6 international escapes for under $600
These destinations are frequently on sale – keep an eye on the airlines for the best deals.
1 Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Head there for: Whale watching, snorkelling and affordable wining and dining. Book a room at: Pacific Resort
Ra rot onga(www. pacific resort. com) on Muri Beach, where one minute you will be snorkelling crystal-clear waters off the beach in front of your room and the next you’ll be drinking top-shelf wine and eating fresh local seafood.
Must do: Grab some fins and a mask and explore Muri Lagoon, where the best snorkelling is found on the edge of the reef. When the winds are up, kitesurfing reigns. Get there on: Air New Zealand ( www.airnewzealand.com.au), which offers direct flights from Sydney to Rarotonga, and also via Auckland. Sale airfares have recently been just $538 return. 2 Hong Kong Head there for: Epic nightlife, sailing on junks and the Symphony of Lights. Book a room at: W Hong Kong ( www.w-hongkong.com), which is located above the Kowloon Airport Express Station and Elements mall, and features Cantonese dining, a cocktail bar and open-air rooftop pool with views over Victoria Harbour.
Must do: Book a twilight cruise on a red-sailed Aqua Luna classical wooden junk boat ( aqualuna.
com.hk), where you can watch the nightly skyscraper flight show from the middle of the harbour, complete with a cocktail in hand.
Get there on: Cathay Pacific ( www. cathaypacific.com), which has four direct daily flights from Sydney to Hong Kong and sale airfares recently at $599 return. 3 Honolulu, Hawaii
Head there for: Shopping, waterfalls, big wave surfing, Mai Tais and Polynesian fare. Book a room at: Outrigger
Waikiki Beach Resort ( www. outrigger.com), which has rooms overlooking the South Pacific. There’s a pool adjacent to the beach and four restaurants and bars, including Hula Grill.
Must do: Drive to the North Shore for shrimp trucks (our pick is Giovanni’s), the Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Falls and Laniakea Beach, where you can go snorkelling with turtles. Get your shopping fix at Waikele Outlets on the way back.
Get there on: Jetstar ( www.jetstar. com), with direct flights from Sydney to Honolulu on Boeing 787 Dreamliners and sale airfares recently at just $560 return. 4 Auckland, New Zealand Head there for: Sailing, vineyards, oysters and small batch cocktails. Book a room at: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour ( www.sofitelauckland.com), where rooms and suites feature private balconies, large bathrooms, signature Sofitel MyBeds, Bose surround sound systems and minibars stocked with Kiwi food and wine.
Must do: Hop on a ferry and take the 40-minute journey across Waitemata Harbour to
Waikehe Island – a haven of beaches, vineyards, boutique accommodation and art.
Get there on: Qantas ( www.qantas. com), now offering widebody Airbus A330s on daily flights to Auckland and sale airfares at $468 return. 5 Shanghai, China Head there for: Vintage shopping, motorbike tours and top Shanghainese fare. Book a room at: Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai at Pudong ( www.
fourseasons.com/pudong/), where you can go twilight swimming with a backdrop of skyscrapers like Daniel Craig did as 007 in Skyfall.
Must do: See the city in the sidecar of a Chang Jiang 750CC motorcycle on a tour with the team from Shanghai Insiders ( www.
shanghaiinsiders.com), who will zoom you through the Former French Concession, past shopping spots and markets, and down back alleys parallel to the Bund. Get there on: Cathay Pacific ( www.cathaypacific.com), which offers daily flights from Sydney to Shanghai via Hong Kong and sale airfares recently at $549 return. 6 Nadi, Fiji Head there for: Impeccable, friendly service, beachfront bures and local village experiences. Book a room at: Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort ( www.outrigger.com), where a plethora of food and drink offerings, day spa treatments, a butler service and the best value beachfront bures in Fiji are to be had for a mid-range price tag. Must do: Sigatoka River Safaris ( www.sigatokariver.com) offers jetboat rides along Fiji’s longest river including a visit to a village where you can get a first-hand experience into life in this country (children three and under free).
Get there on: Fiji Airways ( www. fijiairways.com), flying twice daily from Sydney to Nadi and with sale airfares recently under $530 return.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai