tropical holiday destinations

6 destinations to visit south of the equator

Fancy exploring a little further afield for your next holiday? Paradise awaits in the southern hemisphere, we’ve picked out 6 destinations to add to your travel bucket list

One man’s paradise island is another man’s horror – said no one ever! When it comes to travelling to tropical holiday destinations, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would argue with secluded beaches, stunning lagoons and picture-perfect views. Add a gentle breeze, plenty of cocktails and a spot of water sports and it all starts falling into place.

White sand, turquoise water and touches of lush greenery, island life is hard to beat – and the archipelagos on the southern side of the equator are some of the most spectacular.

So, where will your dreams take you?

From Fiji in the South Pacific to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, we’ve handpicked a bunch of must-visit, ‘bucket list’ worthy islands just waiting to be explored.

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1. Fiji

If you are looking for a destination that combines the beauty of island life with plenty of fun and entertainment thrown in then Fiji in the South Pacific is the place for you. Around half a million visitors descend on its collection of tropical island beach resorts every year.

And when you fancy a break from sipping Fijian-spiced rum cocktails you can seek a little more adventure with the plethora of activities on offer inland – from kayaking through waterfalls, to river rafting and trekking rugged terrain, as well as exploring some of the most sought-after diving spots in the world.

But don’t worry if this sounds just a little too energetic, you can happily spend your days on a beach hammock, staring out to sea or paddling at the shore on this wonderfully chilled archipelago – a crazy 333 islands in total.

Island life: At night, the islands are filled with the sounds of traditional tribal dancing and singing with locals that love to have you there. Cruise to islands, seek out wildlife and discover a natural landscape like no other, you probably will struggle to come back.

Accommodation: Staying on the island is accessible for all – attracting a diverse traveller there are budget stays as well as five-star luxury.

Don’t leave without: Snorkelling the coral reef. Famed for its underwater beauty, visiting Fiji without taking a dip of discovery should be illegal!

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2. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

For luxurious relaxation and service with a smile, Bora Bora on the Tahiti Islands of French Polynesia will make your jaw drop. Think overwater bungalows on stilts with mesmerising blue water lapping beneath you, stretches of white sandy beaches and wooden jetties out from the shore, all providing a postcard-perfect private oasis. A firm favourite with honeymooners and couples thanks to its romantic charm.

With rainforest behind you, soaring mountain peaks in the distance and infinite blue-shaded ocean ahead of you, you will certainly pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. You can relax and enjoy the stunning views from the shore or add a little adventure with snorkelling, hiking and parasailing.

If you want to leave island life behind you for a short while then head up into the mountains through tropical rainforest and explore the eleven volcanoes. The most popular is said to be Mount Otemanu for its breathtaking views of Bora Bora and beyond.

Island life: The emphasis is firmly on relaxation, and you would be forgiven for thinking you are the only one on the island. Find a spot on the beach, read a good book and enjoy the high-class, friendly service.

Accommodation: Most resorts are on private islands with bungalows situated just out from the shore. It’s not unusual for these to have glass floors so you can view the sea life in the lagoon below.

Don’t leave without: Taking in the sunset from Matira Beach.

3. Wakatobi, Indonesia

If you are looking for something extraordinary for your next dive spot, then you might want to consider the simply breathtaking Indonesian island of Wakatobi on the Southeast Sulawesi. Taking diving to the next level, this dedicated ‘dive resort’ promises a five-star dive experience from the service to the actual discovery in the water all with a backdrop of Indonesian beauty and character.

Surrounded by luscious palm trees with clear blue water at your fingertips, this is a totally secluded haven. With no other divers for hundreds of miles and just a small pocket of luxurious accommodation on offer, this is a paradise offering the complete package and shutting off the rest of the world.

Such an exclusive resort, access to the island is only by private charter plane, three hours from Bali, which lands on a purpose-built airstrip, before a small boat ride up to the shore. If ever there was a place to forget all your troubles and reenergise, this has got to be it.

