As the summer months approach, Australians are starting to plan their holiday getaway over the festive season. Luckily for these planners, paradise is just a short plane ride away, as a plethora of beautiful islands can be found right in Australia’s back yard. The travel experts at KAYAK.com.au have looked into the data and can reveal that Australians are shifting away from traditional island hot spots such as Thailand and Bali, and instead choosing to travel to locations which are further off the beaten track.
Malay, The Philippines
In the number one spot, Malay (on the Philippine island of Panay) has taken the crown with a 66% increase in flight searches from 2015. Malay offers travellers a range of landscapes from white sandy beaches, to Bamboo forests, the Pangihan Cave, or the hinterland’s beautiful waterfalls. But it’s main drawcard is that it’s the entry point for paradise-seekers travelling to Boracay Island. Boracay, famous for its pristine blue waters and luxury resorts offers visitors a range of activities, from snorkelling and scuba diving off exotic shores to experiencing the thriving world class nightlife. A must do in Boracay is to visit ‘the finest beach in the world’ at White Beach, situated on the North West region of the island.
Where to stay: Stay in Boracay at the Estacio Uno Lifestyle Resort, starting from $197*
How to get there: Return flights to Malay from $1,382**
Balikpapan is a destination full of natural wonder, so it’s no surprise that it’s seen the second biggest increase (60%) of flight searches in 2016. Situated on the east coast of Borneo, Balikpapan’s white sandy beaches are offset by lush rainforest, providing the perfect tropical island backdrop. Ideal for the adventurous traveller, this city is a great base for exploring the surrounding jungle terrain; inhabited by the incredible Orangutan and over 2,000 species of wild orchid. For those planning to travel with family, Balikpapan has an adventurous Caribbean Island Waterpark which is great for the little ones to enjoy.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Balikpapan at the Le Grandeur Balikpapan, starting from $56*
How to get there: Return flights to Balikpapan from $1389**
Puerto Princesa, The Philippines
Located on Palawan Island, just a short distance from Malay, Puerto Princesa is said to be one of the greenest cities in the Philippines. Its surrounds are home to tropical sanctuaries full of natural wildlife, as well as a multitude of secluded white sandy beaches, including Marufinas, Nagtabon and Napsan which – all picture perfect and well worth a visit. The secret’s out however; Aussie flight searches to this beautiful destination increased by 50% compared to last year.
Where to stay: Stay in San Manuel at the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Puerto Princesa, starting from $118*
How to get there: Return flights to Puerto Princesa from $1130**
Inspired by the recent Survivor Australia series, flight searches to the Samoan Islands have jumped by 22% this year, with Australian travellers wanting to experience their own slice of holiday heaven. Apia is the capital city of Samoa, on the second largest island in the region which encompasses lustrous rainforests, volcanic mountains, waterfalls and uninterrupted coastlines. Travellers can explore the local areas, all easily accessible by foot, and also enjoy a variety of delicious local cuisine at numerous restaurants.
Where to stay: Stay at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalow, starting from $259*
How to get there: Return flights to Apia from $965**
Nuku’alofa is the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga and is ideal for travellers who are ready to explore. With protected lagoons and nearby deserted islands, sea kayaking is the way to discover these untouched areas full of natural beauty and wildlife. This island paradise is a great place to relax and unwind this summer.
Where to stay: Stay at the Loumaile Lodge, starting from $184*
How to get there: Return flights to Nuku’alofa from $904**
Noumea, New Caledonia
Picturesque New Caledonia continues to entice Australian travellers, with a 19% increase in flight searches from last year. The capital city, Noumea, provides travellers with a wealth of culture, spectacular sandy white beaches and a variety of delicacies – all with a French touch. Whether they want to sit by the pool and enjoy a cocktail or two, or participate in water activities such as windsurfing or kitesurfing, Noumea is ideal for any traveller.
Where to stay: Stay at the Hotel Le Lagon, starting from $205*
How to get there: Return flights to Noumea from $1031**
Debby Soo, KAYAK Vice President, APAC says, “The festive season is a popular time for Australians to plan their getaway and island destinations are currently high on their travel list. At KAYAK, we want to show Aussies that there is a variety of up and coming island destinations which can be uncovered by using ourExplore Tool. Whether they are looking for a tropical adventure or simply to relax and unwind, KAYAK.com.au helps find Aussies find their slice of paradise suited to any budget.”