We’ve had the changeover from Daylight Saving to regular time (apart from lucky readers in Western Australia who don’t have to go through that twice-yearly overhaul of the body clock) and now the days are getting shorter as winter approaches. It’s that time of year when people start looking at maps and globes, and wonder if there’s a chance that they can get away to somewhere sunnier and escape the cold.
This means that people are looking to the tropics for a winter holiday. In Australia, we’re lucky to be only a short flight away from a number of Pacific Island nations that enjoy a balmy climate year-round. In fact, some of those destinations are found within our own shores – all those northern holiday spots such as Darwin, Cairns and Broome. And you even get some folk from the other side of the Tasman hopping over from New Zealand to Australian cities to get away from their winter, which can be even worse than hours. For Australians, the domestic holiday spots are often a good choice for a winter getaway, as you don’t have hassles with visas and passports or with the language and culture.
But what if you do want to go to somewhere a bit further afield and to experience a different culture while you soak up a few rays of sun (hey, you have to get plenty of Vitamin D!)? What are some options that won’t see you travelling for hours and hours on a plane (i.e. destinations within the South Pacific) that you can choose from for your winter getaway?
Fiji: Capital city: Suva; main languages: English, Fijian and Fijian Hindi. A very popular tourist destination with all the things that a good Pacific getaway offers, such as sunshine, warm water and palm trees. Has had a few problems on the political front over the past 20 years or so but this has settled down. There’s a strong Hindi (Indian) population, which makes the culture of Fiji quite distinct from other Pacific Island nations.
Samoa: Capital city: Apia; main languages: English and Samoan. If you go to Samoa, be prepared for the very conservative religious culture – everyone goes to church on Sundays and skimpy dress can be frowned on, even when worn by tourists. The people are friendly and play great rugby, so sport-loving Aussies can expect to fit in.
Vanuatu: Capital city: Port Vila; main languages: Bislama, English and French. An archipelago that’s closer to Australia than New Zealand is. This country’s also a tax haven, so a business trip here could be worth considering!
Solomon Islands: Capital city: Honiara; main language: English. Quite similar in culture to Papua New Guinea, which the Solomons gained independence from in 1975. Was also the site of the Battle of Guadalcanal, which makes this island group historically significant.
Tonga: Capital city: Nuku’alofa ; main languages: English and Tongan. Tonga didn’t half put up a good fight in the latest Rugby World Cup, so this is another Pacific Island nation for sports fans to visit and have fun in. Also a good place to visit if you are self-conscious about your weight when it comes to sunning yourself on the beach: in this country, a generous figure is considered a sign of beauty!