Island life: Combine your diving or snorkelling expedition with fine dining, a rejuvenating spa and romantic strolls along deserted beaches.

Accommodation: Luxury is an understatement, choose from a selection of villas and bungalows either on the shore or shaded by palm trees inland, all with high-class facilities and amenities.

Don’t leave without: Cruise the surrounding area aboard Pelagian, a ship with accommodation that extends into the ocean for eager divers.

4. Madagascar

Still in the Indian Ocean but this time off the east coast of Africa lies Madagascar, a natural habitat of scenic wonder and unbelievable wildlife – over 90% of species are only found in Madagascar and here alone.

Known for its varying landscapes, from stretches of baobab-lined dirt roads, to rainforests and beaches, there’s plenty to explore. And with waterfalls to seek out, diving hot spots and hiking trails all within easy reach; if you love adventure then this is the place to go.

And of course – the lemurs. Native to Madagascar, these fascinating and full of character creatures are reason enough alone to head here. But its not all outdoor and fast-paced activities, there’s arts, heritage and an emerging gastronomy culture in the cities too.

Island life: It’s a little bit of everything here and well worth challenging your limits to do something extraordinary. Look past the beach resorts and try and see as many of the attractions as possible.

Accommodation: There are lots of different option available but do plan your trip before you go. Know where you’ll be staying and when, and if possible find a guide to help.

Don’t leave without: Going to Lemur Island. Popular with tourists, this small reserve has a number of protected species of lemur and well worth a visit.

5. Maldives

Fancy holidaying with the rich and famous? The Maldives is one of the Indian Ocean’s finest and exclusive destinations – mostly due to the hefty price tag for flights and accommodation – and its white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and friendly vibe draws an elite clientele.

But we don’t blame the super-rich for trying to keep the Maldives to themselves – comprising of 26 atolls or ring-shaped coral reefs with breathtaking lagoons and underwater life to explore. Located on top of an underwater mountain range, the Maldives (over a 1000 in total) stretch across a land area of 298km2.

And there are so many sides to its appeal too; from a romantic bliss that is perfect for couples celebrating a honeymoon or special anniversary; to a more thrilling and adventurous holiday, thanks to an abundance of water sports from canoeing and catamaran sailing to fishing and diving.

Island life: Lively yet relaxed, the Maldives is rich in culture – from local traditions to music, dance and craftmanship. There is so much to see and the sun, sea and sand is just the beginning.

Accommodation: From hotels and guest houses to resorts that encompass entire atolls, the accommodation is as luxurious as it is magnificent. Think five-star sea lodges just out from the shore with clear glass floors so you can sit and enjoy the ocean from your room. Heaven.

Don’t leave without: Snorkelling the coral reef – ideal for beginners in the water so that you can still marvel at the colourful world beneath the surface of the water

6. Easter Island, Chile

If it’s isolation you want, you should probably check out Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as it’s natively known. Even though it is a province of Chile in South America, it’s a massive 3700km away. And, you’d need to travel 6900km in the opposite direction to reach New Zealand.

But while it might be a small and secluded spot in the South Pacific Ocean that doesn’t mean it has anything less to offer when it comes to paradise. Known as an island steeped in mystery, you’ll find it difficult to not get lost in its history and culture.

From the stone carvings of human-like statues (Moai) to the prehistoric trails and legends of old, you’ll be enchanted at the sheer significance of this remote little island. And with activities such as hiking, surfing, mountain biking and horse riding all popular past times, you’ll worry you don’t have enough time to fit it all in.

Island life: There are a few distinct areas to visit from Anakena beach in the north to Rano Kau, the largest volcanic crater on the island, in the south. Check in with a guide who can tell you when and where to visit to get the most out of your stay.

Accommodation: From lodges to boutique hotels, camping to all-inclusive resorts, there are many accommodation types to choose from.

Don’t leave without: Visiting the Ahu Tongariki. A collection of 15 of the island’s Moai statues.

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