; two hours and 45 minutes from Sydney; and just over three hours from Melbourne.
The Solomon Islands
Few destinations in the world feel as blissfully laid-back and time-forgotten as the breathtaking Solomon Islands. A spectacular collection of 996 islands, the South Pacific nation is an adventure- and nature-lover’s wonderland.
Seek out palm-filled jungles, crystalline waters, white-sand beaches, deserted isles, incredible villages, amazing WWII remains and technicolour coral gardens for a truly unforgettable escape. Top it all off with scenic hikes, water sports, island-hopping and sampling super-fresh seafood, and treat yourselves to a stay at one of the Solomon’s straight-from-Robinson-Crusoeresorts. A friendly reminder – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honeymooned here in 2012. If it’s good enough for Kate and Wills…
Time: Three hours’ flight from Brisbane.
Only have a few days to spare? Cross the ditch and you’ll find oh-so much to see and do in New Zealand.
Brisbanites, head for Auckland on the North Island for fabulous culture and dining, and fit in time to hop over to Waiheke Island for vineyard-hopping and a little thrill-seeking. Sydney-siders, discover hiking, mountain biking, cafe culture and picture-perfect views in the enchanting coastal town of Wellington on the South Island. Melbournites, though requiring an extra 25 minutes’ flight, Christchurch is definitely worth checking out, with old-world charm, beautiful gardens, white-knuckle action and amazing day-trip spots nearby.
Time: Three-hours’ flight from Brisbane to Auckland; three-hours’ flight from Sydney to Wellington; and three hours and 25 minutes’ flight from Melbourne to Christchurch.
Papua New Guinea
Looking for a tropical island escape with a difference? Swap the tourist traps for spellbinding Papua New Guinea. An impressive 600 islands make up this exciting destination, each home to captivating scenery – think waterfalls, rainforests, rivers and white-sand beaches.
If you’re not content to spend your whole getaway relaxing (though we definitely recommend fitting in time for doing just that), make some memories with a little heart-stopping action. From surfing and mountain climbing to guided treks and scuba diving, there’s an array of sensational experiences to be had in Papua New Guinea.
Time: Two hours and 45 minutes’ flight from Perth and just over three hours’ flight from Brisbane.
It’s easy to see why Australians have an undeniable love affair with Fiji. Blessed with some of Mother Nature’s most exquisite gifts (including deserted beaches, tranquil islands, giant mountains and magnificent volcanoes), the South Pacific destination has plenty to inspire a visit.
Other than simply ‘living on island time’, there’s so much to do in Fiji. Be sure to meet the super-friendly locals and learn about their utterly beautiful culture, get muddy with an ATV ride through emerald landscapes, chase after inquisitive fish under the water’s surface and wander through bustling markets in this tropical paradise.
Time: Just over three hours’ flight from Brisbane.
Comprising of 80 stunning islands, Vanuatu really is the stuff of screensavers. Much like in Fiji, ruggedly romantic islands, gorgeous reefs, soaring mountain peaks and magma-filled volcanoes make this destination a beloved go-to for loved-up getaways. Here, you’ll also come across azure swimming holes, authentic villages and world-class diving spots. The accommodation options aren’t too shabby, either.
Before you hop back on the plane, channel your inner explorer and visit Vanuatu’s largest cave, the Millennium Cave (pictured above). An exhilarating trek through tropical forest and over boulders takes you to a marvellous river that seems made for refreshing dips. So. Much. Fun.
Time: Two hours’ flight from Brisbane and just over three hours’ flight from Sydney.
The Andrews Sisters might have asked if you’d like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island, but we’d happily spend any day of the year there. Brimming with unbelievable natural beauty, the unique destination is where you’ll find eco-luxe hideaways, majestic waterfalls, terrific wildlife and pristine beaches. Animal-lovers, this is where you can also spot David Attenborough’s favourite Australian phenomenon – the jaw-dropping red crab migration.
Technically an Australian territory, Christmas Island seems like nowhere else on the globe. Our advice? Uncover its wonderful culture, history and natural gifts before everyone else.
Time: We’ll admit this destination is actually just under four hours’ flight from Perth but it’s definitely one to add to your must-visit list.
Looking for more inspiration for a weekend away or romantic getaway? Check out our Short Breaks articles…
Image credits: SIVB Tourism, Stephane Ducandas, Matt Crawford and Chris Bray