The chill of winter is really beginning to bite for most of us Down Under, provoking wistful dreams of faraway sunny shores, relaxing in the shade with a cool drink to hand and not a care in the world. Fortunately, this coveted life of carefree leisure is within your grasp. While flying immediately away to an island paradise may be a little difficult to organise, those who start planning now could find themselves whisked away on an idyllic voyage before the year's out. Cruising provides the perfect opportunity to abandon responsibility for a while and simply devote yourself to pure relaxation, all the while escaping to exotic locations you might never otherwise get to visit. The South Pacific is far and away one of the most popular spots for antipodean cruisers, and it's not just proximity that makes this region such a firm cruising favourite. The destinations you'll experience along the way are little slices of paradise which add colour to an already indulgent experience. To give you just a small idea of what you can expect from a South Pacific cruising escape, we're highlighting a few of the most well loved locations in the region that you might visit on your upcoming voyage.
It's not every day you to get to step onto the shores of a real-life desert island. This completely uninhabited island is a vision of pristine beauty - don't forget to bring along a mask and snorkel to get the best view possible of the marine life that thrives in the crystal clear waters close to shore. When cruise ships arrive, locals from the nearby Anatom Island come over to Mystery Island
to sell artefacts and introduce cruisers to a bit of the local culture. You can walk around the entire island in less than half an hour, so make sure to strike out on foot and explore the island at your own pace.
Select upcoming Mystery Island cruises:
is the capital of New Caledonia and thanks to its heritage and position in the world, boasts a richly diverse culture encompasses influences from Melanesia, France and Asia. The Port Moselle Market is one of the best places to go to get a feel for the true flavour of Noumea - even if you're not buying much food (after all, meals are sorted for you on a cruise) it's still worth coming here for the atmosphere alone. For those who are keen to get a glimpse of indigenous New Caledonian culture, the Tjibaou Cultural Center is a must-visit attraction, with guided tours Kanak locals.
Select upcoming Noumea cruises:
There's plenty to do in Port Vila
itself, the capital city of Vanuatu, but if you head just 20 minutes out of the city centre to the northwest, you'll discover the peerless Mele Cascades. This perfect picture of tropical paradise is like something out of a dream, with lush greenery on all sides, clear pools to bathe in and picture perfect cascades just begging to be photographed. To gain a better understanding of Vanuatu's heritage, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre is the place to go. Many of the histories and traditions of Vanuatu's islands are passed down verbally, so this is one of the only places where you can experience the true flavour of Vanuatu.
Upcoming Port Vila cruise:
There's more to New Caledonia than just Noumea. The Loyalty Islands archipelago is an idyllic chain of isles off the coast of the mainland which epitomises the idea of a South Pacific paradise. One of the most well loved cruise stops in the Loyalty Islands is Maré
, a coral atoll renowned as a pristine gem among New Caledonia's isles. Arrange with your cruise line to shuttle over to Yedjélé Beach - not only will you discover a gorgeous sandy beach with prime snorkelling opportunities but also the opportunity to enjoy delicious food at the local markets. If a day at the beach doesn't appeal you could swim with Turtles at Turtle Bay or explore the Petheon Caves.
Select upcoming Maré cruises:
Set on the island of Espiritu Santo
is Vanuatu's second largest city - in spite of that, it's still small enough to easily walk around. Arriving in this quaint town feels a little like stepping into the past, and you'll be able to enjoy a slower pace of life browsing the general stores and perusing the excellent open air market, which is open 24 hours a day, aside from Sunday nights. Champagne Beach is the most popular place to hit the sand, though it's worth noting that it will take an hour to reach it from Luganville. Check with your cruise line if they offer shore tours for the Millennium Caves - if not, you can arrange to explore these intriguing caverns at one of the local hotels.
Upcoming Luganville cruise: